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Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Programs in the Education Sciences


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FY Awards

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Dr. Katina Stapleton
(202) 245-6566


The Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Program in the Education Sciences (Predoctoral Training Program) was established by IES to increase the number of well-trained PhD students who are prepared to conduct rigorous and relevant education research.

Predoctoral Training Program grants are awarded to institutions of higher education that create cohesive graduate training programs in which fellows receive training in conducting education research while earning their doctorates within a traditional academic discipline. Fellows are trained to develop education interventions (e.g., curricula, professional development) that are grounded in a science of learning; to evaluate education programs, practices, and policies using rigorous and well-implemented experimental and quasi-experimental designs; and/or to employ sophisticated statistical methods to examine large state and local datasets to identify potential solutions to education problems.

While the formats and foci of IES-funded predoctoral training programs vary, required common elements include:

  • 2 to 5 years of financial support for fellows (stipends, tuition, health insurance, normal fees, and research/travel funds),
  • a coordinated curriculum,
  • an ongoing lecture series or proseminar,
  • opportunities for fellows to conduct research and to collaborate with education practitioners and researchers, and
  • an Education Sciences certificate that signifies that fellows have completed the training programís requirements.

Between 2004 and 2016, IES has established predoctoral training programs at 20 universities for a total investment of almost $161 million in predoctoral training.

Grounding education policy and practice in the United States on evidence requires transformation of both the research and practice fields. Practitioners will have to turn routinely to education research when making important decisions, and education researchers will have to produce research that is relevant to those decisions. To achieve this ambitious agenda, there is a need for a cadre of well-trained scientists capable of conducting high quality research that is relevant to practitioners and policy makers.

In 2004, IES created the predoctoral training program to address this need. Between 2004 and 2016, IES has held six competitions and made 36 training grant awards. Twenty of the awards were to establish new training programs and the other 16 were to continue existing programs for an additional five years. The longest running programs (with 3 awards) are located at Carnegie Mellon University, Northwestern University, University of Virginia, University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Since 2004, almost 950 fellows have received training through an IES-funded predoctoral training program. As of fall 2016, 458 fellows have completed their training with a doctorate, while an additional 105 fellows have completed their training and are currently fulfilling the remaining doctoral degree requirements for their fields. Of the 454 fellows who have completed their training and for whom IES has employment data:

  • Seventy-two percent (327 fellows) are working in the education and/or special education research fields.
  • Thirty-four percent (152 fellows) are employed as faculty or lecturers in academia.
  • Thirty-five percent (157 fellows) are employed as researchers at colleges and universities, government agencies, or research firms,
  • Sixteen percent (74 fellows) are employed in postdoctoral positions.

Students interested in becoming predoctoral training fellows must apply for admission to a training program, not to IES. Each training program has its own admission process and selection criteria. Potential fellows can receive information about applying for a fellowship by contacting the training program directly. Not all programs are accepting applications at this time.