Program FAQ

What will I gain from LSRI's doctoral program?

Our rigorous program is designed to help you develop a strong foundation in pedagogical practice, learning theory and research methodologies.

What will I learn in the program?

  • How cognition helps us design better learning environments
  • How social and cultural dimensions of learning informs research and design
  • How emerging technologies bolster human capacity for learning
  • How to conduct rigorous research that addresses real-world problems
  • How to create tools and technologies that improve both instruction and assessment
  • How the human capacity for embodied, multimodal learning interacts with various technologies available for fostering learning
  • How new forms of assessment can feed back into the teaching and learning process to inform and enhance instruction

What does the program offer?

We prepare researchers who are equipped with the knowledge and inquiry skills to address fundamental questions about how people learn specific, subject-matter areas, such as mathematics or chemistry.

We bring together three knowledge bases and methods of inquiry to create a community of scholarship and research that will focus on learning in the disciplines:

  • General issues of learning, instruction, and assessment – typically the purview of cognitive and educational psychology
  • The instrumentality of technologies for enhancing and supporting learning, instruction and assessment – typically the focus of computer scientists
  • The structure and content of the specific disciplines that people are learning - typically the purview of faculty in individual disciplines

Our program is the only truly interdisciplinary learning sciences program in the country.

Our faculties are pioneers of learning sciences, and are the leading researchers and experts in assessment and instruction, and in their disciplines.

What are the benefits of an interdisciplinary program?

There are several. Many problems in teaching and learning would benefit from individuals trained to consider teaching and learning in general and in a specific context. These researchers are in high demand in all sectors of the educational system, both in traditional settings and in the private sector. Here are some examples:

  • Computer scientists are hampered in efforts to plan and implement science education lessons within a computer science program; an interdisciplinary approach that uses work in K-8 science learning will remove this barrier
  • Chemists interested in knowing better the steps that occur as a college student come to a thorough understanding of mechanism; interdisciplinary training that incorporates educational psychology perspectives will address this
  • Someone looking to train for a leadership position in training high school teachers in inquiry teaching of science needs to know the science well; an interdisciplinary program would provide expertise in learning and in science

By housing students in a single learning sciences program, each student will learn much more about the problem of how to apply education, psychology and computer science to the learning of specific content. Each person will see how this general problem is solved in different ways.

We believe that with the preparation from our program, our graduates will be in a unique position in the marketplace to work in a variety of academic, classroom, museum or private settings.

What are some of the research questions that LSRI faculty and students might be interested in?

  • How can knowledge of the development of cognition aid in the analysis and design of effective literacy, mathematics, or science instruction?
  • How are the general principles of cognitive development and principles of domain-specific knowledge and expertise enacted in a designed learning environment?
  • How do the social and cultural dimensions of learning manifest themselves in both formal and informally designed learning environments and how these can be systematically assessed and understood?
  • How does the human capacity for embodied, multi-modal learning interact with the various technologies available for fostering learning?
  • How do new forms of assessment feed back into the teaching and learning process to continually inform and enhance instructional processes?

What are the research possibilities with LSRI's program?

LSRI is home to some of the largest federal education grants in the country. We have nearly two dozen projects totaling more than $42 million under way.

We work closely with our graduate students to pair them with projects related to their interests through assistantships and other arrangements.

What are the goals of the program?

We set our goals based on our expectation that our graduates will have unique training in how to examine and propose solutions to the pressing needs in learning environments both in a variety of settings:

  • We will produce graduates with demonstrated strength in the application of learning sciences to the theoretical and practical design and analysis challenges found within and across disciplinary contexts.
  • We will establish a community of faculty and graduate students in pursuit of common interdisciplinary interests in learning sciences, enhancing UIC’s capacity to address significant interdisciplinary questions at the nexus of research and practice.
  • We will prepare scholars/researchers who are equipped with the unique disciplinary and methodological knowledge necessary to conduct rigorous research on fundamental issues of learning across diverse populations.
  • We will prepare cohorts of scholars/researchers/teachers who in their own practice can integrate deep disciplinary content learning and the assessment of that learning in environments that foster active and engaged learners.
  • We will enhance the intellectual infrastructure and context at UIC for researching and improving undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. programs.

What types of requirements are there in order to join the Ph.D. program in LS?

  • BA/BS or MA/MS degree with interest in how people Learn
  • Interest can reach beyond STEM disciplines and within formal and informal learning environments
  • Completed application by deadline (link to application checklist)

What type of career can you have after the PhD?

  • Many of our graduates are obtaining employment as research postdoctoral professions in university settings, consulting in for-profit research companies such as AIR, design and evaluation centers for local Chicago museums, teaching K-20 

Do you have a PT program? Do you have night time or online classes?

  • We are a traditional FT day program that holds core courses during the week
  • There are no evening courses or any online courses currently 

Is there any funding opportunities for the doctoral program?

  • Any doctoral student accepted into the program is given a tuition waiver and stipend of $22,000 for AY 9 month appointment. This amount is $2,444.45 per month.  The summer time is another opportunity to continue working on a sponsored project and earn 3/3 more for a grand total of $29,300 per year.  Summer months are negotiable through your initial advisor, your current advisor or another PI on campus that holds a GRA position.  

Where do you find any information about the LS doctoral program?

  • You can find information about admissions and procedures as well as other initiatives at
  • You can contact the UIC Graduate Program Coordinator at 312.413.3901.
  • You can contact the UIC Director of Graduate Studies at 312.413-2466

What funding is available for me?

We make every effort to support our students financially. Please see our funding page for more information. 

For questions please contact

Graduate Program Coordinator
Jessica Chalmers
Office: 1240,W Harrison, Suite-1535 MC-057
Phone: 312-355-2143
Fax: 312-355-3930

Director of Graduate Studies
Josh Radinsky
Office: 1570 G
Phone: 312-413-7383
Fax: 312-996-0431