Program Overview

The Institute of Education Science (IES) at the US Department of Education was founded in 2002 with the mission to provide rigorous and relevant evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information broadly.  IES funds top educational researchers nationwide to conduct studies that seek answers on what works for students from preschools to postsecondary, including interventions for special education students.  Click here to see a list of other participating Universities

The University of Pennsylvania shares in this mission through the IES Predoctoral Training Program in Interdisciplinary Methods for Field-Based Education Research or the IES Training Fellowship, directed by the Graduate School of Education. 

The Program

Penn’s IES Predoctoral Training Fellowship has been designed to address the need for more rigorous and scientific research in education, as well as making research more useful for educational leaders and practitioners who will be the ones to actually lead and implement policies designed to improve student outcomes. We seek to nurture in students a scientific culture of education research and to work toward the goal where scientific research will be the norm, not the exception.

This Training Fellowship prepares fellows to do rigorous research to inform rich theory development, but, more importantly, to determine the effectiveness of strategies aimed at improving educational outcomes.  This program is designed for Ph.D. students committed to careers in applied, field-based education research who want to gain expertise in interdisciplinary research methods including randomized controlled trials of educational interventions and innovations.  The program structure provides the scaffolding that enables fellows to attain this broader and deeper set of skills without materially altering their time to degree completion through weekly lectures, special trainings, apprenticeships and participation in research conferences. 

Requirements and Benefits

Fellows who successfully complete the program will receive the Certificate of Advanced Training in Education Sciences, which indicates that in addition to having earned a PhD, the fellow have achieved the following: 

  • Advanced training in applied field-based research in education with competencies in :
    • methods for designing and analyzing data from randomized controlled trials
    • analyzing longitudinal data bases
    • synthesizing research on intervention effectiveness
    • designing and administering various forms of field data collection.
  • Strong foundation in an academic discipline (e.g. Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Political science, or Anthropology) and in Education. 

Fellows are expected to achieve proficiency in seven areas: (1) education foundations; (2) interdisciplinary foundation (e.g. demography, economics, political science, psychology, or sociology); (3) field research design and methods; (4) information sources, survey design, and data collection methods; (5) research synthesis methods; (6) protection of human subjects; and (7) project development and management. Students may achieve these proficiencies through the program’s weekly seminars and workshops in advanced methods, standard course offerings and participation in 20 hours/week field-based research apprenticeships.

Seminars and Special Workshops

Fellows will be regular participants in the Monday Lecture Series organized by the Training Program. Fellows participate in special mentoring meetings with leading scholars, practitioners and policy makers.  Fellows will have a voice in selecting the speakers and topics of colloquia and special technical training workshops such as HLM, SEM and Multivariate Analysis.


 Fellows should be committed to becoming a scholar of and/or active contributor to field-based researcher in education.  All fellows will be expected to complete a minimum of two courses in education and two foundation courses in the chosen academic discipline - such as, economics, sociology, political science, psychology, and demography. The courses should build on and complement each other.  

Research Apprenticeships

Program-supported field-based projects are flexible and may focus on students, teachers, and/or administrators in K-12 schools as well as preschool age youth and postsecondary school students.  Research Apprenticeships may also include teaching assistantships.  Research apprenticeships will be supervised by faculty members or other senior professionals for 20 hours a week year round. There is great flexibility for fellows to work on multiple and different projects to develop their expertise.

Professional Development 

In addition to mentorship meetings with lecture speakers, fellows will also have the opportunity to network with faculty members through informal gatherings and luncheons as well as participate in professional development workshops on topics such as grant-writing and article review processes.  Fellows are also encouraged to (and will received funding support for) attending and presenting their work at professional meetings and conferences.   

Financial Support

IES Fellows receive a $30,000 ($2,500 per month) apprenticeship stipend and up to $10,500 in tuition and academic fees annually for up to four years.  In addition, fellows will have access to program resources such as a specialized lending library, computer hardware and software and financial support for dissertation expenses as well as participation in relevant professional conferences.  

Contingent upon available funding, financial support is renewed annually based on satisfactory performance.  Fellows are expected to participate in all program activities and maintain a research apprenticeship for an average of 20 hours a week throughout the calendar year.  Fellowship funding terminates at the fellows’ graduation, or at the end of four years, whichever comes first.  This financial support may come from a combination of the IES Pre-Doctoral Training Grant, school support, and/or funded research projects.  During the period a fellow is supported through this fellowship program, he or she may not do other work for the University.


Click here for the IES program brochure

If you have any questions, please contact us.