VEST Four-Year Fellowships


The Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) program integrates the use of theoretical models of causal inference from various sciences (e.g., psychology, economics, biostatistics) with research designs, analytic techniques and methods that support causal inferences in studies of school, classroom and program effects.

More specifically, training applies rigorous methods to three substantive research topics identified by IES: a) teacher quality, b) early childhood, and c) social and behavioral contexts for academic learning. Conceptual and methodological emphases in the core curriculum ensure students are proficient in developing and testing research hypotheses through research designs and through experimental and quasi-experimental statistical procedures that support causal inferences.

Admissions

Applicants to Curry’s Education Policy and Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science Ph.D programs are automatically considered for 4-Year VEST Fellowships. No additional application materials are required. Fellows should plan on conducting a dissertation examining questions relevant to education policy or applied developmental science and plan to pursue a career in education policy or education research, consistent with the stated goals of the Institute of Education Sciences: to establish an evidence base for classroom practices and education policy; and to train research scientists who embody those skills.

Core Curriculum

In addition to meeting the requirements of their Ph.D academic programs, all Four-Year Fellows engage in a core training curriculum comprised of these elements:

  1. a four-semester course sequence that teaches Fellows to apply rigorous research methods to the following substantive topics: a) teacher quality, b) early childhood, and c) social and behavioral contexts for academic learning
  2. completion of a minimum of five methods courses
  3. an apprenticeship to research programs focused on teacher quality, early childhood, or social and behavioral contexts for academic learning (roughly 20 hours per week, depending on the specific arrangement with your mentor)
  4. training workshops in advanced statistical modeling or design; and
  5. attendance at interdisciplinary speaker series presentations and engagement in the proseminar (Issues in Applied Developmental Science and Education Policy).

Conditions of the Fellowship

  • Participation in research apprenticeship focused on teacher quality, early childhood, or social and behavioral contexts for academic learning (roughly 20 hours/week, depending on the specific arrangement with your mentor)
  • Fulfilling the annual progress indicators related to research training and experience that will be identified as part of an individualized contract that you develop with your advisor, including plans for writing papers and presenting at national conferences. (See the sample Annual Research Plan Table.)
  • Enrollment in a four-semester course sequence that teaches Fellows to apply rigorous research methods to the following substantive topics: a) teacher quality, b) early childhood, and c) social and behavioral contexts for academic learning 
  • Attendance at the Curry Research Lectureship Series during the fall and spring
  • Enrollment in the 1-credit proseminar, Issues in Applied Developmental Science and Education Policy, in fall and spring (each year of the Fellowship)
  • Attendance at one or more IES-approved national conferences each year.
  • Participation in IES workshops during the summer (at UVA or other institutions) 
  • At the beginning of your 3rd year, identification of a Program Faculty member from Arts & Sciences as your co-mentor 
  • Providing service to the program through tasks such as hosting speakers, facilitating workshops, mentoring summer interns, etc. 
  • You may not function as a Teaching Assistant while receiving support from the IES Fellowship. The intention of this requirement (a condition of the funding agency) is to protect your time for research training)
  • Your dissertation committee should include your Curry mentor and at least one other VEST Program Affiliate
  • During and after the VEST fellowship you will remain in contact with U.Va. and IES to provide regular updates.

Financial Support

Four-Year Fellows are eligible to receive: 

  • A competitive stipend for the program year (12 months: September 1-August 31).
  • Up to $10,500 towards tuition and health insurance for the academic year (fall and spring).
  • Support for your research and travel expenses for attendance at national or international meetings. See the VEST Coordinator for specifics amounts.

Please note that students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to receive fellowship funding.

Fellowship support is renewable for up to 4 years under this training grant. Renewal is dependent upon successful progress toward completion of the program and productive engagement in research.

 

Renewal

Students are initially awarded fellowships for one program year, September through August. In February, they apply for renewal by submitting their Annual Research Plan Table, updating by tracking changes. Successful applications for renewal are generally for one more full program year; however, in some cases, the faculty may opt to renew on a semester-by-semester basis, in order to ensure that the student is taking full advantage of the fellowship program and is meeting all expectations.