VEST Two-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.

Students from Psychology, Economics, Sociology and other disciplines outside of the Curry School of Education may apply during spring semester of their 2nd year in their doctoral programs (or later), to begin VEST in Year 3 or later of their PhD programs after having completed the majority of required doctoral coursework in their home departments. They should be able to commit to a 2-year period of training. Fellows should plan on conducting a dissertation examining questions relevant to education 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.

Admissions

Before Applying
Those considering applying for a Two-Year Fellowship should demonstrate their interest by being involved in some of the following activities prior to application:

Application Process
In order to apply, students must submit the following documents and they must be received before February 1.  Please note that students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to receive fellowship funding.  In keeping with the interdisciplinary focus of the two-year VEST Fellowship, applicants may come from the Departments of Psychology, Sociology, Economics or other departments outside of Curry.

  • Review the preparation form before submitting application online
  • Letter of intent (submit via email)
    • This letter should describe your professional background, interest in education science and/or policy, research goals for the fellowship period (including how your research interests are aligned with specific Curry mentors, how you would benefit from working with them, and how your time would be allocated among projects), and long-term career goals. (3 pages, roughly 750-1000 words)
  • CV or detailed resume (submit via email)
  • Two letters of support from current advisor/mentors describing your scholarship and offering a rationale for applying (emailed or mailed by recommenders). Letters of support will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
    • Demonstration of your depth of interest in research questions in education and evidence for the benefits of an interdisciplinary focus in your professional development.
    • Evidence of the ability to apply designs and methods necessary to establish causal inferences.
    • Likelihood career goals will have an impact on education science.
  • UVA transcript (submit via email): Unofficial or official will be accepted.

In addition, prospective fellows should correspond with VEST Coordinator (email CurryVEST@virginia.edu) to arrange to meet with prospective Curry co-mentor(s). If your interests are well-aligned, you and the faculty member should discuss specific ways that you would be involved in their project in order to include this information in your letter of intent.

Please note: Renewal for a second year is dependent upon successful progress toward completion of the program and productive engagement in research.

Core Curriculum

All 2-year fellows engage in a core training curriculum comprised of these elements:

  1. 2 to 4 courses, depending on students’ prior engagement and experience with education research,  that teach 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. an apprenticeship to research programs 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, in work related to education)
  3. training workshops in advanced statistical modeling or design; and
  4. attendance at interdisciplinary speaker series presentations and engagement in the proseminar (Issues in Applied Developmental Science and Education Policy).

Conditions of the Fellowship

The conditions for accepting support as a Two-Year Fellow are:

  • Substantive match with a program faculty member from Education as your co-mentor
  • 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 co-mentor, in work related to education)
  • 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 Curry co-mentor and your current departmental advisor, including plans for writing papers and presenting at national conferences.  (See the sample Annual Research Plan Table.)
  • Enrollment in 2 to 4 courses, depending on students’ prior engagement and experience with education research,  that teach 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)
  • 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 Program Affiliate.
  • Fellows from Psychology Department must complete predissertation before accepting funds (i.e., Predissertation timeline must make it clear that it will be completed by end of spring semester prior to beginning Fellowship).
  • During and after the VEST fellowship you will remain in contact with U.Va. and IES to provide regular updates.

Financial Support

2-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.

Renewal for a second year 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.