Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) Predoctoral Fellowships

What is VEST?

The Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) predoctoral fellowship program provides intensive research training in education sciences. VEST 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) Effective Instruction, b) Early Learning Programs and Policies, c) Social and Behavioral Contexts for Academic Learning, and d) Post-secondary and Adult Education. Focal methodological areas include: Exploration, Development and Innovation, Efficacy, Follow-up, and Replication. 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.

Fellowship Details & Benefits

VEST fellows participate in an intensive 20 hr/wk research apprenticeship under multiple mentors and advisors. Please see examples of research opportunities in Education Policy and Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science. Fellows must complete an education-based dissertation.

Fellows receive a $34,000 stipend and are also eligibe to receive up to $12,000 towards in-state tuition and health insurance, as well as a $2,000 annual allowance for research, travel, and conference expenses. 

Fellows also are required to complete additional coursework at U.Va. that focus on topics in education and methods. They also participate in summer statistical workshops.

All VEST fellows participate in the Education Research Lectureship series (including a proseminar course) and have an opportunity to interact individually with the top researchers in the field of education.

Fellows will also complete a year long Research-Practice Partnership Experience (RPE), approved by faculty mentor and the RPE coordinator.

Our Fellows & Alumni

Learn more about our current 4-Year and 2-Year fellows and affiliate fellows participating in VEST and their student community at U.Va. With over 100 alumni across education, economics, sociology, and psychology departments at U.Va, VEST has produced highly trained professionals who hold positions from postdoctoral scientists to education statisticians to assistant professors. Learn more about our VEST Alumni and what they are saying about the fellowship program through our Question & Answer article series.

Current and past fellows like us on Facebook.

How to Apply

Applicants to the School of Education and Human Development's Ph.D programs, Education Policy and Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science, are automatically considered for Four-Year VEST Fellowships. Visit the School's admissions website for more details on deadlines and requirements.

In addition, UVA doctoral students from other social science graduate programs may apply for Two-Year VEST Fellowships, to begin during the 3rd year or later of their PhD program. Applications for the VEST 2-yr program are run separately from the School of Education and Human Development's admissions and typically announced in November of each year with an application deadline around February 1st. Email for more details.

VEST Faculty

VEST faculty serve as mentors and co-mentors to our fellows. Four-Year Fellows in our Ph.D programs have a primary mentor from the School of Education and Human Development and in their 3rd year, a co-mentor from another discipline. Two-Year fellows from other disciplines continue to work with their primary advisor from their home department and work with a School co-mentor as well.

Our faculty engage in training experiences that offer extensive expertise including econometric models of teacher quality, the RCT design and analysis, and the design and evaluation of professional development supports for teachers and their effects on student learning.

The Directors & Steering Committee:

The Admissions and Program Progress Committee:

Faculty Affiliates at U.Va. are from the College of Arts & Sciences and Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy:

  • Allen, Joseph, Psychology
  • Friedberg, Leora, Economics
  • Hurd, Noelle, Psychology
  • Lillard, Angeline, Psychology
  • Willingham, Dan, Psychology
  • Wilson, Melvin, Psychology

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Undergraduate Research

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is an intensive 8-week internship program at the School of Education and Human Development that is affiliated with the VEST program. Our faculty and fellows mentor undergraduate interns during the summer as we help train the next generation of educational researchers.

Program Funding

The School of Education and Human Development received funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education in 2004 to implement a Fellowship Program in the Education Sciences. Additional grants were awarded in 2009 and 2014 that has allowed the School to build upon the existing Fellowship program and provide interdisciplinary training to students. Other fellows in the program are supported by other research grants and funding from the School.