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Doctor of Philosophy in Learning Sciences and Human Development

Nature of the Program

Scholars in the Learning Sciences and Human Development (LSHD) study learning and development where it happens: in classrooms and on playgrounds, in community centers and on street corners, at kitchen tables and in barber shops, in forests and in fields. Our empirical inquiries are guided by theories of cognition, development, culture, and design. Our program includes a diverse range of faculty from the LSHD department - as well as many faculty affiliates from departments across the college and university - to support innovative and interdisciplinary projects.

Our Ph.D. program positions students for success through extensive research and teaching apprenticeships, support to accomplish authentic research milestones – including published journal articles and national conference presentations, funding for at least three years, and carefully scaffolded coursework designed to guide doctoral work at each stage of the process. Each cohort travels through core courses and milestones together, providing a peer network to complement faculty support.

In addition to the Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Human Development, students will select a specialization track in Cognition & Learning, Human Development & Family Sciences, Instructional Design & Technology, Research, Evaluation, & Analysis, or a individually-designed track in consultation with advisors.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the LSHD doctorate, graduates will be prepared to:
  • Create original research that advances the field
  • Be a reflective, ethical, and effectual professional
  • Apply research and theory to timely issues
  • Critically evaluate scholarship, policy, and practice in order to promote equity, access, and social justice


Admissions Guidelines

Admissions are guided by a holistic and individualized assessment of each applicant, in tandem with an evaluation of how their interests and experiences align with our faculty, courses, and funding opportunities. Our admissions standards are designed to help ensure that students who enter the program can successfully complete the degree and be competitive for subsequent employment opportunities.

Application Materials

WVU Graduate Application

When given the opportunity to select a program, choose “Learning Sciences & Human Development". Applications should include:

  • Letter of intent explaining purpose and motivation for a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Human Development. In this letter, applicants should briefly describe their scholarly interests, 1-3 faculty with whom they would like to work, how their interests align with those faculty members, and how they envision completing this program will further their long-term professional goals.
  • Transcripts from all previous degree programs*
  • Three letters of recommendation from referees who can speak to your scholarly potential
  • Scholarly writing sample (e.g., course paper)
  • Curriculum Vita
  • GRE, MAT or TOEFL scores, taken within five years of application*
  • An interview may be included in the review process at the discretion of the admissions committee

Application Deadline

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until April 1.

Applicants who submit their files by December 15 will have a greater chance of securing funding.

*In line with best practices for evaluation and assessment, set cutoff scores for tests and GPA are not used to make unidimensional admissions decisions. Instead, applicant materials are reviewed as a total package and admissions decisions are based on multidimensional factors. That said, successful applicants tend to be at or above the 75th percentile on the GRE or MAT, have undergraduate GPAs at or above 3.5, and graduate GPAs (if any) at or above 3.75.

View courses on the WVU catalog