PhD in Learning Sciences

Admission Requirements

Applicants are considered on an individual basis. Transcripts of all undergraduate and any graduate work must be submitted. In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, applicants must meet the following program requirements:

  • Baccalaureate Field No restrictions.
  • Master's Degree Strongly preferred. 
  • Grade Point Average At least 3.25/4.00 (or 4.25/5.00) for the final 60 semester (90 quarter) hours of baccalaureate study and for all postbaccalaureate course work.
  • Tests Required GRE.
  • Minimum English Competency Test Score
    • TOEFL 80, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Speaking 20, and Writing 21 (iBT Test); 60, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Writing 21 (revised Paper-Delivered Test), OR,
    • IELTS 6.5, with subscores of 6.0 for all four subscores, OR,
    • PTE-Academic 54, with subscores of Reading 51, Listening 47, Speaking 53, and Writing 56.
  • Letters of Recommendation Three required; these should attest to candidate's potential for success in rigorous research program in Learning Sciences.
  • Personal Statement Required. Statement must identify and explain applicant's career objectives and qualifications for pursuing a doctoral degree in Learning Sciences. Statement must also specify proposed area of specialization (i.e., a field or discipline in which the applicant intends to pursue the study of learning), and an explanation of the applicant's experience and background in that area. Personal statement must be three to five pages in length, typed, double-spaced.
  • Deadlines Application deadlines for this program are listed on the Graduate College website.

Degree Requirements

In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, students must meet the following program requirements:

  • Minimum Semester Hours Required 96. 
  • Course Work
Required Core Courses
Introduction to the Learning Sciences
Research Methods in the Learning Sciences
Foundations of Scientific Inquiry
Analysis of Teaching and Learning Interactions
Design of Learning Environments
Change in Individuals and Organizations: Implementing and Institutionalizing Change for Learning
Learning Sciences Journal Club a
Research Apprenticeship
Thesis Research
Required Area of Disciplinary Specialization
Students take advantage of courses offered through existing doctoral programs at UIC, for example in Chemistry; Cognitive Psychology; Computer Sciences; Mathematics or Mathematics Education; Literacy, Language, and Culture; or Urban Educational Leadership. The specialization is selected in consultation with the student’s Learning Sciences academic advisor and an advisor in the disciplinary specialization.
A minimum of 12 hours of specialization course work is required.
A minimum of 16 hours of electives to enroll in additional graduate courses in the disciplinary specialization, research methods, other disciplines, or special topics courses offered periodically in the Learning Sciences program. These courses will be selected in consultation with the student’s advisor in the Learning Sciences program and in consultation with the course instructor to determine relevance and appropriateness of course content to the student’s program goals and academic preparation for the course.
Supervised Research
A required supervised research component of 30 hours, to include research-apprenticeship experiences as well as thesis research.

Students must register for LRSC 540 for five consecutive terms, beginning their first term in the program, and earn a total of 10 hours.

  • Examinations Students will be required to submit an annual review,a following a template provided by the Learning Sciences program, to show evidence of academic and professional progress. Required courses specify examination requirements.
    • Comprehensive Examination: Required portfolio examination. From each core course, students generate at least one product or document that contributes to the portfolio. The student may also include such products from specialization and elective courses. In addition, evidence of independent research and inquiry activity is to be included in the portfolio. Upon completion of the core courses and the required portfolio items, the student will orally defend the contents of the portfolio before a committee of LS faculty who will determine passing or failing of the comprehensive exam.
    • Preliminary Examination: Required. The preliminary exam is an oral defense of the completed dissertation proposal and is taken after successful completion of the comprehensive qualifying exam. The primary purpose of the preliminary examination is review and approval of the thesis research proposal and admission of the student to the dissertation research stage of degree candidacy.
  • Thesis Research Required. The completed thesis research must be defended orally and publicly before a thesis committee.

Annual Review Required: While it is not, strictly considered, an examination, an annual student assessment will constitute the first step in a two-step student assessment process, of which the comprehensive written exam is the second part. In the first part, each student will submit an annual review to the doctoral advisor, consisting of a record of progress through the program, relevant professional experiences, and, importantly, candidate self-assessment of academic and professional progress. Failure to submit an annual review upon repeat notification to students will constitute evidence of insufficient progress through the program, leading to consideration of dismissal from the program. Due process will be observed to protect student rights and program integrity.

Interdepartmental Concentrations

Students earning this graduate degree may complement their courses by enrolling in select concentrations after consulting with their graduate advisor. Interdepartmental concentrations available for this degree include: