VEST Affiliate 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 must have mentors associated with the VEST program and be enrolled in the School's Education Policy, Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science, Psychology, Economics, Sociology, or other related social science Ph.D programs at UVA. Invitations to participate in our affiliate program would be issued via your mentor/advisor who is already associated with VEST.

Core Curriculum

All affiliate 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 12 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.

Conditions of the Fellowship

The conditions for accepting the affiliate fellowship are:

  • Substantive match with a VEST Program Faculty member from Education as your mentor
  • Annual participation in research apprenticeship each week (12 plus hours, averaged over the year, depending on your individual arrangement) with your VEST mentor.
  • Fulfilling the annual progress indicators related to research training and experience that will be identified as part of an individualized annual plan that you develop with your School mentor and your current departmental advisor, including plans for writing papers and presenting at national conferences. (See the sample research plan table on our website.)
  • Enrollment in VEST required courses: Causal Inference and Field Experiments. o Enrollment in the Education Sciences Seminar (or equivalent course/workshop).
  • Attendance at the School's Education Research Lectureship Series during the fall and spring each year.
  • Participation in VEST workshops during the summer (or comparable workshops with permission).
  • Acceptance of the Fellowship also indicates your agreement to respond to the VEST annual survey after completing the program.
  • Your dissertation committee should include your School mentor and at least one other VEST Program Affiliate.
  • Encouraged to have your dissertation be on a topic of relevance to U.S. education.
  • Encouraged to participate in a summer Practice Based Research Experience, approved by your mentor.
  • Encouraged attendance at Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness Conference and submission of a proposal for a presentation or poster at that conference (or an approved alternative).
  • Encouraged to provide service to the program through tasks such as hosting speakers, facilitating workshops, mentoring summer interns, etc.
  • Encouraged to submit final, peer-reviewed manuscripts resulting from the research supported in whole or in part by the VEST Fellowship to Educational Resources Information Center upon acceptance for publication.

Financial Support

As an affiliate fellow, you acknowledge that your stipend, tuition/fees and health insurance will be covered by non-VEST funding sources. You are ineligible to receive any research or travel funds from VEST as an affiliate fellow.


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. Renewals can continue throughout the course of your academic program.