Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) Predoctoral Fellowships
What is VEST?
The Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) Program prepares students to apply theory and methods from the social sciences to research on schools and classrooms. Program faculty and students strive to improve equity and evidence in education through their work. Since 2004, the VEST Program has received grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to prepare a future generation of education researchers on use of theory and methods that support causal inferences in studies of school, classroom and programs. The VEST program is led by faculty and staff at the School of Education and Human Development at UVA including Sara Rimm-Kaufman, Jim Wyckoff, Mary Alex, Natalia Palacios, Daphna Bassok and others.
Consider just a few of these tough questions and problems. How do we prepare teachers to be effective? What are the effects of teacher evaluation on teachers’ performance? How do children’s self-regulatory abilities develop as a function of their home and school experiences? What classroom conditions are needed to best support the need of multilingual students (English Learners)? How do we develop high quality assessments for kindergarten readiness and then implement those statewide? These are just a few examples of the kinds of education science questions and problems that VEST fellows and faculty address.
VEST fellows experience an exciting set of courses, workshops and speakers. Through these experiences, fellows learn a set of rigorous experimental and quasi-experimental methods that help them develop proficiency in designs that allow for causal inference. Further, students increase their exposure and depth in at least one of four areas including teacher quality, early childhood, social and behavioral context for academic learning, and post-secondary and adult education.
The Research-Practice Partnership Experience (RPE) is a hallmark characteristic of the VEST fellowship. Too often, we see a gap between the knowledge produced by researchers and the information that policy-makers and educators need to make decisions. As part of the VEST fellowship, students work in partnership with an outside agency (e.g., state department of education, school district, education non-profit) and learn the intricacies of full partnership. Not only do fellows leave the program prepared to conduct rigorous research, the problems they choose and the approaches they take are much more relevant as a result of their training.
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 eligible 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.
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 Sara Rimm-Kaufman for more details.
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 of Education and Human Development 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:
- Sara Rimm-Kaufman, Director
- Jim Wyckoff, Associate Director
- Natalia Palacios, Program Coordinator for EP-ADS
- Daphna Bassok, Program Coordinator for EPW
- Mary Alex, VEST Program Coordinator
VEST Faculty at the School of Education and Human Development:
- Brendan Bartanen, Education
- Catherine Bradshaw, Education
- Julie Cohen, Education
- Nancy Deutsch, Education
- Jason Downer, Education
- Jennie Grammer, Education
- Chris Hulleman, Education
- Lieny Jeon, Education
- Jamie Jirout, Education
- Veronica Katz, Education
- Luke Miller, Education
- Bob Pianta, Education
- Beth Schueler, Education
- Jim Soland, Education
- Jessica Whittaker, Education
- Amanda Williford, Education
- Vivian Wong, Education
VEST Faculty at the School of Arts and Sciences and Batten School of Public Policy:
- Joseph Allen, Psychology
- Benjamin Castleman, Education
- Leora Friedberg , Economics
- Noelle Hurd, Psychology
- Angeline Lillard, Psychology
- Amalia Miller, Economics
- Dan Player, Economics
- Josipa Roksa, Sociology
- Sarah Turner, Economics and Education
- Dan Willingham, Psychology
- Tim Wilson, Psychology
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.
Open Doors Summer Research Program
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, 2014, and 2020 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.
VEST prepares a new generation of education researchers.
We asked four VEST alumni to reflect on their experiences with core aspects of the VEST program.
Diversity and Equity:
Research Practice Partnership:
- Student Spotlight: Christina Mulcahy Discusses Her Early Math Work and Mentoring Experience at Curry
- VEST Alumna Uses Curry Training as Springboard for Future Work with Communities of Color
- Two SURP Interns Discover Their Passion for Research Through Support at Curry
- New Career Options Open Up for Two SURP Interns While at Curry This Summer
- Curry Alumna Anne Cash on Her Passion for Teacher Training and Current Research
- Student Spotlight: Two Ed Policy Students Reflect on the MPP/PhD Dual Degree Program
- Class of 2016: Undergrad Researcher Returns for Curry Ph.D.
- Ed Policy Ph.D Alumna Reflects on Her Time at Curry and in the MPP Dual Degree Program
- Ed Policy Graduate Student Joins AEI’s 2016 Academy on Education Policy
- Student Profile: Francisca Romo Aims to Return to Chile and Make a Difference
- Fitzpatrick Answers Questions on her VEST Experience at Curry and U.Va. Economics Department
- Leslie Booren Named 2015 Outstanding EHD Staff Member
- Alumnus Myles Durkee Discusses His Research on the Racial Experiences of Minority Students
- Student Spotlight: Katherine Ross Creates a Social Emotional and Mindfulness Research Agenda
- Ed Policy Grad Student Shares His APPAM Research Conference Experiences
- Ed Policy Student Wins AERA-MET Dissertation Fellowship to Study Changes in Teaching Practice
- Student Profile: Carol Paxton Focuses on What Teachers Need to be Successful
- Student Profile: Amy Roberts Wants Her Research to Impact Teachers and Policy Makers
- Student Spotlight: Scott Latham Broadens His Interests in Education Policy at U.Va.
- Curry School Students and Faculty Have Strong Showing at Annual Education Research Conference
- Holland Banse wants to bridge the gap between research and practice
- CASTL’s Jeff Kosovich Publishes on Carnegie Commons Blog
- Student Profile: Helyn Kim Returns to Curry to Focus on Researching Early Foundational Skills
- Student Profile: Micela Leis Wants Every Child to Feel Excited About Going to School
- Student Spotlight: Mindy Adnot Tackles Tough Teacher Evaluation Issues
- Alumna Laura Brock Reflects on her Research Training at Curry
- EdPolicyWorks Profiles Prof. Gibbs and Economics Graduate Student Zagardo
- Two SURP Interns Describe Their Preparation for Graduate School
- Curry Resources and Support are Key for Two SURP Interns
- Teamwork is the Foundation for Graduate School for Two SURP Interns
- Mentoring Research and Being Mentored is Top Priority for Two SURP Interns
- Class of 2014: Manuela Determined to Improve Education Everywhere
- Ed Policy Student Lands AERA Grant to Study Changes in School Readiness
- Terri Sabol Wants to Help Nation's Neediest Children Through Research and Policy
- Members from VEST participate in key roles at CRC
- School of Education and Human Development Faculty and Students Head to AERA
- LoCasale-Crouch Discusses VEST and Why She Stayed at the Curry School
- Dunlop Answers Questions on her VEST Experience at Curry and U.Va. Economics Department
- Prof. Castleman Enhances the Mentorship Model at EdPolicyWorks
- VEST Alumna, Wei-Bing Chen, Answers Questions on her Curry Experience
- Q&A: Alumna Reflects on Key Research Skills Gained at Curry
- Student Spotlight: Chelsea Duran Tackles Issues of Inequity and Discusses How to Approach Educational Research in the Real-World
- Ed Policy Students Inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha Through Work in Curry, Batten Dual Degree Program
- Student Spotlight: Triple ’Hoo Shares Thoughts on Ed Policy Research and Earning Her 4th UVA Degree
- Ed Policy Student Wins Bankard Fellowship to Study Principal Effectiveness
- Student Spotlight: Ed Policy Doctoral Candidate Starts as a Student Teacher, Now Studies Policies to Support Teachers' Development
- Student Spotlight: Ed Psych Doctoral Candidate Returns to UVA after a Career in Law to Study Race and Diversity
- EP-ADS Grad Student Joins Network of Doctoral Scholars, a Program to Increase Faculty Diversity
- Doctoral Students Win Award for Creating Writing Group for Black Scholars at UVA