In our Learning Sciences and Educational Psychology PhD program, you will gain the depth of knowledge and methodological sophistication necessary for original research that contributes to educational psychology and the learning sciences.

Program Overview

 Students will develop and demonstrate their knowledge of learning theory and design principles in the context of research and design projects. Your program advisor will help guide you through the requirements for degree completion.

Program Requirements

For a complete list of courses and requirements

Minor Area

As part of the Learning Sciences and Educational Psychology Ph.D. program, you will also complete a minor (12 s.h.) in a complementary area of interest to help you achieve your career and educational goals. Some minor areas include STEM education, educational measurement, and psychology. You will work with your program advisor to develop the right plan of study for you.

Pre-candidacy research project

Prior to your comprehensive examination, you will complete a research project of your choice under the direction of a faculty member. You will present your work in both oral and written form to the program's faculty and students. This experience provides you the opportunity to conduct a pilot study that will strengthen your thesis in terms of methods, instruments, theoretical grounding, or focus of research question.


As the culmination of your program, you will prepare and defend a dissertation on your research and its findings. Your dissertation provides an important juncture in the research trajectory of being a PhD graduate student, doctoral candidate, and educational professional.

Admissions and Application

Application Deadline: January 15

  • A bachelor’s degree from a Regionally Accredited American College or University, or an equivalent degree from another country as determined by the Office of Admissions.
  • Undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 or better on a four-point scale.
  • Graduate GPA or 3.00 or better on a four-point scale.
  • Although GREs continue to be waived for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle, students are strongly encouraged to include them as part of their admissions package. Minimum Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores of 150 (verbal) and 152 (quantitative) on the General Test. Successful applicants usually score higher. Please note that the GRE is not required for graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, or research assistantships within the College of Education, nor is it required for Graduate College fellowships. The GRE is a requirement for Special Graduate Assistantships (SGAs) offered through the Iowa Measurement and Research Foundation.
  • English Proficiency Requirements (international applicants)

  • Copies of official transcripts of all previous college work, graduate and undergraduate.
  • The GRE requirement has been suspended for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. Official GRE scores (UI Institutional code: 6681)
  • Official TOEFL scores may be required for some non-native speakers of English
  • A statement of purpose, including a statement of your personal career objectives and how a graduate degree in Learning Sciences and Educational Psychology will help you achieve those objectives.
  • Three letters of recommendation*

* You will be asked to give the contact information of your recommenders, including their email, on your Admissions Profile. The recommender will then get an email with instructions on how to upload the recommendation letter and/or form.

  • Review of applications begins February 1, when applicants who wish to be considered for fellowships and other awards are screened. Admission decisions are announced approximately six weeks after the application deadline.
  • Applicants who accept admission or financial aid and do not relinquish either one on or before April 15 may not solicit or accept another offer. Offers made by the program after April 15 include the provision that the offer is void if the applicant has accepted and continues to hold a previous offer from another program listed in the American Psychological Association publication Graduate Study in Psychology and Associated Fields. This policy is consistent with standards set by the association's Board of Educational Affairs.

Apply Now

Please review the required supplemental documents above before starting the general graduate application.

Contact Us


Application questions can be directed to: Anne Sparks, 319-335-2146,

We look forward to receiving your application!