Don’t see the answer to your question below?
Ask Joe!

What are the requirements to completing a PhD? Which courses are required and which are optional?

See the course requirements for more details.

How do I make sure I’m fulfilling the program requirements?

Speak with your advisor first. Barb Lienau, the Graduate Admissions Coordinator, can assist and provide the forms required for each phase of your academic process.

How do I get matched with an advisor?

Advisors play a central role in the admission process as mentors who determine how prospective students’ interests align with their research labs. The best way to find the right match for an advisor is to learn about each faculty members’ research, review their major publications, and talk to them about their current interests. In your Personal Statement in your application, make sure to include specific research topics related to faculty members’ work to demonstrate how this is a good fit for your program of study.

Is there a difference between the MAP and a Master’s degree?

The Major Area Paper (MAP) is the name for our program’s equivalent of a master’s thesis paper. Upon successful completion of your MAP (including approval by your advisor and two additional MAP committee members) and 36 credits of coursework, you are eligible to receive your Master’s degree.

How do I solicit dissertation committee members?

Committees to evaluate student work — including the Major Area Paper, Preliminary Exam, and dissertation — are assembled by the student and his or her advisor and approved by the Learning Sciences Area faculty and the faculty of the Department of Educational Psychology. Most students start the process by talking with their advisor and then contacting potential committee members to schedule a meeting and discuss their research and how the faculty member could provide insight.


How can I obtain funding?

PhD students in the Learning Sciences Program generally receive funding either in the form of a research position on funded projects or as a teaching assistant or lecturer on campus. Talk first with your advisor to see what options he or she can offer you. You may also be interested in reading the Grad Connections Weekly newsletter and checking out the Graduate School Funding page.

How can I get help with writing?

Faculty advisors provide mentoring in the writing process, and student peers in the department routinely read and comment on each others’ work. The Writing Center provides academic writing workshops for graduate students. They also provide individual online and face-to-face writing instruction and feedback with qualified writing fellows.They have multiple locations around campus. The Writing Center and Graduate School offer dissertation writing boot camps each semester. This opportunity is competitive and space is limited, so apply early.

What resources are available at the libraries?

The UW libraries provide catalogs and databases access to journals, books, theses and media. A little closer to home, as an Educational Psychology graduate student, MERIT provides journals and books, network drive access (SoE-AD accounts), poster printing, help with publication design, and workshops on citation managers and other publication tools. If you are teaching a course, they provide information on putting materials on reserve, Learn@UW instruction, and instructional design support.

What counseling and mental health services are available?

University Health Services provides individual, couple, and group counseling as well as other wellness services for students. They also provide dissertation support groups that are designed to provide support and discussion around the common emotional, behavioral and organizational challenges in the dissertation process.


What is an IRB?

The IRB or Institutional Review Board is a committee that oversees and approves all research at the University that involves human subjects. Nearly all work done in the Learning Sciences Area needs to be approved by this campus IRB.

How do I get training and help in IRB?

Start by talking with your advisor about the IRB process. If your project is associated with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), they provide grant services and an IRB toolkit and tutorial. Contact your IRB staff reviewer for questions.

What is the length of the IRB process?

The IRB committee meets once a month to review IRB proposals. Approval can take 1-2 months or longer.


What are some fun (and potentially free) things for graduate students to do in Madison?

The Memorial Union
Wheelhouse Studios provide Free Art Fridays and art classes with student discounts.
Hoofers is UW’s main outdoor adventure club
Henry Vilas Zoo
The food carts at Library Mall
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
The 13th floor of the Educational Sciences building has a fantastic view of Madison!