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Cross-Area Specialization - Learning Sciences and Technology Design

The learning sciences are dedicated to the systematic study and design of psychological, social, and technological processes that support learning in diverse contexts and across the lifespan. Students in the Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) Ph.D. program complete foundational research on learning, and they design innovative learning technologies. Graduates of the program take leadership positions as faculty, research scientists in universities and companies, designers and evaluators of formal and informal learning environments, and in learning technology policy-making.

A significant challenge for the field is to prepare scholars with expertise in the multiple areas relevant to learning in meaningful contexts. The LSTD curriculum includes courses on learning, research, and design, as well as small integrative seminars and explicit apprenticeship opportunities. Students also develop advanced technical proficiencies in a medium of their choice (e.g., programming, computer animation, graphics design, simulation modeling, robotics, user experience design, game development, video production, museum display).

Students interested in the program apply to the Learning Sciences and Technology Design specialization in the online university application for graduate admission form. In the online form, under Additional Academic Interests, applicants should indicate the area with which they wish their LSTD program be linked: Developmental and Psychological Sciences (DAPS), Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education (CTE) or Social Sciences, Policy and Educational Practice (SHIPS).  As a unique cross-area specialization, students will study the learning sciences and technology design within the context of the area (DAPS, CTE or SHIPS), to which they are formally admitted also. In their first year, students work within the requirements of their area to build a strong base of disciplinary knowledge while also developing additional discrete skills relevant to LSTD. Starting with the second year and working closely with their LSTD Faculty Advisor to design a personalized program, students advance their interests and abilities by integrating the distinct skills and area perspectives in applying their theoretical, research, and design work to specific topics in learning.

More information about degree requirements is available in the Doctoral Degree Handbook.

Stanford University, situated in Silicon Valley, provides unique resources for the doctoral student including interactions with world-class faculty who have expertise or interests in technology, access to industry leaders, and on-going exposure to state-of-the-art developments. Stanford University and the Graduate School of Education draw the finest students from around the world, ensuring a rich graduate experience. The LSTD program benefits from its close ties to the H-STAR Institute (Human Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research), an interdisciplinary center at Stanford focusing on people and technology, and its industry affiliates program, Media X, as well as faculty and courses associated with the d-School at Stanford – an institute using design thinking to drive multidisciplinary innovation. The Ph.D. program has grown from a common vision among a broad base of professors whose interests range from visualization and agent technologies to the analysis of cultural and collaborative processes in education and informal learning. The faculty believes that the development of new information and communication technologies provides a powerful coordination point for joining previously isolated bodies of scholarship to understand and enhance learning.

Graduate training in the LSTD program benefits from use of Stanford's advanced computing and teaching facilities, including Wallenberg Hall (Building 160) on the front of the campus on the central quadrangle, where H-STAR is located, and the Graduate School of Education's CERAS computer labs.

Area Faculty

Many other faculty within the Graduate School of Education and Stanford's departments related to the LSTD program (especially Computer Science, Communications, Psychology, Linguistics and Engineering) will contribute to a vibrant intellectual culture for LSTD students.

To learn more about the LSTD program, its requirements and faculty research interests, and other issues, please download our document providing many answers to frequently asked questions.

Contact Information

For additional inquiries, please contact LSTD Director and Professor Roy Pea.

To learn about the Department of Information Technology that serves the Graduate School of Education community and the LSTD program, see