Notre Dame Program for Interdisciplinary Educational Research (ND PIER)

Students interested in learning to conduct research on educational practices, programs and policies should apply for the Rev. James A. Burns Fellowship to be a part of the Program for Interdisciplinary Educational Research. This fellowship provides a stipend for up to five years, along with professional development funding for research and travel. Interested students will apply as part of their graduate application to their departmental Ph.D. program.


What policies, practices, and programs work in education? Under which conditions are they effective? Who benefits from them? What are their unintended consequences?

To answer these questions and train the next generation of educational social science researchers, the University of Notre Dame offers an interdisciplinary pre-doctoral training program, the Program for Interdisciplinary Educational Research (ND PIER). This program will prepare students in state-of-the-art quantitative methods to rigorously examine the impact of educational practices, programs and policies. Students will be proficient in demonstrating what works in education.

Drawing on the expertise of the Fellows of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives in Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, STEM Education, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and other affiliated centers, we will train students in research design, implementation, analysis, and inference.

Fellows of the program will be prepared to:

  • Understand the impact of educational reforms at various levels of the education system,
  • Apply rigorous statistical methods to student outcome data,
  • Create and carry out field-based randomized studies on educational issues,
  • Work on interdisciplinary research teams and projects

A Coordinated Program of Study

Working within the framework of the Ph.D. course requirements of their respective departments, students will participate in a small number of interdisciplinary courses to increase their knowledge and skills in educational social science. They will also join a bi-monthly seminar hosted by prominent educational researchers.

Fellowship Benefits

Students admitted to ND PIER will be awarded the Rev. James A. Burns Fellowship.

In addition to the stipend – including full tuition remission and health insurance – typically awarded Ph.D. students, students will receive:

  • A top-off award of $5,000-$10,000 for up to five years
  • Professional development funding for research and travel (about $2,500/year)

How to Apply

Students apply to the Burns Fellowship as part of their application to one of Notre Dame’s Ph.D. programs (Economics, Political Science, Psychology, or Sociology). On the “Uploads” page of the application, students should submit a 300-word statement of interest describing their fit with the fellowship, and elaborating on their interests in educational practices, programs, and policies. 

After departments screen candidates, the ND PIER Program Committee will review applications and admit students across affiliated departments and faculty.

View the PDF 

If you have questions, please contact Kristi Donaldson at kdonalds@nd.edu or 574-631-3167.