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Funding Opportunities | Education Research Grant Programs

Program Announcement: Postdoctoral Research Training Program in the Education Sciences CFDA 84.305B

Program Officer:
Dr. Meredith Larson
Telephone: (202) 245-7037


The Postdoctoral Research Training Program in the Education Sciences (Postdoctoral Training Program) supports programs that prepare education researchers to conduct and communicate high-quality, independent education research that advances knowledge within the field of education sciences and addresses issues important to education policymakers and practitioners. It is intended to support the training of fellows who have high potential but may need more research experience and mentoring before launching their careers.

The Institute encourages recruitment of fellows from groups underrepresented in education research (e.g., racial/ethnic minorities, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities). Fellows who complete an Institute-funded postdoctoral training program are to have the skills necessary to produce research that is methodologically rigorous and aligned with the Institute's research programs (in particular, NCER's Education Research Grants competitions and NCER's Statistical and Research Methodology in Education competition), and to communicate their research findings effectively to researchers, education policymakers, and practitioners.

Postdoctoral training programs must provide practical, hands-on experiences; enrichment of theoretical and empirical knowledge; and opportunities to build professional skills and networks that will support working with other researchers and with practitioners, policymakers, and other education stakeholders. The Institute's objective is to build capacity for high-quality, scientific research and to address questions relevant to both theory and practice.

Although the Postdoctoral Training Program is open to applications focusing on any research topic identified in the Institute's Education Research Grants Program (CFDA 84.305A), the Institute particularly encourages applications that address research topics which have not generated large numbers of high-quality applications to the Institute's research grants competitions in recent years:

  • Education leadership: Education leaders include district superintendents and administrators, school principals, and other personnel in leadership roles at the school, district, and state levels (such as teacher-leaders, vice- and assistant principals, school boards, turn-around specialists, curriculum supervisors, talent management specialists, assessment directors, and principal supervisors). The Institute encourages the training of education researchers with the methodological and content expertise to design and conduct studies that can empirically link leaders (and their knowledge, skills, and behaviors) to student outcomes.
  • English learners (ELs): The Institute uses the term "English learner" to refer to any student whose home language is not English and whose English language proficiency hinders his or her ability to meet learning and achievement expectations for students at his or her grade level. As a group, English learners continue to lag behind their native English-speaking peers in U.S. schools. Education researchers need to be trained to understand the learning needs of students with diverse language backgrounds, as well as the factors that impact the educational opportunities of recent immigrants and refugees.
  • Struggling adult learners: The Institute defines a struggling adult learner as any student who is 16-years old or older, is outside of the K-12 system, and is at or below basic skills (may include students in adult education, career and technical education, or remedial postsecondary education). The Institute encourages training of education researchers to study how to better prepare low-skilled, struggling adult learners for the workforce and lifelong learning.

In addition to addressing specific research topics, the Institute encourages postdoctoral training programs to include meaningful opportunities for fellows to work closely with state and local education policymakers and practitioners in designing and conducting research projects in order to prepare fellows to establish and carry out research in full partnership with practitioners. The Institute's peer reviewers are asked to consider these issues in their evaluation of the Significance of the Postdoctoral Training Program applications.

Different models for postdoctoral training may be used. For example, an individual faculty member or researcher could be the sole mentor for one to two postdoctoral fellows and also the Principal Investigator for the project. Alternatively, several faculty members or researchers could jointly train up to four postdoctoral fellows with one serving as the Principal Investigator and all serving as researcher mentors.