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Program Details

Grant Program: Postdoctoral Research Training Program in the Education Sciences
Contacts: Dr. Meredith Larson
(202) 804-7451

Dr. Corinne Alfeld
(202) 987-0835


This program funds groups of faculty research trainers who recruit, hire, and prepare postdoctoral researchers to conduct high-quality education research. IES encourages training programs to recruit fellows from underrepresented demographic groups including minority groups and those with disabilities, those coming from smaller or less well-known institutions, or those with non-traditional backgrounds including former practitioners or institutional researchers.

Each training program selects a unique focus area that aligns with one or more topic areas and project types in NCER's primary Education Research Grant competition (CFDA 84.305A) or with NCER's Statistical and Research Methodology in Education (CFDA 84.305D) grant competition. Starting in FY 2020, IES has been focusing on particular education research content areas of high-interest due to growing need for research on particular populations or issues. For example, for the FY 2021 competition, IES highlighted the need for training in four areas: adult learners with low skills, career and technical education, education leadership, and English learners.

As part of their training, postdoctoral fellows receive hands-on training, professional development support, and funds to cover research, travel, stipend, and benefits. The typical fellowship lasts 2 years, with a range of 1 to 3 years.

Why Postdoctoral Training?

In order to advance knowledge and theory in education research, the field needs highly skilled, well-trained researchers who are prepared with expertise in not only methodology and theory but also in communication and dissemination. Many talented potential researchers finish their doctoral programs with some, but not all, of the skills necessary to be effective education researchers. To help support their continued development, IES supports postdoctoral training programs across the country to recruit and train the next generation of researchers.

IES is specifically interested in ensuring that the next generation of researchers is prepared to conduct and use the type of work that IES funds. Thus, IES expects that fellows trained through this program will continue to work in the broad field of education research whether that be in academia, research firms, the private sphere (e.g., as curriculum developers), or the public sphere (e.g., as analysts for local, state, or federal agencies).


Since 2005, NCER has funded 47 Postdoctoral Training grants to universities that have trained a total of 208 postdoctoral fellows. Of these 208 fellows, the majority are female (67%). The following is the racial and ethnic breakdown of fellows for whom IES has data:

  • 74% are White
  • 7% are Asian
  • 5% are Black or African American
  • 2% are Multiracial
  • 1% are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • 6% are Hispanic or Latinx

Of these 47 programs, 7 are active and 40 have been completed. Of the 182 fellows who were trained under the completed programs and for whom IES has employment data as of 2020:

  • 71% were working for a college or university
  • 8% were working for a research firm
  • 4% were working for a state or local education agency
  • 4% were working in a private business or industry
  • 4% were working for an education organization or foundation
  • 2% were working for a government agency
  • 2% were self-employed or working in other types of positions

RELATED PUBLICATIONS Technical Working Group Minutes