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Learning and Design (M.Ed.)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Learning and Design Program Overview

Understand how learning happens both in and outside the classroom and how to develop instructional designs that support this learning through the master’s degree program in Learning and Design , an instructional design degree at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College.

Through this 10-month-long program, you’ll work to discover how learning happens across diverse settings and how to bolster and enhance it. You’ll create and study environments that have impact across scale, time, and context.

In the end you’ll be able to use this knowledge to contribute to and create innovative learning environments both in and out of school. From developing curriculum for an after-school art program to community initiatives that create safe spaces for homeless youth, this program focuses on understanding:

  • how people learn;
  • how contexts and tools influence learning; and,
  • how to design learning environments and activities to support learning.

The Learning and Design M.Ed. program is planned as an immersive instructional design program spanning mid-July to graduation the following May. Coursework is directly connected to schools, libraries, and community organizations to support your cohort in exploring connections and implications of theory in practice.

All M.Ed. candidates complete an individual Capstone Project which provides an opportunity for students to synthesize and demonstrate their understanding of the professional knowledge areas of Learning and Design.

M.D./M.Ed. Dual Degree Program

If you are a medical student interested in further training, expertise, and immersion in educational theory and practice while in medical school, you can complete a joint master’s degree in education (M.Ed.) and an M.D. degree. The dual degree program takes about five years to complete. You must apply to the M.D. and M.Ed. programs separately and must be accepted by both programs to pursue the dual degree.

Program at a Glance

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Learning and Design

Department of Teaching and Learning

Program Director: Andrew Hostetler
Admissions Coordinator: Angie Saylor
Admission Term: Summer
Credit Hours: 31
Priority Application Deadline: December 31* for fall entrance

* We will continue to accept applications after this date, but applications will be evaluated for admission and scholarships as space and funds are available .

Our Commitment

Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Core experiences in Learning and Design create opportunities for students to think critically about how people learn and how to organize conditions to support that learning. The diversity core drives and informs both the learning and design cores. Organizations and activities are often tacitly designed to support only a narrow segment of the population reflecting the backgrounds of the designers. Such a narrow perspective is not only inequitable and unethical, but it is also highly ineffective. The diversity core explores diversity and various approaches for supporting diversity through design.

Selected Courses Related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

EDUC 6020: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy - This course covers general principles and approaches to culturally responsive teaching such as how teachers can develop meaningful relationships with students, how teachers can learn from and about the school and local community, how teachers can develop and implement culturally responsive classroom management, and how teachers can develop expectations for students that maximize their capacity.

EDUC 7300: To Design for Disruption: Unmaking Social Inequality in Education - This course explores ways that identity, ideologies, and disciplinary practices, institutional structures and norms, and power relations function in STEM. Students will be able to articulate how contexts for STEM teaching, learning, and support shaped by interlocking systems of power create (in)equitable opportunities of academic success and positive identity development.

Selected Faculty Research Related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Rich Milner, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Education
Professor Milner is a researcher, scholar and leader of urban education and teacher education. Centering on equity and diversity, he examines the social context of classrooms and schools and looks at ways in which teachers’ talk (particularly about race) influences student learning, identity and development.

Nicole Joseph, assistant professor of mathematics education
Professor Joseph’s research explores two lines of inquiry, (a) Black women and girls, their identity development, and their experiences in mathematics (b) whiteness, white supremacy and how it operates and shapes underrepresentation of Black women and girls in mathematics. She is also the founder of the Tennessee March for Black Women in STEM, an event held every fall.

100% of job-seeking Learning and Design graduates were employed or attending graduate school within four months of graduation.

Click here to see a list of recent career placements:

Recent graduates with an M.Ed. in Learning and Design have gone on to the following positions, among others:
  • 2nd Grade Teacher, High Tech Elementary, San Diego, Calif.
  • 3rd Grade Teacher, Tollgate Elementary, Aurora, Colo.
  • Editor, Educational Resources, Barnes & Noble, New York, N.Y.
  • Education Project Specialists, Disney, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  • Head of Boys Campus, Wolfeboro Camp Schools, Wolfeboro, N.H.
  • Instructional Specialist, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Instructional Technology Coach, USAID - Qitabi, Beirut, Lebanon, Tenn.
  • Middle School Humanities: HR Assistance, Cape Henry Collegiate, Virginia Beach, Va.
  • Senior Researcher and Strategic Initiatives, The Citizens Foundation, Karachi, Pakistan

Learn more about Peabody Career Services.

Community Partners

The fieldwork component is central to this instructional design degree, allowing you to explore what instructional design actually looks like in different contexts, not just the theory behind it.

Current students have conducted fieldwork at:

  • local elementary, middle, and high schools within the Metro Nashville Public School network;
  • museums such as the Country Music Hall of Fame;
  • Vanderbilt University Medical School Pediatrics department;
  • sports coaching programs;
  • Nashville Public Library Studio NPL Makerspace sites; and,
  • local nonprofit organizations working with homeless, immigrant, and refugee populations ( Conexión Américas , Oasis Center, Nashville Rescue Mission).

Program Curriculum

Coursework through the Learning and Design program concentrates on the combination of core and elective classes. It culminates with a final Capstone project. Throughout the program you’ll focus on three interrelated core emphases: learning, design, and diversity

  • The learning core focuses on theories of learning and their application and implications in formal and informal settings. These theoretical perspectives provide the foundations for the design work.
  • The design core explores implications of the learning core through a user-centered design process, which emphasizes the importance of interacting with users from the very beginning of the process.
  • The diversity core drives and informs both the learning and design cores.

Common Core

You’ll complete 16 core credit hours that focus on learning, design, and diversity over the 10 months of the program. The program of study typically follows this schedule:

  • EDUC 7100 Learning Out of School
  • EDUC 8040 Diversity and Equity in Education
  • EDUC 6030 Learning and Instruction
  • EDUC 6080 Designing for Contexts
  • EDUC 7992 Capstone Seminar
  • EDUC 7810 Inquiry Into Contexts
  • EDUC 7992 Capstone Seminar (continuation from fall semester)


Past Capstones:

  • Podcasts and Education
  • Retuning and Refining Museum Educational Programming
  • Math, Motivation, & Technology: Envisioning an Engaging High School Math Classroom
  • Centralizing teachers as artists: a re-humanizing framework for curriculum adoption and implementation
  • Empathy as Learning: Activating Empathy in the Workplace
  • Build Back Better 2.0: Civic Design and Youth Empowerment
  • Introducing Elementary Engineering Through Making and Literacy
  • We edit and Yukon too!: Mashed potatoes and editorial review”

Elective Courses

You’ll complete 15 credit hours from any graduate level course in any department, college or university for which you are able. At least one of these electives will have a primary focus on diversity and at least one will have a primary focus on design.

Explore your elective courses
Program Curriculum


Department faculty come to Peabody College with years of experience in the classroom and a commitment to research that supports student learning. Current faculty research the design of learning environments, responsive curriculum design, and family and community engagement in the schooling process, among other topics.

Andrew Hostetler
  • Associate Professor of the Practice of Social Studies Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
  • Director, Learning and Design
Corey E. Brady
  • Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education and the Learning Sciences, Department of Teaching and Learning
Heidi Carlone
  • Katherine Johnson Chair in Science Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Noel Enyedy
  • Professor, Science Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Melissa S. Gresalfi
  • Dean of the Ingram Commons.
  • Professor of Mathematics Education and Learning Sciences and Learning Environment Design, Department of Teaching and Learning
Ilana Horn
  • Professor, Math Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Nicole M. Joseph
  • Associate Professor, Mathematics Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Luis A. Leyva
  • Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
  • Faculty Affiliate, Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies.
Kristen W. Neal
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Teaching and Learning