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Frequently Asked Questions

Program Fit

Many students have a background in education, but you don’t need to have classroom teaching experience to be admitted. The L&D program focuses on how people learn and how to design learning environments instead of looking exclusively at teacher pedagogy.

Students who are collaborative, curious and passionate about working on problems of practice in school and non-school settings thrive in the program. We encourage students to bring their own ideas and interests so that they can fully leverage the flexibility of the program. The L&D program is less ideal for students who are looking for a more rigid, sequenced program model.
Strong applicants have a record of some work experience in educational settings where persistent problems of practice invite further inquiry in a rigorous graduate school setting. We greatly value the experiences that students bring to this program, so we take great care to ensure that each cohort is balanced. Right now, approximately half of our students have teaching experience in educational settings.


About the Program

Learning and Design is an intensive, 10-month program. Students start in July with two core courses. During the fall and spring semesters, students choose a total of 5 electives to complement their core courses. Students are immersed in field-based experiences in all core courses with community partners so that praxis and theory are intertwined. Students graduate in May, 10 months after they enter the program.
A long-term deep commitment to understanding human learning led to the creation of this program. We created a space for people who want to know about human learning and the design of learning environments to explore and expand their knowledgebase. It is one of the few programs that focuses on learning and design, particularly as they apply to K-12 contexts. The fact that this Master’s program is situated alongside the Learning and Design PhD program allows students to benefit from the expertise of faculty conducted cutting-edge research.
Each cohort is made up of extraordinarily qualified students and we are one of the most well- renowned programs in the country.
This program is unique in that it provides a flexible, creative space for people to draw upon the rich expertise of faculty regarding the design of learning environments. The L&D program has extraordinary faculty, who are conducting cutting edge research and building community relationships that connect our students to the world. Additionally, one of the signature strengths of the program is our students themselves, who bring a wide range of experiences to the program.
Yes, many of our students work 10-20 hours a week but the program is designed to be a fully immersive program where students are on campus or engaged in field embedded experiences.
We have 16 to 18 students in each cohort.


Program Coursework

Learning and Design centers on a core body of courses around learning, design, and equity that all students take. There is also an opportunity to craft a set of electives that reflect students’ personal areas of interest throughout the 10-month program.
No, this program is not a certification program. There are, however, other programs in the Department of Teaching and Learning that grant teacher licensure.
Core courses are cross-disciplinary and apply to educational settings broadly defined. Individual faculty bring their expertise in particular areas. Students can focus on a specific disciplinary knowledge areas or broader contextual factors in their elective choices.
The design of the program purposefully creates opportunities for the cohort to learn together through the core courses, but also creates opportunities for students to explore their own interests through electives.

Once students enroll, the advising process begins. Here is the link to all of the graduate school catalogs including Peabody, the Graduate school and others:

The Capstone Seminar is designed to support students to demonstrate their understanding of the professional knowledge areas of Learning and Design. Students are guided on the requirements through a mentoring process with Capstone Mentors.


After the Program

Graduates who engage in work in informal learning environments are employed by education-based non-profits, youth organizations, or afterschool programs. Some become instructional designers for a non-profit or for-profit company.

Students who come to the program from a K-12 teaching context often return to school contexts in a teacher-leader role, whether formal or informal. These students may continue to teach or may move into roles such as curriculum developers or instructional coaches.

Employers tell us that our graduates are often considered a leader in understanding human learning—they are the “go-to” because of their deep understanding of human learning. This makes our graduates unique in a wide variety of contexts.

For practicing educators, this program provides an opportunity for reflection on the reasoning behind teaching practices and the design of learning environments whether that be curriculum or other tools.



Here is the VU link for off campus housing. It also has a “room-mate finder”. From the electronic admission letter, click on “admitted student website” and scroll down past your welcome. At the end, there are links for “helpful information”.

Link for the off-campus housing:

Nashville is an interesting and vibrant city. A terrific place for young people to live, Nashville is rapidly growing and diversifying in terms of opportunities for graduates. In particular, the technology industry is growing exponentially, and Nashville’s strong healthcare industry continues to expand. Aside from the extensive professional opportunities here, there are so many wonderful local places to explore and have fun!


International Students

Unfortunately, no. For other international student-oriented questions, direct students to ISSS

International Students are required to take a pass/fail course during the fall semester that assists in helping them understand US Ed system:

Main objectives of the U.S. Education Concepts and Communication (USECC) course:

  • Understand educational concepts in the context of the U.S. educational system
  • Communicate effectively in presentations and discussions
  • Develop confidence in participating in graduate-level academic discourse
  • Explore and utilize educational research tools