How do cognition, motivation, social interaction and culture affect human learning and development? These are some of the fascinating topics you’ll study through UWM’s Learning and Development Program.

This graduate-level program emphasizes the perspective of the learner and trains students to conduct cutting-edge research applied to a broad range of learning contexts — from schools to museums to home — throughout the human lifespan. Students in the L&D program can pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in Educational Psychology while working closely with one of our faculty members.

Graduates of the MS program go on to pursue a PhD (often in Educational Psychology or a related field) or find jobs in education and/or research settings in the private or public sectors. Many graduates of our PhD program pursue careers at research institutes and universities.

Why Choose Our Program?

  • You’ll develop a deep understanding of the psychological foundations of education and explore the latest theories and research related to human learning and development.
  • You’ll work closely with internationally known faculty who have a wide range of research interests, including normative development of ethnically diverse youth, generalization in young learners, and how individual and familial processes are shaped by cultural contexts, including immigration.
  • You’ll be well prepared for jobs in education, research, marketing, program evaluation and more.

Program Faculty

Susie D. Lamborn, PhD, Associate Professor
Dr. Lamborn’s research focuses on adolescents and their families, seeking an empirically-based understanding of the normative development of ethnically diverse youth.

Chris Lawson, PhD, Associate Professor
Dr. Lawson’s research examines the development of generalization: How do children use what they have learned in one situation to make sense of new situations? The main goal of this work is to understand which examples and situations are the most likely to support generalization in young learners.

Jacqueline Nguyen, PhD, Associate Professor
Dr. Nguyen’s research explores the ways individual and familial processes (such as ethnic identity development, acculturation, and parent-child/adolescent interactions) are shaped by cultural contexts, including immigration. She specializes in qualitative research and working with community organizations.

About The Program

Students completing the PhD program receive a PhD in Educational Psychology from the School of Education with a specialization in Learning and Development. Students completing the master’s program receive an MS in Educational Psychology with a specialization in Learning and Development; this does not lead to licensure or state certification. Graduates of the MS program may later pursue a PhD (often in Educational Psychology or a related field) or find jobs in education and/or research settings in the private or public sectors. Many graduates of our PhD program pursue careers at research institutes and universities.

L&D degree options are as follows:

Master’s Degree
The MS degree requires 30 credits, which may include up to 6 thesis credits: 9 credits of required core courses, 15 credits (5 courses) within the L&D program chosen in consultation with your advisor, and 6 elective credits that can be taken from a program other than Learning and Development. Courses are typically selected in consultation with the advisor to meet the student’s career or academic interests. In the final semester of coursework, MS students must pass a milestone for degree completion consisting of either a Master’s thesis (an independent research study) or a comprehensive examination (PDF).

You can also participate in research activities with our faculty, although it’s not a required component of the MS degree program. Learn more about degree requirements on UWM’s Graduate School website.

Learning & Development MS Required Courses (PDF)

In addition to required coursework, you’ll work closely with faculty to develop research skills that will help you prepare for research and teaching positions in academic settings as well as other leadership roles that require expertise in development, learning and research skills. Faculty mentorship is centered on the development of a thesis topic that will become your dissertation. Additionally, throughout the program, you will have opportunities to gain research experience by working on projects with one or more of our professors. The PhD is granted upon a successful completion of program and Graduate School milestones, including a preliminary exam (PDF) and successful defense of your dissertation research. Learn more about degree requirements on UWM’s Graduate School website.

Learning & Development PhD Required Courses (PDF)

Doctoral Minor
The L&D minor is for students in other degree programs who wish to earn a concentration of studies in learning and/or human development. A minor in L&D would be a particular benefit to individuals who desire added training in understanding the psychological underpinnings and contextual factors that influence child and adolescent understanding and interpretation of their learning or social environments or development across the lifespan.

Students must take a minimum of 9 credits (in addition to those required for the PhD) to earn a transcript-designated L&D doctoral minor.

Application Information

All application materials must be submitted through UWM Graduate School’s online application by the stated deadlines. Please note that these dates are different from the Graduate School’s application lock date. The L&D area reviews applications twice a year.

UWM Graduate School Online Application Form – MS

UWM Graduate School Online Application Form – PhD

Panthera will collect information about your educational background, transcripts, personal statement/statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, writing samples, application fee, and an application for a teaching assistantship, if you choose to apply for one (doctoral students must apply by the Fall deadline, typically December 1, for full consideration of funding).

Letters of recommendation are optional for the MS degree application and required for the PhD application. The PhD program requires 3 letters of recommendation. These letters must be submitted through the application’s electronic recommendation feature by the recommenders themselves. Letters uploaded or sent by the applicant will not be accepted.

When you request a letter of recommendation, your recommender receives an email with a link to upload his or her letter directly to UWM. Doctoral applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and GRE scores whereas MS applicants may submit letters and GRE scores as additional evidence of admissibility.

All students must meet the minimum requirements for admission stipulated by the UWM Graduate School.

Questions about admissions?

Allison Hochmuth
Graduate Program Admissions Specialist
Office of Student Services
(414) 229-4599

Advanced Opportunity Program (AOP) Fellowship

Advanced Opportunity Program (AOP) Fellowship Application

AOP application deadline for graduate students in Educational Psychology is January 22nd.

Students in Educational Psychology graduate programs are eligible for funding opportunities through the Graduate School. The Fellowships and AOP awards information can be found on the Graduate School Types of Funding webpage. Those applications are due in late January for internal ranking in the department. We then submit it to the Graduate School by their deadline in early February for the upcoming Fall term.

Program FAQ

Learning and Development Program Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Learning and Development Course Rotation
The Course Rotation Schedule (PDF) is intended to help you and your advisor plan your coursework schedule. Please consult the latest Graduate School Bulletin for course descriptions; you may also consult the UWM online schedule of classes for descriptions of courses offered during the current academic year.
Informational Meetings
Interested in learning more about the MS or PhD degree in Learning & Development program? Please come to campus for our monthly information meeting. Upcoming meetings in Fall 2018 will be on:

  • Friday, September 14, 3:00 – 4:00 pm in Enderis Hall Room 788
  • Thursday, November 1, 4:00 – 5:00 pm in UWM Student Union Room 183. Plan to attend the Graduate School Open house after this information session!

Enderis Hall is located at 2400 E. Hartford Ave. UWM Union is located at 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. Check our Facebook page/events for more information.

The meeting is informal and does not require a reservation in advance. However, please let Dr. Jacqueline Nguyen ( know if you plan to attend.

Professional Development & Future Employment

The Graduate School provides a range of resources for student professional development on its website.

UWM also has a membership with The Versatile Ph.D. “the largest online community dedicated to non-academic and non-faculty careers for PhD graduates.” This is a great resource for students who plan to pursue careers outside of academia.


Chris Lawson, PhD
Associate Professor & Area Chair
Educational Psychology