Carnegie Mellon University

Program requirements and canonical schedule

To remain in good standing in PIER, you must, of course, remain in good standing in your Department, and also demonstrate satisfactory progress through PIER’s requirements summarized here:

Engagement in education research as part of an augmented research apprenticeship, with an interdisciplinary faculty committee, according to home department requirements. This includes:

Department coursework plus a 3.5-course PIER Core Sequence:

Additional Coursework / Individualized Training Experiences to meet PIER Core Competencies not otherwise covered in the student’s prior experience or the Home Department’s Program (e.g., Experimental Design, Statistics, Ed Technology, etc.)

Field-Based Experience (FBE) in an Educational Context to develop understanding and appreciation for the reality of classroom/school-based systems.

Integrated, Interdisciplinary Project (IIP)  to experience immersion in a PIER research team for an education research project culminating in a public presentation and possible conference presentation and/or publication.

Dissertation Research addressing practical questions in education.

Integration into PIER Community

  • PIER Networking Events (e.g., welcome event, Career Development and Networking workshops (CDN workshops), etc.)
  • Professional Development Seminar (Distributed through the AY):
  • Speaker Series: Several colloquia each year, plus 1.5 days of Student-only Pro-Seminar with Speakers
  • Bi-Weekly Brown Bag Series (the “EdBag”)
  • PIER officer positions (EdBag organizer, Guest Speaker organizer, Steering Committee student representative, Career Development and Networking workshop" (CDN workshop) organizer)
  • PIER mentor (to serve as an informal personal source of information for incoming cohort, etc)
  • Progress Evaluation via student’s self-assessment, PIER Steering Committee Evaluation Meeting, and departmental graduate evaluation processes.

In addition to the coursework and the EdBags, each year you are expected to attend at least one professional meeting that focuses primarily on Education Research.  In your first PIER year, you need not be on the program for the meeting.  In subsequent years, you are expected, at the least, to submit a proposal for a presentation or poster at this meeting.  Please remember to submit all IES supported papers to the ERIC clearing house, acknowledging IES support in all publications and presentations.IES strongly urges PIER trainees to attend either the Spring or the Fall meetings of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE). Another possibility is the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Other meetings with a strong education research focus might also be appropriate for this requirement.  . Final approval of all such travel has to be obtained from the IES program officer who oversees our PIER grant.  For foreign/international travel you must submit a special request. Final approval for this must also be obtained from the IES program officer.  (Expenses for approved meetings will be covered by PIER up to the limit of your $2,000 annual research and travel budget.)

Most importantly, we expect you to work with your advisors, in consultation with the PIER Steering Committee, to ensure that your dissertation work has clear educational implications.  In addition to your primary advisor, your Dissertation Committee must include at least one PIER Steering Committee member, plus another faculty member (typically, but not necessarily, on CMU’s faculty) who is a major contributor to Education Sciences research, and who adds breadth to the distribution of specific research foci among the committee. Your advisor can count toward one of these roles if she or he is an appropriate fit.

You may propose alternatives to this dissertation committee composition, but you must make a case that the proposed alternative would contribute to the overall goal of producing a strong dissertation with a solid interdisciplinary education research thrust.  Final approval of any such requested modifications will be determined by the PIER Steering Committee. 

In addition to these requirements for committee membership, PIER requires that the dates for your dissertation proposal and your dissertation defense must be scheduled so that both PIER’s Director and co-Director (currently David Klahr and Sharon Carver) indicate that they are able to attend.