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Learning Sciences Distinction

The learning sciences focus on the processes of learning and the factors that shape successful learning. Disciplines that contribute to the learning sciences include cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, education, organizational theory, and computer science.

Learning science has a practical focus as well; it is intimately connected to the design of educational technology, learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom, and organizational policies.

Learning Sciences students visit fMRI facility

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Students can declare their intention to pursue the Learning Sciences Distinction at any point in their undergraduate career. Follow these steps to declare:

  1. Visit the Catalog of Opportunities website or access the OCC through myPitt.
  2. Log in to the Catalog using your University of Pittsburgh user name and password.
  3. Select Catalog of Opportunities dashboard on the top left corner.
  4. Search in the activities tab: Learning Sciences Distinction Declaration.
  5. Complete the declaration form.  


Key Components

The Learning Sciences Distinction incorporates three key components:

  1. Coursework in the learning sciences,
  2. Two semesters of research experience, and
  3. A capstone project.


Students will select:

  • One elective outside of their discipline that carries the Learning Sciences/Research attribute from across Pitt (3 credits).
  • One required pro-seminar, The Science of Learning: Brain, Classroom and Society (PSY1010) (3 credits). This course provides students with a rich overview of the learning sciences through a variety of lectures and interactive sessions led by senior faculty and researchers from departments across Pitt. Students also have a number of opportunities to see how learning sciences research unfolds at sites like schools, museums, and neuroscience labs.

High Impact Activities – Research

Students will participate in learning-related research for at least 2 semesters. Research participation may be for pay on funded research projects (e.g., work-study positions) or for credit. Students' time can be distributed across various projects or devoted to a single project.

Students are expected to undertake 3 credits worth of for-credit research in each semester, or work approximately 10 hours per week for each semester.


The distinction culminates in a capstone project where students communicate about their research experience with external audiences. The capstone project is a poster presentation summarizing involvement in a research project (what you did, what you found, why it matters).

All students are encouraged to submit their project for consideration to the Pitt Undergraduate Research Fair organized by the Office of the Provost.
Students will also be encouraged to present their work at other local conferences, such as:

As an alternative, the distinction will also accept a capstone project in the form of a paper publication in the Pitt Undergraduate Review.



For more information: Learning Sciences Distinction