Learning Sciences overview

On this page: Director's message | Brochure | Distinguishing features of our programs | Program Outcomes | Graduate Outcomes | Contact for assistance

Director's message

Learning Sciences is an interdisciplinary field that draws primarily on psychological and social theories to study how learning and teaching can be facilitated with and without technology in both formal and informal settings and throughout the lifespan.

The McGill Learning Sciences program places emphasis on four core and interrelated areas: Cognition, learning and instruction; Self-regulation, motivation and emotion; Technology rich learning environments; and Social, cultural and historical foundations of learning.  Read more...

Under the general rubric of Educational Psychology, we offer three degrees with a Learning Sciences concentration: M.Ed., M.A., and Ph.D.

Our programs attract students from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, including undergraduate and graduate degrees in Science (e.g., Psychology, Neuroscience, Computer science, etc.), Education, Arts (Sociology, Psychology, etc.) and Engineering.  Read more about our current students’ profiles.

Our programs aim to foster theoretical, methodological and practical knowledge, complementary skills, and professional competencies through coursework, mentoring and supervision, project and thesis development, apprenticeships in research labs, teaching assistantships, and dissemination of research.  Read more...

Read about the distinguishing features of our Learning Sciences programs, our research labs, the exciting research projects that our faculty and students are engaged in, and funding opportunities.

You can also read about our alumni and the range of professions they are engaged in.  Read more...

And if you still have questions about our programs, please contact me.

Krista Muis
krista.muis [at] mcgill.ca
Graduate Program Director

Dr. Krista Muis
Program Director



Visit the program's Courses & Timetables page for links to current course offerings and degree-specific timetables.



Please visit the Learning Sciences Faculty page and the main ECP Research page to view websites of professors and research teams associated with the Learning Sciences program. Follow the links to individual research websites to learn more about specific research projects, graduate students involved in these projects, research and other apprenticeship opportunities, and funding. On the Research page, you will also find links to ECP faculty publications and full-text theses.



Learning Sciences Brochure [.pdf]


Distinguishing features of our programs

Programs at both the master's and doctoral level have several distinguishing features.

Emphasis on cognition, affect and motivation

Content courses offer in-depth views on the learning and teaching processes and mediating factors.  Examples include motivation, emotions, self-regulation, epistemic beliefs and reflection.

Emphasis on learning and instruction in different contexts

Programs offer the opportunity to study learning and teaching as they happen throughout the lifespan, in formal, informal, traditional and non-traditional, or technology based environments.  Examples include schools and postsecondary institutions, the workplace, hospitals, etc.

Emphasis on both research and application

The M.A. and Ph.D programs place strong emphasis on research methodology, the appropriate use of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies, and the application of research to improving learning experiences. Examples include design experiments, and experimental and quasi-experimental research.
The M.Ed. program emphasizes the applied aspect, the ability to critically evaluate research findings and to be able to translate relevant findings into concrete actions including the design, development and evaluation of learning and instruction in educational, professional and informal contexts.

Emphasis on interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research

Through participation in team-based research apprenticeships, brown-bag talks, and, where possible, exchange programs and industry based-internships, students are exposed to the potential contribution of the Learning Sciences to fostering effective learning.  Ongoing interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research and development programs initiated by faculty members, and students from professional disciplines who are obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree, provide a rich and unique exposure and training opportunity for graduate students.  Areas where there is a history of collaboration include medicine and other health professions programs, engineering, physics, law, management and social work.


Program Outcomes

The Master’s and Doctoral programs in the Learning Sciences offer stimulating environments for developing competent and inquiring professionals who can conceptualize and conduct applied and theoretical research in different settings.

Through coursework; mentoring; apprenticeship in research labs; assignments and examinations; thesis, dissertation and other research projects; and professional socialization, graduates develop competencies in four areas:


Content Knowledge

  • Foundational knowledge of cognitive science and the learning sciences
  • Socio-cultural foundations of learning and instruction
  • Knowledge of major educational issues and trends
  • In-depth knowledge of theories in the chosen research area

Read more


Methodological Knowledge

  • Intermediate knowledge of the design of learning environments
  • Intermediate research design
  • Intermediate quantitative statistical methods
  • Intermediate qualitative/mixed methods
  • In-depth knowledge of methodologies used in the chosen research area

Read more


Complementary Skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Ability to analyze and synthesize
  • Ability to communicate effectively in English

Read more


Professional Competencies

  • Ability to design and teach a course
  • Ability to review papers and provide constructive feedback
  • Ability to make effective professional presentations
  • Participate in and contribute to professional communities
  • Ability to disseminate research
  • Have a clear understanding of and a commitment to the ethical conduct of research


Graduate Outcomes


Content Knowledge and its Application

  1. Cognitive and motivational foundations of learning and instruction: Students should demonstrate knowledge of major epistemological, historical, and theoretical perspectives and the way they have shaped our understanding of instructional processes in different time periods. They should be familiar with key theoreticians and the associated seminal empirical literature.
  2. Socio-cultural foundations of learning and instruction: Students should be conversant about the origins of socio-cultural theories and the way in which they have influenced our views in designing, managing, and evaluating educational environments.
  3. Foundations of the Learning Sciences: Students should be conversant about the theoretical and historical foundations of the Learning Sciences and methodologies applied to the scientific understanding of how people think and learn in social contexts and what factors mediate such learning in formal and informal educational contexts that individuals encounter during their lifespan.
  4. Students should be able to apply their theoretical and empirical knowledge of learning and instruction to the design and assessment of both technology-rich and non-technology based environments.
  5. Students should demonstrate in-depth knowledge and expertise in the theoretical perspective adopted for their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation.

Knowledge of Research Methodologies and Their Application

  1. Research design: Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of philosophical foundations of educational research, basic research design concepts (e.g., independent and dependent variables, hypothesis testing), research approaches (e.g., descriptive, experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, case study, etc.), interdisciplinary research methods and analytic techniques, and issues of validity and reliability as they apply to the design and appraisal of published research.
    Students will be able to articulate coherent research questions and outline a research design commensurate with the stated objective and/or hypothesis, specify the relationship of variables, sample, and data sources.
  2. Data analysis: Students will have knowledge of quantitative and qualitative analytic approaches and be able to specify which specific analytic techniques are appropriate for which type of research questions. They will be able to interpret data in published literature and their own analyses.
  3. Research ethics: Students will demonstrate requisite knowledge of research ethics and professional conduct as an educational researcher.

Knowledge of Complementary Skills

  1. Electronic database searching: Students will have facility with doing comprehensive searches of electronic databases and other sources.
  2. Critical and analytical thinking: Students will demonstrate analytic capacity to conduct critical reviews of literature, including the critique of design and methodologies described in manuscripts, published work, and the work of their peers.
  3. Writing: Students demonstrate the ability to develop coherent, logical, error free and evidence based arguments in writing tasks (e.g., literature reviews, research proposals, applications submitted for funding, conference proposals, manuscripts prepared for publication, etc.). They will conform to APA guidelines in academic writing and apply other styles required by different journals.


Contact for assistance

For assistance or additional information, please contact:

Graduate Program Coordinator
Tel.: 514-398-4244

Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology
Faculty of Education, McGill University
3700 McTavish Street, Room 614
Montreal, QC  H3A 1Y2


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