The Learning Sciences & Human Development (LSHD) master's program focuses on research, theory and professional knowledge about learning environments. Areas of study include K–12 schools, community settings, museums and the variety of contexts that young people navigate in their everyday lives, including digital media and gaming. Although we have a primary focus on children and youth, several faculty members also study processes of teacher learning.

The program is structured in ways that emphasize the bridging of theory and practice, lending primary emphasis to academic study and research. The program is designed to provide an academic and practical foundation that prepares students for a variety of career pathways. These include, but are not limited to, work in K–12 education, youth-serving community organizations, educational research firms or in the private sector. Faculty advisors and students build programs of study that meet program goals and the student's interests.

Prior Experience

To make the most of the LSHD MA program, it is helpful—though not required—for students to have taken coursework focused on learning and human development. For example, courses that address topics such as how people learn, cognition and the social and cultural contexts of development, including the study of culture, race, ethnicity, gender or linguistics would be relevant. Commensurate professional or paraprofessional experience in educational settings—in and out of school and with youth and adults—is also a valued prior experience.


Required Courses and Credits

Students must successfully complete 30 credit hours of approved coursework while maintaining at least a B (3.0) average in all work attempted while enrolled.

Students develop a degree plan in consultation with their faculty advisor, typically in their first semester. The frequency of course offerings varies; therefore, candidates should plan ahead so that the required 30 credit hours are completed within the four-year limit.

Core Requirements
EDUC 5716Basic Statistical Methods3
EDUC 5726Introduction to Disciplined Inquiry3
EDUC 6318Psychological Foundations of Education3
EDUC 6328Advanced Child Growth and Educational Development3
Core Electives
Choose at least 6 additional credit hours of courses at the 5000 level or above from within the School of Education, to be chosen from the following categories in consultation with your advisor. (Suggested options below.) 16
Learning and Development
Critical Introduction to Learning Theory and Practice, Part 1
Human Development in Cultural, Historical, and Sociopolitical Contexts
Curriculum and Instruction
Teaching for Understanding and Equity
Learning and Technology
See special topics courses.
Philosophy of Education
Area of Specialization
Students will develop their Area of Specialization in close dialogue with their advisor. Courses for the Area of Specialization may be taken outside or inside of the School of Education.6
Capstone Project6
Total Credit Hours30

Capstone Project

The capstone project is the culminating academic experience for students in the MA program. The capstone project is meant to provide a context in which students can use the conceptual and methodological tools, along with their grounded professional experiences to develop a project designed to integrate their lived experiences with the knowledge they have gained through coursework.

Time Limit

The master's degree must be completed within four years.

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit is defined as any credit earned at another accredited institution, credits earned on another campus of the CU system, or credits earned as a nondegree student within the CU system. Students who have transfer credits must complete the transfer of credit paperwork.

The maximum amount of work that may be transferred from another accredited institution to CU Boulder is 9 credit hours, and is accepted only after approval of the department chair/program director and under the special conditions outlined in the Graduate School Rules. All courses accepted for transfer must be graduate-level courses. A course in which a grade of B- or lower was received will not be accepted for transfer.

Transfer coursework must have been completed in the five years prior to acceptance to the program. Credit may not be transferred until the student has completed 6 credits of graduate-level coursework as a degree-seeking student on the CU Boulder campus with a 3.0 GPA.