Image: fNIRS demonstration

About This Educational Neuroscience PhD Program

The PhD Program in Educational Neuroscience (PEN) was founded at Gallaudet University by Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto (Chair, PEN Steering Committee), Dr. Melissa Herzig (Associate Director, PEN), and 

Dr. Thomas Allen (Director, PEN) in Fall 2012.  By design, the program was created in collaboration with 5 Gallaudet departments (Psychology, Linguistics, Education, Interpreting, and Hearing Speech and Language Sciences).  The PEN program was approved by the Board of Trustees on May 17, 2013 and opened its doors to the first class of PhD students in fall 2013 (Adam Stone and Geo Kartheiser).  This is Gallaudet's first interdisciplinary PhD program, and it includes our National Science Foundation, the Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning, VL2 (the PhD program's administrative home), and the Departments of Psychology, Linguistics, Interpretation, Education, and Hearing Speech and Language Sciences.  

Gallaudet's PhD Program in Educational Neuroscience pioneers how humans learn, spanning early child development and adults, with a special interest in the neuroplasticity of visually-guided learning processes sub-serving higher cognition. The PEN PhD program at Gallaudet further provides a unique strength in, and contribution to, pioneering advances in the learning and education of the young deaf visual learner.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Neuroscience at Gallaudet University offers graduate students access to a state-of-the-art curriculum on how humans learn across the lifespan. Graduate students are provided with the most cutting-edge knowledge, powerful critical analysis and reasoning skills, and advanced knowledge of, and expertise in, contemporary neuroimaging and behavioral research - and its ethical and principled application - which are vital to education and society. 

Graduate students will marry leading scientific discoveries about how children learn knowledge at the heart of early schooling (e.g., language, reading, math and numeracy, science, and social-emotional) with core challenges in contemporary education, and to do so in principled ways through "two-way" communication and mutual growth between science and society. Graduate students will also conduct state-of-the-art neuroimaging and behavioral research that renders new knowledge that both advances science and is useable, and meaningfully translatable, for the benefit of society (spanning parents, teachers, clinicians, medical practitioners, and beyond). The knowledge content of Gallaudet University's PhD Program in Educational Neuroscience will be utterly contemporary, with exciting focus drawn from prevailing questions and challenges in contemporary education.

At the most general level, students can expect to leave the PhD Program with general knowledge of overarching issues in language learning and bilingualism, reading and literacy, and child development (including early visual attention/processing, higher cognitive processes, number, and scientific concepts), educational assessments/interventions, schools/educational policy, and social-emotional family processes associated with young children, especially young deaf visual learners. Crucially, graduate students can also expect to achieve expert and specific knowledge in a select domain above, especially through their advanced doctoral dissertation research. In addition, graduate students may expect to achieve outstanding competence in contemporary brain-based neuroimaging and behavioral research as it is applied in ethical and principled ways to prevailing problems in education-indeed, scientific knowledge, experimental mastery, and translational significance at the very heart of Educational Neuroscience. Also unique to this program, PEN offers special resources, including study of Neuroethics and has an in-house, research dedicated neuroimaging facility in which interested students may select to achieve neuroimaging certification.  Petitto's Brain and Language Laboratory for Neuroimaging, BL2--a research-dedicated Neuroimaging resource at Gallaudet University--is the on-site neuroimaing training location for all PEN students (first year). 

For additional information, send email to: 


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