MS, PhD and PostDocs

Pursue a Master of Science, PhD or Postdoc with Dr. Heffernan in software engineering, data science or the learning sciences!

Masters at wpi

Dr. Heffernan supports competent software engineers who are interested in pursuing a Masters. He is able to provide qualifying students with tuition remission and a stipend. For students who completed their Bachelors at WPI, you should consider applying if you excelled in the CS3733 course.

To learn about current and past students, please click here. Please apply directly to Dr. Heffernan via

PhD at WPI

Dr. Heffernan explain the various types of PhD students he supports.

potential applicants

Dr. Heffernan looks for PhD students who have at least one of the following:

1) a strong background in cognitive science, 2) a strong math background (probability, statistics, machine learning, data mining), and 3) research experience and published work.

Because of the large volume of inquiries, Dr. Heffernan only replies to prospective students if they seem like a good fit. When reaching out, please cc Dr. Heffernan's assistant Tricia Desmarais at

areas of study

Dr. Heffernan supports Ph.D. students in three areas: Computer Science, Data Science, and Learning Sciences & Technologies (LS&T). More specifically, he advises students who focus on educational data mining and software engineering that will be used to create tools that can be used to run randomized controlled trials on student learning. He especially loves working with people who have teaching experience. Support for many of the LS&T students comes from applications to the GAANN award. Prospective students should read Dr. Heffernan's recent papers to gage if their academic interests match his.

In order to see if you are a good fit for Dr. Heffernan's lab, please read about past PhD students.

ASSISTments Postdoc

Conducting experimental and computational research in the real world using ASSISTments

A postdoctoral position is available at Worcester Polytechnic Institute to do research on ASSISTments which bridges practical real-world education and scientific research on learning, being advised by Professor Neil Heffernan. Dr. Heffernan and his team have been funded by the NSF to help dozens of researchers to use the E-TRIALS Testbed as a shared scientific instrument, and we want someone to be a part of that mission.

ASSISTments is a platform that combines large-scale online education (like Khan Academy & MOOCs) with technology for rigorous scientific research using randomized experiments and data mining.

The applicant must have a PhD by the start of the position in education, psychology, computer science, information science or a related field. The initial appointment is for one year, renewable based on mutual interest and continued funding. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Conduct a range of interdisciplinary research across education, psychology, human-computer interaction, data mining and machine learning.
  • Support, systematize, and guide platform engineering for the process of having external researchers from multiple disciplines conduct research within ASSISTments.
  • Propose randomized controlled trials to be run in ASSISTments problem sets, developing assessments, data mining, and using machine learning and “MOOClets” to optimally transition from randomized experiments to maximizing and adaptively personalizing student learning.

For more information, learn about the Stages for Research with ASSISTments.

To apply, please email both