Masters of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science: Curriculum

METALS is an interdisciplinary program and students are encouraged to take electives from various departments within the university. This freedom allows you to tailor the program around your particular area of interest.

Degree Requirements

Six METALS Core Courses

All students are required to take the following six core courses (05-823, 85-738, 05-840, 05-392, 05-681 and 05-682):

  • Core Courses 

05-823 E-Learning Design Principles– Last taught by Kenneth Koedinger in Fall 2016

 “e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning’ by Clark & Mayer

E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning by Clark & Mayer

This course is about e-learning design principles, the evidence and theory behind them, and how to apply these principles to develop effective educational technologies. It is organized around the book “E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning’ by Clark & Mayer with further readings drawn from cognitive science, educational psychology, and human-computer interaction. You will learn design principles 1) for combining words, audio, and graphics in multimedia instruction, 2) for combining examples, explanations, practice and feedback in online support for learning by doing, and 3) for balancing learner versus system control and supporting student metacognition. You will read about the experiments that support these design principles, see examples of how to design such experiments, and practice applying the principles in educational technology development.

85-738 Educational Goals, Instruction and Assessment– Last taught by Sharon Carver in Fall 2016
Students will learn to use scientifically based principles and practical strategies for:

  1. developing learner models and educational goals based on detailed task analysis of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required for understanding and mastery,
  2. aligning the instructional program and its valid assessment with learners and goals, and
  3. considering additional aspects of learning environments that may impact implementation and evaluation.

05-840 Tools for Online Learning– Last taught by John Stamper in Fall 2016
In this course, we will explore issues that pertain to interaction and interface design. The class will focus on elements of the larger interaction design process including basic design principles, information architecture and navigation, planning and brainstorming methods, and techniques for developing rapid sketches and prototypes. Course Requirements: This class will not focus on learning specific software tools. Students are expected to have prior experience using a variety of design and programming tools. Please speak with the instructor if you have questions regarding these prerequisites.

05-392 Interaction Design Overview–  Last taught by Rita Lee, and Karen Berntsen in Fall 2016

In this course, the fundamentals of communication and interaction design including layout, typography, color, sketching, storyboarding, and the use of images are presented. Students will become proficient with these skills, and will become comfortable engaging in studio critique, a critical discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of a given design. Course assignments will take the form of several short exercises.

Students receive significant guided feedback from faculty and mentors.

Students receive significant guided feedback from faculty and mentors.

05-681 METALS Project I (12-unit spring course)– Last taught by  John Stamper and Bruce McLaren in Spring 2016
05-682 METALS Project II (48-unit summer course)– Last taught by John Stamper and Bruce McLaren in Summer 2016

Experiential learning is key component of the METALS program. Through a substantial team project, students apply classroom knowledge in analysis and evaluation, implementation and design, and develop skills working in multidisciplinary teams. The project begins in the spring semester before graduation and continues full-time through the final summer semester; it must be taken in consecutive spring and summer semesters. The course number for spring is 05-681 and for summer 05-682.

Five Electives

You may use the five elective courses to design the program to your individual interests, background and goals. You must choose a minimum of three electives from at least two of the three subject areas (Technology, Learning Sciences Theory & Instructional Design, Methods & Design). Electives may be cross-listed, but can only count in one subject area.

Each elective course must be the equivalent of a full-semester (9 or 12 unit) course; two mini (half-semester) courses (6 units each) count as one elective. Elective courses must be different from any that you may have taken as part of the METALS core, and they cannot have counted toward a degree previously awarded by CMU.

Electives must be individually approved by the METALS Director, on a case-by-case basis for each student to realize their program goals and future endeavors.


  • Personalized Online Learning (05-832)
  • Design of Educational Games (05-818)
  • Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (05-899 E)
  • Applied Machine Learning (05-834)
  • Machine Learning (10-601, 10-701)
  • Computational Models of Discourse Analysis (11-719)
  • Design & Engineering of Intelligent Information Systems (11-791)
  • Role of Technology in Learning in the 21st Century (05-838)
  • The Big Data Pipeline (05-839)
  • Mobile Service Innovation (05-899 B)

Learning Sciences Theory & Instructional Design

  • Learning and Motivation (05-899)
  • Cognitive Development (85-723)
  • Human Expertise (85-792)
  • Applications of Cognitive Science (85-795,05-795)
  • Research Methods for the Learning Sciences (85-748)
  • Role of Technology in Learning in the 21st Century (05-838)
  • Scientific Research in Education (85-736)
Methods & Design

  • Human Factors (05-813)
  • Game Design Workshop
  • Stats: Experimental Design for Behavioral and Social Sciences (36-749)
  • Design of Educational Games (05-818)
  • Service Design (05-898A)
  • Social Perspectives in HCI (05-772) / Computer Science Perspectives In HCI (05-773)
  • Research Methods in Human Centered Design (51-744)
  • Learning Media Design (05-691)
  • Learner Experience Design (51-886)

General Electives

Any Two Additional Course Above or Choose Two of:

  • Computer Mediated Communication (05-817)
  • Social Web (05-820)
  • Ubiquitous Computing (05-837)
  • Computer-Assisted Language Learning (11-717)
  • Inventing the Future of Services (11-794)
  • Analysis of Social Media (11-772)
  • Evidence-Based Management (94-814)
  • Language Acquisition and Technology (82-888 C)
  • Sensemaking: Cognitive, Social, and Technical Perspectives (05-899 A)
  • Crowd Programming (05-899 C)
  • Entrepreneurship (cross listed with ECE) (05-899 D)
  • Designing for Service (51-785)
  • Methodology of Visualization (51-831)
  • Web Accessibility (05-897)
  • Gadgets, Sensors and Activity Recognition in HCI (05-833)
  • Machine Learning Text Mining (11-741)
  • Advanced Web Design (51-828)
  • Designing Human Centered Software (05-891)
  • Language and Statistics (11-761)
  • Decision Making Under Uncertainty (95-760)
  • Other possibilities if approved by METALS Director

Two Place-out Courses

Place-out Opportunities

Carnegie Mellon’s METALS is a rigorous interdisciplinary program. Every student arrives here with his or her own set of talents and skills and we would like to reward you for your prior hard work by giving you the opportunity to “place-out” of several of the required courses.

We advise students to take advantage of this opportunity as it will give you more time to take electives, independent studies or various other courses that you may find of interest. If you choose not to take advantage of these place-out opportunities, then we cannot guarantee the completion of the program in 12 months.

  • Knowledge of Programming
    Proficiency in a programming language such as C, programming methodology and style, problem analysis, program structure, algorithm analysis, data abstraction, and dynamic data. Normally met through an introductory course in programming in C, C++, Pascal or JAVA, that requires the student to write programs of about 300-lines of code from scratch. Equivalent course at CMU is 15-100 Introductory/Intermediate Programming.
  • Knowledge of Statistics
    Basic concepts, logic, and issues involved in statistical reasoning, such as probability theory, methods for statistical inference, introductory research methods, exploratory data analysis, and the use of some statistical tests in the regression analysis and the contingency table families. Equivalent courses at CMU are 36-220 Engineering Statistics and Quality Control and 36-202 Statistical Methods.

Sample Plans of Study

Full Time Study

The METALS degree is designed to be earned in three semesters over the course of one year from August to August.  Here is a sample full-time schedule:

Fall Spring Summer
05-823 E-Learning Design Principles
85-738 Educational Goals, Instruction and Assessment
05-840 Tools for Online Learning
05-392 Interaction Design Overview
Elective 1
05-681 METALS Project I
Elective 2
Elective 3
Elective 4
Elective 5
05-682 METALS Project II

Part Time Study

Students have the option to complete the program on a part-time basis. By exercising this option, you will be able to tailor completion of the coursework to suit your needs. You will work with an adviser to set up an appropriate plan of study. Ideally students should be able to complete the degree within a period of two years by taking two courses per semester, including summers. During the summer METALS Project II course, students are expected to be enrolled as full-time students, and should make the appropriate arrangements with their employers for leave. Part-time students must also be aware that all HCI core courses are held during the day, so it is not possible to complete the degree as a night student. Also we cannot guarantee that all electives will be available during the summer.

The following is a sample part-time plan of study that keeps in mind required course sequences.

First Fall First Spring First Summer
85-738 Educational Goals, Instruction and Assessment
05-823 E-Learning Design Principles
Elective 1
Elective 2
Elective 3
Elective 4
Second Fall Second Spring Second Summer
05-392 Interaction Design Overview
05-840 Tools for Online Learning
Elective 5
05-681 METALS Project I
05-682 METALS Project II