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2018-2019 Graduate Studies Bulletin 
  Apr 15, 2024
2018-2019 Graduate Studies Bulletin [Archived Catalog]

Early Childhood Education, Ph.D.

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The Ph.D. degree provides students with an ecological approach to studying young children from birth to age 8. Graduates are prepared to be researchers, teacher educators, or leaders who serve as advocates for children and families. Seminars become the staging area for students to enter the professional conversation through readings, analysis, formulation of futuristic views, participation in curriculum decisions, professional associations, research projects, and scholarly writing.

Learning Outcomes

  • Promoting Child Development and Learning. Candidates use their understanding of young children’s characteristics and needs, and of multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning, to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for all children.
  • Building Family and Community Relationships. Candidates know about, understand, and value the importance and complex characteristics of children’s families and communities. They use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to involve all families in their children’s development and learning.
  • Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families. Candidates know about and understand the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment. They know about and use systematic observations, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence children’s development and learning.
  • Teaching and Learning. Candidates integrate their understanding of and relationships with children and families; their understanding of developmentally effective approaches to teaching and learning; and their knowledge of academic disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote positive development and learning for all children.
  • Growing as a Professional. Candidates identify and conduct themselves as members of the early childhood profession. They know and use ethical guidelines and other professional standards related to early childhood practice. They are continuous, collaborative learners who demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on their work, making informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources. They are informed advocates for sound educational practices and policies.

Essential Professional Tools for All Candidates in Advanced Programs

  • Cultural Competence. Advanced program candidates demonstrate a high level of competence in understanding and responding to diversity of culture, language, and ethnicity.
  • Knowledge and Application of Ethical Principles. Advanced program candidates demonstrate in-depth knowledge and thoughtful application of NAEYC’s Code of Ethical Conduct and other guidelines relevant to their professional role.
  • Communication Skills. Advanced program candidates possess a high level of oral, written, and technological communication skills, with specialization for the specific professional role(s) emphasized in the program.
  • Mastery of Relevant Theory and Research. Advanced program candidates demonstrate in-depth, critical knowledge of the theory and research relevant to the professional role(s) and focus area(s) emphasized in the program.
  • Skills in Identifying and Using Professional Resources. Advanced program candidates demonstrate a high level of skill in identifying and using the human, material, and technological resources needed to perform their professional roles and to keep abreast of the field’s changing knowledge base.
  • Inquiry Skills and Knowledge of Research Methods. Using systematic and professionally accepted approaches, advanced program candidates demonstrate inquiry skills, showing their ability to investigate questions relevant to their practice and professional goals.
  • Skills in Collaborating, Teaching, and Mentoring. Advanced program candidates demonstrate the flexible, varied skills needed to work collaboratively and effectively with other adults in professional roles.
  • Advocacy Skills. Advanced program candidates demonstrate competence in articulating and advocating for sound professional practices and public policies for the positive development and learning of all young children.
  • Leadership Skills. Advanced program candidates reflect on and use their abilities and opportunities to think strategically, build consensus, create change, and influence better outcomes for children, families, and the profession.


In addition to The Graduate School’s application requirements, applicants must submit a letter of intent.

Degree Requirements (30 Post Masters Hours)

1. Total hours required:

A minimum of 90 hours beyond the baccalaureate degree, the last 30 of which must be completed no more than eight years prior to graduation.

2. Qualifying examination:

A 4-hour written and oral examination taken upon completion of a minimum of 9 semester hours of graduate course work after admission to the Ph.D. program.

3. Program of Studies:

The student’s program advisory committee will evaluate previous course work and experiences and recommend appropriate courses to ensure that at the completion of the program the student can demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions typically developed in the following course work:

Area 3: Research Hours

12 hours minimum, at least 2 quantitative (beyond EDRM 700 ) and 2 qualitative are required.

Area 4: Cognate

9 hours minimum outside of the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education.

Area 5: Foundations of Education

3 hours minimum in each area

  • alternative philosophies
  • public school curriculum
  • theories of human development
  • systematic investigation
  • policies and procedures in education

Area 6: Electives

15 hours minimum

4. Foreign Language:

May be satisfied by demonstrating competency in a foreign language, an alternative language for the visually or hearing impaired, or in a computer language or computer-related area of study.

5. Comprehensive Examination:

12-hour written examination and 2-3 hour oral examination

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