Doctor of Philosophy in Early Child Development and Education

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All degree plans are developed in consultation with the student's advisory committee and are based on current departmental requirements as well as individual student needs and objectives.  No grade below "B" is accepted toward the doctoral degrees described below.

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 90 semester credit hours above the bachelor’s degree, including 6 semester credit hours for dissertation. (Proficiency in statistics is required as part of the program, including completion of a 6000-level statistics course.) 30 of 90 hours must be research courses. Consult with advisor for appropriate/approved research courses.


Two-thirds of the total semester credit hours will determine the major.

Note: The specific course requirements and total semester credit hours are developed in cooperation with and approved in a meeting of the student’s graduate advisory committee. The department chair also approves individual doctoral degree plans based on current departmental requirements.

Research Tools

The Department of Family Sciences requirement is currently consistent with the university requirements as described in the Graduate School General Requirements section of this catalog. Check with the department for any possible additions in acceptable courses to meet the research tool requirement. These requirements of 12 student credit hours are a part of the 90 semester credit hours minimum described above and are included in the 30 hours of research courses required.

Qualifying Exams

A student seeking the doctoral degree in Family Studies must take the 4-part First Year Qualifying Examination in Family Studies before completing 18 semester credit hours. An acceptable passing score for each section is required.  Only one re-take is allowed.

All students are required to complete all course work on the degree plan prior to taking the comprehensive qualifying examinations. The only exception to this rule is that a Family Therapy student may be completing the final semester of internship during the semester when the comprehensive qualifying examination is taken. A student should enroll for the first semester of dissertation (FS 6983) during the semester when the comprehensive qualifying examination is taken.

Family Studies and Family Therapy students will take a three-day written comprehensive qualifying exam that is two-thirds on the major and one-third on the minor or related field. The exam will be prepared by the chair of the advisory committee from questions submitted by the committee members. An oral exam will follow successful completion of the written exam, normally within 10 days. The written and oral examination may be repeated one time.

Early Childhood Development and Education students will take a two-day written comprehensive qualifying exam administered on campus.  Upon successfully passing the exam, students will be given one week to write a research proposal, which they will defend at an oral examination. Details of the examination procedure and expectations can be found on the ECDE website .  Both written and oral examinations may only be repeated one time.

Final Examination

A comprehensive oral examination will include a defense of the dissertation and the research on which it is based, as well as questions concerning the major. The final examination may only be repeated one time.

Committee Requirements

Dissertation Committee

All dissertation committees are comprised of a minimum of three graduate faculty members.  At least two of the committee members must represent the major discipline (component). The committee chair must have full graduate faculty standing.  Additional committee voting members must have associate or full graduate faculty standing. 

External committee members may be requested by the committee chair by submitting a CV and request to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval.  They serve in addition to the required three member committee as an ex-officio committee member.

Degree Plan Committee

All degree plan committees are composed of five graduate faculty members. 

Three of the five degree plan committee members must be from the student's major component.

Doctor of Philosophy in Early Child Development and Education Program of Study (90 semester credit hours, including relevant master's coursework)

Special Requirements

Students who earn two grades of 'C' or below in graduate classes will be dismissed from the program.

Completed Master's Degree
The following courses or equivalencies:
Theories of Human Development
Statistics for Research in Family Sciences (research tool)
Research Methods in Family Sciences (research focused course)
Child Development Specialization
Lifespan Human Development
Theories of the Family
ECE Specialization
Curriculum Development in Early Childhood
Child Growth and Human Development in Early Childhood
Early Child Development and Education Core (12 SCH)
FS 6513Language and Cognitive Development in Young Children3
FS 6653Seminar in Developmental Theory (research focused course)3
FS 6903Special Topics (Advanced Seminar in Early Childhood Education)3
FS 6923Research in Family Sciences (with consent of advisor)(research focused course)3
Family Science Doctoral Core (12 SCH)
FS 6403Theory Building in Family Sciences (research focused course)3
FS 6413Current Research and Issues in Family Sciences (research focused course)3
FS 6423Readings in Family Sciences (research focused course)3
FS 6003Advanced Study of the Lifespan3
Research Core (15 SCH)
FS 6693Advanced Quantitative Research Methods In Family Sciences (Prerequisite: A master's level research methods course and a graduate-level statistics course; research tool)3
FS 6793Advanced Qualitative Research Methods In Family Sciences (Prerequisite: A master's level research methods course; research tool)3
FS 6873Applied Multivariate Statistics for Family Sciences (Prerequisite: Graduate-level statistics course; research tool)3
FS 6983Dissertation (research focused course)3
FS 6993Dissertation (research focused course)3
Specialization (12 SCH)
Select one of the following specializations:12
Child Development Specialization
Select 4 from the following:
Child Growth and Human Development in Early Childhood
Adolescents in the Family
Play, Development, and the Young Learner
The Development of Infants and Toddlers
Child Guidance
Early Childhood Education Specialization
Social and Cultural Dimensions of Early Language Development
Foundations of Early Childhood Education
Select 2 from the following:
Observation and Assessment in Early Childhood (research focused course)
Technology and the Young Learner
Issues in Early Childhood Research and Evaluation
Professional Development (9 SCH)
Select 3 from the following:9
Academic Life and Scholarship
Effective Online Teaching
Grants Writing in Family Sciences (research focused course)
Practicum in Family Sciences (with consent of advisor)
Professional Seminar in Family Sciences (research focused course)