Doctor of Philosophy in Early Child Development and Education

Graduates of the Ph.D. in Early Child Development and Education will be able to accurately synthesize, critically evaluate, and interpret various theories in the design and implementation of child development/early childhood education. Focus areas are available in either Child Development or Early Childhood Education.

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 two 6000-level statistics courses.) 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.  If a grade of C or below is earned two times while in any Family Sciences doctoral program, the student will be dismissed from the program.

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 Examination

The qualifying examination consists of written and/or oral comprehensive examinations conducted by the candidate’s advisory committee and administered at least one academic year before the degree is expected to be conferred, ordinarily not earlier than during the last semester of the second full year of graduate study. In no case may a student be excused from the qualifying examination. (NOTE: The student must have met research tool and any residence requirements before taking the qualifying examination.)  Additional details of the process and expectations for the qualifying examination in Early Child Development and Education can be found on the ECDE website within the student handbook.

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.

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.

Prerequisites (21 hours)
Completed Master's Degree
The following courses or equivalencies:
Theories of Child 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 Development in Early Childhood
Early Child Development and Education Core (12 hours)
FS 6513Language and Cognitive Development in Young Children3
FS 6653Seminar in Developmental Theory (research focused course)3
FS 6673Advanced Seminar in Early Childhood Education3
FS 6923Research in Family Sciences (with consent of advisor)(research focused course)3
Family Science Doctoral Core (9 hours)
FS 6003Advanced Study of the Lifespan3
FS 6403Theory Building in Family Sciences (research focused course)3
FS 6443Research and Issues in Family Sciences (research focused course)3
Research Core (21 hours)
FS 6193Advanced Statistics for Family Sciences3
FS 6203Frameworks and Ethics for Qualitative Research in Family Sciences3
FS 6693Advanced Quantitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
FS 6793Advanced Qualitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
FS 6893Multivariate Statistics3
FS 6983Dissertation (research focused course)3
FS 6993Dissertation (research focused course)3
Select one of the following specializations:12
Child Development Specialization (12 hours)
Select 4 from the following:
Child Growth and Development in Early Childhood
Adolescents in the Family
Play, Development, and the Young Learner
Child Guidance
The Development of Infants and Toddlers
Early Childhood Education Specialization (12 hours)
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 (6 hours)
Select 2 from the following:6
Academic Life and Scholarship
Effective College Teaching Methods
Grants Writing in Family Sciences (research focused course)
Practicum in Family Sciences (with consent of advisor)