Doctor of Philosophy in Child Development and Early Education


The Ph.D. in Child Development and Early Education prepares students for advanced career opportunities working with children and families in a professional or academic setting. Students may choose a focus area in either Child Development or Early Childhood Education.

Marketable Skills

Defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30 Strategic Plan as, "Those skills valued by employers that can be applied in a variety of work settings, including interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skills areas. These skills can be either primary or complementary to a major and are acquired by students through education, including curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities."

  1. Critically consume research literature​.
  2. Academic/scholarly writing skills​.
  3. Quantitative and qualitative research skills.​


All students must meet the University requirements as outlined in the Admission to the TWU Graduate School section of the catalog.

This academic program may have additional admission criteria that must also be completed as outlined on the program's website.

Degree Requirements

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 78 semester credit hours (SCH) above the bachelor’s degree (48 SCH beyond the master's), including 6 SCH for dissertation. 30 of the 78 SCH must be research courses. Consult with advisor for approved research courses.

Special Requirements

No grade below B is accepted towards any graduate degree in the Department of Human Development, Family Studies, and Counseling (HDFSC). If more than one grade below B is earned while enrolled in any HDFSC graduate program, the student will be dismissed from the program and will be ineligible to re-enroll in any program within the department for a period of 8 years.

Research Tools

The Department of HDFSC requires students to complete 12 SCH of research tools. The department has a list of courses that meet the research tool requirement, and these courses are part of the degree requirements listed below. They are also included in the 30 SCH of research-focused coursework required by the Graduate School. 

Qualifying Exam

The Department of HDFSC administers a qualifying exam for each student prior to admission to candidacy. The student must complete the required research tools before being eligible to take the exam. Students must take the qualifying exam in their last or second-to-last semester of coursework. In no case may a student be excused from the qualifying exam, and students may not register for dissertation hours (HDFS 6983/ECE 6983 and HDFS 6993/ECE 6993) until they have successfully passed the exam and have been admitted to candidacy. The qualifying exam may only be repeated once. Students who fail two attempts at the qualifying exam will be dismissed from the program.

Dissertation and Final Examination

All students are required to complete a dissertation. Upon completion, the student will participate in an oral defense of the dissertation and the research upon which it is based. The student's advisory committee will determine the outcome of the exam. The final examination may only be repeated one time.

Prerequisite Coursework

The following pre-requisite courses (or equivalent content) must be completed in the master's degree or prior to beginning doctoral-level work (consult with advisor):

Child Development Focus

HDFS 5223Child Growth and Development in Early Childhood3
HDFS 5243Adolescent Development Within the Family3
HDFS 5593Play, Development, and the Young Learner3
HDFS 5613Child Guidance3
HDFS 5643The Development of Infants and Toddlers3
HDFS 5693Research Methods in Family Sciences3

Early Childhood Education Focus

HDFS 5693Research Methods in Family Sciences3
ECE 5203Language and Literacy in Early Childhood3
ECE 5213Curriculum Development in Early Childhood3
ECE 5263Observation and Assessment in Early Childhood3
ECE 5283Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) in Early Childhood Education3
ECE 5433Brain-Based Learning for the Young Child3
ECE 5773School, Family, and Cultural Diversity: Community Connections3

Degree Plan

Students must submit a degree plan which follows the degree requirements listed below. The degree plan should be developed in collaboration with the student's advisor and committee, and it should be filed after the student has completed 18 SCH of coursework.

A master's degree in a closely related field and foundational coursework* specific to the chosen focus area
Child Development and Early Education Core
HDFS 5193Statistics for Family Sciences3
ECE 6513Language and Cognitive Development in Young Children3
ECE 6653Seminar in Developmental Theory3
ECE 6673Advanced Seminar in Early Childhood Education3
HDFS 6693Advanced Quantitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
HDFS 6193Advanced Statistics for Family Sciences3
HDFS 6203Frameworks and Ethics for Qualitative Research in Family Sciences3
HDFS 6443Research and Issues in Family Sciences3
HDFS 6923Research in Family Sciences3
or ECE 6923 Research in Early Childhood Education
Select one of the following Specialization/Focus Area6
Child Development Focus
Advanced Study of the Lifespan
Social and Emotional Development in Childhood and Adolescence
Early Childhood Education Focus
Social and Cultural Dimensions of Early Language Development
Foundations of Early Childhood Education
Additional Content9
Select three of the following
Academic Life and Scholarship
Effective College Teaching Methods
Grants Writing in Family Sciences
Advanced Qualitative Research Methods In Family Sciences
Multivariate Statistics
Dyadic and Longitudinal Analyses with Structural Equation Modeling
Practicum in Family Sciences (with consent of advisor)
Total SCHs48-54