What Are the Courses in an Early Childhood Education Ph.D. Program?

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program in early childhood education focuses on the relationship between the social, emotional and cognitive development of a child. To earn a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education, you must complete core courses and electives, as well as write a dissertation. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Early Childhood Education Ph.D. Program Courses

A doctoral degree program in early childhood education prepares you for careers in leadership and research within the field of education. Therefore, many of the courses required for this degree focus on research, theories and methodology.

Important Facts About These Programs

Degree Levels Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree
Possible Careers Education administrator, postsecondary teacher, advocacy specialist
Work Environment Government offices, private and public organizations, colleges and universities
Median Salary (2018)$47,490 (Preschool and Childcare Center Directors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)11% growth (Preschool and Childcare Center Directors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Core Courses

To earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Early Childhood Education, you must complete approximately 60 to 90 credit hours depending on the institution. Most universities require doctoral students to specialize in a particular area of the field, such as advocacy, politics or teaching strategies for young children. Regardless of the specialty area, you'll need to take core courses, which may include the following:

  • Developmental Theory
  • Research Seminar
  • History of Early Childhood Education
  • Teaching Seminar


In an early childhood education Ph.D. program, you'll also need to complete electives within your major that reflect the specialization or area concentration you prefer. Electives can be taken in topics such as:

  • Multicultural Education
  • Child assessment and pedagogy
  • Learning Technology
  • Policy implementation
  • Literacy


In addition to the courses listed above, you must write a dissertation that contributes original research or analysis to the field of education to complete your degree. Many universities give graduate students about nine credits for writing their dissertation. Once you finish writing your dissertation, you must defend the research to a panel of faculty members before going onto a career in early childhood education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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