The Ph.D. major in Early Childhood Education prepares scholars in early childhood education to function in a variety of roles including basic and applied research, program development activities, teaching, and teacher training. To function effectively in these roles, students must have a thorough knowledge of theories, research evidence, research methodology, and evaluation techniques related to child development, curriculum, and instruction.
The Department of Early Childhood Education at Georgia State University prepares educators to work in the roles of researcher, scholar, and teacher at the university or college level or in other careers that depend on the skills and knowledge required for these roles. The preparation of doctoral students requires rigorous programs of study that recognize that knowledgeable research and teaching are complex acts based on deep understandings about pedagogy, learning, learners, and subject matter content and about how these areas of understanding interact in the teaching learning process. Department faculty recognize that the strong research component in this program develops insightful, reflective, and effective teaching and research.
Program Academic Regulations
If students in the Educational Specialist program in Early Childhood Education completed ECE 8400 Teacher Development (3) and ECE 8410 Curriculum Theory, Design, and Application (3), these courses can substitute for ECE 9370 Curriculum in Early Childhood Education (3) and ECE 9400 (Teacher Development in Early Childhood Education (3) in the Ph.D. program in Early Childhood Education.
In addition to the college-wide requirements for doctoral students, the department requires that each doctoral student have experience with young children and that each student participate in a research apprenticeship, a university-teaching apprenticeship, and a teacher-development apprenticeship. For a detailed description of departmental requirements, please refer to the Ph.D Program Manual available from the Department of Early Childhood Education or at the bottom of this web page.
Planning coursework for doctoral study is done individually with consideration of the students’ career goals, prior academic work, and professional experience. Each program, therefore, is unique. All programs, however, foster the development of skills and abilities within a tri-focus framework of child development, curriculum and instruction, and research and evaluation design and methodology.
Theories and Application of Child Development
Competency in the field of early childhood education requires knowledge of the nature of children and their development. As a direct reflection of the eclectic orientation of the Department of Early Childhood Education, the faculty believes that all Ph.D. students should be knowledgeable about several theoretical orientations within the field of child development. Students are expected to have a thorough understanding of the sequence of development, characteristic behaviors, and influential factors in development from various theoretical perspectives. Doctoral students will also be expected to know how these theories have been applied to provide an understanding of specific child characteristics, settings in which children develop, and their interactions. Courses suggested to develop this competence are listed in the Program Manual for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Early Childhood Education.
Theories and Applications of Curriculum and Instruction
Competency in the field of early childhood education also requires an understanding of the ways the environment may be arranged for effective learning. Thus, doctoral students are expected to have a thorough knowledge of theories of curriculum and instruction. Doctoral students will also be expected to demonstrate their abilities to apply these theories to educational programs and in settings for children from birth to 10 years of age. Courses suggested to develop this competency are listed in the Program Manual for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Early Childhood Education.
Research and Evaluation Design and Methodology
Doctoral students are expected to be able to design, implement, and interpret research. Therefore, doctoral students are expected to have knowledge of research designs and methods. Doctoral students are also expected to engage in high quality research. Courses suggested to develop this competence are listed in the Program Manual for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Early Childhood Education.
Each doctoral student’s planned program of study is divided into three academic components: a cognate area, a core area, and a major area. The elements of the tri-focus of the program— child development, curriculum theory and application, and research and evaluation methodology and design—may be addressed in any of the three academic components. Generally, courses with the ECE prefix are selected for the major area and courses with the EPRS prefix are selected for the core area. The cognate area generally includes courses in early childhood education, psychology, and/or sociology. For a list of suggested courses, see the Program Manual for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Early Childhood Education. At least nine semester hours of the total program should be taken outside the Department of Early Childhood Education.
Program Degree Requirements
A. Core Area (18)
Students must meet all general core area requirements.
B. Major Area (25)
ECE 9360 Trends, Issues, and Historical Perspectives in Early Childhood Education (3)
ECE 9370 Curriculum in Early Childhood Education (3)
ECE 9400 Teacher Development in Early Childhood Education (3)
ECE 9800 Doctoral Studies (1) [taken 4 times in first two years]
ECE 9850 Research Seminar in Early Childhood Education (3)
ECE 9870 University Teaching Apprenticeship (2)
ECE 9880 Teacher Development Apprenticeship (1)
ECE 9890 Research Apprenticeship (3)
ECE 9960 Seminar in Early Childhood Education: Advanced Development Theory (3)
C. Cognate Area (18)
For the 18 semester hours of coursework, at least nine semester hours of coursework applied to the cognate area should be from course offerings outside the Department of Early Childhood Education.
K-5 Mathematics Endorsement (optional):
As part of the coursework leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree, students who hold a current teaching certification from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission may satisfy part of the K-5 Mathematics Endorsement requirements by completing four 9000-level courses (ECE 9393, ECE 9394, ECE 9395, and ECE 9396). To apply for the K-5 Mathematics Endorsement, students must also complete ECE 7740 Internship in Early Childhood Education I (3) while enrolled in one of the four specified 9000-level endorsement courses. ECE 7740 does not satisfy the 8000-9000 level-course requirements for the College of Education courses applicable to the Doctor of Philosophy degree.
D. Dissertation (9)
ECE 9990 Dissertation (9)
Program total: minimum of 70 semester hours
FAQ Sheet (PDF)
Ph.D. Program Manual (PDF)