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Online Early Childhood Education Doctorate Degrees

Learn about online early childhood education doctoral degree programs. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

Several universities offer online doctoral degree programs in early childhood education. To enroll in most of these programs, students must already possess a master's degree in a related field and have several years of professional experience in education.

Some programs have in-person residency requirements. These usually consist of several campus visits, ranging from 4-6 days each, over the course of the program. Residencies afford students a chance to meet classmates for in-person group work and discussions, as well as providing an opportunity to work on dissertations face-to-face with faculty advisers. Web-based virtual classroom software is also often required.

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Doctoral Degree Programs - Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education includes pre-kindergarten and primary schooling for children from birth to eight years old. The aim of Ph.D. programs in early childhood education is to provide a comprehensive understanding of current research, theories and practices in the field. To that end, curricula draw from various disciplines, examining the intersection of early childhood education with sociology, psychology and administrative theory.

Information and Requirements

For most online coursework, early childhood education doctoral students use Web-based virtual classroom software to download study materials, submit assignments and take examinations. They also use online bulletin boards and chat rooms to participate in class discussions, as well as e-mail and instant messaging to communicate with professors and advisers. A typical online Ph.D. program takes 2-3 years to complete.

Common Online Doctorate-level Early Childhood Education Courses

Candidates for a Ph.D. in early childhood education can expect their online coursework to cover an array of topics, including the psychology of early childhood development, the impact of social change on educational practices and the administrative and organizational systems involved in developing early childhood education programs. The remainder of the curriculum is devoted to courses on the design, theory and practices of dissertation research.

Research Methodology

An essential component to most Ph.D. programs, a course in research methodology is typically among the first courses a doctoral student takes. This course prepares students to embark on their dissertation research by introducing the fundamentals of designing and justifying research questions, conducting qualitative and quantitative educational research and presenting one's findings.

Early Childhood Development

Understanding how young children develop is crucial to determining how best to educate them. A course in early childhood development examines the physical, intellectual, social and emotional development of young children, along with how that development is affected by a variety of environmental factors.

Social Considerations in Early Childhood Education

This course studies the role of the community and society as a whole in early childhood education. Special attention is paid to societal trends and their effect on the relationship between early childhood educators and the communities they serve.

Early Childhood Curriculum Planning

Because young children develop quickly, curricula for pre-kindergarten and primary education programs must be well-planned, allowing them to evolve as the children do. A course in curriculum planning covers current trends, theories and practices in creating developmentally appropriate lesson plans.

Early Childhood Education Program Administration

A program administration course for early childhood education students addresses the multitude of considerations of which an effective program administrator needs to be aware. Students learn to implement curricula and teaching strategies, execute performance evaluations and manage employees, budgets and government regulations.


Career Information

Graduates with a Ph.D. in early childhood education are prepared for positions in educational administration, early childhood advocacy, postsecondary education or educational research. Preschool administrators may need to earn state licensure. Those interested in working directly with nursery or primary schools are qualified for positions in administration, such as director of a nursery school or principal, vice principal or curriculum specialist at a primary school. Graduates also can choose to pursue a career in educational research, teaching or both at the postsecondary level.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that education administrators at the preschool level made an average of $52,760 a year in May 2014, while elementary and secondary school administrators made $92,940 annually (www.bls.gov). Postsecondary school administrators had an average annual salary of $102,610 in May 2014, according to BLS figures.

Continuing Education Information

Most administrators for preschools and primary schools must have some form of license, but qualifications vary from state to state. In some states, licensure requirements for preschool administrators include some level of professional certification, such as a National Administrator Credential from the National Child Care Association or a Child Development Associate credential from the Council for Professional Recognition.

Online doctoral degree programs in early childhood education are designed for individuals who already possess a master's degree or experience in a related field. Some programs have hands-on requirements, and common courses include topics related to curriculum, child development, and administration.

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