Early childhood education is the instruction of young children, spanning the years from birth through age 5. During this developmental stage, children participate in play-based activities that strengthen the cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and creative developmental domains. The PhD in early childhood education is designed for master’s degree holders and those who are seeking leadership roles and researcher positions in this specialized field. The doctorate program is comprised of advanced coursework in curriculum, instruction, and evaluation, in addition to many hours of practicums and directed research.

Why a Doctorate Degree?

A doctorate degree is the pinnacle of academic achievement in early childhood education. PhD holders are considered experts in their field because they possess advanced knowledge and skills and dedicate many hours to educational research. This rigorous program is suited for prospective administrators and researchers who want to make lasting contributions to education. Unlike the bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in early childhood education, the PhD takes a higher level of skill and commitment to complete. It’s this unwavering dedication that makes PhDs stand out from their colleagues.

Getting Into a Doctorate Degree Program

The doctorate degree is a rigorous program designed for passionate students who want to make important contributions to their field. Interested applicants need to first verify they have the following educational requirements:

  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum required GPA
  • Passing score on qualifying exams
  • Completion of prerequisite courses/work experience

Inside an Early Childhood Education Doctorate Degree Program

Like many doctorate programs, the PhD in early childhood education usually lasts anywhere from three to five years. Individual completion time depends on a number of factors, including course work, research, and student pace. Throughout this research-intensive program, students will take courses in foundations of early childhood, global perspectives on development and learning, family, culture, and society in early childhood, advocacy and leadership in education, applied research in education, and more.

A large part of the Ph.D. program is focused on conducting original, independent research in education. Some key areas of research might include: human and child development, cultural influences on teaching and learning, curriculum development, impact of evaluation and assessment in teaching, and social contexts of learning. In addition to research and dissertation course work, doctoral students often have seminars and workshops to attend a few times throughout the program.

What’s Next for Early Childhood Education Degree Holders?

Graduates of the online PhD in early childhood education are prepared to work in various education professions, such as administrator and postsecondary teacher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, both occupations have excellent employment projections and average annual salaries. For example, employment of education administrators is expected to increase 10% by 2020 because of increasing enrollment rates, and the Bureau’s Occupational Employment Statistics determined education administrators made an average annual salary of $81,890 in May 2012. The same goes for postsecondary teachers, who are expected to see a 17% increase by 2020 because of rising enrollments at colleges and universities. According to the May 2012 Occupational Employment Statistics, postsecondary teachers made $77,500 in average annual earnings. Additional education, training, and work experience can significantly increase your job opportunities and earning potential in the education field.