Nov 28, 2022  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Ph.D.

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The theoretical stance of the Early Childhood and Elementary Education PhD Program is pragmatic. No single theory or research approach can solve the complex issues that impact children in a rapidly changing world; thus, we (the PhD faculty) believe that collaborative, comprehensive research and scholarship is our most powerful tool for investigating and answering questions about children’s learning and education. Our diverse faculty has expertise in qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation. Interweaving theory, research, and practice, we inquire about how children’s learning is shaped by educational inequities across race, gender, (dis)ability, and social class; educational globalization; community, home, and school connections; culturally responsive pedagogy; urban education; and curricular and technological innovations. We leverage this expertise to advocate for children’s learning in multiple contexts, in and out of school.

Program Academic Regulations

In addition to the college-wide requirements for doctoral students, the department requires that each doctoral student has experience with young children and that each student participate in Residency experiences. For a detailed description of program requirements, please refer to the Program Manual for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education available from the department.


Each doctoral student’s planned program of study is divided into two academic components: Research and the Major. The Research component includes 21 credit hours, including a Core set of courses that introduce research methods as well as courses that deepen knowledge about a particular set of complementary methods (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods). The Major includes a set of 27 hours of courses intended to deepen knowledge of research methodologies that guide scholarly inquiry in elementary and early childhood education, theories of human development, curricular issues, and historical perspectives. The Major also includes a set of electives from which students can choose. Electives can also be taken outside the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Students will choose electives that will, together, create an area of specialization. Each program of study will culminate with a dissertation.

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 via a research apprenticeship experience and a dissertation. Courses suggested to develop this competence are listed in the Program Manual for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.

Early Childhood and Elementary Education

All doctoral students in the Early Childhood and Elementary Education Major will be expected to promote scholarly advocacy for children, to understand the nature of children and their development, to understand theories undergirding educational practices and issues, and to excel as teacher educators. Required residency experiences ensure that students develop knowledge and skills about mentoring and teaching educators as well as conducting research. Courses required in the Major ensure that doctoral students share knowledge about historical, political, developmental, and theoretical paradigms that have shaped educational contexts and research. In addition, elective courses allow for individualization of the doctoral program to create an area of expertise within Early Childhood and Elementary Education. The Major course offerings are further described in the Program Manual for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.

Planned Study

Planning doctoral study coursework to address the goals mentioned above is done in consultation with an Advisor with consideration of each student’s career goals, prior academic work, and professional experience. Each program, therefore, is unique. However, the following courses are offered:

Degree Requirements

Core Area (21 Hours)

The Core Area consists of 18 semester hours of research coursework and 3 semester hours of Social Foundation of Education and Psychology of Learning coursework.

Research Core (18 Hours)

Required (12 Hours)

  • A two-course sequence (6 hours) in research methodology (see below for specific tracks/courses)
  • Two courses (6 hours) in advanced research methods as identified by the Doctoral Advisory Committee
Historical/Philosophical Methodology

Social Foundations of Education and Psychology of Learning Core (3 Hours)

In addition to highly specialized research in specific areas, doctoral students in the College of Education and Human Development must possess a deep understanding of comprehensive, theoretical principles and broad ideological conceptualizations.

Through historical, philosophical, sociological, and anthropological inquiry, knowledge of social foundations fosters the types of speculative investigations essential for thorough understandings of those theoretical principles and ideological conceptualizations necessary to uphold the integrity of the Ph.D. degree.

The psychology of learning component is based on the following guiding principles: (1) Educational leaders make judgments that affect learning. (2) Doctoral students should have a substantial understanding of the psychology of learning.

Select one (3):

Major Area (27 Hours)

Elective Courses (Minimum 15)

At least 12 hours of elective courses must come from within the department. Doctoral-level elective courses offered within the Department include:

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 Classroom 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 and Human Development courses applicable to the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Dissertation (15 Hours)

Required (15):

Total Semester Hours for Degree: Minimum of 63

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