Human Development and Child Studies

Pawley Hall
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3077
Fax: (248) 370-4242

Female teacher showing her young students a structure made of sticks in a classroom.

Doctor of Philosophy in Early Childhood Education

The Doctor of Philosophy program in early childhood education prepares professionals for leadership roles in the expanding field of early childhood education, care and public policy. The program prepares students for positions in the schools or other early childhood settings, higher education, research or public policy.

Program Overview Course Requirements Request more informationApply now


The four-year program allows for part-time or full-time study. The program seminars and field projects provide students with leadership experiences in early childhood development, curriculum and program development, assessment, applied research and evaluation, teaching adults and policy design. Students are admitted for the program each fall. 

The Ph.D. in Education is offered to students in three major program areas: Early Childhood Education, Counseling and Educational Leadership. Students apply separately to each of these programs then take several “framework” courses together (EC 730, EC 731, EC 732). Each student selects a cognate (4 or 5 courses in a related field). The remaining courses for the ECE major are taken in early childhood (EC), foundations of education (FE), and special education (SE) — a total of 48 credits. They include several seminar classes, two summer field-based courses, as well as courses for designing, developing, implementing and writing up a research-based dissertation study. During the fall and winter semesters of the first year, the required seminars will meet on Saturday mornings and one evening during the week. The entire program, including all framework and cognate courses, is 80 credits.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in early childhood education is designed to reflect the NAEYC guidelines for developing leadership in the field of early childhood education. 

Program Coordinator: 
Dr. Tomoko Wakabayashi
420C Pawley Hall 
(248) 370-3078
Admissions Criteria
Students are admitted in the fall semester only. Applications will be accepted until July 1 for the following fall semester.
In addition to university requirements, you will need: 
  • A total of three recommendations, at least one from a graduate academic source and one from a professional in the field
  • Professional curriculum vitae
  • Personal essay statement, describing professional goals, experiences and philosophy
  • Two writing samples related to early childhood education, which may include professional reports, academic course papers, publications or presentations
  • An interview for applicant finalists (scheduled by the program coordinator) with the coordinator and other faculty members, and a written assignment to be completed as part of the interview