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Early Childhood Education


PhD: Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education

The PhD in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education program, through its integral partnership with the Old Dominion University Child Study and Development Centers, focuses on the multidisciplinary study of the cognitive, language, and healthy social/emotional development of young children from birth to age nine. The program prepares students to become faculty in colleges and universities and senior administrators in institutions and agencies. Personalized mentorship and professional training is provided for those who desire careers in academic research, child advocacy, program design and evaluation, and higher education, including teacher preparation, policy, and administrational leadership.

Masters of Science: Education - Early Childhood Education Research

A master's degree in early childhood education with a research emphasis will provide educators with an advanced professional degree and qualifications beyond licensure. Course work for the degree includes a focus on scholarly research, statistical analysis, and writing for professional journals. This emphasis also will serve as the prerequisite course work to the PhD in education with a concentration in early childhood, thereby facilitating entry into the PhD program. For more information about this program, please contact Andrea DeBruin-Parecki.

Masters of Science: Education - Fifth Year (IDS) Early Childhood Education, PreK-3 Initial Licensure Program

This Fifth Year Early Childhood Master's program is for students who have completed the Bachelor's of Science, Interdisciplinary Studies, Teacher Preparation in Early Childhood Education PreK-3 or Primary/Elementary (depending on your catalogue year) at Old Dominion University and wish to qualify for a Virginia teaching license with an endorsement in PreK-3.

Post-Baccalaureate Endorsement Program, Early Childhood

PreK-3 Initial Licensure

Post-Baccalaureate Endorsement Program, Early Childhood PreK-3 Initial Licensure: This non-degree program is for students who have completed a Bachelor's of Science, Interdisciplinary Studies, Teacher Preparation in Early Childhood Education PreK-3 or Primary/Elementary (depending on your catalogue year) at Old Dominion University and wish to qualify for a Virginia teaching license with an endorsement in PreK-3.

Dr. Andrea DeBruin-Parecki, Graduate Program Director

The Ph.D. in education with a concentration in early childhood education focuses on young children from birth to age 8. Areas of emphasis include cognitive development, early literacy, and socio-emotional development, all studied within the context of a diverse society. Personalized mentorship is provided leading to careers in academia, research, administration, child advocacy and early childhood policy. Our Early Childhood Centers provide accessible laboratory settings for implementing educational research and observing effective teaching practices for children ranging from eight weeks old to kindergarten age. Through internships, collaborations with local schools, and community partnerships, students in this program develop professional abilities in the field of early childhood education through publication, research and service that include working in partnership with early childhood teachers and administrators, advocacy activities, grant writing and professional presentations and workshops. Involvement in faculty-sponsored research and professional development activities are an essential part of graduate training in this concentration. Graduates are in high demand at universities and in leadership roles at the state and federal level, in public and private schools and at non-profit and private agencies involved in the education, welfare and healthy development of young children.

Admission & Exit Information


Criteria for admission to the PhD in Education will include:

  1. A completed master's degree in an appropriate discipline from a regionally accredited university;
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) overall for the master's degree and in the major area of study in the master's degree;
  3. A minimum of 1000 overall total score on the GRE and a minimum of 500 on both the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE. Prospective students must score a minimum of 4.5 on the analytical writing portion of the GRE. GRE scores expire after five years; however, candidates who have completed the exam prior to five years before the application deadline may submit those scores for consideration if the scores meet the minimum expectations and they are provided from an official source such as a transcript or form provided by the Educational Testing Service. Old Dominion University reserves the right to determine what is an "official source." While these scores are minimums, other portions of the total application package will be strongly considered to balance lower scores;
  4. Applicants whose native language is not English must submit a current score for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of at least 600;
  5. Applicants must submit a 1000 word statement of their academic and professional goals with an emphasis on how the PhD degree will contribute to the achievement of the stated goals;
  6. Three letters of reference from sources capable of commenting on the applicant's readiness for advanced graduate study. At least two of these letters must be from graduate instructors in a college or university;
  7. An interview with the early childhood education program committee. This committee also will review applications for admission; and,
  8. Prior course work is assumed in statistics, early childhood education and child development. If this assumption is not met, then additional course work will be added to the candidate's graduate program of study. Please see prerequisite coursework in section which follows or curriculum.


Students must:

  1. Maintain a grade point average of 3.0 overall; and
  2. Successfully complete all requirements relative to their program of study.

Program Completion and Exit

In order to complete the program, students must comply fully with the curriculum below, all requirements noted elsewhere in the University catalog for graduate students, and within the PhD in Education Handbook. It is the responsibility of the student to obtain these materials and complete required portions.

Program Requirements & Curriculum

The PhD program in Education with a concentration in early childhood education is comprised of courses totaling a minimum of 60 academic credit hours beyond the master's degree. The curriculum includes a required core (9 credit hours), a content concentration totaling 24 credit hours, a research component including 12 credit hours, electives (3 credit hours), the capstone course (3 credit hours), and the dissertation which will include a minimum of 12 credit hours. Students entering the program also may need to complete one introductory statistics course if they have not had such a course or cannot demonstrate competency at a satisfactory level. All students will be required to complete an internship (SPED 868). Students who come into the PhD program with a master's degree in an academic field that is unrelated to early childhood education and/or who have not completed courses to develop competency in early childhood education may need to complete these courses in lieu of electives. A minimum of two semesters of full-time study is required of students in the program to meet University residency requirements.

Prerequisite Coursework - 12 credits. The following four courses (12 credits) are required for all students who did not have them as part of a master's degree program

FOUN 641 Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning

TLED 677/ESSE 677 Advanced Child Development Theory and Research

FOUN 722/ELS 732 Introduction to Applied Statistics and Data Analysis

FOUN 612 Research Methods in Education

Required Core - 9 credits

TLCI 700/800 Social/Emotional Aspects of Child Development

TLCI 735/835 Connecting Research in Early Development to Practice in Early Childhood Education

SPED 868 Practicum/Field Experience

Research Core - 12 credits

FOUN 822 Applied Linear Models

FOUN 812 Advanced Research Design and Analysis

FOUN 814 Qualitative Research

FOUN 813 Advanced Program Evaluation

Early Childhood Concentration - 24 credits

TLCI 710/810 Models of Parent, Child, Social Interactions

TLCI 736/836 Working with At-Risk Children and Families: An Ecological Approach

TLCI 737/837 Schools and Families: Enriching the Partnership

TLCI 739/839 Cross Cultural Perspectives in Early Childhood Education

TLCI 740/840 Issues in Early Childhood Language and Literacy

TLCI 772/872 Advanced Developmental Process

TLCI 774/874 Constructivist Teaching: Theory into Practice

TLCI 795/895 Topics in Education

Electives 3 to 9 credits

With approval of the graduate program director, elective courses may be substituted for those within the early childhood concentration. Such substitutions must be approved in writing. Electives may be taken in other areas in the College of Education (e.g., special education, educational leadership, higher education, instructional design and technology) or in other colleges with the approval of the appropriate graduate program director or department.

Capstone Course - 3 credits - Required of doctoral students who have not previously identified their dissertation topic

TLCI 881 Dissertation Seminar

Dissertation - Minimum of 12 credits

TLCI 899 Dissertation 12 (min)

Due to changing University requirements, national accreditation standards, and Commonwealth licensure regulations, the programs in the Darden College of Education are under constant revision. Any changes resulting from these factors supersede the program requirements described on the website. Students are encouraged to obtain current program information from their a