Early Childhood Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

The Early Childhood Education specialization is designed to help you develop an understanding of the breadth and depth of early childhood education research, curriculum and policy. This specialization is competency-based and emphasizes research and teaching across a broad spectrum of topics, including childhood development, literature, program administration, curriculum and assessment and stakeholder partnerships. As a graduate, you will be prepared to pursue leadership positions in schools, higher education organizations and research settings in various areas, including educational assessment, curricula development, education research, administration and instruction, education policy, teacher training, teaching and advocacy addressing children from birth through age 8.

General Degree Requirements

The PhD Program may be completed in 60 semester credit hours. However, up to an additional 15 credit hours will be allowed as needed to complete the dissertation research. If the program is not completed in 75 credit hours, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Completion Period for Doctoral Degrees

Northcentral University allows 7 years to complete all doctoral programs of 60 credits or less. Normal time to complete varies depending upon course take rate and credits transferred.

Certification and Licensing

The School of Education serves educational leaders by providing online graduate studies in education to reach worldwide populations. The PhD program is designed to reach national and international markets and does not purport to provide licensure or certification in any particular state or country.

PhD Degree Requirements

Admission to the doctorate programs at NCU requires a master's degree from an accredited institution. PhD students are also required to demonstrate competency in specific subject areas prior to enrolling in any of the specialization or elective courses.

Foundational Competencies for PhD Program

  • Graduate Level Statistics Competency - PhD students are required to complete a Statistics in Education Research Course, EDU8003, and also EDU8006, Advanced Educational Statistics.
  • Competency in Research Writing Skills - PhD students are required to show competency in writing skills for research purposes through their Northcentral University graduate coursework before being assigned to any dissertation courses. Students will be required to take EDU8001, Advanced Scholarly Writing, to improve APA formatting skills and to address advanced writing and research skills as necessary.
  • Computer Competency - PhD students are required to use appropriate computer skills that are necessary in writing a dissertation. Students must be able to prepare documents using advanced word processing skills (e.g., creation of tables and figures, headers and footers, page breaks, tables of contents, hanging indents, etc.). In addition, students need to use computer programs for the statistical analysis and presentation of data (e.g., Excel, SPSS). The oral defense normally requires a computer-based presentation by the candidate (e.g., a PowerPoint presentation).

Course Length

All new students enrolling in the PhD in Education program are automatically enrolled in courses that are eight weeks in length. All eight-week courses are indicated by a "-8" (dash eight) at the end of the course code.

The PhD in Education requires two Foundation courses, six Specialization courses, six Research courses, and two Statistics courses for a total of 45 credit hours.

Course Code

Name

Course Description

Specialization Course 1

EDR8100

Scholarly Literature Review

This course focuses on the scholarly review of literature and academic writing. The course emphasis is on how to conduct effective literature searches in preparation for the dissertation, develop a plan for writing comprehensive, critical, and synthesized reviews of research literature, and critically review and write about underlying conceptual frameworks that lay the foundation for future research. The overarching goal of this course is for students to conduct an exhaustive search of the peer-reviewed research literature in education and identify potential areas of inquiry for their dissertation.

EDR8103

Research Methods

This introductory research methods course provides a foundation for subsequent research courses in preparation for successfully completing a dissertation at Northcentral University. Students will continue to build upon skills from prior courses as they critically analyze the existing research literature, but now with a focus on the research methods utilized. In addition, students will investigate the theoretical and practical foundations of the primary research methodologies used in educational research, specifically qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research. Topics will include the ethics of research, data collection and analysis techniques, and issues of reliability, validity, trustworthiness and rigor. Emphasis will be placed on identifying criteria for a quality research project and whether a research study is aligned and cohesive. Students will have the opportunity explore topics of interest from different research perspectives (e.g. quantitative, qualitative) with the goal of helping students begin to clarify their future research course plan.

Specialization Course 2

EDR8101

Statistics I

In this course, students will learn how to use statistical analyses in research. Foundational topics covered include frequency distributions, z-scores, probabilities, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, exploratory data analysis, power analyses, t-tests, correlations, bivariate regression, analyses of variance, and the chi-square test. Although students will complete many computations by hand, they will also use statistical software to analyze data. Students will build their independent scholarly skills by enhancing their scientific and statistical literacy. Therefore, the emphasis will be on understanding the data; comprehending statistical concepts; analyzing, interpreting, and critically evaluating statistical information; and communicating statistical information and knowledge.

Specialization Course 3

EDR8102

Statistics II

In this course, you will build upon your statistical skills developed in the Statistics I course. You will be provided with an overview of how researchers use advanced statistical analyses in research, including multiple regression, factorial analysis of variance, moderation, mediation, analysis of covariance, multivariate analysis of variance, and analysis of repeated measures. Although you will complete some computations by hand, the majority of statistical analysis will be performed using SPSS. Similar to the Statistics I course, the focus involves helping you build your independent scholarly skills with an emphasis on understanding the data; comprehending and evaluating more sophisticated statistical concepts; and communicating this sophisticated statistical information.

EDR8104

Introduction to Measurement

This course provides the fundamentals of qualitative and quantitative measurement and serves as a primary overview of basic concepts and methods of measurement as applied to practical problems in education. This course also serves as an introduction to the Advanced Quantitative Design and Measurement and Advanced Qualitative Design and Measurement courses. Topics and concepts discussed in this course include the history and levels of measurement, reliability and validity, the trustworthiness of qualitative research, norms and percentiles, item and instrument construction, interview and questionnaire guides, and bias and ethics associated with tests and data collection. In addition to introducing the basics of measurement, this course is meant to improve independent scholarly skills through the engagement of scientific literacy as it pertains to the student’s primary area of focus and appropriate research design methodology.

Specialization Course 4

Specialization Course 5

EDR8105

Advanced Qualitative Design and Measurement

This course is designed to provide students with a focused examination of the research methods used in qualitative inquiry, with particular emphasis on the issue of problem alignment and suitability of the research question for qualitative design. This course will cover the theories and philosophies behind qualitative research, the elements that characterize a qualitative study, techniques used to improve the trustworthiness of the study, the role of the researcher and participant in qualitative research, and the various methods used to frame a qualitative study. A number of qualitative methodologies and data collection and analysis methods will be discussed. Students will develop a mock qualitative research proposal as the signature assignment. Note, however, this proposal does not constitute a capstone document in the dissertation process; rather it is an opportunity to test ideas and receive feedback in preparation for the dissertation phase of the program.

or EDR8106

Advanced Quantitative Design and Measurement

This course provides in-depth knowledge of quantitative research design. The goal of this course is to ensure that students have a firm understanding of the unique and critical elements that provide a framework for a study and give it direction, with particular emphasis on problem alignment and suitability of the research question for quantitative design. This course approaches the topic of quantitative research design from both theoretical and practical perspectives, and encourages students to become competent creators and consumers of quantitative research by exploring how quantitative information is generated, summarized, evaluated, and represented. Test theories, reliability and validity, critical issues in measurement, and factor analysis will be covered in some detail. The course focuses on the uses of different tests in a variety of settings. Students will develop a mock quantitative research proposal as the signature assignment. Note, however, this proposal does not constitute a capstone document in the dissertation process; rather it is an opportunity to test ideas and receive feedback in preparation for the dissertation phase of the program.

Specialization Course 6

EDR8109

Mixed Methods Research

This course is designed to provide students with the foundational knowledge to critically evaluate the mixed method research approach and also be skilled in implementing a mixed method study. The philosophical foundation behind the mixed methods approach, the debates about the approach, reliability and validity concerns, and the steps and considerations when designing a mixed method research project are presented throughout this course.

or EDR8110

Program Evaluation

This course provides an overview of program evaluation research – from needs assessment to the communication and utilization of findings. The different types of program evaluation, including formative and summative evaluation, are covered. The importance of stakeholder input is highlighted. In addition, the ways in which various research methods and designs can be applied to program evaluation research are discussed. Students will gain practical experience with this type of research by completing a series of activities involving the application of program evaluation research principles. Furthermore, students will engage in a critical review of published program evaluation research as they continue to develop their independent scholarly skills.

or EDR8111

Case Study

This course is designed as a laboratory in which you can prepare to use case study research methods by conducting a small-scale case study on a topic/project of interest to education scholars. The course will prepare students to define appropriate case study research questions, to employ suitable data collection and analysis strategies, and to evaluate case research for credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability.

or EDR8112

Action Research

This course is designed to prepare students who desire to use action research methods and as an opportunity for students to prepare to conduct research on topics/projects of interest to education scholars. The primary goal of action research is to solve a problem that will lead to improvement in individual or organizational practice. In addition to developing an action research proposal, students will gain knowledge about the theoretical, philosophical, epistemological, and political considerations surrounding action research, specifically in educational environments. Students will gain an understanding of the cyclical nature of action research. Student researchers in this course will be prepared to understand the unique role of the researcher in action research, the importance of stakeholders, to define appropriate action research questions, and to evaluate action research studies critically.

Required Basic Foundation Courses - 6 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

EDU8000, EDU8000-8

Foundations for Doctoral Study in Education (This course will be taken as the first course)

This course is an orientation to Northcentral University and to the essential skills needed to pursue a doctoral degree in Education. Doctoral level skills, such as academic integrity, time management, effective use of the Northcentral Library, comprehending complex scholarly texts and research articles, and APA form and style in professional communication are also introduced. Students will complete the course with a better understanding of personal goals, strengths, and challenges, and a roadmap to navigate their way to completion of their educational aspirations.

EDU8001, EDU8001-8

Advanced Scholarly Writing

The purpose of this course is to build advanced skills identifying and obtaining high quality sources through online library searches. In addition, the course addresses advanced writing and APA formatting skills, and it prepares students to be critically reflective consumers of research reports.

Specialization Courses - 18 credit hours, Select 6 courses from the following:

Course Code

Name

Course Description

ECE7001-8

Topics in Early Childhood Education

This course presents an overview of early childhood education in American society, including currently respected theories and practical applications for educating the young child. Specifically, students will explore basic educational concepts and developmentally appropriate practices for children, pre-k – grade three, including children with exceptional needs. Historical and contemporary models and delivery systems are presented and innovations in instruction are discussed. It is suggested that students pursuing a specialization in ECE should take this as their first specialization course.

ECE7002-8

Topics in Early Childhood Growth, Development, and Educational Programs

In this doctoral level course, students will explore theory and research related to the education of young children including societal changes and their influence on early childhood programs, the growth and the typical and atypical development of young children, and methods of studying children's behavior. Emphasis will be placed on the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development of infants, toddlers, and young children and the impact of these factors on the development and management of quality early childhood education instructional programs.

ECE7003-8

Topics in Early Childhood Program Administration

This doctoral course focuses on the development and implementation of early childhood programs for a variety of age groups and purposes. Specifically, curriculum development, materials, teaching strategies, evaluation, budgets, hiring procedures and state guidelines/regulations are addressed. Skills and competencies to implement the aforementioned concepts will also be addressed.

ECE7005-8

Early Childhood Curriculum and Assessment

In this course, students explore the theory, research, and trends related to the curriculum and assessment of young children enrolled in early childhood education programs. Developmentally appropriate early childhood lesson plans and activities will be explored and analyzed. Standardized and classroom assessments will be researched and evaluated.

ECE7007-8

Early Childhood Literacy and Literature

This course discusses literacy development in early childhood education. Balanced literacy instruction including a comprehensive set of strategies designed to meet individual needs will be explored. Methods for developing reading and writing skills that are developmentally appropriate will also be investigated. Since knowledge of children's literature is essential for any early childhood educator, students will determine ways to select appropriate and motivating materials to enhance an early childhood literacy program.

ECE7009-8

Families, Communities, and Schools as Partners in Early Childhood Education

In this course, students will focus on the development of partnerships between early childhood educators, families, and communities. Encouraging involvement and communicating with families and communities in early childhood education programs will be researched and analyzed. Topics include child abuse, child advocacy, formulating effective strategies for working with families of special needs children, and societal trends and issues specific to diversity.

CT7004-8

Language and Literacy Education

Language and Literacy Education will assist the doctoral student in learning about the processes of language development. Students will analyze the theory of mind and the processes of language and meaning development by reflecting on their own understanding of language. Doctoral students will assess specific literacy strategies to promote language development and analyze ways children learn words and concepts. Students will reflect on the impact of language acquisition on learning and teaching literacy. In addition, students will create strategies, lessons, and assessments designed for language and literacy.

CT7005-8

Literacy: Focus on Curriculum

This class offers doctoral students opportunities to investigate and assess the issues and research related to literacy development and literacy curriculum development. Students will analyze principles and strategies that foster literacy development in the early grades and apply learnings to classroom curriculum and instruction. Theory, activities, and summative assessments aid the doctoral leaner in the evaluation of literacy based learning and performance. Literacy achievement and best literacy teaching strategies are planned and implemented.

Doctoral Comprehensive Exam - 3 credit hours. Dissertation Courses - 12 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

CMP9500E

Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

In pursuit of a research doctoral degree (PhD) at Northcentral University, students gain expertise in their academic discipline and in one or more specializations that complement their academic discipline. The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination is intended to assure that students have mastered knowledge of their discipline before candidacy status is achieved and their dissertation work is initiated. The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination is taken following the completion of all foundation, specialization, and methods courses. This course is graded using Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) grading criteria. The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination must be successfully completed with an "S" grade prior to beginning any work in Dissertation courses. This course may only be retaken once.

DIS9501E

PhD Doctoral Dissertation

In this course sequence, students work progressively on completing each doctoral dissertation milestone toward the completion of the PhD degree. These milestones include Committee and University approval of a dissertation concept paper, a dissertation proposal paper, an approved IRB application by the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board, the collection and analysis of research data, the preparation and approval of the final dissertation manuscript, and the successful completion of the oral defense. Courses are taken continually and sequentially until all dissertation milestones have been completed. Throughout these courses, students often work independently but are required to be in communication with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee at least every 28 calendar days. These courses are graded utilizing Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) as the grading criteria.

DIS9502E

PhD Doctoral Dissertation

In this course sequence, students work progressively on completing each doctoral dissertation milestone toward the completion of the PhD degree. These milestones include Committee and University approval of a dissertation concept paper, a dissertation proposal paper, an approved IRB application by the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board, the collection and analysis of research data, the preparation and approval of the final dissertation manuscript, and the successful completion of the oral defense. Courses are taken continually and sequentially until all dissertation milestones have been completed. Throughout these courses, students often work independently but are required to be in communication with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee at least every 28 calendar days. These courses are graded utilizing Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) as the grading criteria.

DIS9503E

PhD Doctoral Dissertation

In this course sequence, students work progressively on completing each doctoral dissertation milestone toward the completion of the PhD degree. These milestones include Committee and University approval of a dissertation concept paper, a dissertation proposal paper, an approved IRB application by the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board, the collection and analysis of research data, the preparation and approval of the final dissertation manuscript, and the successful completion of the oral defense. Courses are taken continually and sequentially until all dissertation milestones have been completed. Throughout these courses, students often work independently but are required to be in communication with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee at least every 28 calendar days. These courses are graded utilizing Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) as the grading criteria.

DIS9504E

PhD Doctoral Dissertation

In this course sequence, students work progressively on completing each doctoral dissertation milestone toward the completion of the PhD degree. These milestones include Committee and University approval of a dissertation concept paper, a dissertation proposal paper, an approved IRB application by the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board, the collection and analysis of research data, the preparation and approval of the final dissertation manuscript, and the successful completion of the oral defense. Courses are taken continually and sequentially until all dissertation milestones have been completed. Throughout these courses, students often work independently but are required to be in communication with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee at least every 28 calendar days. These courses are graded utilizing Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) as the grading criteria.

At Northcentral University, we pride ourselves in being completely transparent when it comes to tuition and fees. If a cost is not included in our Cost Per Course Tuition Rate, we let you know up front. Currently, the only additional cost above your program rate* is books. Learn more about the NCU’s PhD in Education costs below:

  • Per credit cost: $986
  • Per 3 credit course cost: $2,958
  • Program cost: $59,160
  • Average book cost per course: $110
  • Application Fee: $0
  • Learning Management Fee (one-time per program): $250
  • Registration Fee: $0

Click here to learn more about payment and financing options.

*Program rates are subject to change and generally increase at the start of each calendar year.

Total program costs reflected are calculated based on standard degree program credits exclusive of the program’s potential evaluation track. The actual cost of a program is determined based upon the program and track the student enters, transfer credits if any, and other unique student factors.For more information: please contact Admissions or refer to the catalog.

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