Online Ph.D. programs in early childhood education provide insights on child growth and learning methods in addition to honing research skills. Graduates of these programs can pursue teaching and administration careers at K-12 schools, preschools, childcare facilities, recreation campuses, and colleges. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects considerable growth between 2016 and 2026 for many of these positions, such as 10% growth for preschool teachers, 11% for preschool and childcare center directors, and 7% for childcare workers. This degree drastically increases career opportunities for students who work well with children and desire to improve education for young learners.
Should I Earn an Online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education?
Students may pursue a doctorate in early childhood education online for personal and professional reasons. In particular, programs often require a dissertation that delivers unique insights. Constructing this piece and contributing to the field in this manner can provide a sense of satisfaction, since future educators and administrative personnel can refer to these findings when designing educational policies, methodologies, and objectives.
There are also professional reasons to obtain this degree, such as career advancement. While some higher-level positions in education may only require a master's, graduating from a top online doctoral program in early childhood education indicates advanced field expertise. This detail can help applicants stand out for management and leadership positions, like superintendents and college deans.
While some higher-level positions in education may only require a master's, graduating from a top online doctoral program in early childhood education indicates advanced field expertise.
These degrees also build research skills and can prove useful for various careers in education. Curriculum designers, for instance, research student success rates and analyze data to develop and adjust learning strategies in school districts. Additionally, scholarly writers may perform research on early childhood education and present findings in books and articles. The research skills developed in early childhood education doctoral programs relate to a significant percentage of careers within the field.
According to World Education Services, doctoral graduates in education earn an average of $2.802 million in a lifetime, which surpasses master's earnings by 24%. Average doctoral earnings, furthermore, exceed bachelor's earnings by over $1 million, or more than 55%.
What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education?
Earning a doctorate in early childhood education online can lead to multiple careers in K-12 settings. With a teaching license, graduates may qualify for teaching positions at elementary schools. Elementary school educators earn a median of $57,980 each year, and the BLS projects 7% growth for these positions between 2016 and 2026.
Instructional coordinators for K-12 institutions typically need a master's degree, which means that doctoral program graduates qualify for these professions. Instructional coordinators earn a median salary of $64,450, and the BLS projects 11% growth from 2016 to 2026. Relevant master's degrees can also lead to positions as principals and school counselors, though institutions may insist on additional certifications for these positions.
A doctorate also prepares students for postsecondary positions, such as college educators who teach courses in the doctoral discipline. The advanced degree also qualifies learners for postsecondary education administrator positions, including college deans. These administrators oversee multiple aspects of college operations, earn a median salary of almost $100,000, and boast growth projections of 10% between 2016 and 2026.
Candidates can also work at public and private childcare facilities and pursue advanced positions such as directors. With proper licensure, graduates can open their own home- or center-based daycares. The doctorate provides evidence of early childhood expertise to encourage parents to enroll their children.
A doctorate also helps learners write scholarly works on early childhood education. Like some of the previously noted occupations, authors do not need a doctorate. However, the credential verifies the writer's field expertise and gives their published works credibility.
Graduates may also find employment with education-related organizations, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Head Start Association, and notable child-based groups like the Boy Scouts of America.
Below, we provide further details regarding possible careers for early childhood education graduates.
Early Childhood Education Ph.D. Program Overview
Accredited online doctoral programs in early childhood education vary regarding degree type, program requirements, and individual courses. For example, one department may offer a research-heavy degree that focuses on culturally diverse education, while another school may provide a more practice-based degree that explores child development in more general terms. Admission requirements and program outcomes also differ among universities. However, the following sections provide an overview of common program traits.
Types of Doctoral Degrees in Early Childhood Education
Doctoral degrees in early childhood education include online doctor of education (Ed.D.) programs and online Ph.D. programs in early childhood education. Choosing between the degree types may seem puzzling at first. However, each degree caters to a certain type of student and prepares for specific careers.
An Ed.D best suits professionals whose career interests include administrative positions in K-12 education, such as prospective superintendents and curriculum developers. These individuals intend to work in academia to build learning plans, determine school goals, and make policy decisions. For this reason, Ed.D. courses address standard early childhood education concepts, like child development, literacy, and modern educational trends with a strong emphasis in practice rather than research. In fact, an Ed.D. may not require a dissertation. These programs may call for 40-55 credits and less than four years to complete.
A Ph.D., or doctor of philosophy, suits learners who want to work as postsecondary educators or in any position that prioritizes research, such as authors of nonfiction articles or books that examine education. This connection stems from the program's focus on research, which frequently culminates in a dissertation that explores an original early childhood education concept. Ph.D.s may also require as many as 20-24 credits in research and methodology courses. Overall, Ph.D.s can take an additional year or two to complete, since credit requirements can surpass 60.
Candidates should keep in mind, though, that each program's structure and objectives can vary. For this reason, learners should review every school's requirements with their intended careers in mind to find the most suitable degree.
Application Requirements and Admission Criteria
Admission into an accredited online Ph.D. program in early childhood education can require a master's degree in a similar field with a 3.0-3.5 GPA. Applicants may also need two or more years of field and research experience.
To apply, learners submit an application, fee, transcripts, and resume. Schools frequently insist on writing samples, including publications or previous course papers. Departments may require personal statements on an applicant's accomplishments and career objectives, along with recommendation letters from professional and academic references. Students should give references at least two weeks to write these letters. Schools may also request scores from standardized tests, such as the GRE or Praxis exam. International learners whose first language is not English should also submit English proficiency exam scores.
Colleges often require qualified applicants to undergo interviews prior to admission. Students may complete these interviews in person, over the phone, or through virtual tools like Skype.
Online Ph.D. programs in early childhood education typically include at least 48 credits. However, credit requirements may vary, especially for students who hold master's degrees in unrelated fields.
Programs frequently divide courses into categories, including foundational and general core classes. These courses examine curricula, culture, child development, and problems in early childhood education. This category may require 12-15 credits. Some programs also require courses in philosophy and ethics in early childhood education, where students study advocacy, policy, and leadership in the field. These courses typically make up roughly 15 credits.
Online early childhood education programs may require that students complete a dissertation. The dissertation typically involves several research courses, such as human inquiry, mixed-methods research, directed research, and qualitative research. Research courses often comprise 24 credits.
Learners may also need to select a minor or an outside area of study, which can call for as many as 18 credits. Additional criteria for the best online doctoral programs in early childhood education can also include an assessment, portfolio, literature review, and internship.
However, just as these details vary among colleges, so do individual courses. Overall, though, the following classes typically surface in multiple programs.
Issues and Research in Early Education
Child Development in Early Years
Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
Curriculum Models for Early Childhood Education
Earning a doctoral degree in early childhood education online familiarizes students with different stages of child development in relation to mental, social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth. Exploring these developmental areas involves examining theory and current research. Programs also train learners to perform new research through quantitative and qualitative means and to use that information to structure curricula that best assist early childhood learners. Often, these research skills manifest in a dissertation on a new area of field study.
Students can also examine teaching techniques and modern educational issues through online doctoral programs in early childhood education. This information prepares candidates to teach in classrooms or impact education on administrative levels as principals, superintendents, and curriculum designers. Other program skills that relate to these positions include leadership and assessment abilities.
Programs often include a field component, such as an internship. This element provides students with real-world experience in educational settings.
Accreditation for Online Early Childhood Education Doctorate Programs
Accreditation occurs when a recognized agency reviews and approves a school's or program's academics. This status matters since only students at accredited schools may earn federal aid and because employers typically do not accept unaccredited degrees. Colleges can obtain regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation relates to a specific geographic region, such as the area covered by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, while national accreditation extends nationwide. Both accreditation types hold merit. For instance, regional accreditation leads to easier credit transfers between schools.
For a doctorate in early childhood education, candidates can look for accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and/or the National Association for the Education of Young Children.