Earning a Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Online

Browse our ranking of the top online doctorate in early childhood education programs in the country, and learn how to take your next steps to a better career in early childhood education today.

Should I Pursue a Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Online?

Obtaining an online early childhood education doctoral degree prepares students to teach in preschool and elementary classrooms. Learners explore child development, family and community impact on education, cultural diversity in classrooms, and curriculum models for early childhood subjects. Graduates often pursue state teaching certification to work in classrooms. Other common positions for graduates include childcare center director and instructional coordinator.

A doctorate also qualifies graduates to teach early childhood education courses at colleges and universities. Graduates may teach postsecondary courses online, applying distance communication skills obtained during their studies.

Postsecondary administrators, such as deans and provosts, may also need a doctorate. Additionally, some graduates of online early childhood education doctoral degree programs work in noneducational settings, such as at recreation camps for young children.

Professionals in any of these positions should love children and learning. Candidates should boast creativity and patience and be able to communicate with kindness and encouragement.

Employment Outlook for Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Graduates

Early childhood education doctoral programs prepare students to teach early math, science, and reading concepts to children. Careers in the field can be found in childcare centers, preschools, and elementary schools. The following sections provide an overview of some positions in the field, including growth projections, salary expectations, and descriptions of job duties.

Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Careers

Many early childhood education careers require only a bachelor's or associate degree. However, earning an online doctorate in early childhood education provides in-depth knowledge of child development and pedagogy that can give job seekers an edge. Doctoral programs also help learners hone research skills that graduates can apply when assessing classroom needs in administrative positions.

Graduates can also teach field concepts to early childhood education majors at colleges and universities. Candidates for the following positions should prioritize education for young children, think positively and analytically, and boast strong problem-solving and communication skills.

Early Childhood Education Specialist

Annual Median Salary: $36,000

These educators consider the physical, mental, emotional, and nutritional needs of children. Candidates explore play options to assist with children's development and encourage social interaction. Additional tasks may include looking for signs of special needs, informing families about their child's education, and ensuring classroom safety. Students earning a doctorate in early childhood education online gain child development knowledge that applies to these positions.

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $47,000

These educators help children with special needs, including physical and cognitive difficulties. They determine each child's needs and design applicable lesson plans. Special education teachers may also keep records and discuss each student's development with their family. A doctorate in early childhood education teaches candidates important child development and learning strategies.

Preschool and Childcare Center Director

Annual Median Salary: $47,940

Preschool and childcare center directors make hiring decisions and manage staff. They also create policies, deliver professional development opportunities, manage budgets, and communicate with families. While this position typically requires only a bachelor's degree, earning a doctorate in early childhood education online provides students with advanced skills and knowledge.

Postsecondary Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $78,470

Postsecondary teachers design lesson plans and assignments for college-level courses in their discipline. These educators deliver lectures, help students choose courses, and research field topics for publication. Most schools require postsecondary teachers to hold a doctoral degree, such as an online early childhood education doctorate.

What Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Program?

Requirements for students completing early childhood education doctoral programs online vary. Factors impacting curricula include a student's concentration, credit requirements, and in-person components. For example, one doctoral program may include a capstone comprising extensive fieldwork, while another may feature a dissertation. Students should research prospective programs to determine which option best fits their budgets, scheduling needs, and career objectives. Although course requirements vary, early childhood education students often take the classes listed below.

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Early Childhood Education

Legal Issues in Early Childhood Education

This course addresses legal concerns related to working in early childhood education, including the importance of up-to-date records. Students may also explore advocacy and the history of the field's legal concerns. Coursework prepares learners for careers that involve advocacy and for administrative K-12 positions. For example, an elementary school principal can apply information learned in this class to ensure classrooms adhere to legal regulations.

Language, Literacy, and Reading Instruction in Early Childhood Education

This class covers language development and acquisition in young children, as well as literacy teaching strategies for preschool and elementary classrooms. Coursework may focus on teaching special needs or English as a second language (ESL) learners. This class helps prepare students for careers as reading specialists, literacy teachers, and instructional coordinators.

Educational Research Methods

Students explore quantitative and qualitative research methods and theories. This course often addresses techniques for obtaining data, methods of interpreting data, and strategies for delivering research findings. Learners may also explore ways to apply research to improve early childhood education. Graduates can use this knowledge as instructional coordinators and writers for scholarly books, reports, and articles.

Curriculum and Instructional Strategies

Students in this course examine curriculum models and research to establish effective teaching techniques. Learners examine relevant technology and legal regulations and may study how to alter curricula for special needs students. This course prepares learners for roles as K-12 and preschool teachers and instructional coordinators.

Family and Community Relationships

This class explores the positive and negative impacts family and community can have on early childhood education. Learners connect these ideas to advocacy, cultural diversity, and dangers such as child abuse. Graduates can apply this information to coordinator positions at preschools and elementary schools.

Certifications and Licenses a Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Prepares For

  • Teaching Certification: Most K-12 teachers at public schools must hold a teaching certification. Each state maintains its own certification process, but common requirements include earning an education degree and passing a certification exam, such as the Praxis. States may also require a background check. Professionals may need to complete continuing education requirements to renew their teaching certifications.
  • Childcare License: This license qualifies holders to open their own childcare centers. Licensing requirements vary by state and type of childcare facility. For example, a license to open an at-home daycare may require different steps than a license to run a childcare center in an external facility. Possible requirements include an application packet, CPR training, and a home inspection to ensure cleanliness and adequate space.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Early childhood education professional organizations often deliver conferences, seminars, and events that allow members to network and explore new ideas in the field. These professional connections can lead to career tips and recommendation letters that help candidates secure jobs. Organizations may provide additional career assistance through online job boards, and many associations offer workshops and training that may fulfill continuing education requirements for teaching certifications. Below are some popular organizations in the field; students and professionals can also search for local organizations.

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children: NAEYC offers professional development opportunities, including webinars and virtual courses. Candidates can also attend training sessions, along with NAEYC's annual conference and public policy forum. The association also provides books and periodicals on early childhood education.

  • Association for Early Learning Leaders: This organization delivers a yearly conference, along with professional development options like free webinars on delegation and financing in early childhood education. Members benefit from a job board, a newsletter, and discounts on group meetings.

  • The Southern Early Childhood Association: Members can attend the association's annual conference and read SECA publications, such as the Dimensions of Early Childhood journal. Candidates in other regions can research similar groups in their areas.

  • National Education Association: NEA hosts events such as the Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly and Read Across America. The group provides resources on reading suggestions, physical education, and historical concepts, and NEA delivers grants and partnership funding to improve education.

  • Professional Association of Childhood Educators: PACE hosts the Annual Education Conference and provides information on open positions in the field. The association offers a newsletter and the Licensing Tune-Up Kit, which reflects California standards.

  • U.S. Department of Education: The Department of Education provides resources on special needs and ESL learners. Other resources focus on literacy, mathematics, playtime, and parental involvement in early childhood education.

  • Learning Disabilities Association of America: This group provides resources on advocacy and teaching for special needs children. The organization publishes the Learning Disabilities journal, provides webinars and videos, and hosts group events to discuss learning disabilities.

  • Scholastic: Scholastic provides reading-related resources for parents, teachers, librarians, administrators, and children. These resources include lesson plans; tips for encouraging children to read; and book recommendations for specific ages, grades, and events.

  • Zero to Three: Zero to Three offers a yearly conference that focuses on children ages three and younger. The organization also delivers virtual events that members can view for free. Zero to Three provides resources on topics such as literacy and the impact of play on learning. Candidates can also read the Zero to Three Journal and participate in a summer book club.

  • Gryphon House: Gryphon House offers resources on activities for early childhood education, including art, cooking, math, and play. The organization also provides webinars on topics such as childhood trauma and social development.