Jul 18, 2024  
2015-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Education: Early Childhood Education

Department of Human Development and Child Studies
405B Pawley Hall   (map)
(248) 370-3077 • Fax (248) 370-4242

Sherri L. Oden
405C Pawley Hall
(248) 370-3027

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Graduate Catalog Addendum  


Program description

The Ph.D. in education with a major in early childhood education is designed to prepare leaders for the field. The goals of the program are to develop and support leadership, research, and policy that will inform, support, and promote education for young children. Major areas of focus include early childhood development and educational theories, research, and policies, curricular and program approaches, literacy, cultural diversity, and transition to preschool and primary school classrooms.

The program provides preparation in quantitative and qualitative research methods. Students also select a cognate in a complementary area including special education, reading, educational leadership and administration, counseling, curriculum, professional development or other academic areas.

Graduates of the program are prepared to assume leadership, teaching, or research and policy positions in early childhood care and education settings, school systems, colleges and universities, early childhood organizations and government.

Admission terms and application deadlines

Before an applicant’s file can be reviewed for full program admission, all application documents must be received in Graduate Admissions by the semester deadlines listed below.

Current Deadlines

Students are admitted in the fall semester only. Applications will be accepted until July 1 for the following fall semester.


Beginning Fall 2017 Semester

  • February 15 (early) April 15 (regular) and July 15 (late) for the following fall semester
  • July 15 for the following fall semester
  • International applicants   

Students are admitted in the fall semester only. Applications will be accepted until July 15 for the following fall semester.

Application requirements

To be considered for graduate admission, applicants must submit all Graduate Application Requirements and additional department requirements by the published application deadlines:

  2. Additional department application requirements
  • Additional Recommendation for Graduate Admission form
    In addition to the two recommendations listed above, a third recommendation is required by the program.
    Recommendation requirements
    At least one of the recommendations must be 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 professinal 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. An additional written assignment may be required.

Admission review and assessment

Admission to graduate study at Oakland University is selective. In making admission recommendations to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning, each department assesses the potential of applicants for success in the program by examining their undergraduate records, goal statement, letters of recommendation, prerequisite courses and any other admission requirements established by the academic department.

Finalists will be selected based upon a review of the criteria below, as well as the personal statement, samples of writing:

  • Completion of a master’s degree or equivalent in early childhood education or an allied field
  • Minimum graduate grade-point average of 3.6
  • Three years of professional experience in early childhood education or an allied field. 

Degree requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in education: early childhood education degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of a minimum of 80 credits beyond the master’s degree in an approved program of study: 12 credits in the foundation core, 32 credits in the department core, 20 credits in the cognate, and a minimum of 16 credits for the dissertation.

Previously earned graduate credits may apply if they did not count toward the qualifying master’s degree and if they are equivalent to a required course for the program or are part of an approved cognate.

Course requirements

c. Cognate (20 minimum credits)

The cognate courses should complement the core foundation and department courses. The cognate area of study may include courses within or outside the department upon advisement by the adviser and the program coordinator.

Satisfactory academic progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student’s successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid to monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for all financial aid recipients each semester.

Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal, state and university aid. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for additional details.

Good academic standing

All graduate students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout the entire course of their graduate program. To be in good academic standing, a graduate student must make satisfactory progress toward fulfilling degree requirements, including the completion of critical degree milestones as set forth by the academic program. The student must also maintain a minimum semester and overall GPA of 3.0.

Good academic standing is a requirement for:

  • Holding a Graduate Assistantship
  • Receiving a fellowship or scholarship
  • Advancing to candidacy for a graduate degree
  • Going on a leave of absence
  • Obtaining a graduate certificate or degree from Oakland University.

Additionally, graduate students must meet all department academic standards which may be more stringent than the minimum set forth by the University.

Graduate students who are not in good academic standing for any reason are subject to probation and/or dismissal from further graduate study.

Related program information

Academic advising

Upon acceptance into the program, students are advised initially by the early childhood Ph.D. program coordinator. Toward the end of the first year of study, each student, in consultation with the program coordinator and faculty members, selects a faculty adviser who guides the student in planning a program of study, including establishment of a portfolio, design of a cognate, and preparation for completion of qualifying comprehensive exams and the dissertation. The adviser and program coordinator advise the student to form a committee of faculty members who will provide further guidance and evaluation for the exams and the dissertation.

Plan of study

All accepted applicants, in consultation with their assigned faculty program adviser, must develop a plan of study that details specific courses the students will use to satisfy their degree requirements. The plan of study must be approved by the program coordinator and the adviser and submitted by the student to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Doctoral students must submit an approved plan of study prior to completion of the first year of coursework.

Residency requirement

Students must complete at least 16 credits (excluding dissertation credits) during one of the academic (or calendar) years of the student’s program of doctoral study. Further, students are required to register for at least one credit every fall and winter after their admission to the program. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the program coordinator.

Qualifying comprehensive examinations

To prepare for exams, the student’s adviser and a minimum of two additional faculty members comprise the Doctoral Advisory Exam Committee and meet with the student to review the student’s portfolio - a major source for determining the student’s interests, strengths, and areas for further development. When the student elects to take the exams, the committee either grants approval to proceed or proposes a plan for further study, coursework, or other appropriate preparation necessary for taking the exams. Exam questions assess the student’s knowledge with respect to challenging issues in the field, e.g., comparing and contrasting major theories, approaches, and policies in early childhood education and care; implications of the knowledge base for child care and education, preschool, and primary school early childhood curricula/programs; and for designing early childhood curricula and program approaches, evaluations, research studies, and policy initiatives.

To pass qualifying exams, the student must demonstrate competence in the following four segments:

  1. Comprehensive knowledge of the foundational core and early childhood education. This exam segment assesses the student’s knowledge of the foundational and early childhood core coursework areas, including the major theories, research methods and findings, educational practices and public policies. This segment of the exam is conducted on a “take-home” basis, with a limited time frame.
  2. In-depth knowledge of a specific area in early childhood education. This segment of the exam is a qualifying paper that demonstrates an in-depth knowledge of a particular area of focus. The topic must be approved by the chair of the Doctoral Advisory Committee, who also sets a minimum page requirement and a style format. The paper must be completed by a date set by the program coordinator as a part of the exam process.
  3. Comprehensive knowledge of a cognate area. This exam segment assesses the student’s knowledge in a cognate area (a complementary area of study). This segment of the exam is conducted on a “take-home” basis, with a limited time frame.
  4. The oral examination. Upon successful completion of the written segments of the qualifying comprehensive exam (parts 1, 2, and 3) explained above, the student proceeds to take the oral segment of the exams. This exam segment provides an opportunity for the student to make a presentation in an area of special interest (usually the area of the in-depth paper) and to demonstrate the ability to respond to questions from the faculty about the presentation and related issues.

The Doctoral Advisory Committee assesses the student’s performance on the written and oral parts of the exam to determine if the student is adequately prepared to proceed as a candidate for dissertation preparation. If the student’s qualifying exam performance is determined to be inadequate, the Doctoral Advisory Committee may recommend further preparation, e.g., coursework, writing, or study.


The dissertation is an original contribution to the field of study through disciplined inquiry. Conducting the dissertation study, writing, and defending a dissertation should be accomplished in accordance with the highest professional standards. The student’s dissertation adviser and a minimum of three additional faculty members (one external to the department) comprise the Dissertation Committee and advise the student on the formation of a dissertation proposal. The written format for the proposal is specified by the committee, and the student orally presents and defends the dissertation proposal. The committee assesses the student’s written and oral presentation of the proposal and determines if modifications in the proposal are needed prior to the student conducting the research. The committee members, led by the dissertation adviser, continue to advise the student throughout the research and the preparation of the dissertation manuscript. Students must obtain a copy of the dissertation format requirements from Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning so that the dissertation manuscript conforms to university standards.

Final oral examination and dissertation defense

The oral defense of the dissertation is held after the dissertation is completed and approved by the committee. The purpose of the oral defense is to enable the dissertation committee to judge the quality of the investigation and the student’s ability to defend and communicate the work. A copy of the dissertation is made available to the Office of The Dean of the School of Education and Human Services, and the announcement of the date, time, and location of the defense is distributed to the faculty. The oral defense is to be attended by the Dissertation Committee members and is open to all School of Education and Human Services faculty and the university community. Final approval and acceptance of the doctoral dissertation requires a favorable vote of the Dissertation Committee with no more than one dissenting vote. The Dissertation Committee determines the adequacy of the student’s oral defense and if there are to be modifications in the dissertation manuscript, which is then subject to final approval by the committee. The committee may permit reexamination, if the initial dissertation defense is deemed inadequate.

Continuous enrollment

The continuous enrollment policy for doctoral students requires continuous registration of graduate students for at least 1 credit each semester in the academic year to maintain an active graduate student status. This includes semesters in which the comprehensive qualifying examination and the preliminary dissertation proposal oral defense are completed, and for each subsequent term (fall and winter) until all the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Some agency and graduate assistantship eligibility may have course-load requirements that exceed the minimum registration requirements of the Continuous Enrollment Policy (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization for international students, and federal financial aid programs). Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate number of credits that are required for funding eligibility and/or compliance as outlined by specific agency regulations under which they are governed.

Time limits

The maximum time limit for completing a Ph.D. degree is no more than ten years from the term of the first course enrollment in the doctoral program.

The Time Limit for Completing a Ph.D. Degree policy requires a student to achieve candidacy within six years from the first course enrollment in the doctoral program. After being advanced to candidacy, a student is expected to complete the remaining degree requirements within four years (including the dissertation defense).


Three copies of the approved dissertation manuscript must be submitted to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning by the date published in the Schedule of Classes for the term in which the student expects to graduate. (See Thesis and Dissertation ).