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Early Childhood Leadership

This program is designed for working professionals with strong experience in early childhood or related educational disciplines. The program works to develop leaders from within the field who reflect the profession's rich demographic diversity and the wide range of interests and service sectors. Students learn to become effective leaders working for coordinated and equitable early learning systems at local, state, and federal levels.

Students enrolled in the program apply to either the MA program, from which they receive an MA in early childhood with an emphasis in leadership, or to the EdD program, during which they pursue an early childhood leadership emphasis for their MA before completing their doctorate degree.

Distinctive Features

    • Diverse field placements: Field placements are individually designed to expand students' knowledge and expose them to the complexity of early childhood services. Field placements also emphasize the vital connection between public policy and program delivery, and reinforce the need for cross-disciplinary approaches.

  • Leadership development: Through inquiry, students develop skills in listening and collegiality, so that they become effective and ethical leaders in the increasingly complex and diverse communities where early childhood professionals work. Students participate in local and statewide policy meetings and in advocacy events to observe leadership in action and to practice the skills and dispositions they are studying.

Course Work

Students work with their advisor to choose courses that are in line with their interests. Many courses are designed to develop students' professional work with young children (prenatal through third grade) and families.

Students enrolled in the doctoral degree program take core courses in the Early Childhood MA Program that emphasize leadership, followed by the doctoral core courses described in the Educational Leadership Doctorate Program. See the Requirements page for a list of courses required for this program; see the Course Descriptions page for paragraph-length descriptions of individual courses.


Students participate in two semesters of field experience individually developed for them. Through experience and critical reflection, these placements expand students' perspectives on and understanding of the complex systems and issues impacting the early childhood field and their responsibilities as field leaders.

Students work in collaboration with their field supervisors to strengthen their skills in areas such as program administration, policy and legislation, effective advocacy and coalition building, workforce development, fiscal and business services, family and community engagement, research, evaluation, and systems-building work. Field placements average eight hours per week. All students work with their field supervisors to plan a final field placement project.

Students complete regular reflections during their field placements to help them become reflective professionals through self-evaluation and critical analysis.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the program have a wide range of careers in program administration, policy and professional development, advocacy, research, philanthropy, college teaching, and family support.


Last Updated: 8/16/17