Doctoral Degree in Childhood Studies

These are general guidelines. Students should consult the Graduate Student Handbook for detailed requirements or contact the Graduate Studies Director. 

Students in the Doctor of Philosophy in Childhood Studies degree program enroll in a core set of courses in order to acquire the interdisciplinary, theoretical, and methodological knowledge that is at the heart of childhood studies. This interdisciplinary coursework is the foundation for a series of investigations culminating in the dissertation through which students develop their expertise as scholars in Childhood Studies. 

Throughout their studies, students in the Ph.D. program work closely with their advisors and other members of the faculty. Prospective students are encouraged to discuss their plans for graduate study with members of the faculty. The doctoral program prepares both scholars capable of innovative interdisciplinary research in childhood studies and leaders in child-related social practice and policy.

Core Requirements

The minimum requirement for the Ph.D. degree is 60 credits.  Doctoral students will need to have 45 credit
hours of classes and 15 Thesis Hours to compete course requirements. All students in the Ph.D. program follow the following program of study, with most completing the courses in two or three years, with the dissertation completed in the fourth and or fifth years. Although the program is intended for full-time students, part-time students are accepted into the program. Most classes will be offered in the late afternoon and early evening. There are four major program elements.

Approaches, Methods, Applications

The nature of Childhood Studies requires that students be equipped with the intellectual tools necessary to engage in interdisciplinary research focusing on children. Towards this end, 15 credits are required in classes that acquaint students with the approaches, methods and applications characteristic of the social sciences and the humanities. 

Six of the credits for the study of interdisciplinary approaches, methods, and applications are earned in the Proseminar in Childhood Studies. This two-semester sequence is taken during each student’s first year. Different disciplines (psychology, sociology/criminal justice, anthropology, history, religion, and English) serve as a perspective for a section of the course. During each section, through a combination of lectures, discussion and readings, students gain knowledge of the substantive topic; they also gain a broad overview of each discipline’s methodology and an understanding of the strengths and limitations of each discipline’s approach to the problem. Toward the end of the year, students will be guided toward an understanding of how a given problem can be approached in an interdisciplinary manner. Students also complete one course in quantitative social science (typically a statistics class), qualitative social science (ethnography), and methods in humanities (e.g., Introduction to Literary Studies).

Children in Ontogenic, Historical, and Cultural Perspective

To provide for a solid footing for interdisciplinary research, all students complete at least six credits in courses that examine children in context. Typically, students fulfill this requirement by enrolling in two or more of the following classes. See the course descriptions for details.

  • Child Growth & Development (3 credits)
  • Children & Childhood in Cross-Cultural Perspective (3 credits)
  • Children & Media (3 credits)
  • Children & Migration (3 credits)
  • Literary & Cultural Constructions of Childhood (3 credits)
  • Philosophical & Religious Perspectives (3 credits)
  • Urban Education (3 credits)
  • Visual & Material Culture (3 credits)
  • Youth Identities (3 credits)

Focused Coursework in Childhood Studies

By the beginning of the second year of study, and in consultation with her/his advisor, each student develops a plan for coursework (minimum of 24 credits) in Childhood Studies that is the foundation for the doctoral dissertation.

Doctoral Dissertation

Each student must complete an original dissertation research project (minimum of 15 credits) under the supervision of a faculty advisor.