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Early Childhood and Childhood Education

PhD in Teaching and Learning Concentration

Become a researcher or teacher educator dedicated to understanding children’s development and learning, and supporting them in their education from birth through elementary school. This rigorous doctorate will prepare you to conduct research in child development and education, including in specific content areas such as literacy, numeracy, and social studies.

What You'll Learn

  • Qualitative and quantitative methodologies and how to apply them to academic research in education
  • How to develop and design a research proposal, implement a research agenda, evaluate results, and disseminate findings

Your Academic Experience

A Flexible, Highly Individualized PhD Program

The program of study is distributed among courses in the foundations, cognate areas, research, specialization, and dissertation research and preparation. You will be able to personalize your program around your individual interests and choose from such related areas of specialization as teacher education, curriculum development, child development, innovations in schooling, and specific content areas such as literacy, numeracy, and social studies.

Work with Faculty on Shared Research Interests

Our faculty's research interests center on key themes in early childhood and childhood education, including:

  • Human and child development
  • Social contexts of learning
  • The influence of culture on teaching and learning
  • Multiple ways of knowing
  • Families as partners in children’s learning
  • The uses of evaluation and assessment in teaching and learning
  • The impact of language and literacy development on children’s learning
  • Curriculum development

You'll have the opportunity to work closely with them on grants and studies as you as establish your own research agenda. 

Become Part of a Tight-Knit Research Community in a Global Urban Center

At NYU Steinhardt, you will have access to a world-class facility for conducting educational research. The PhD in Teaching and Learning is designed to prepare you for all aspects of the research process, including developing and designing a research proposal, implementing a research agenda, and disseminating findings. You will interact with a close community of fellow student researchers and receive close mentoring from faculty as you pursue educational research in the heart of New York City.


Each doctoral student is assigned a faculty advisor in the student’s chosen area of specialization. This advisor serves as an interim academic advisor until the student selects a doctoral dissertation advisor. 


You'll be well prepared for roles including:

  • Teacher educator or researcher in early childhood and childhood education in colleges and universities
  • Early childhood and childhood education specialist in government organizations and nonprofits
  • Curriculum specialist or evaluator in early childhood and childhood education programs 


Erin O'Connor

Professor of Education & Chief of Education at Cooper

Okhee Lee

Professor of Childhood Education

Fabienne Doucet

Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools and Associate Professor of Early Childhood and Urban Education