This specialization is designed to provide candidates with a strong background in research, theory, issues, policies, advocacy and practical experiences in early childhood.

The Concordia University Chicago Leadership PhD program with a specialization in early childhood education focuses on the preparation of confident and competent leaders who can provide the voice for young children and who will dedicate themselves to ensuring all young children have access to equitable, appropriate and quality opportunities for care and learning at every age and in every environment.

The degree is built upon the candidate’s prior work in the field. The program provides a theoretical and practical framework for advanced work and leadership in the field of early childhood with an emphasis on current research.

The PhD program provides the opportunity for current and future leaders in the field to extend knowledge in early childhood education and develop understandings of current and future issues in the field. These opportunities are organized into coursework, practical experiences in the field and research.


The focus of this program is to prepare early childhood professionals to assume leadership roles in three major areas:

  • Higher education (including teaching, service, and research)
  • Leadership and administration of organizations
  • Policy, advocacy and politics

Recent graduates of the program have become early childhood leaders in universities, multisite programs, educational planning, and governance and management.

The course work provides the opportunity to receive a high-quality educational program that encourages the development of skills and competencies needed throughout the candidate's professional career as an accomplished early childhood educator, administrator, researcher, policy and advocacy specialist or other leadership roles.

Upon completion of all coursework and dissertation requirements, candidates will have theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in the following:

  • Leadership and advocacy skills in early childhood education that will support the ongoing development of the field.
  • An understanding of the methodology and appropriate practices, and problems in public and private early childhood programs with an emphasis on communicating new knowledge and skills within the field and to policy makers and business leaders who collaborate with early childhood professionals in effecting positive change.
  • Application of child development of early childhood education to current practice and research.
  • Analysis of contemporary early education issues across the country with the goal of identifying research and advocacy needs in the field that will lead to ongoing solutions and best practices.
  • Rich experience in ongoing educational research that will further the development and maturation of early childhood education as an important educational field.
  • Synthesis of early childhood curriculum, teaching and pedagogy into effective teacher leadership across the range of early childhood policy and practice.
  • Design and implementation of appropriate strategies for improved teaching and leadership practice that will then be communicated to the next generation of early childhood professionals through teacher education, advocacy and policy development.
  • Development of professional habits and sense of responsibility for reflective practice, providing a model for that reflection to colleagues and community and society.

Throughout the program, candidates will be required to reflect on their beliefs and practices as they relate to early education. That reflection will emphasize the development of competency and servant leadership within the context of integrity and Christian values.

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