Is working with young children, families and communities during this critically important stage of development a passion of yours? If so, CU Denver’s Early Childhood Education program can take you to the next level no matter where you are now. We prepare highly competent professionals who are leaders and advocates known for embracing the whole child in inclusive, culturally and linguistically diverse settings.

Courses are filled with real-world assignments and experiences that prepare our graduates to be responsive and innovative early childhood educators who practice within settings that include all children (infancy through age eight) and families.

Our program emphasizes family-centered practices, culturally sustaining teaching and is inspired by the potential of all children and families.
A small child writes on a smart board

Online Program

Our flexible online MA in Early Childhood Education accepts students every term (fall, spring, summer) and features personalized support for every student. As innovators of digital teaching and learning, our online programs are highly ranked and in great demand.

Our Commitment

CU Denver is committed to putting highly qualified and well-compensated early childhood professionals in the field.


CU Denver offers scholarships and vast learning and development opportunities to support early childhood teachers and leaders.

There are more paths into inclusive, culturally and linguistically diverse, early childhood education than ever before and CU Denver can help you find yours.

Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Human Development, Inclusive Early Childhood Education

School of Education & Human Development


Degree: PhD

Classroom Type: On campus

Prepares candidates to be leaders, faculty members, and researchers at the forefront of change in the areas of early childhood special education and early childhood education. Graduates enter a growing and dynamic field with burgeoning research about the critical years in children's brain development, learning, and health.

Application​ deadlines

January 10*
*Extended deadline for Fall 2022 only

Program Details

Interest Categories: Education & Counseling

Campus: CU Denver

What you'll learn

The field of early childhood education is in a dynamic period of growth thanks to a growing research base from multiple disciplines including neuropsychology, child development, family sciences and early education. We have never been more aware of the innate competencies and potentials of all children starting in infancy. CU Denver's Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education and Human Development concentration in inclusive early childhood education prepares you to be a leader, faculty member and researcher at the forefront of this change.

In this concentration, students will:

  • Obtain knowledge of high quality practices in inclusive early childhood education to lead at state and national levels within their roles at institutions of higher education.
  • Develop the skills to conduct rigorous research related to culturally responsive, evidence-based practices.
  • Translate research into practice, thus expanding the use of high quality practices in the field.
  • Create, evaluate and improve preservice teacher education programs in ECE and ECSE.
  • Advocate for and lead change to assure all children's growth and development across diverse settings.

Choose CU Denver's School of Education & Human Development

You can trust CU Denver to provide an education that will prepare you for excellence in your career as a faculty member or researcher. The university and school are recognized for preparing leaders of distinction who value educational excellence and social justice. Additionally, CU Denver's School of Education and Human Development is counted among U.S. News & World Report's “Best Graduate Schools,” making us one of the top education schools in the country.


The 75-credit program begins each fall.


There are funding options for some PhD students in inclusive ECE. Reach out to Christina Gillanders or Elizabeth Steed for more information.

Program Courses

Course Catalog

Recommended Completion Time:4 years

Required Credits for Completion:75

Admission Requirements

Application Deadlines

The following deadlines are firm, early submissions are encouraged.

Fall Semester: January 10*
*Extended deadline for Fall 2022 only

The core course rotation begins every fall. We encourage students to review the concentration area choices on our website and contact one or more of the faculty associated with that concentration area for an appointment prior to submitting their application. This ensures the students have an opportunity to discuss their research area of interest, as well as introduce themselves to the faculty. Also, the financial support we provide our PhD students is often tied to federal and state funding decisions, so meeting with a faculty member will let you know if any funding opportunities will be available in the upcoming year.

As part of gaining admission to the PhD program, students are paired with a doctoral faculty advisor/mentor. The doctoral faculty may request a personal interview to complement the information provided in the application materials.

Application Requirements

  • Minimum requirements:
    • Master's degree or equivalent
    • 3.5 GPA in graduate-level course work recommended
  • 3 recommendation letters: two letters should come from faculty in a university program in which you were previously enrolled
  • Official Transcripts from all institutions attended
  • If applying for a license, a copy of your teaching license is required
  • Resume/CV: Applicants must have and show evidence of relevant professional and/or academic experience.
  • Written Statement: In 4-6 pages (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font or larger), discuss research goals and a problem of practical or theoretical importance that could lead to a research study. Be sure to address how your research would fit within one of the concentration areas.
  • Recommended: Master's thesis and/or published materials — Examples of published materials include articles, book chapters, newsletters and technical reports.
  • Students applying to the Research, Assessment and Evaluation Concentration should submit a transcript that shows statistics proficiency. To demonstrate proficiency, please contact
  • $50.00 application fee
  • Admissions Interview: An interview may be required as part of the admissions process. If so, applicants will be contacted with more details.
  • International Applicants only: Proof of English Language Proficiency (International applicants should review the following information regarding English language proficiency)
For more information, email or call 303.315.6300.