Our graduates are leaders who serve children and families in every capacity. They head social service agencies, advocacy organizations, museums, hospital programs, and parent support initiatives. They are principals, Golden Apple Award-winning teachers, program directors, social workers, therapists, and researchers. They teach at every level from preschool to graduate school. They are working in these areas:

Graph: Distribution of Erikson alumni in professional areas of the early childhood field

These are just a few examples of alumni leading efforts to improve early education, care, and childhood experiences.

  • Louise Beem, cofounder, DuPage Children’s Museum, and founder, early childhood care and education program at College of DuPage
  • Carol Brunson Day, president, National Black Child
    Development Institute and former executive director, Council for Early
    Childhood Professional Recognition
  • Leon Denton, manager of Head Start, Salvation Army Child Care Program
  • Chipo Dyanda, deputy vice chancellor, University of Zimbabwe
  • Toby Herr, founder and director of Project Match,
    a community-based employment program that recently won a MacArthur
    Award for Creative and Effective Institutions
  • Pat Manning, director of Child Life and Family Education, University of Chicago Children’s Hospital
  • Molly McGrath, director of Baltimore City Department of Social Services

Academic programs

The amazing physical, cognitive, and social-emotional
development that takes place in the first eight years sets the foundation for
success in learning and life. That’s why all Erikson programs instill a deep,
interdisciplinary knowledge of all aspects of that growth. Our students focus
on how family, culture, and community shape development — and how their own
culture influences relationships with the children they serve. They learn to
continually reflect on their interactions, making them more effective

Programs offered

Master of science degrees

Certificate programs

Ph.D. in Child Development

  • (in collaboration with Loyola University Chicago)

See program accreditation information

Students by the numbers

In fall 2011, Erikson enrolled approximately 220 master’s degree students, 15 doctoral students, and 60 certificate students. Together, they present the following profile:

  • Women: 96%
  • Students of color: 28%
  • Average age: 30
  • Age range: 21–63
  • States represented: 28
  • Countries represented (outside U.S.): 8

Professional development

Erikson’s broadest impact is through professional development opportunities. Each year nearly 2,500 early childhood professionals sharpen their skills and enhance their effectiveness in courses, workshops, seminars, and customized on-site staff development offered throughout the greater metropolitan Chicago area. These research-based learning opportunities focus on the following:

  • teaching and learning
  • early intervention
  • leadership and supervision
  • infancy


Our professors are recognized scholars and respected voices for children. Our faculty includes advisers to the U.S. Department of Education, a Fulbright senior scholar, award-winning researchers, pioneers of the infant mental health movement in Illinois, and more.

While actively teaching courses, they also bring their expertise to community through dozens of projects and community partnerships that support and enhance early childhood programs. These projects generate new knowledge and provide students with opportunities for hands-on experience in different areas of the field.

See experts guide


These scholars study important questions that shape the care and education of children. Some topics include:

  • early childhood assessment tools and methods
  • after-school program effectiveness
  • Early Head Start effectiveness
  • preparing teachers to meet the needs of culturally, economically, and racially diverse students
  • vocabulary acquisition among second-language learners
  • impact of teachers’ math knowledge and language on children’s learning
  • literacy development, particularly among urban students
  • technology training for early childhood teachers
  • parent support and efficacy
  • parent-child psychotherapy
  • effectiveness of services to families of children with special needs
  • impact of excessive crying on infants’ development

The Herr Research Center for Children and Social Policy conducts original research and disseminates knowledge that informs, guides, and supports effective early childhood policy in the Great Lakes region.

Community engagement

Putting knowledge about child development to work in the community is a vital part of Erikson’s mission. We do this through an ever-growing variety of projects and partnerships. A few are listed here:

Center for Children and Families

A multidisciplinary team provides comprehensive, family-centered assessment and treatment for children birth to age eight with behavioral, social-emotional, learning, and developmental issues.

Early Mathematics Education Project

Young children get a better grounding in math concepts as this project coaches 100 preschool and kindergarten teachers to bolster their proficiency and help them weave math’s big ideas into classroom activities.

Early Childhood Project with Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

DCFS contracted with Erikson to administer developmental screenings for all children ages birth through five entering the foster care system and assess their biological parents and foster caregivers, to determine required services.

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Project

This project enhances the capacity of Prevention Initiative (birth to three) and state pre-K program staff to promote infant’s and young children’s mental health and school readiness.

Herr Research Center for Children and Social Policy

The center informs, guides, and supports effective early childhood policy in the Great Lakes region with original research regional and dissemination of knowledge that promotes the well-being of young children.

New Schools Project

This project brings Erikson’s early childhood expertise directly into pre-kindergarten through third grade classrooms in the Chicago Public Schools. Consultants partner with schools to establish positive learning environments so children experience school success.

See more research and community projects

See experts guide

Services for children and families

Erikson’s Center for Children and Families provides comprehensive, family-centered assessment and treatment for children birth to age eight with behavioral, social-emotional, learning, and developmental issues.

Erikson’s Fussy Baby Network provides telephone support and home visits for parents struggling to cope with an infant that cries inconsolably. The network also features Spanish-language support and services to parents in immigrant communities.