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Policy Applied Research

PhD in Child Development

Prepare to be Immersed in a range of applied child development research.

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Advance Yourself In Leadership and Career Roles

Study how factors such as culture, social class, and social relationships influence human development from infancy through early and middle childhood. Among others, PhD graduates can consider careers in research, applied child development research, program design and evaluation, college teaching, program administration, and policy analysis.

This post-master’s program is offered by Erikson in conjunction with Loyola University Chicago, and the PhD is conferred by Loyola. You’ll have up to six years from your admission to finish the program’s requirements, including your final dissertation.

Erikson’s PhD Child in Development Builds Your Expertise

Start in the Fall and earn your PhD on campus.


42 Credit Hours


2-3 Year Average Program Length

Part- and Full-Time Options

$1,135 Credit Hour

Fall Term Start

Why Erikson

Earn Your PhD in Child Development in a Unique Program Made For You 

Deepen your expertise with one of the only applied research PhD programs on child development.

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Advanced Career Skills

Extend the range of roles and careers you can consider.

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Internship Experience

Participate in two semesters of required doctoral internship; one in research and one in assistant teaching at a master’s level college course.

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Final Dissertation

Guided by a committee of faculty members, you’ll execute a substantial original piece of research to advance knowledge in the field of child development. It will require a public oral defense.

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Small, Personal Classes

Be seen and heard working closely with your professors and peers.

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Self-Reflective Supervision Seminars

Learn resilience and healthy professional practices from experienced practitioners.

Child-focused Research and Teaching Internships

PhD candidates are required to complete two semesters of an internship supervised by your Erikson advisor. At least one semester must be a research internship.

Research Internship (3 semester hours)

You’ll work with an Erikson faculty member, research scientist, or associate, or on a research project at another institution.

Teaching Internship (3 semester hours)

You will teach or assist in teaching a master’s-level college course in child development or related topic.

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Look Into Erikson’s Robust Financial Support & Scholarship Options

With dozens of scholarships and financial aid opportunities, our team is here to help you make your graduate education more affordable.

Based on your unique professional goals, we can help you understand tuition and expenses, and identify possible financial support opportunities.

Financial Aid Options  Tuition and Fees


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Apply By February 1st for Priority Scholarship Considerations

You’ll need to submit separate applications to both Erikson and Loyola University Chicago and be accepted by both.

Erikson awards a limited number of competitive doctoral scholarships and assistantships each year. Get started today with your application to receive priority consideration for awards.


Hear from Our Alum

Bilge Cerezci PHD ChildDevelopment - Erikson Institute
Bilge Cerezci
MS 2009, PhD 2016
“What made me most marketable during my job search was the knowledge I’d gained in the classroom combined with the applied research I’d done with Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative. Just a month after earning my PhD, I accepted a tenure-track position at St. John’s University.”
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Career Services

Erikson Institute Supports You Every Step of the Way

Our Career Services team is there for you in both the preparation and search for a job.

  • Career counseling and workshops
  • Annual job fair and networking events
  • Interview prep and resume reviews
  • Career placement program
  • Student and graduate resume book

With hundreds of partnerships and robust networks of alumni and field experts, the Career Services team is here to help you put your education into practice.

Meet our Career Specialists

Build Your Professional Network

Tonya Bibbs
PhD 2014
“So much of the work being done on children of color is about deviance or risk — how children are not fitting some particular model. I really wanted to look at normative development.”
Sabrina Mendez
PhD Candidate
“There are so many different cultures that make up the American experience, and Erikson’s focus on diversity reflects that. We all learn from each other’s experience.”
Amanda Moreno
PhD Program Director
“We take applied developmental research seriously. Our doctoral program is focused on how scholarship can be used to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and their families.”

Careers Opportunities With a PhD In Child Development

95% of our PhD graduates from the last ten years hold current positions as higher education faculty, researchers, or program directors in child and family-focused organizations.


Our graduates have built careers in:

  • Applied child development research
  • Program design and evaluation
  • College teaching
  • Program administration
  • Policy analysis

Our graduates are employed by:

  • Chapin Hall, University of Chicago
  • National Institute for Early Education Research
  • Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, Fla.
  • University of Colorado Denver
  • DePaul University
  • James Bell Associates

Explore a Few of the PhD Program Courses

Check out a few examples of the courses you’ll take in our program.

In addition to your Erikson courses, you’ll take three Loyola courses in research design and statistics, and two additional elective Loyola courses.

See all PhD Child Development Courses

Children at Risk
This course examines the concept of risk and how it impacts child development.
Learning and Teaching: Linking Theory and Research to Practice
This course examines these issues through investigating and analyzing exemplary models of recent and influential theory and research.
Designing, Developing, and Evaluating Early Childhood Intervention Programs
This course examines the variety of early childhood supports and interventions that have evolved to serve low income children and their families.
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Erikson Professors are Leaders in the Field

Gain expert perspectives working closely with leaders in the field.

Erikson’s PhD program faculty are nationally recognized. With specific research interests and decades of experience, each of our faculty enriches your academic experience, connecting you to new networks and the latest data.

Meet the Program Faculty

PhD Program FAQs

Find answers to the biggest questions students ask about the PhD program.

Required degree: A Master’s degree in a related field to child development (education, social work, or psychology) from a regionally accredited school, with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Application requirement: Submit separate applications to both Erikson and Loyola University Chicago, and be accepted by both.

International students must demonstrate English language proficiency.

This degree does not lead to licensure. For clinical licensure, please review our MSW program.

We are not a clinical psychology program and do not seek accreditation from the American Psychological Association.

Erikson awards a limited number of competitive doctoral scholarships and assistantships each year. These are awarded to new doctoral students at the time of admission to the program on the basis of academic promise, experience, and research interest.

Other types of financial assistance for doctoral students, such as federal or private student loans, are handled through Loyola University Chicago. Learn more about your eligibility for, and availability of, student loans from Loyola University of Chicago.

Yes. Most of our students work part-time as assistants on faculty projects or teach as adjuncts.

Some continue to work full-time in their positions as they complete coursework. Students should consider carefully their own organizational and time-management skills when making decisions about employment, given the demands of doctoral coursework.

The staff in our Field Education and Career Services Office will work with you to prepare you for seeking positions while you’re enrolled at Erikson and upon graduating from the program. You’ll receive feedback on your resume and cover letters, and we also maintain a job board on our campus portal where employers list part-time and full-time positions for which they’re hiring.

The Career Services team also plans an annual social work, early education, and child development job fair for Erikson students and alumni. In concert with the job fair, you can submit your resume to be included in an annual Resume Book that we distribute to organizations and managers who are interested in hiring Erikson students and alumni.

Erikson students live in a wide range of neighborhoods in Chicago and in the suburbs. We do not offer campus housing. While we can’t make specific recommendations about where you should live, we encourage you to find a neighborhood that suits your style, taste, and budget. To help you in your housing search, we work closely with StudentSpace, a free apartment-finding service that specializes in helping graduate students find housing in Chicago.

Because of Erikson’s small size, you’ll have access to a wide range of both informal and formal student support services. These include:

  • The Field Education and Career Services team will help you identify and apply for your internship placement. Erikson has hundreds of pre-approved internship sites, so you don’t have to worry about finding a placement site on your own.
  • Advising about your financial aid options, including personal financial education, is coordinated through the Financial Aid Office.
  • Academic advising is facilitated through your faculty advisor and program director.
  • The Academic Success Center provides services to help you with the academic reading and writing expectations of your program. The Center also sponsors discussion groups for selected master’s program courses.
  • The Director of Disability Services provides advising and support for students with disabilities and students who need accommodations for their academic work.
  • WorkLifeMatters is a confidential student assistance program offered to all Erikson students through Guardian and Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH). You have unlimited access to consult with a professional counselor via telephone. Face-to-face counseling sessions are available, if needed, with an IBH network provider — and up to eight sessions are free of charge as part of WorkLifeMatters.
  • Validated parking at a reduced rate is provided to Erikson students in three nearby parking garages. You will also have access to deeply discounted public transportation through the CTA U-Pass program.