If you are interested in exploring the dynamics of human development as well as the social factors that influence it, consider the doctoral program at Erikson. Offered in conjunction with the Loyola University Chicago Graduate School, the program includes course work at both institutions and leads to a Ph.D. in child development conferred by Loyola University.

This program focuses on applied child development research and emphasizes the impact of culture, social class, and social relationships on young children’s learning and development.

Applied research includes studying the effects of educational institutions, intervention programs, policies, and other contextual factors such as poverty and language differences on children’s development, achievement, and well-being. The program has close ties to Loyola’s graduate programs in psychology, particularly developmental psychology.

Program requirements


You will complete two semesters of fieldwork supervised by your Erikson adviser. One semester must be a research internship; the other is planned to meet your professional needs and goals.

Candidacy requirements

Doctoral candidacy status indicates that the student is ready to conduct dissertation research and write the dissertation. To become a doctoral candidate, you must successfully complete the following requirements:

  • all required courses
  • a qualifying paper or pilot study, preferably on a topic close to that of your likely dissertation
  • establish an approved dissertation committee comprised of at least three faculty members, including two from Erikson
  • secure approval of the dissertation proposal by the dissertation committee, as well as Loyola’s Institutional Review Board and graduate school.


The dissertation is a substantial piece of original research undertaken by the student with the guidance of his/her committee, with the prime objective being the advancement of knowledge in the field of child development.

Past dissertations

The dissertation proposal contains a statement of the problem being investigated, an overview of the relevant research literature, a statement of hypotheses and/or research questions, and a description of methodology and proposed data analysis. The faculty chair of the dissertation committee will decide with the student when it is appropriate to convene a committee meeting to discuss the proposal. Oral hearings leading to approval of the proposal are required for admission to candidacy.

Before collecting data for the dissertation, candidates must receive approval from the Loyola Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects.


Students must finish all requirements for the doctorate within six years of admission to the program. Course work is typically completed over three years. While preparing for admission to candidacy, students register for E497 Doctoral Study for a maximum of two semesters. After being admitted to candidacy, students register for Dissertation Supervision (E499) for a minimum of two semesters, and continue to register until the oral defense is successfully completed.


You must apply separately to Erikson and Loyola University. The application deadline is February 1.

Applying to Erikson

Applicants will be interviewed and selected on the basis of their prior academic performance, acceptable performance on the Graduate Record Examination, and evidence of intellectual curiosity.

To apply, you must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education in a field related to child development — for example, education, social work, or psychology — with a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4-point scale.

More on applying to Erikson

Applying to Loyola

You can submit the Loyola application online. If you have questions about the Loyola application process, please contact Loyola’s Office of Graduate and Professional Enrollment Management at (312) 915-8950 or [email protected].

Students in this program are enrolled at the Graduate School of Loyola University and must conform to its policies. For more information, see www.luc.edu/gradschool.

Course Work

Doctoral students generally must complete 42 semester hours beyond the master’s degree. Students take courses at both Erikson and Loyola, beginning with a seven-course child development core at Erikson. Two internships to develop research skills and teaching practice are required.

Core Courses: