Loyola University Chicago

The Graduate School

Child Development

Note: PhD program admissions are being paused for this year. We are not accepting applications for the February 2022 deadline, but will resume for February 2023. Please connect with Erikson next fall if you are interested in applying.


Erikson Institute, in conjunction with Loyola University Chicago, offers a PhD program in Child Development. The degree is conferred by the Graduate School at Loyola University Chicago.

Erikson Institute is one of the nation’s leading graduate schools in child development, social work and early childhood education. At Erikson, students embark on a comprehensive inquiry into all aspects of child development. The Erikson approach produces scholars who understand and respect the differences among children and families—differences that profoundly affect how children learn to organize their environment, how they communicate with others, how they occupy their leisure time, the kinds of problems they will encounter, and the strategies they will use to solve these problems.

This 42-credit hour post-master’s program is intended primarily for people who want to prepare for careers in college teaching, applied child development research, program design and evaluation, program administration, and policy analysis. Those who choose to enroll in the program are typically academics, applied researchers, and program developers who want to assume intellectual leadership in a variety of professional settings that study and/or serve young children. To be considered for admission, applicants must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education in a field related to child development, such as education, social work, or psychology.

The degree offers part- and full-time enrollment

Degree requirements must be completed within 6 years

Classes will occur onsite at Erikson Institute and at Loyola University Chicago

Online options are not available.

• Internships and research opportunities are included as part of the curriculum. Students must complete two internships, one research based and the other designed to meet the professional needs of each individual student.

• The PhD program requires a dissertation.

Graduates of the program pursue careers in research, program design and evaluation, program administration, college/university level teaching, and policy analysis. Positions currently held by recent graduates of the program include the following:


• Associate Professor and Director of Early Childhood Education Doctoral Program,
DePaul University

• Research Associate, James Bell Associates

• Maternal and Child Health Analyst, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid

• Research Fellow, National Institute for Early Education Research

• Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Family Development, San Diego State University

• Training and Development Consultant, Center for Development and Disability, University of New Mexico

• Researcher, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

• Director of Research & Special Projects, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County

• Early Childhood Division Head, Catherine Cook School

• Clinical Assistant Professor, Health and Human Sciences, Northern Illinois University

The joint doctoral program focuses on applied research in child development, examining the dynamics of sociocultural influences on human development, from infancy through early and middle childhood. The program 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 socioeconomic status and language differences—on children’s development, achievement, and well-being.

Erikson Institute awards a limited number of doctoral scholarships to students admitted to the PhD in Child Development program. Doctoral scholarships provide tuition support for up to 24 credit hours, the number of credits required for the Erikson courses in the doctoral program. In addition to tuition scholarships, doctoral assistantships are awarded to doctoral students contingent upon available funding through faculty research and community engagement projects. Assistantships provide for a stipend in exchange for research assistance or performance of duties relevant to the respective project.

The Graduate School has limited funds available for financial assistance. Financial aid from Loyola’s Financial Aid Office will not impact your ability to apply for financial aid through the Graduate School. To learn more about these financial aid opportunities, visit LUC.edu/finaid/graduateschool

Begin the financial aid process by completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.ed.gov.

Applicants to the doctoral program must submit separate applications to both Loyola University Chicago and Erikson Institute. For all Loyola University Chicago application requirements and deadlines, please visit gpem.luc.edu/apply.

For all Erikson application requirements and deadlines, please visit www.erikson.edu/apply.

Learn more about faculty, curriculum, and how to apply.