Most Graduate Research Fellows are doctoral students under the advisement of either Sharon Lynn Kagan, who is part of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, or Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, who is part of the Department of Human Development. Graduate Research Fellows may select from several doctoral degree programs, as described below. Students at Teachers College who are not Graduate Research Fellows may get involved with the Center by enrolling in our research practicum or by taking classes with Prof. Kagan or Prof. Brooks-Gunn.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Graduate Fellows at the National Center for Children and Families who are advised by Prof. Kagan typically receive an Ed.D degree in the Early Childhood Policy Specialization within the Department of Curriculum and Teaching or a PhD in Education Policy from the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis. To learn more about the Early Childhood Policy Specialization, please click here. To learn more about Education Policy, please click here.

Graduate Fellows who are advised by Prof. Brooks-Gunn typically receive a PhD in Developmental Psychology, a program in the Human Development Department. To learn more, please click here.

Research Practicum (HUDK 5324)

The Center has developed a series of different research experiences for students at Columbia University in exchange for course credits. The requirements include readings, attendance at weekly class meetings and several hours of research work at the Center each week. This work will be devoted to training and providing students with active research involvement in an ongoing Center project supervised by a Graduate Research Fellow or Research Scientist. In addition, students may be selected to continue their work as paid part-time research assistants on the project. Such students are given priority for Thesis supervision at the Center. Individuals interested in learning more about the Research Practicum should contact the Center’s administrative associate by clicking here.

Center Teaching Fellowships

Teachers College doctoral students who have demonstrated exceptional performance in one of the courses routinely taught by Prof. Jeanne Brooks-Gunn may be eligible to serve as policy teaching fellows for the course in subsequent semesters. Duties include leading discussion groups, meeting with students, and assisting in grading papers. Interested students should contact Dr. Brooks-Gunn directly.

Class Co-Taught by Profs. Brooks-Gunn and Kagan:

HUDK 6013.001 / EDPA 6013.001: Early Childhood Development and Education: Integrating Research and Policy Perspectives

This course series (there are Fall and Spring semesters) is designed to help students overcome the historical dichotomies among development, education, and policy so all three are regarded as an essential triad for enhancing the lives of young children and preparing them for school. A secondary purpose is to prepare students to think critically and prospectively about the application of child development and pedagogical research to practice and policy. Indeed, perhaps as in no other field has this nexus been the pivot on which recent American and global child policy has turned; our goal is to guide students to use contemporary issues as the springboard to their future research.

Classes Taught by Prof. Brooks-Gunn:

HUDK 5121: Children’s Social & Emotional Development in Context

This class is designed to provide an introduction to social and emotional development in childhood. The readings, lectures, and class discussions will examine how environmental and biological factors interact as children´s social and emotional development occurs in the context of their interactions and relationships with others. Course assignments will provide students with the opportunity to integrate information from class into consideration of children´s development in real world settings, including implications for policy and practice.

HUDK 5135: Poverty, Inequality, and Child Development

The overall goal of the course is for students to gain understanding of how income and child development intersect. Students will learn about poverty and child development from psychological, economic, sociological, demographic, and biological perspectives.

HUDK 5324: Research Work Practicum: Maternal Description of Child (MDoC)

Students learn research skills by participating actively in an ongoing faculty research project.

HUDK 6036: Child and Family Policy Seminar

This course has been designed specifically to provide a multi-disciplinary perspective on child and family policies. Sessions will cover the varying approaches taken to child policy by selected social and behavioral sciences (demography, economics, political science, developmental psychology, pediatric public health, sociology, and epidemiology). Attention will be paid to the major child and family policy domains, the current major research developments in each domain, and the relevant policy debates, again from a multi-disciplinary as well as cross-national perspective.

HUDK 6500: Doctoral Pro-seminar

This is a seminar required for the first four consecutive semesters in residence by all doctoral students in the Developmental and Cognitive Psychology programs in the Department of Human Development. Sessions for this course, which meets every other week, include: visiting guest lectures from professors and professionals in academic and non-academic jobs, student research presentations, practice job talks, discussions of protocol from Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Office of Doctoral Studies personnel, and insight from others on “surviving and thriving” in Ph.D. programs at Teachers College.

HUDK 6520: Seminar on Life Course Development

This course is designed to foster in-depth discussion of the factors affect development through the life course. Developmental theory is applied to gain a better understanding of lives in multiple settings. Students will read relevant literature and discuss the significance, rationale, methodology, implications, strengths, and shortcomings of six classic longitudinal individual life course studies and sections of one to-be classic study of neighborhood life course.

Classes Taught by Prof. Kagan:

C&T 4900: Research and Independent Study: Curriculum and Teaching

Masters degree students undertake research and independent study under the direction of a faculty member.

C&T 5199: Early Childhood Policy: Prologue to the Future

Designed as a policy overview, this course examines these relationships using concrete examples; it will explicate the evolution and status of current policies, focusing on their impact on children and those who teach and care for them. Combining practical and theoretical orientations, the course is designed for those who wish to impact, or are impacted, by contemporary laws, mandates, and guidances—by policy. By gaining exposure to the challenges inherent in constructing and implementing contemporary policy, the primary institutions involved in these functions, and key influencers of policy, participants in this seminar will understand and be better positioned to construct sound early childhood policies and to more effectively contour their responses to them.

C&T 5514: Seminar in Early Childhood Education

Required of all second-year doctoral students in early childhood education and early childhood special education and open to other post-masters students with permission. Examination of underlying issues and currents in early child-hood education, with formulation of initial research plans.

 C&T 6502: Studies in Curriculum and Teaching

Permission required. Integrating seminar provides an opportunity for students to discuss issues and questions fundamental to the field of curriculum and teaching.

EDPA 4899: Federal Policy Institute

The Federal Policy Institute (FPI), taught by Prof. Kagan, is a multi-disciplinary class offered through Teachers College and the Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation that provides students with a firsthand opportunity to meet with key policy leaders around the most crucial contemporary policy issues. Participants will gain a theoretically grounded, practical understanding of the nuances and realities of American educational policy-making. This class meets both at Teachers College and in Washington, D.C., to provide students with a true hands-on policy experience.

EDPA 6027 International Perspectives on Early Childhood Policy

This course looks at early childhood education policy through an international lens, addressing often neglected — but highly salient — policy questions, including: What have been the real effects of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals on education systems in general and on early childhood education in particular? How have poverty, gender, and the needs of marginalized populations/cultures shaped early childhood policy in diverse countries? What are the unique policy properties that must be considered when developing policies for young children and their families? To what extent do the policy contexts of nations differ, and how do these differences impact early childhood policies directly? To what extent can lessons learned in one context be faithfully transported across national boundaries? Based on readings and discussions of these issues, students will demonstrate their understanding of the role of policy in shaping early childhood education in a given country though the final paper, a situation analysis. Building on sequenced assignments, this paper will provide the platform for students to use policy tools and make recommendations for concrete early childhood policy improvements.