The mission of the Early Childhood Education Program is to develop knowledgable, responsive, and innovative professionals who are committed to creating dynamic and stimulating early learning environments with an emphasis on inquiry, creativity, and reflectivity. The program embraces a pedagogy of social justice with community-engaged scholarship and active participation in linguistically, culturally, and social-economically diverse settings where students aquire the skills and dispositions to advocate for positive change in the lives of children and families, as well as promote meaningful connections with the communities we serve.

ECE program

Early Childhood Education B.A.


Students may complete a state-approved program to be eligible for licensure in Early Childhood Education Pre-Kindergarten/Primary (age 3 – Grade 3). The program of study includes both coursework and extensive field experiences in early childhood settings to enable students to integrate theory with teaching practice. Upon successful completion of the required courses, associated internships, and a professional portfolio demonstrating the program outcomes and the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices, Early Childhood majors will be eligible for certification in Pre-Kindergarten/Primary (age 3 - Grade 3). Students proceed through the program in a cohort and are required to complete all the required courses each semester with a grade of “C-“ or better and maintain at least a 2.5 professional education and specialization GPA in order to progress to the next semester. Students who do not meet this requirement will be required to meet with their academic advisor and/or the program’s Professional Standards Committee and will not be able to enroll in any of the subsequent cohort classes until the class is offered again in the next cohort. 


The College of Education offers a full ESOL Endorsement for all Early Childhood Education major graduates. The special requirements for ESOL endorsement through infusion are as follows: Successful completion of (1) ESOL 1 and 3, with a minimum grade of 70% or better on all sections of the ESOL Comprehensive Exam administered in the ESOL courses; (2) a 20-hour early ESOL field experience in ESOL 1; (3) a late ESOL field experience where students plan, implement, and evaluate lessons for one or more ESOL students over 10 days; and (4)complete all ESOL Chalk & Wire assignments as required, including those in the two ESOL courses as well as the ESOL infused courses. 


Students must have an overall GPA of 2.5 and a GPA of 2.5 in the combined Professional Core and Teaching Specialization prior to final internship and graduation. All students must also meet program and field experience requirements associated with the programs. The requirements include being available to participate in field experience placements during regular school hours. Students who withdraw from or who have unsatisfactory grades in the field experiences or internships must petition the Department’s Professional Standards Committee before they will be allowed to repeat them. Starting Fall 2011 semester, for Final Internship, Early Childhood Education students can intern in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties only. Guest internships are not allowed for students accepted into the Early Childhood Education program in Fall 2011 or later. Early Release from final internship is not allowed. 

Early Childhood Master of Education Degree (M.Ed.)


The Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Early Childhood Education emphasizes current issues and trends within the field, with a focus on social justice and advocacy. This degree is designed to advance the knowledge and skills for practicing teachers, and it is not an initial teacher certification degree.

Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Concentration in Early Childhood

The Early Childhood emphasis of the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction promotes scholarly and multi-disciplinary inquiry that further empowers advanced graduate students through the development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to assume roles as leaders, advocates, and scholars in the development and implementation of high quality and innovative early childhood practices. The program provides a sound theoretical background that is integrally linked to the practice of Early Childhood Education in a diverse, global community with an emphasis on child advocacy and social justice.

ECE Faculty

Ilene R. Berson, Ph.D., NCSP

Professor; Coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Ph.D. program 


Dr. Berson coordinates the Early Childhood Doctoral program, and teaches courses on Integrated Social Studies, Humanities and Arts in the Early Childhood Classroom; ICT in the Early Years; and Early Childhood Advocacy and Leadership. She served as the past chair of the USF Preschool for Creative Learning Advisory Board and continues as a participating member. Ilene leads international studies on integrating social justice and child advocacy into early childhood teacher preparation, and is engaged in collaborative, participatory research in global contexts to foster capacity building of educators of young children to promote civic engagement through multiple literacies. Moreover, Ilene studies the intersection of technology and the pedagogy of inquiry in the early years with a focus on children's affordances of digital innovations.

Jolyn Blank, Ph.D.

Associate Professor; Coordinator of the Early Childhood Education M.ED. program; Affiliate Faculty Measurement & Research


Dr. Blank coordinates the M.ED. program, teaches courses in the undergraduate teacher preparation program, facilitates professional development with teachers working in schools, and teaches courses at the master’s and doctoral levels. She also serves as the advisor to the USF PCL. Her courses focus on play and learning, the arts and inquiry in early learning, and qualitative research. Dr. Blank’s research investigates the ways arts and inquiry, integrated processes of investigating and representing meaning using multiple sign systems, are enacted within the diverse social and ideological complexities of contemporary early schooling. Recent work has focused upon the design process as enacted by teachers and children in preschool classrooms. She received the Early Career Research Award from the American Educational Research Association’s Early Education/Child Development SIG. Dr. Blank has also served as Associate Editor for the International Journal of Education & the Arts, and consulting editor for Young Children and Early Childhood Research & Practice. 

Sophia Han, Ph.D.

Associate Professor; Coordinator of Early Childhood Education Undergraduate Program


Dr. Han coordinates the Early Childhood Education Bachelor's program. Dr. Han's research agenda aligns with the major theme of sociocultural influence on teaching and learning, with a specific focus on early childhood teacher education, young children’s literacy and social development, and multicultural education.

Class Projects

Classroom Observations:

Professors may schedule observations in association with their coursework.  In order to schedule an observation you must submit a Class Project Form.

Class Project Request Form