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The IECE Master of Education program may be completed as an entirely online program, an entirely on-campus program, or as a hybrid program in which a combination of on-campus and online courses are taken. Students completing the program online will enroll in course sections designated for distance students, and students completing the program on-campus will enroll in course sections designated for on-campus students. Both on-campus and online students receive the same content and jointly attend class in technology-enhanced classrooms (i.e., online students participate in synchronous courses through Zoom technology). Updated information on tuition rates for resident, non-resident, on-campus, and online students per credit hour can be found through the University of Kentucky’s Budget Office.

Thesis and Non-thesis Program Options

The IECE Master of Education program allows students to complete the program with or without conducting a Thesis. Students choosing to conduct a Thesis will complete 30 credit hours. Students choosing not to conduct a Thesis will complete 36 credit hours and present a Capstone Project to program faculty. It is recommended that students discuss Thesis and non-Thesis options with program faculty on an individual basis to determine an appropriate option for completing the IECE Master of Education program.

Program Requirements

Core Courses

Credit Hours: 15*

IEC 620 - Assessment in IECE

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): EDS 375 or EDS 600 and IEC 659 or permission of instructor

Reviews policy and research implications that promote recommended practice in assessment and evaluation. A wide variety of formal and informal assessment instruments and strategies in the education of young children will be presented, used and discussed. Prepares students to provide leadership in the selection, development, and implementation of unbiased assessment and evaluation procedures.

IEC 621 - Issues in IECE

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): EDS 375 or EDS 600 and IEC 659 or permission of instructor

Students will review, discuss and participate in issues related to early childhood education and learning experiences related to the preparation and leadership of early care and education teachers. Discussions will include issues in blended early care and education programs. Local, state, and federal initiatives related to early care and education will be explored. Students will explore socio-cultural, historical, and political forces in early childhood education.

IEC 623 - Advanced Practicum in IECE**

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): Admission to Department of Special Education and

Rehabilitation Counseling or permission of instructor

This course is designed to provide students with field experiences to bridge professional preparation and professional practice. During the practicum experiences, students will have opportunities to practice, demonstrate, and reflect upon methods and leadership content taught in the IECE lecture courses. Graduate students working towards IECE initial certification must apply for the Teacher Education Program.

IEC 710 - Advanced Instructional Methods in IECE

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): IEC 659 or consent of instructor

A study of how to design, implement, and evaluate a curriculum framework in blended early childhood education environments using principles of universal design, tiered instruction, and responsive learning environments. Students will support curriculum design with evidence from empirically validated practices.

IEC 659 - Advanced Child Development

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): Six hours in social or behavioral sciences, including one course in child or human development, or consent of the instructor.

Advanced survey of theoretically and professionally important topics in child development. Particular attention to current theory and research in social, affective, cognitive and language domains; familial/cultural influences; the interdisciplinary nature of the knowledge base; and issues concerning the application of child development knowledge to professional work with children.


*21 credit hours of core courses will be taken by students completing the non-thesis option.

**IEC 623 should be taken for 9 credit hours for students completing the non-Thesis option.


Selected Optional Research Courses

EDS 516 - Principles of Behavior Management and Instruction

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): n/a

Basic principles of applied behavior analysis and modification which employ social learning theory and operant conditioning models are taught. Emphasis is placed on designing individualized learning environments, selecting and implementing behavior management strategies, writing behavior objectives, and performing task analyses.

EDS 601 - Applied Behavior Analysis

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): Completion of EDS 516 or equivalent, with a grade of ‘B’ or better

The focus of this course is on the technology of applied behavior analysis, including the functional analysis of children’s behavior and the development, implementation, evaluation of behavior management programs with children and youth.

EDS 633 - Single Subject Research Design OR

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): EDS 601 or 630 or consent of instructor.

Principles and methods in designing single subject research, including those involving students with disabilities. Students will be required to design a research proposal.

EPE 663 - Field Studies in Educational Institutions

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor

Field research in an educational setting. Questions of theory, method, and application examined. Students plan and implement a study under faculty supervision. May be repeated to a maximum of six credits.

EPE 763 - Advanced Field Studies OR

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): EPE 663, other introductory qualitative research methods courses or instructor’s permission

This course continues an exploration of qualitative research methods in the study of education. It focuses on advanced data collection techniques and particularly on methods of data analysis, representation and writing. The course revolves around an experiential core of individual student research products. May be repeated to a maximum of six credits.

EDP 557 - Gathering, Analyzing, and Using Education Data

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): MA 109 or equivalent; undergraduate (with permission) or graduate status in the College of Education; or consent of the instructor.

This course is rooted in the conceptual understanding of statistics and covers applications of statistical and graphical methods for educational and evaluation data. Basic descriptive statistics, correlation, normal distributions and hypothesis testing will be covered. An emphasis is placed on exploratory data analysis and interpretation of results within the broad contexts of education and evaluation. Statistical literacy exercises will be used for comprehension and application of materials. In addition, applications of statistical software will be demonstrated.

Same as EPE 557.

EPE 619 - Survey Research Methods in Education

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): EPE/EDP 557 or an equivalent course; an introductory statistics course

Survey research is one of the most common and useful methods for gathering data in educational research. Obtaining valid and reliable research results requires the administration of instruments that provide valid and reliable measures of the variables selected for observation. This course will focus on principles of measurement and procedures for developing a variety of survey instruments and for determining their validity and reliability. It is designed to teach students both how to improve the questions and design instruments.

EDP 656 - Research Methods

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisite(s): n/a

An introduction to research methods applicable to education, the scientific method, research designs, measurement techniques, statistical analysis, and writing the research report.

Optional Leadership Courses

Students enrolled in the Thesis option will complete 6 hours of leadership courses and students enrolled in the non-Thesis option will complete 9 hours of leadership courses.

Courses should be selected in consultation with advisor from an approved menu of leadership courses.

  • Administration and Program Development
  • Curriculum Leadership and Technical Assistance
  • Policy and Advocacy
  • Higher Education and Research

Thesis Hours – Credit Hours (3)

  • EDS 768: Resident Credit for Master’s Degree (3)

Total Credit Hours for Thesis Option: 30

Total Credit Hours for Non-Thesis Option: 36


Example Program Plans for Thesis and Non-Thesis Options



Apply for admission to the University of Kentucky Graduate School and indicate you are interested in the IECE Master’s Program.

Application Requirements

  • Transcripts from all higher education institutions attended
  • TOEFL or IELTS Scores for all applicants whose native language is not English
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Essay that describes about your personal and professional journey and how it has led you to apply for the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE) program at the University of Kentucky. Please share aspects of your story (e.g., background, cultural identity, interests, or talents) as they relate to your decision to pursue a degree and career in the field of IECE
  • Three letters of recommendation

Application Deadlines

  • March 15 (Summer or Fall enrollment)
  • July 15 (Fall enrollment)
  • October 15 (Spring enrollment)

Additional Application Information:


State Authorization and Licensure

If you plan to complete a University of Kentucky online program while living outside of Kentucky, you should check the Out-of-State Students page to determine if the University of Kentucky is authorized to provide this program in your state of residence. If you plan to use the degree to seek licensure, you should also determine if the degree meets the educational requirements for licensure in your state.