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Department of Early Childhood Education

College of Education

Emergent Inquiry Cohort
  • Cohort Student’s Individual Explorations & Play
  • Exploring Materials - Think Texture
  • Exploring Tone & Volume

Online Master's Certificate in Early Childhood Emergent Inquiry

The Early Childhood Education Emergent Inquiry program is an online master's certificate program for individuals who have a bachelor or master's degree in Early Childhood or a related field (e. g., Psychology, Special Education, Elementary Education, etc.). 


To articulate the social, cultural, and educational history of emergent inquiry and Reggio-inspired early childhood education.  To model scientific inquiry as an approach to teaching, learning, and problem solving in the early childhood classroom, as inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy.

“A great gateway to an online master’s.”

See the admissions tab for articulation into an Early Childhood Master's Program

 Download the Early Childhood Emergent Inquiry Brochure

In addition to the requirements of the School of Graduate Studies:

A bachelor or master’s degree in Early Childhood or a related field (Psychology, Special Education, Elementary Education, etc.) Two years of experience working with young children (birth through 8 years) are preferred;
Two letters of recommendation;

Individuals who have graduated with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from ETSU and have successfully completed ECED 5336 - Advanced Creative Development with a grade of B or above, will have a program of study of 15 graduate credit hours for this certificate program; and

A student who applies and is accepted into the master’s program in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Master Teacher or Research concentration, may apply up to eighteen credit hours from the Early Childhood Education Emergent Inquiry Certificate Program.

Each applicant to the graduate program in Early Childhood Education must complete the following:

  1. Complete all the requirements for admission to the School of Graduate Studies. Please note: ECEE-C4 link and code on your application.
  2. Present a minimum of a 2.5 undergraduate GPA (on a 4.0 scale) or complete a probationary period. During the probationary period, the student must achieve a grade of a B or higher in the remaining graduate coursework.
  3. Two letters of recommendation
  4. Be reviewed by the Early Childhood Admission Committee. Those who do not have an undergraduate degree in early childhood education or a related field of study may be required to take selected undergraduate courses intended to develop and strengthen the applicant’s background in early childhood education.

“A great gateway to an online master’s.”

The program requires successful completion of the Certificate of Emergent Inquiry program (18 credit hours), at which point a student can decide to apply to and be accepted into the master's program in either the ECED, MTEA (Master Teacher) concentration or the ECED, RSEA concentration with up to 9 credits from the certificate being eligible toward the degree which will require completion of   additional courses.

  • Ask about applying to each program and dual degree status in which students would enroll in one course from the Early Childhood Education Emergent Inquiry Program and one course from either the Earlly Childhood Master Teacher or Master Researcher Program.
  • This is a good option for those seeking financial aid, which requires 6 credits per semester.

The courses in the Emergent Inquiry Program follow the flow outlined below over a two-year period.

ECED-5620 History and Philosophy of ECE from an Emergent Inquiry Perspective (Fall 1)

This course introduces you to the history of emergent curriculum and the Reggio Approach, as well as theories and theorists who influence these approaches to early childhood education.  Interviewing directors and teachers in Reggio inspired programs is an experiential component of this course.  The theory, fundamentals, and principles introduced in this course provide students with a background to progress on to coursework that includes observing children with intention and reflecting on observations.

ECED 5600 Social Development from a Constructivist Perspective (Spring 1)

This course provides two very interesting textbooks in which students learn to observe children with a focus on the child’s perspective of his/her culture.  Observation and planning are experiential components of this course.

The socio-linguistic and constructivist theories introduced inspire students to expand their ideas about how children view the world, and to creatively develop a plan that will help establish a social-moral atmosphere in an early childhood classroom or program. 

ECED 5610 Family Community Relations from an Emergent Inquiry Perspective (Summer 1)

Family involvement in their child’s education is known to increase children’s successes academically and socially. This course explores the ways Reggio inspired programs view families as partners for learning in a triad made up of child-family-teacher, as well as the ways they develop working relationships within the community.  Through a family study project students meet with and interview a family with young children to learn about diverse family characteristics and needs.  Students will demonstrate their methods for developing partnerships by creating a Home to School Communication Project. 

ECED 5336 Advanced Creative Development (Fall 2)

Creative processes are a major influence to Reggio inspired practices, and developing a creativity skill set is important for obtaining jobs in the 21st Century environment.  This course explores creativity theory in relation to theories of development, and engages students in explorations of materials to apply the ways that these theories apply to practice. In this course students learn about and implement a long-term emergent inquiry curriculum project with children.

ECED 5640 Designing EC Environments from an Emergent Inquiry Perspective (Spring 2)

This course provides a perspective and rationale for planning an early learning environment from a Reggio Inspired perspective.  Students will experience virtual field trips to early childhood classrooms to compare and critique environmental aspects in relation to teaching and learning within the context of emergent curriculum. Students will develop an environmental plan for an early childhood classroom, using documentation to represent the changes.

ECED 5650 Language & Literacy from an Emergent Inquiry Perspective (Summer 2)

This course presents a perspective on the power of re-representation as a tool for communication through many emerging languages that include: drawing, writing, constructing with multi-media and communicating.  Theories of language acquisition and language enrichment will be explored within the context of the emergent curriculum practices.  Students develop a plan to initiate an emergent curriculum project focusing on literacy and implement this in an early childhood classroom. Documentation of this project is a culminating project for the Certificate Program.

How Graduates Apply the ECEE Certificate

Lynn Lodien is a Master Teacher at the Child Study Center.

Lynn uses what she learned in the program to mentor teachers and Early Childhood students in inquiry practices, in guiding children's inquiry, and to share information about the approach with families and community.

  • I like the flexibility of the format and online timing, and the focus of emergent inquiry.

  • Skills I learned in this program are talking to children by re-asking the question, looking for “what’s next,” asking questions: how, what, and slowing down to watch the children.

  • The Program refreshes my mind & enlightens me.  I love going into the classroom to try out new things I’ve learned.

  • Skills I learned in this program are the systematic way to approach documentation & observation.

  • I have already changed the way I personally do observations of not only children, but also the teachers I train and support.  I have become more reflective when observing, taking written observations, looking at them with the ideas of how a teacher is learning, and considering what next steps to take.

  • I most liked the “hands on” activities where I got to practice the strategies, and the availability of online schedule.  I least liked- critiquing others work, but wouldn’t change that because it helped me to grow and learn.

  • The Program challenges my brain, makes me question and think, holds me accountable for my own success, and puts me into a network with fellow colleagues.

  • I am inspired to incorporate the ways to foster creativity in individuals into my interactions with the teachers I supervise to help them find their creativity.

  • I am developing my own skills as a teacher trainer within the constructivist ideals. Having moved to full time administration I am in a new chapter of my own professional development.

Coordinator of the Early Childhood Emergent Inquiry Program

Contact Dr. Broderick for questions about the program. 

Dr. Jane Broderick


Graduate Program Specialist

Dr. Broderick will connect applicants with Kim Brockman who oversees applications to the ECEE Program.

Kim Brockman

423 - 439-6165


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