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For Prospective PhD Students

Dr. Leech WILL be admitting prospective PhD students for Fall 2024 start.

We welcome candidates whose research interests include parenting, families, and children’s language and literacy development. Ideal candidates will have some prior research experience in education, human development, or developmental psychology. To be considered for university and school fellowships, applications are typically due in mid-December.

Prospective students should apply through the Applied Developmental Science and Special Education (ADSSE) program in UNC’s School of Education. For more information on graduate admissions including deadlines, stipend information, please visit the UNC’s School of Education graduate admission page.

Prior to submitting an application, Dr. Leech encourages you to contact her ( to let her know of your interest in UNC and learn about the lab. 

For Prospective Undergraduate Research Assistants

The Early Learning Lab is always looking for highly motivated undergraduate students to join the lab as research assistants!

Research assistants in the Early Learning Lab become involved in all aspects of the research process. RA responsibilities include collecting data with families and children, transcribing audio and video data, coding transcriptions of parent-child interactions, data entry, and participating in community events. This position is great experience for individuals interested in graduate school or pursing a career working with families and young children.

We welcome HDFS students at UNC as well as students in other majors who have an interest in early childhood development, the influence of parenting and families, or language and literacy development. Prior research experience is not a requirement but a willingness to learn, curiosity, and a team mindset are essential. We prefer that prospective students have some experience working with young children (e.g., as a counselor, babysitter, etc.).

To apply email a copy of your CV/Resume and brief statement of interest to Dr. Leech (

Please note that positions are typically for a minimum of two semesters (or summer) and often involve a commitment of around 8 hours per week.

**For HDFS Undergraduate Thesis Students**

The Early Learning Lab typically supports one thesis student each year in the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program. Students are strongly encouraged to join the lab prior to beginning their thesis research as an undergraduate RA. Undergraduates interested in doing a thesis should speak with Dr. Leech prior to applying. More information can be found on UNC’s HDFS website.