• Dissertation Process for the Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management (EdD)

  • One of the most frequently asked questions about the online EdD in Educational Leadership and Management is, "How does the online dissertation process work?"

    Though new doctoral students may have some apprehensions about beginning their dissertation, the process is not nearly as mysterious or intimidating as it can appear at first glance.

    "The dissertation may seem like a daunting task. That is why both the Drexel EdD curriculum design and our faculty place such an emphasis on assuring that you have both the content knowledge and depth of writing skills you need to succeed," says Dr. Kathy Geller, Associate Clinical Professor in the EdD program at Drexel. "Course assignments from the first quarter inform aspects of what will become your research proposal, and our faculty are committed to supporting your development as a doctoral scholar."

    Online students can put another anxiety to rest: like the rest of the coursework, the dissertation process can be completed remotely and entirely online, including the proposal review and the dissertation defense.

    What is it like to complete an online dissertation? The information below will give you an idea of what to expect when completing your doctoral dissertation online.

    Step 1 – choose your topic

    Start thinking about your dissertation topic as soon as you enter the program. You begin tailoring your coursework to deepen your knowledge about your dissertation topic as early as your literature review, so the sooner you know the topic you are interested in, the sooner you can begin preparing.

    Step 2 – utilize your research courses

    Beginning your dissertation may seem overwhelming, but Drexel’s program eases you into the process. You will take multiple research courses over the span of your program, and the work you do in these courses supports the development of your dissertation.

    Step 3 – meet your supervising professor

    You will be assigned your supervising professor and your dissertation committee. Your supervising professor will be with you every step of the way and will support you during the dissertation process. Call them, Skype them, email them, meet them in person – they will work with you to support your research and your development as a scholarly practitioner. You will also be assigned a dissertation committee that will review your work. Each committee member brings a strong level of expertise to your topic.

    Step 4 – defend your proposal

    You will finesse the first three chapters of your dissertation before you defend your proposal. You will present your proposal to your committee online via a virtual meeting room. Your dissertation committee will review your work and offer feedback. When it is deemed ready, your proposal is accepted and, with your coursework completed, you will move from being a doctoral student to a doctoral candidate – your next steps are to conduct your research and defend your dissertation.

    Step 5 – conduct your research

    Once your proposal is approved, it is time to focus on conducting the research that is the basis for your dissertation. You will receive Drexel's Institutional Research Board’s approval, then you will collect and analyze your data. Based on the data that emerges and your findings, you will complete the dissertation process. (Remember, your supervising professor is there to guide your work.)

    Step 6 – write your dissertation

    Here is a breakdown of what your dissertation will include:

    • Chapter 1: Introducing the problem of practice you have chosen to study
    • Chapter 2: Literature review (remember, you have done some of this in quarter two!)
    • Chapter 3: The methodology you used to research the problem
    • Chapter 4: What you learned from your data and how it relates to existing research
    • Chapter 5: An executive summary that offers the conclusions and recommendations to inform and resolve the problem

    Step 7 – defend your dissertation and celebrate your success

    This is it! Just like with your proposal review, you will defend your dissertation via a virtual meeting with your full committee. Once you have finished the presentation of your research, your committee will let you know what further changes are requested during the virtual meeting. Try not to worry too much about being unprepared; your supervising professor will work with you to determine when you are ready to go to the committee and present your work. The goal is that you emerge ready to celebrate your success.

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