Navigating the Exam-Dissertation Sequence

Key Information

Exam-Dissertation Sequence: The “Six” Steps

Each seminar includes a series milestones. Those milestones lead to your four examinations.

Flexible Pacing and Registration

Registration for a seminar course is based on a single term. You will earn an incomplete until all work is finished for the relevant seminar. You can not register for more than one EDS course at a time. While registration is set up for 8 weeks (6 weeks for summer), we do not impose specific deadlines. Deadlines are the discretion of each student.

Anticipated Duration: It is expected that it may take you at least two years to complete the full Exam-Dissertation Sequence, but will vary based on capacity and time commitment, mastery of the literature review genre and scholarly writing, and the volume of reading required to become well-versed in your general and special fields and selected methodology.

Refer to the attached table for general guidance on when you should try to complete key milestones in order to achieve a certain graduation term.

Seminar Materials

While the Exam-Dissertation Sequence involves six courses, we have a single learning module (Innovative Ideas, Transformative Practices) and use a single Doctoral Dissertation Sequence online community (restricted). This web site also is key to successful participation and completion of the Exam-Dissertation Sequence. Here are links to each seminar or element of a seminar (repeated in the main EDS menu). These will direct you to the relevant materials for that step in the process.

Requirements and Milestones

Each seminar includes a series of admin updates in the Community along with works that you’ll submit for peer, advisor, and/or committee review.

Submission Formats: CGScholar, Word, and PDF

The majority of action items and deliverables associated with these courses will take place within the CGScholar platform, but you should maintain a parallel Word version throughout the process.

See also the Work Submission and Review process web page that includes very specific instructions.

  • Admin Updates: CGScholar
  • Works for Peer Review: CGScholar with sections to align with the approved Graduate College format
  • Advisor and Committee Review: Word document in the approved Graduate College format
  • Final Deposit Departmental and Thesis Office Review: PDF

Detailed Summary of Each Seminar

1 and 2. EDS Prework and your General and Special Field Seminars and Exams (Chapter 2) (586 and 587)

The General and Special fields originally are two separate literature reviews and examinations, but they will eventually become a streamlined Chapter 2 for your dissertation.

Expected Duration: These steps together can take nine to twelve months, with the General Field usually taking longer than the Special Field.

You should complete the EDS Prework at least one semester prior to officially starting the exam sequence. This will save you time later.

The General Field seminar includes a series of action items and deliverables that prepare you for your General Field exam, including a 5,000-7,000 word Literature Review.

The Special Field seminar includes a series of action items and deliverables that prepare you for your special Field exam, including a 5,000-7,000 word Literature Review..

3 and 4. Theory and Methodology and Preparing to Present your Research Proposal (Chapters 1 to 3) (588 and 591)

The Methodology Research seminar prepares you to write Chapter 3 of your dissertation. Chapter 3 includes your theory and methodology, broken into three parts and projects so that you can receive incremental feedback. Through each of these iterations you will craft a logic model that provides a visual representation of your study, linking the theoretical foundation to the methodology and data collection and analysis strategy.

Expected Duration: These steps together can take six to twelve months to complete, with the Methodology chapter taking longer than the Preliminary Exam. You preliminary exam manuscript must be approved six weeks prior to scheduling the oral examination.

Chapter 2 addresses what the literature says about theories associated with your topic, while Chapter 3 is about how your selected theory applies to your research study (Part 1). Create a draft of your logic model.

Deeply examine your chosen methodology and its alignment with your study (Part 2) and design the implementation plan (Part 3). This also includes your IRB documentation. Update your logic model.

Streamline your Chapter 2. You will submit your completed Chapters 1 to 3 and present your research proposal to your peers and then your committee during an oral exam. During your oral exam you may be asked to make revisions prior to starting your data collection.

5. Conducting your Research Study

Once you pass your preliminary exam and take on board any committee feedback, you may begin collecting data. There are also several tasks you can be working on while your waiting for all of your data to come in, including conducting a preliminary analysis of your interim data. Once all data is collected, you can begin your comprehensive data analysis.

Expected Duration: These steps will depend on the duration of your research study and the type of methodology and analysis required, as outlined in your implementation plan.

Execute your research study according to your implementation plan.

Follow these tips to make the final dissertation process a little simpler.

Analyze your data along the way and according to your implementation plan.

You do not need to register for courses while conducting your study, but you should submit an LOA form if you’ll not be enrolled for Fall or Spring.

5 (continued) and 6. Your Final Dissertation (599-1 & 2)

Drafting and finalizing your dissertation is an iterative and ongoing process. You should expect multiple rounds of feedback and revision prior to being approved to schedule your final defense.

Expected Duration: The drafting and revision process can take at least six months. Your final manuscript must be approved by the start of the term preceding your desired defense term.

Chapter 4 is about your execution, results, and findings. Chapter 5 is about your contributions and conclusions.

Once approved by your advisor, you will present your final exam to your peers and then to your committee.

After committee and departmental review, follow the Graduate College guidelines to deposit your approved dissertation.

See also: Policy on Re-using Work (restricted access)