Old Getting Started with the EDS

The Exam-Dissertation Sequence (EDS) is a 6-step, scaffolded process that enables you to earn credit for work that prepares you for your qualifying exams and dissertation research.

Create your EDS Progress Report

1. Fill out the EDS Progress Report to indicate when you plan to begin the EDS (at least one semester in advance)

Create and maintain your EDS Progress Report to indicate your intent to begin the Exam-Dissertation Sequence and a tentative research question (if known).

Setting Goals

  • You are encouraged to set some goals regarding when you plan to complete each major milestone. These courses do not run like a regular course – you control your pace.
  • Each “course” will take at least a full semester (even though you only register for a single term) due to the rigorous nature of the examinations and dissertation, a scaffolded review process, and multiple purposes of this sequence.
  • Review sample Milestone Deadlines to map out your own tentative timeline.

Maintaining your Progress Report

  • You will maintain this progress report at least once per term throughout your EDS journey.
    • You will see an area where you can add individual progress report entries within the existing report – you do not need to create a new report each time, but you need to add a new line to your existing report.
    • Include links to specific updates in the community, including your topic selection and literature review samples.
    • Be sure to update your course registration/completion status each time.
  • This progress report will help us be aware of your progress, including submitting milestones, leaves of absence or any challenges or requests for support.
  • We will post your Examiner and Doctoral Committee details to this report once known (typically while you are close to submitting your General Field)

View the EDS Onboarding Video and Attend the Live Session

2. Complete the EDS Onboarding (Watch the video and Attend an upcoming EDS Onboarding session (at least one semester in advance)

The purpose of the Onboarding session is to help you become familiar with the Exam-Dissertation Sequence (EDS), including the process and requirements before you are officially ready to begin. However, the EDS Prework page links you to several admin updates in the community that provide additional detail.

Do not wait until you are officially ready to begin, as that will delay your progress. You also don’t need to be registered in order to begin.

  • You can access the EDS Onboarding Video and the EDS Introduction presentation from the video on the EDS Prework page.
  • View the Happening Now page to see when the next live session will be held, typically at least once per semester.

Watch the recorded session prior to the live session. The live session will take on an office hours / Question and Answer format, based on what you heard in the video and what you have found on the website so far.

Familiarize Yourself with the EDS Resources

3. Become familiar with the EDS resources, process, and requirements (at least one semester in advance)

The EDS part of our LDL website is where all of the “process” details can be found.

Key pages to review now:

Visit the different navigation menus early to know what is available; revisit them often while you are actively working on the EDS

Exam-Dissertation Sequence menu on the LDL Website

Note that we regularly update the website, so it is important that you revisit it often.

Map Out Your Timeline

4. Map out a tentative timeline

Setting goals early can help you stay motivated during this more self-regulated and self-paced process. It is possible to get distracted or discouraged during this process, but not unsurmountable if you leverage the scaffolding and support opportunities that we provide.

The overall process will typically take a minimum of 3 years for someone who is working on this part-time.

Refer to the Milestone Deadlines page for a sample timeline.


  • While you register for an 8 week (or 6 in the summer) term, you should expect that each major milestone may take you at least a full semester
  • The review and revision process takes time for each milestone
  • Request feedback early and often. Attending the group advising sessions is a great way to help you stay on track.
  • Data collection strategies and duration vary and are not known at the start of your exam-dissertation sequence; allocate at least a full semester for data collection
  • During the final steps, your full dissertation draft is due before the start of the semester when you hope to graduate. The review and revision process can take several weeks or months depending on the quality of your draft and faculty availability. If your work requires major edits, you will need to postpone your target graduation term.
  • The final defense deadline is not the end of the semester; it is usually about 6 weeks before the semester ends
  • Your final deposit is due about 3 weeks before the semester ends

Time Management Tips (just a few) (see ideas from your peers)

  • Set interim task-based goals, such as when to complete the updates, search for a certain number of scholarly sources each week, write a certain number of pages each week, etc.
  • Set time-based goals, such as working on something for at least 15 minutes a day and at least 3 hours consecutively at least once a week
  • Revisit your goals on a regular (suggested – weekly) basis so that you can adjust them based on circumstances that may impact your progress
  • Use a calendar and/or reminders on your phone or computer
  • Commit to a writing schedule
  • Join a writing group to help you stay on task

Complete the EDS Survey

5. Complete the EDS Survey (when you begin working on the EDS Prework)

Complete the Exam-Dissertation Sequence Survey as close to when you are starting the EDS Prework as possible to provide us with a baseline of your perspectives. This survey is used to help us improve your experience and for research purposes. Your participation is greatly appreciated. We ask that you complete the survey again periodically (about two to three times a year) throughout our experience in the EDS.


Join the EDS Online Community

1. Join the LDL Doctoral Dissertation Sequence CGScholar Community (at least one semester in advance)

We use a single community on CGScholar (LDL Doctoral Dissertation Sequence) for all steps in this sequence, regardless of when you begin.

  • You will see posts from peers who started before you.
  • You are expected to complete the Admin and Individual Updates in order (the website provides direct links to each admin update in the order you should review them).

In the community you can:

  • View Admin Updates
  • Comment on Admin Updates
  • Post your own Updates
  • Comment on relevant peers’ Updates
  • View works that have been published by your peers

Quality Contributions and Connections

  • In the EDS, we don’t rely on analytics, but rather quality of contributions. While we encourage you to comment on peers’ Updates, strive to make your contributions relevant.
  • We encourage you to connect with peers who may have similar research interests, experiences, and/or are at a similar stage. We also encourage you to identify a mentor who is further along in the process. And this can be both virtually in the community, via text, and/or email and live through small group meetings or writing sessions

Complete the EDS Prework

2. Complete the EDS Prework in the Community (at least one semester in advance)
  • Complete the EDS Prework at least one semester prior to formally beginning the EDS.
  • You are then welcome to start the General Field as soon as you have capacity. But please start with the Admin Updates. (And as a reminder, you don’t need to be registered in order to begin.)

Complete the EDS Registration Forms

3. Submit the form to be approved to register for EPOL 586: General Field Research Seminar (the semester before you plan to register)

Registering for courses in the EDS requires a form (you’ll see a message in the registration system that this requires instructor approval).

  • Become familiar with the registration process, including the required forms and when to complete them at the relevant times.
    • Please note that in some cases your approval will be delayed if you have not completed the EDS Prework mentioned above or you have not completed all previous coursework (contact Dr. Francis to discuss receiving an exception).
  • Within a few days or a week (estimated) after you fill out the Seminar Request form, you’ll receive an email from the department with the instructions on how to register.

Fall and Spring Considerations:

Register for at least one credit in order to stay active and maintain access to the online library resources. Registration in something also helps us know who is actively working on something during a given semester.

Summer Registration Consideration:

If you do not have a financial or employment-related (or any other) reason to register over the summer, it is advised that you register for the Fall, but begin working on the EDS in the summer. Summer registration does not contribute to “active” status, but Fall and Spring do. Because these courses take longer than 8 weeks, it is common that the registration dates rarely correspond to the dates when you are actively working on things. Fill out your EDS Progress report to help us know when you are “working” on something vs. “registered”.

Schedule Individual Advising Session(s)

4. Schedule a brief individual advising session (after you have completed the EDS Prework)
  • This is a brief (5-15 minutes) session to check-in and ensure that you feel equipped to begin the EDS.
  • You are welcome to come prepared to discuss your tentative research question, but you will dig into this more while working on the General Field steps.
  • Contact Dr. Francis to arrange your initial individual advising session before you formally begin working on the General Field steps and after you have completed the EDS Onboarding steps.

Attend EDS Workshops and Group Advising Sessions

5. Attend the EDS Workshops and Group Advising sessions

Much of the work at this stage is self-directed. But we hold periodic workshops, peer group sessions, writing retreats, individual advising sessions, and weekly group advising sessions to help support you in this journey.

  • Workshops, peer presentations for prelim or final defense, peer group sessions are typically held on Mondays between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. CT
  • Group Advising Sessions are typically held most Mondays from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. CT and some Tuesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. CT.

Visit the Happening Now page on a regular basis to see the latest schedule.

While they are not required, you are strongly encouraged to attend the Group Advising Sessions by the time you are ready to officially begin the EDS. You are welcome to attend before that to see what they are like, such as at least one term prior to formally beginning the EDS. We find that students who participate in these have a higher completion rate and minimize the number of milestone revision cycles. Similarly, we recommend you attend the stage-specific workshops as you prepare for that particular step.

If you choose to not participate in the group advising sessions, but your work submissions do not meet our quality standards, you will be asked to attend these going forward.

Select your General Field of Interest (not your dissertation topic)

6. Schedule an individual advising session or present on a group advising session once you are ready to seek approval on your desired general field of interest

This action item technically falls within your progress in the general field, but we are placing it here because you are encouraged to look at the General Field requirements and updates in advance and complete this step before officially beginning the EDS if you feel you have already read a fair amount of literature on your proposed general field. But you are welcome to wait until you are actively ready to begin the EDS (and the General Field)

  • This advising session will be with both Dr. Kalantzis and Dr. Francis and/or during a group advising session.
  • Complete the update in the community to document your initial thinking
    • Prepare a single slide that outlines your tentative research question, proposed general field of interest(s), and any questions that you might have (i.e. is this too narrow? too broad?)
    • Record a short video summarizing your thoughts. Include the recording date and the current stage of your journey to provide context, as we’ll have you record another video once you finalize your general field
  • This advising session is focused around your tentative research question and your proposed general field of interest
  • Depending on the complexity of your interests, the duration can vary between 15 and 30 minutes
  • Sign up on the Google tracker to arrange this advising session after you have completed the update in the community