Students examine a Problem of Practice (POP) which is an area of concern that can be investigated through a review of current practice within the organization or that they have observed within their professional context. This POP becomes the focus of the dissertation research. The Applied Dissertation is embedded within the Ed.D. program coursework, which provides students with a unique opportunity to examine an issue important to the organization in which they are employed. During the first year in the program, students examine their articulated Problem of Practice to identify underlying causes and associated factors. During the second year, students develop a potential solution, such as an intervention or policy change, and a plan to study the implementation and predicted outcomes. Students will demonstrate mastery of first- and second-year competencies through written and oral comprehensive assessments, which will serve as indicators of readiness for conducting their applied research. Students will then evaluate the effectiveness of this solution as their Applied Dissertation (Year 3). Characteristics of the Applied Dissertation that make it unique to this program include:
- Coursework leads students to consider solutions that hold the potential for significant change or impact within their organization and/or have implications for policy; and
- Dissertation components are embedded within coursework and distributed across the three years of the program.
Although somewhat different from a traditional dissertation in its completion and focus, students are nevertheless expected to demonstrate mastery of the relevant literature, to obtain extant and/or collect additional data, and to interpret the results in light of previous studies. The dissertation will be presented at a final oral defense before the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee.
Typically, we expect that students will complete coursework and independent study in three years. It is possible that some students may need more than three years to complete their research, in which case they will be required to enroll in at least one credit hour per semester after completion of their required 90 credit hours.