Ed.D. Program Milestones

All students are expected to be familiar with the Ed.D. Program Handbook, which provides further details on each of the milestones below. In addition, students are responsible for information pertaining to the preliminary exam and all doctoral degree requirements, which can be found in Chapter Eight of the Graduate School’s Policies and Procedures Manual.

Preliminary Exam

The preliminary exam is written at home over a period of three weeks. It represents a synthesis of the student’s learning across their courses and application of this learning to a research topic/problem of practice within educational leadership. The exam consists of three distinct, but related essays focused on three topic areas, which will be applied to the student’s particular area of study. These questions are designed to move the student closer to identifying the research topic/problem of practice that will serve as the focal point for their dissertation in practice. 

The Preliminary Exam is rated as pass or fail.

Preliminary Exam Key Documents

D-1: Defense of the Dissertation Proposal

Students work under the direction of their committee Chair to prepare a written proposal for their dissertation research. How a student defends their ideas during this meeting, both conceptually and methodologically, as well as how they respond to feedback, assures the dissertation committee that the student is ready to pursue their dissertation research study. 

The dissertation proposal is rated in one of these ways:

  • Approved as presented
  • Approved subject to additions, corrections, and / or modifications
  • Approved with additions, corrections, and/or modifications and subject to further review and approval of the committee
  • Approval denied

D-1 Key Documents

D-2: Defense of the Dissertation  

This final oral defense tests the student’s ability to integrate, interpret, and apply research and theory in the field of educational leadership through a defense of the dissertation research. The format is determined by the student’s committee. 

Students are responsible for meeting with their Chair on a mutually agreed upon schedule to discuss progress on research and writing the dissertation. As required by the Chair, students will submit an initial draft, followed by several revisions and corrected drafts. This process can take several months, and students are encouraged to work closely with their Chair to develop a realistic timeline for completion. Students are expected to provide all committee members periodic updates on progress toward completion.

The D-2 is rated as pass or fail.

D-2 Key Documents