Doctoral program stages
Follow these stages and tips to finish your doctoral degree.
Stage 1 – take classes
Strive to complete your coursework within three years. Write
papers for these classes that will work in your dissertation.
During this stage, you will also need to find a committee chair. Toward the end
of your coursework, you will create a dissertation
Stage 2 – take comprehensive exams *
Stage 3 – write dissertation proposal
You will write a 15-20 page overview of your proposed
dissertation and present it for your committee’s approval.
Stage 4 – write prospectus
The prospectus will consist of the first three chapters of
your five-chapter dissertation.
Stage 5 – formal defense of prospectus
Prepare your Internal
Review Board (IRB) paperwork, but do not submit it until you pass your
Once you pass your prospectus defense, you will be an ABD
(all but dissertation) doctoral candidate.
Stage 6 – conduct research
Stage 7 – formal defense of dissertation *
Read the dissertation
defense procedures before you schedule your
defense. Watch for graduation application due dates early in the semester
you will graduate.
Stage 8 – make revisions and submit your dissertation electronically *
Read more about Electronic
Theses and Dissertations (ETD).
Stage 9 – graduation
Congratulations on earning your doctorate. Read more about graduation and commencement.
*Denotes a form is required