As I explore my doctoral goals, one of the things I see among my classmates is unrealistic goals in terms of completing the dissertation process. One thing to keep in mind, a doctorate degree is the highest level in the education journey, so it is not a sprint.

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint……..So don’t rush things! Because anything worth having is worth waiting for” Author Unknown

Just as life is a marathon, so is completing a doctorate degree. Going for a doctorate degree takes time, hard work and determination. When I began my doctoral journey, I was told that only 1% – 2% complete their dissertation to become a doctor. This did not sound promising, but what happens with many that begin the doctoral journey, they stop after all the course work has been completed. A doctorate degree is made up of additional course work that introduces you to peer-reviewed, empirical research and the dissertation process. When an individual completes their course work and does not take the journey through the dissertation process, this is called “All But Dissertation (ABD)”. No one wants to not reach the finish line, but the dissertation is another part of the journey that can take as long as the coursework and sometimes longer.

“If the road to success were easy, no one would stand out for its success.” Marko Zupanic

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 The length of time for the course work will depend upon the school, how long the courses last in terms of weeks, how many courses you take at the same and how many life adventures you have. Life will always be there, so know that there will be bumps in the road. Typical course work is on average about two years and then the dissertation process. At the University, where I attend, the dissertation is allowed about 63 weeks without extensions. To date, I have not heard of anyone completing the dissertation phase in a year or less even when not working most dissertations will take on average of a year and half to two years.

Setting realistic goals is really important so that one does not get discouraged in the doctoral journey. Recently, when talking with some classmates, they did not appreciate my comment about how long the dissertation process can and probably will take. I have had several friends go through the doctoral journey and some going through the journey now; I have seen their struggles, challenges and the bumps in the dissertation process. There are approvals that have to be obtained and many changes. One of my friends told me, he had to make 30 revisions to his dissertation before he was able to defend it and obtain his PhD. The dissertation is a journey not a sprint, but in the end it be that much more special to be among the 1% – 2% of the population that have obtained their doctorate degree.

So go for your doctorate, the time to start is now and just remember to be realistic in terms of the length of time it will take to go the journey. A doctorate degree is a marathon and not a sprint, remember to be patient, not to get discouraged and focus on the finish line.