The biggest part of a doctoral program is the dissertation which is what separates it from the bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prior to reaching the dissertation phase, there is the course work that has to be completed and until today most of my blogs have been about doing the course work. For this month, I have decided to begin discussing the dissertation process and what a dissertation is all about.
The dissertation is about doing research using either a quantitative, qualitative or mixed theory research. One of the biggest challenges with the dissertation is that many students want to solve the world’s problems with their dissertation. The dissertation process is about getting your doctorate degree and that means KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE! The more complex the research question, the longer it will take to get through the dissertation process. So the goal is to focus on keeping things simple and getting your doctorate degree. Once you have your doctorate degree, then one can feel to research whatever topic(s) you want.
The dissertation begins with a good research question and there are many different thoughts on how to select a research topic. Some professors say you should be passionate about the topic, while others say it is more important that it be of interest to you and just to get through the process. One recommendation is to remember that most dissertations are not about medical research unless you are in some type of medical research degree. The one comment that is consistent among professors is that by the time you finish your dissertation, you will be the expert on the topic.
The length of the dissertation process will vary depending upon your college and their process. Some colleges have what they call comprehensive exams, which is typically writing three intense papers within a specified time period. While other colleges will work have students start working on their dissertation while still working on their course work. Many campus doctorate programs will require some type of teaching while working on your doctorate. Most online colleges will have you begin your dissertation after your capstone or comprehensive exams, there are many variations. You may want to review the college’s process ahead of time so you can plan your time accordingly. Course work typically takes a couple of years with the dissertation taking another year to two years or more. Keep in mind very few people actually finish their dissertation in less than a year, so be prepared for it to take longer and if you finish sooner that is great!! 🙂
Tip for success, as they say in sports: “Keep your eye on the ball!” Or in this case, “Keep your eye on the finish line!!”