Going for a doctoral degree means hard work and going after the highest degree that can be obtained, so it is something one does not enter into lightly. Things to consider is your time, dedication, stamina, willingness to work, being a survivor and much more. Keep in mind; they say about 1% – 2% that start a doctoral program actually graduate and finish, so that is why this blog attempts to share information that will assist you in making the decision that is right for you and your life.
As a doctoral student approaching the dissertation phase, I have spent some time talking with my friends who have gone through the dissertation phase or are currently going through the dissertation phase. The reason for me to do this is because I wanted to get a feel of what to expect, which is probably something I should have done prior to starting a doctoral program, but I am this close so I decided to educate myself more on the process.
Currently, I have one class of coursework left. Most doctoral programs begin with course work that works you through your field of study, teaching you about peer-reviewed works, empirical work, statistics, research and more so that you are prepared to enter the dissertation process. Now some doctoral programs will have what they call a Capstone while others do what is called Comprehensive Exams, regardless of whichever one it is please be aware these are not about taking quizzes, but writing intense and in-depth research papers that utilize peer-reviewed and empirical research only. So for me, I have one more course to complete before entering my Capstone, which is a nine-week course. The goal is to reach the dissertation phase by the end of July. So I am certainly getting nervous since as of right now I have no idea for a research topic or who I want for my dissertation chair, so I have some thinking to do over the next couple of months.
Here are the tips I have obtained from my friends going through the dissertation process or have been through it recently:
- Keep the dissertation simple – One friend do not make it complex, just keep it simple. He said people try to make their dissertation topic far more complex than it should be.
- Consider the sample population and your access to them – Dissertations require original research, so you want to make sure you have access to enough people for the area of your study. The reason is otherwise, you will spend a lot of time seeking out and obtaining permission to have surveys and studies completed. While some professors like to use social media others do not, so that is another element to consider.
- Touch the dissertation every day – Whether you work on your dissertation for five minutes or several hours, touch and review it every day.
- Prepare to make changes – Many individuals are offended when their instructors, editors or dissertation chairs require changes to the topic, sample populations or just make overall revisions. Remember a dissertation is about stamina and my understanding is there are many required changes. One of my friends said he made over 30 revisions and changes before presenting his dissertation for presentation. Several of my friends have reminded me that bracing for the changes are a part of the process, so be prepared. Remember this is a doctoral degree and the goal is not to be simple, it is meant to challenge our thought process and create original research that will add value to your field of study.
As I get closer to the process, I will be sharing my experiences, along with suggestions that I hope will better serve you as you decide what doctoral program to go after and hope they prepare you for the process.