Degree and Certificate Programs

Doctoral Degrees in Education

The Dissertation
The Dissertation

Maintaining Active Student Status

After passing qualifying examinations, doctoral students must register for at least 1 credit hour each semester (not summer session) in order to maintain active student status. This is ordinarily done by enrolling in 1 or more credit hours of dissertation credit (799). After 90 credit hours of program course work have been taken and students have been admitted to candidacy (i.e., all but the dissertation hours have been completed and qualifying examinations have been passed), students may enroll in G901 Advanced Research in order to maintain active status. G901 is a 6 credit hour course, with a fee of $150 (subject to change). This is an inexpensive way for students with graduate assistantships to maintain a full load. However, enrollment in G901 is limited to six semesters, and it is not offered in summer sessions.

In-absentia registration for 799 and G901 is available for doctoral students who reside more than 25 miles from the Bloomington campus. Registration should be requested from the Office of Graduate Studies, through an online form—educate/G901app.html. Students who fail to register each semester after passing qualifying examinations must back-enroll for all semesters missed, in order to graduate.

There is a charge of $290 (subject to change) per semester for back-enrollment in addition to tuition and fees.

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Seven-Year Rule

The dissertation must be completed within seven years of passing the oral qualifying examination. At this time, doctoral candidacy is terminated for students who have not completed the dissertation. Such students may apply for readmission. This process is initiated with a letter to the associate dean for graduate studies requesting readmission. Students applying for readmission are subject to current admission criteria. If readmitted, such students must retake the current qualifying examinations and fulfill other conditions imposed by the department in order to establish currency (such as taking or auditing selected courses). If the qualifying examinations are passed and the other conditions are met, these students are readmitted to candidacy. They have three years from this date to complete a dissertation.

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Research Committee Constitution

After admission to candidacy, the student must assemble a research committee. The doctoral research committee has the responsibility to guide the student through the dissertation process and to conduct the final oral defense.

Ph.D. Each research committee must have at least four members. Two must be from the student's major area of study and one from the minor. For an interdepartmental minor, the minor member must be from outside the major area. If the minor is not pertinent to the topic of the dissertation, the student may petition to substitute another member from outside the major area. (The committee chair must be a faculty member in the student's major area.) Usually, the committee chair is also the dissertation director. However, it is acceptable for another committee member with particular expertise in the area of study to direct the dissertation. A form for the appointment of the doctoral research committee is available in the Office of Graduate Studies. All members of Ph.D. research committees must be members of the University Graduate School faculty.

The committee chair and the dissertation director must be endorsed members of the University Graduate School faculty. If a regular member of the University Graduate School faculty has special expertise in the area of the student's research, the research committee chair and the associate dean for graduate studies may petition the University Graduate School to allow the regular faculty member to direct the student's dissertation.

Ed.D. For 90 credit hour and 60 credit hour Ed.D. programs, research committees must have at least three members. Two of these must be from the major field of study, of whom one must be a tenure-line faculty from the core campus. The third member cannot be from the major field of study. One member may be from the faculty of a campus of Indiana University outside the core campus. At least two of the committee members must be tenure-line faculty members. The committee chair must be an associate or full professor in the student's major area of study. The dissertation director must be a regular or endorsed member of the University Graduate School faculty.

In some instances it is possible to include a committee member who is not an Indiana University faculty member, such as a faculty member at another university, on a doctoral committee. To receive approval for such a substitution two conditions must be met:

  1. the substitute member must have special expertise not available among University Graduate School faculty, either in the substantive area of the study or in the research methodology, and
  2. the substitute member must supply evidence of published research.

A copy of the Human Subjects Committee approval must be submitted with the Research Committee form. For further information on the Human Subjects approval process, please see the section titled "Use of Human Subjects" below.

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Forming a Committee

The procedure for selecting a research committee chair and research committee members varies considerably from student to student Ideally, the research question that becomes the focus of the dissertation study stems naturally from research experiences, course work, or graduate assistantship assignments that the student has had during the program of studies Ideally, each student has, by this time in the program, formed a mentoring relationship with one or more program faculty members. Often the advisory committee chair is the student's mentor and becomes the research committee chair. In such a case, the student and chair typically have had discussions about tentative dissertation topics prior to admission to candidacy and prior to the selection of other research committee members. Sometimes the student selects a research topic that is an extension of research being carried out by the mentor.

It is not required that the advisory committee chair be asked to chair the research committee, nor that the advisory committee chair agree to chair the research committee, if asked. Ultimately, the choice of a research chair involves a combination of personal compatibility and compatibility of the research interests of the student and the chair. The student and the committee chair typically confer regarding the selection of other research committee members.

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A one- to two-page dissertation prospectus/ summary must be submitted with the Nomi­nation of Research Committee form. This prospectus/summary should include a clear statement of the questions to be addressed in the study, an outline of the design of the study, the research methods to be used, and a discussion of the contribution of the study to theory and/or to practice. The prospectus/ summary should play an important role in the selection of a research committee. This document allows prospective members to decide whether to participate in the study, based on the area of focus and the integrity of the prospectus. It is generally unwise for faculty members to make a commitment to serve on a student's research committee before a written prospectus/summary is presented for examination.

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Dissertation Proposal

After submitting the prospectus/summary, students are next required to submit a dissertation proposal, a document that is considerably more detailed than the prospectus/ summary. The proposal should contain the following elements: a statement of purpose, rationale, literature review, research questions, proposed procedures, the source of data, methods of data collection, methods of data analysis or data reduction, and the contribution of the study to theory and/or to practice. Frequently, students are advised by their research committee to write a draft of the first three chapters of the dissertation (purpose and rationale, literature review, and method) as their research proposal.

A meeting of the research committee must be held to discuss and approve the dissertation proposal. A dissertation proposal approval form is available in the Office of Graduate Studies. When committee approval has been secured, the form must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies. If the proposed research has changed since submission of the Nomination of Research Committee form, then a new two-page summary must be attached to the Dissertation Proposal Form.

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Use of Human Subjects

If the proposed research involves the use of human subjects, a research review form for the use of human subjects must be completed. This form must be approved by the Campus Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects before the data collection begins. Prior to applying for human subjects approval and before the research review form for the use of human subjects can be reviewed, students will need to document that they have been trained to involve humans in research by passing the IU test for using humans in research. The tutorial and test can be found at Proof of having passed the test must accompany the application at the time of submission. Failure to provide proof with the application will delay the review until the following month. This applies to all submissions (new, continuation, and/or amendment) regardless of funding or rank of the primary investigator, sponsor, and co-investigators.

The Human Subjects Committee office is located at the Carmichael Center 103, 530 E. Kirkwood Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47408, (812) 855-3067, iub hsc [at] indiana [dot] edu. Office hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

In Indianapolis, students should contact the Office of Research Risk Administration at (317) 274-8289. The research review form for the use of human subjects can be viewed and downloaded from the Web at

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Dissertation Manuscript

A Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations is available in the Office of Graduate Studies and in the Office of the University Graduate School. This document contains detailed instructions for the preparation and submission of the dissertation manuscript. The guide can be viewed at

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Final Oral Defense

For both Ph.D. and Ed.D. students, an announcement of the final defense examination must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies one month prior to the examination. Ph.D. students must also deliver a copy of the announcement to the University Graduate School. The announcement should be on one page and must contain the following: the date, the time and place of the examination, the title of the dissertation, the name of the author, the department or program area, the summary of the study, an invitation for all faculty to attend, and the signature of the research committee chair. The summary should be from 150 to 300 words in length and must include a statement of the problem, research procedures, findings, and conclusions. A sample of the desired format is available online as Appendix A in the Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations (See Dissertation Manuscript above).

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An oral public examination is scheduled at the completion of the dissertation research, after the dissertation manuscript is complete, allowing the student to defend the dissertation research. This examination may not be scheduled less than six months subsequent to the date of research committee approval. Committee members must receive a copy of the dissertation manuscript two weeks prior to the final oral.

Checklist of Doctoral Program Milestones

___Admission to Program
___Advisory Committee and Program of Studies Approval (Meeting and Form)
___Written Qualifying Examinations
___Oral Qualifying Examination and Nomination to Candidacy (Meeting and Form)
___Admission to Candidacy
___Appointment of Dissertation Research Committee (Form)
___Dissertation Proposal Approval (Meeting and Form)
___Announcement of Dissertation Defense
___Oral Defense of Dissertation (Meeting and Form)
___Submission of Dissertation Manuscript
___Degree Conferral

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Additional program information can be found at the Office of Graduate Studies.