The Graduate School

Supporting the transition from doctoral student to independent scholar.

Whether you are a doctoral candidate in Business, Education, Marriage and Family Sciences, or Psychology, once you pass your Doctoral Comprehensive Examination ("Comps") you will enter the Graduate School. At this point, you have reached the doctoral candidacy stage of your academic journey.

Faculty and team members in the Graduate School guide doctoral candidates through the dissertation writing stage by providing the necessary support to make a successful transition from “graduate student” to independent scholar.

“The dissertation process was very tedious, to say the least; however, with the support of [my] chair and my dissertation committee, I was able to sail through it through their experience and their dedication.” —Dr. Femi Akindele, PhD Education, Organizational Leadership, Alum

NCU’s dissertation chairs are experienced researchers who have been trained to help candidates complete their dissertation. They work closely with candidates to ensure alignment and help support completion of each dissertation milestone. Years of experience and research have shown this approach to be the most beneficial in helping candidates succeed in their online dissertation journey and produce high quality, scholarly research. The Dissertation Committee includes the Chair, along with a subject matter expert versed in the candidate’s field who provides content expertise, and a methodologist committee member who provides consultation related to research design and analysis.

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Dissertation Milestones

  1. Concept Paper (CP): NCU is unique in providing constructive feedback prior to the dissertation proposal stage. The CP must illustrate a feasible and realistic plan that can culminate in a well-conceived, substantive, quality dissertation.
  2. Dissertation Proposal (DP): The DP expands on the CP and includes Chapters 1-3: Introduction and Problem Statement, Literature Review, and Research Methods.
  3. Institutional Review Board (IRB) Application and Approval: Candidates must apply to the NCU IRB in order to gain permission to carry out their study.
  4. Dissertation Manuscript (DM): The DM includes Chapters 4 and 5, which focus on the research findings (post data collection) and implications of the findings as well as recommendations for future study.
  5. Dissertation Defense: The Dissertation Defense requirement helps ensure that the candidate can explain and justify what was accomplished by the research. The Dissertation Defense is completed via teleconference. 

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