What is a dissertation?

The dissertation is the final task of a doctoral program. It requires you to conduct original research in your field of study that is grounded in existing literature. The dissertation is designed to add to the body of scholarly research on your topic and will be available to the larger academic community after final approval and publication.

What is included in a dissertation?

The dissertation should detail the purpose, background, methods, and conclusions of an original research project. The dissertation consists of five individual chapters, as well as Front Matter and End Matter, as listed below:

  • Front Matter
  • Chapter I: Introduction
  • Chapter II: Literature Review
  • Chapter III: Methods
  • Chapter IV: Results
  • Chapter V: Discussion
  • End Matter

Each section should include specific information, as outlined in Appendix B of the Dissertation Checklist.

What are the steps to complete a dissertation?

There are several steps that must be completed in order to finish the dissertation. The six main phases of the process are provided below:

  1. Finalize a Research Topic
  2. Form a Committee and complete your Letter of Intent (LOI)
  3. Prepare and Defend the Proposal (Chapters I, II, & III)
  4. Conduct Research
  5. Write Chapters IV and V
  6. Defend the Dissertation

Note: Before collecting data, you will need to get IRB Approval. For help, see the IRB Handbook, the IRB Research Summary Exemplar, and the IRB Research Summary Template.

For more details about specific requirements during each of the six main phases, see the Dissertation Handbook.

What format should a dissertation follow?

All dissertations should follow APA style guidelines, as well as specific formatting expectations outlined in Appendix C of the Dissertation Handbook.

Are there example dissertations available?

The Writing Center staff has created annotated samples, broken down by section. These samples include specific comments and resources to help you meet the requirements of each section. To see these samples, please click on the appropriate sections below:

Qualitative Sample