The Dissertation

The dissertation is the most substantial scholarly work completed as part of the EdD Program. It is a culminating experience and an extension of work completed during the program. The dissertation at Aurora University is primarily practice-based and dealing with issues faced by educational organizations. It should have relevance to the doctoral student’s professional setting. The dissertation belongs first and foremost to the doctoral student. The role of the dissertation chair and other dissertation committee members is to assist the doctoral student in the completion of the research and writing of an excellent dissertation. The stages of dissertation completion process are intended to assist doctoral students, not become barriers to impede progress. The dissertation chair and committee members serve as coaches to help doctoral students through the process. All members of the dissertation committee are chosen by the student. The chair of the dissertation committee must be selected in the Spring semester of the second year. 

Over many years, a style for dissertation writing has evolved within educational research. The dissertation is a report on the results of a scholarly study that usually takes the form of a five chapter document. In Chapter One an introduction to the study and rationale for the study are provided. Chapter Two contains a literature review showing how the study relates to previous research and scholarly thought. In Chapter Three the design of the research is detailed. In Chapter Four the author describes the results of the research. In Chapter Five the author discusses the significance of the research findings. Six, and even Seven, chapter dissertations have been approved when the research design warrants such an approach. At AU, the doctoral faculty believe the dissertation document to be an exemplar of our student’s expertise in a particular area of interest. This expertise is grounded in educational research and inquiry, but offers practical implications back to the profession of education. 

Role of Chair, Committee Members, and Doctoral Student
The doctoral student, dissertation committee chair, and dissertation committee members are responsible for creating the dissertation and assuring that it is of doctoral quality. The dissertation chair and methodologist must be full-time faculty within the EdD department. The third reader may be an adjunct faculty member, university faculty member, or come from outside the university. All members of the dissertation committee must hold terminal degrees. Outside members must be approved by the department by submitting the member’s curriculum vitae and other credentials.

Doctoral students plan and conduct the research as-well-as author both the study proposal and dissertation. Primary responsibility for assisting the doctoral student belongs to the dissertation chair. Committee members provide additional assistance as needed and participate in approval of the dissertation proposal and the completed dissertation. Sufficient time must be provided for chair and committee review of the proposal and dissertation drafts. It is customary that committees are given two weeks to review documents. Normally the proposal and dissertation require multiple drafts. Sometimes doctoral committees will require doctoral students to use the assistance of a professional editor to assure the written quality of the dissertation. This determination is made on a case-by-case basis. 

Committee Selection Form
Once students have chosen a dissertation chair and committee members, the dissertation selection form must be completed, signed by all members, and submitted to Sharon Boyd. More detailed information on the dissertation process can be found in the EdD Student Handbook.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)
All human-subject dissertations at Aurora University are approved through AU’s Institutional Review Board. More information regarding AU’s IRB can be found here. Please contact Dr. Autumn McKeel with questions regarding the IRB.

Important Dissertation Deadlines

Graduation/
Degree Awarded

Deadline for
Oral
Defense of 
Dissertation

Deadline for Submission of
Final Written Dissertation (ProQuest)

Graduation Ceremony
December November 15 December 15 Fall graduates may participate in the May ceremony of the academic year.

May April 1 May 1 Spring graduates can participate in the May ceremony of the academic  year.

August August 1 August 15 Summer graduates may participate in the May ceremony of the following academic year.

Post-Defense Dissertation Publishing

Directions for publishing your final dissertation on Proquest can be found here. Please contact Dr. Jessica Heybach, with questions regarding dissertation publishing.

Upcoming Dissertation Defenses
Dissertation presentations are open to the public unless otherwise noted.