Education Dissertation


The doctoral dissertation is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to bridge theory and practice through research or evaluation. Students are encouraged throughout their coursework to identify salient issues and relevant organizational concerns they might wish to investigate as a basis for producing a dissertation, the final requirement for the doctoral degree.

Description of Dissertation

The dissertation is a scholarly work conducted independently by the student, under the direction of a full-time GSEP faculty member. Through satisfactory completion of the dissertation, the student demonstrates the ability to utilize the scientific method in solving practical problems. The methodology engaged will differ based upon the problem being addressed as well as preferences of the student and chairperson. Whatever methods are selected, conceptual support through review of the related literature is necessary. After obtaining approval of a dissertation proposal through the Preliminary Oral Defense process the student implements the methods, produces results, and identifies conclusions and recommendations. A Final Defense is held when the student's committee feels the student is ready.

Acceptable Dissertation Projects

Acceptable projects include, but are not limited to:

  • An empirical study, using quantitative and/or qualitative methods of analysis
  • Program or product development and evaluation projects
  • An original theoretical analysis of an existing issue
  • The development of a new model for organizational and/or leadership interventions
  • An in-depth case study with findings which explain the theoretical and/or practical aspects of a phenomenon.

Acceptable Dissertation Structures

Numerous structures for dissertations are acceptable. Common models utilized by Pepperdine faculty are outlined below. Students, in collaboration with their chairperson, will select the structure most appropriate for their study. The actual chapter titles will vary depending upon the context of their work. A printed manuscript is required by the University.

Five Chapter StructureFour Chapter Structure
Ch. 1 Problem/Issue Ch. 1 Problem/Issue including Conceptual Support
Ch. 2 Conceptual Support/Review of Literature Ch. 2 Methods
Ch. 3 Methods Ch. 3 Results and Discussion
Ch. 4 Results Ch. 4 Conclusions/Recommendations
Ch. 5 Conclusions/Recommendations