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Education Dissertation

Policies and Procedures

Steps for Completing Dissertation Requirements

  1. Committee Formation & Member Requirements
  2. Registration in ED 791 Dissertation Research Class
  3. Proposal Preparation
  4. TurnItIn
  5. Preliminary Oral Defense
  6. Institutional Review Board
  7. Final Oral Defense
  8. Dissertation APA Format Clearance
  9. Continuous Enrollment Status
  10. Final Document Submission
  11. Degree Posting

Each step is outlined below:


1. Committee Formation & Member Requirements

The student selects a topic area of interest and considers which member(s) of the faculty may be interested.

The student selects a chairperson with whom the student has established a good working relationship. Students who need help identifying a chairperson may consult with the Program Director and/or Associate Dean.

Once the chairperson is identified, the second and third members are selected in consultation with the chair. The committee will direct, in consultation with the student, all phases of the dissertation process, and will conduct the preliminary and final oral defenses.

Committee Formation Requirements:

  • All members who serve on doctoral committees must hold an earned doctoral degree from an academically accredited institution.
  • All committee members must have had a doctoral degree for a minimum of two (2) calendar years before they can serve on a committee.
  • Dissertation committees require a minimum of three individuals:
    • Chairperson - must be a full-time GSEP faculty member.
    • Second member - a person affiliated with Pepperdine.
    • Third member - may be an individual from the community who holds an earned doctorate with special expertise in methodology and/or the student's topic.

After a chairperson is selected the student must submit the following to their Associate Program Director:

NOTE: Dissertation committees are generally formed after the student has successfully completed the comprehensive examination process. If students wish to establish their committees earlier in the program, they may do so under the following conditions:

  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 in coursework
  • Successful completion of Research, Statistics, and Communications & Technology (ED 729, 730, 734)
  • A faculty member who is willing to serve as chairperson
  • Approval from the program director
  • Student must register for two (2) units of ED 791 Dissertation Research.

NOTE: In the ELAP Program, given that the comprehensive examination class occurs in the final term of the second year, and is concurrent with other coursework, students are not eligible to enroll in dissertation study until fall term of third year.

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2. Registration in ED 791 Dissertation Research Class

Upon selecting a chairperson, students are required to register in two (2) units ED 791, Dissertation Research, during each term until they have successfully presented their dissertation through their final defense.

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3. Proposal Preparation

The student's chair and committee members will provide guidance during proposal preparation. The chair, in collaboration with the other committee members, will decide when the proposal is ready for presentation at the Preliminary Oral Defense.

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4. TurnItIn  

Prior to scheduling the preliminary oral exam, the student will submit the dissertation proposal (usually first three chapters of dissertation) through TurnItIn via the "GSEP Writing Support" course in Courses (powered by Sakai)  . Click here for TurnItIn Instructions            

The student will forward the report to his or her dissertation chair.

The dissertation chair will review the TurnItIn report, ensuring the bibliographic and quoted material are excluded from the results, and work with the student to resolve any issues related to originality, extensive quotation, improper quotation, etc. The dissertation chair is responsible for ensuring that the proposal is free of plagiarism.

In cases of matching text, students will have the opportunity to correct and resubmit their proposals through TurnItIn as needed.

The dissertation chair will sign the student's Form P3 - Preliminary Oral Exam Completion to verify review.

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5. Preliminary Oral Defense (POD) - Presentation of research proposal (usually first 3 chapters of dissertation)

To schedule a Preliminary Oral Defense, the student must submit the following to their Associate Program Director:

Two weeks are required from submission of proposal and forms until actual Preliminary Oral Defense. During this two week period, all GSEP faculty have an opportunity to review the proposal and comment to the chair.

The research proposal document must be presented in a manner consistent with the requirements of APA format. Proposals which do not conform to APA format guidelines may be rejected by the associate dean's office and could result in a delay of the preliminary oral defense.

Any changes to the research proposal that are later deemed necessary may require a second preliminary oral defense. The committee chairperson will determine any need for rescheduling of a second oral defense.

Although chairpersons may conduct the preliminary oral defenses differently, these orals essentially consist of three components.

  • First, a presentation by the student of the proposal followed by a question and discussion period.
  • Second, the student and all observers will be excused from the room so that the committee may deliberate the proposal and the performance on the preliminary oral defense.
  • Finally, a decision is made by the committee. The committee members will sign Form P3 - Preliminary Oral Exam Completion which indicates the outcome of the preliminary oral defense. If there are any requested changes from the committee, the chairperson will summarize these in a letter and inform the student. There are four possible decision outcomes:
  1. Pass with modifications to be completed and resubmitted before student may continue
  2. Pass with modifications, but student may continue and include modifications in next regular draft
  3. Pass, no modifications and student may continue work
  4. Fail

Following the oral defense, a copy of the proposal, the written summary from the chair of any required changes, Form P3 are maintained on file with the Associate Program Director. Another copy of the approved proposal will be placed on reserve for perusal by other faculty members and students.

A student is considered "doctoral candidate" if the Preliminary Oral Defense is passed.

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6. Graduate & Professional Schools Institutional Review Board (GPS IRB)

Once the doctoral candidate has successfully completed the Preliminary Oral Defense, candidates must, under the direction of the chairperson, apply to the Graduate & Professional Schools IRB.

All doctoral students must receive GPS IRB approval before implementing the research methodology. If your data collection involves humans, including but not limited to, interviews, surveys, test scores, observations, and archival data involving individuals, your research is subject to IRB review.

Education Division Methods Review

All education students submitting expedited or full review applications must first submit their research proposals to the Education Division Methods Review Committee for approval before submitting the proposal for GPS IRB review.

For information about the Education Division Methods Review, please contact Dr. Kay Davis at kay.davis@pepperdine.edu or at (310) 568-5660.

Details of the GPS IRB process and application forms are available at the Pepperdine Community webpage for GPS IRB

NOTE: Candidates must communicate with their chairperson any changes in the methodology. If changes impact human subject considerations, candidates may also need to resubmit the proposal for GPS IRB review and approval.

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7. Final Oral Defense (FOD) - Presentation of near perfect proposal

The Final Oral Defense is open to the academic community and guests of the candidate. The intent of the examination is to demonstrate that the candidate has obtained the degree of scholarly advancement which permits them to be recommended to the University for the Doctorate. At the Final Oral Defense candidates are essentially defending the dissertation findings and are participating in scholarly challenges to methodology, analysis, and conclusions.

To schedule a Final Oral Defense, the student must submit the following to their Associate Program Director:

Two weeks are required from submission of manuscript and forms until actual Final Oral Defense.

Although chairpersons may conduct the Final Oral Defenses differently, these orals essentially consist of three components.

  • First, a student's presentation of research findings.
  • Second, a question and discussion period.
  • Finally, a decision is made by the committee. The committee members will sign Form F3 - Final Oral Defense Completion which indicates the outcome of the final oral defense. If there are any requested changes from the committee, the chairperson will communicate them to the student shortly following the final oral defense. There are three possible decision outcomes:
  1. Pass, no modifications
  2. Pass, certain modifications to be made to the dissertation
  3. Fail

NOTE: Approximately 20 announcements of the Final Oral Defense will be provided about one week prior to the scheduled exam.

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8. Dissertation APA Format Clearance

(electronic documents for submission are now accepted)

When the candidate has obtained the approvals and signatures of the committee members, all doctoral candidates must submit their dissertations to the Dissertation Support Office for APA format review. A clearance by the Dissertation Support Office is required to ensure that Pepperdine University format requirements and APA style guidelines have been maintained.

Submission of Dissertation Manuscript

The student should copy the Associate Program Director when submitting the following to the Assistant Manager of Writing Support:

Once the Assistant Manager of Writing Support has confirmed that all necessary forms and the dissertation versions are received, the student will receive an initial contact email outlining the process for APA Format Review. If any format changes are necessary after an initial review, the Dissertation Office will return the edited PDF to the student to make revisions and resubmit an updated version. APA clearance will be given once all requested changes have been implemented.

The suggested submission deadline is six (6) weeks prior to the end of the term in which the degree is posted. Manuscripts will be accepted after this deadline for review; however the Dissertation Support Office may not be able to complete all the necessary arrangements in time for the degree posting that term.

Once the manuscript has been cleared for APA Review, the cleared dissertation and clearance letter outlining the steps for final document submission will be emailed to the student.

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 9. Continuous Enrollment Status

Dissertation students who have successfully completed their final oral defense and who have submitted all the necessary forms and dissertation manuscript for APA Review by the drop/add deadline are placed in ED 792 Dissertation Completion and are required to pay a fee of $100.

Students are eligible to enroll in ED 792 for up to two consecutive terms. If the dissertation has not been cleared by APA and/or the dissertation submission to ProQuest has not been completed within two terms, the student will be re-enrolled in the appropriate dissertation research course, or request an extension.

Enrollment in ED 792 constitutes part-time student status which will impact financial aid eligibility and loan deferment.

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10. Final Document Submission 

The final dissertation must be uploaded to ProQuest UMI/ETD Dissertation Publishing. This will be the final version of the dissertation that will be published to ProQuest. 

Dissertation Submission Steps:

  1. ProQuest UMI/ETD Submission:

    Electronically submit your final dissertation to ProQuest ETD Administrator

    • Create a new user account to upload the final PDF version of your dissertation to UMI/ETD.
    • Select Open Access publishing (required) and complete the agreement.
    • Personal bound dissertation copies and copies for the chairperson/committee members can be ordered through the UMI/ETD submission.
    • All fees are paid by credit card at the time of initial submission.
  2. Graduation Application: The Graduation Application should be submitted to the Assistant Manager of Writing Support at this time.  

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11. Degree Posting

Once the Dissertation Support Office has received all the necessary items for the degree posting, the Dissertation Support Office will inform the Office of Student Information and Services that all doctoral requirements have been fulfilled and that the record can indicate that degree requirements have been satisfied.

The degree will be posted in the term that all requirements have been completed at the following times:

  • Fall - Mid-October and the last day of the term
  • Spring - the last day of the term
  • Summer - the last day of the term

For exact dates view the GSEP Academic Catalog. Degree completion and ability to use the credential of "Ed.D." occurs when degree requirements have been met and the degree has been posted to the transcript. "Graduation" is defined as the date the doctoral degree is posted, not the date of the graduation ceremony itself, which generally occurs only once a year in the summer. To participate in the graduation ceremony, the candidates must have had their Final Oral Defense and passed with or without modifications.

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