Education Dissertation

Policies and Procedures

Steps for Completing Dissertation Requirements

  1. Dissertation Chair Selection & Registration in ED 791
  2. Committee Formation
  3. Proposal Preparation
  4. Ensuring Originality of Content through TurnItIn
  5. Preliminary Oral: Presentation of Proposal
  6. Institutional Review Board (IRB) Process
  7. Final Oral Defense
  8. Dissertation Final Clearance
  9. Continuous Enrollment Status
  10. Publishing of Final Document
  11. Degree Posting

Each step is outlined below:

1. Dissertation Chair Selection & Registration in ED 791

Throughout coursework, the student considers possible areas for research and interacts with faculty about dissertation ideas. When the student wishes to formally register in 791 units, Form A1 is filed which requires the signature of the Faculty member who will serve as the chairperson and also approval by the Academic Program Director. The Dissertation Chair must be either a full-time GSEP faculty member or an experienced Education Division Adjunct Faculty or other Pepperdine University faculty who have been approved by the Academic Program Director to serve in this role. Faculty serving as chair may hold different doctoral degrees including PhD, EdD or professional doctoral degrees such as the JD or DM. PhD students will need to have a chair who holds a PhD degree. The primary consideration in selecting a chair should be focused on the working relationship between the student and the faculty. While selecting a chair based on content and/or method experience is common, it isn't required as other committee members can provide that expertise. Students needing help identifying a chairperson may consult with the Academic Program Director and/or the Associate Dean. If a student needs to change their Dissertation Chair, a new A1 form should be submitted for approval.

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2. Committee Formation

Two other faculty members comprise the Dissertation Committee. Each must possess an earned doctorate from an academically accredited institution awarded more than 2-calendar years from the time of committee formation. One of these two must already be affiliated with Pepperdine University as a faculty member; either full-time or in an adjunct role. One member could be an individual from the community who can provide special expertise in content or methods. Community members need to meet the same criteria of having the earned doctorate awarded more than 2 years previous to committee formation. A CV or professional resume of the community member must accompany the request for approval of the committee.

Form A2 (Committee Formation) requires Chairperson signature as well as the two selected faculty committee members. This Form must be approved by the Academic Program Director PRIOR to the request for holding the Preliminary Oral. Concurrent request for Committee Approval and holding the preliminary oral may create a delay in scheduling. Students and Chairs are encouraged to submit their request for Committee Approval 4 to 6 weeks before the anticipated Preliminary Oral date.

If a student needs to change the committee membership, a new A2 form should be submitted for approval.

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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. Ensuring Originality of Content through 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 P2 - Preliminary Oral Exam Completion to verify review.

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5. Preliminary Oral: Presentation of Proposal

To schedule a Preliminary Oral, the student must have had their committee approved by the Academic Program Director (Form A2).

Filing for Preliminary oral requires the submission of Forms P1 and an electronic copy of the dissertation proposal reviewed by the committee. A minimum of two weeks between filing and the oral presentation is required and strictly enforced. This is to ensure that all GSEP faculty have an opportunity to review the proposed research and comment to the chairperson.The committee members will sign Form P2 - Preliminary Oral Exam Completion which indicates the outcome of the preliminary oral presentation. 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 presentation, a copy of the proposal and Form P2 are maintained on file with the Associate Program Director. 

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

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6. Institutional Review Board (IRB) Process

Once the doctoral candidate has successfully completed the Preliminary Oral Presentation, 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 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

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


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8. Dissertation Final Clearance

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 Dissertation Clearance. 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 submit the following to the Manager of Writing Support:

*Form F4 will also be signed by the Dissertation Reviewer upon confirmation of dissertation clearance.

Once the 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 review of the dissertation. If any format changes are necessary after an initial review, the assigned reviewer will return the edited PDF to the student to make revisions and resubmit an updated version. Dissertation 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, the cleared dissertation and clearance letter outlining the final steps for degree completion will be emailed to the student. The second half of the F4 form is signed by the assigned reviewer confirming clearance.

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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 Dissertation Clearance 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 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. Publishing of Final Document 

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, unless otherwise noted by ETD Administrator. 

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 a publishing option (Traditional, Open Access, Open Access PLUS) 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 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." or "Ph.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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