Doctoral Policies and The Dissertation Experience

Doctoral Program Curriculum

First Year Portfolio 

Initial admission to any of the doctoral programs is a conditional decision. During the first year, students develop a portfolio in close consultation with their advisor.  Specific information about portfolios may be obtained from the Program Assistant. Normally the portfolio is submitted to the Department Chair upon completion of 12-15 credits of coursework.  If the department faculty determine that the portfolio requirements have not been met, they will inform the Dean of the School of Education who will advise the student of the results.  The student should schedule an appointment with the Associate Dean to discuss the results and options. A conference should be scheduled with the Associate Dean. If the student successfully passes the portfolio review, they will be notified by the Dean of the School of Education that they are now fully admitted into the doctoral program.
    

IME Qualifying Presentation Requirements (IME students only) 

The Qualifying Presentation (QP) is an opportunity for IME doctoral students to present their intended research project to the entire IME Faculty.  This session provides the student with an opportunity to receive valuable feedback, on how to strengthen the intended research, and suggestions for readings.  It allows the whole faculty to become aware of the research topics being addressed by students and serves as an academic forum for the interchange of ideas.


IME students should complete the QP during the semester they are enrolled in 709.  IME students who do not pass the QP initially are required to enroll in 729 the following semester and to submit a new QP.  IME students who pass the QP may enroll in 790 (pending other requirements for 790).

Requirements

  1. Minimum of 36 credits of study completed by the end of the previous semester, including Research Methods in Education (0704-708), Applied Statistics (0704-706), General Education Foundations course, and current enrollment in Dissertation Proposal Seminar (709).
  2. A Power Point presentation of 10 slides that succinctly summarizes the main sections of Chapters 1-3 of the dissertation prospectus completed at the end of 709.
  3. Authorization from the student’s doctoral program advisor.

For more detailed information, please contact the IME Program Assistant, Gabriela Martinez-Pocasangre (gmartinez11@usfca.edu).

General Requirements 

The doctoral program requires the completion of at least 60 semester credit hours of coursework beyond the Master’s degree. This work should be completed within seven years of the student’s admission date. If doctoral work will exceed seven years, students must petition the Dean''s office for this exception. As students begin to plan their doctoral program of studies, they need to be sure to make provisions for meeting general requirements. These are grouped under the following areas:  

General Education core 12-15 credits
Major Specialization 24 credits (27 credits for L&I)
Electives or Minor 12-15 credits (12 credits for L&I)
Dissertation courses 9 credits
Total    60 credits

General Education Core

All students are required to complete 12 credits in the General Education Core according to the following regulations (General Education requirements cannot be satisfied by Directed Study or Transfer of Credit).

NOTE: GEDU 706 and GEDU 708 may be waived by examination. Please contact Program manager for General Education, Quyen Tran (qtran6@usfca.edu) for further information.

Required  The following 6 credits are required for all students:
  GEDU 706    Introduction to Inquiry: Quantitative Approaches (3 credits)
  GEDU 708    Introduction to Inquiry: Qualitative Approaches (3 credits)
Educational  Foundations Each student must take one of the following 3-credit courses:
  GEDU 700    Philosophical Foundations of Education (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 701    Anthropology of Education (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 702    Social and Critical Theoretical Foundations* (3 credits)
  GEDU 703 Public Scholarship and Community Engaged Learning (3 credits)
  GEDU 704    Psychological Foundations of Education** (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 705    Law and Education (3 credits)
  GEDU 720    Technology and Education (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
Advanced Research Design Each student must take one of the following courses:
  GEDU 707    Advanced Statistics** (3 credits)
  GEDU 710    Analysis of Variance Designs (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 711    Survey Research (3 credits)
  GEDU 712    Qualitative Research (3 credits)
  GEDU 713    Content Analysis (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 714    Educational & Psychological Measurement** (3 credits)
  GEDU 715    Anthropological Research in Education (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 716    Program Evaluation (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 718    Ethnicity and Multicultural Issues in Research (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 721    Correlational Design (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 722    Meta-Analysis (3 credits)
  GEDU 723    Participatory Research (3 credits) - no longer offered starting Fall 2020
  GEDU 724    Introduction to SPSS (3 credits)
  *Required for IME students
**Required for L&I 

Major Specialization

A Major is defined as a program of at least 24 credits (27 for L&I students) of doctoral level coursework developed by the students and the advisor to meet the requirements of their department area. The four courses that form the general education core may not be used toward the major specialization. For more details see the Department/Program Curriculum Section.

 

Electives or Minor

Students may use this 12-15-credit block as electives or to design a minor. A minor is defined as at least 12 credits of coursework in a program within the School of Education other than the one to which the student was admitted.  For example, a student pursuing a 24-credit major in International & Multicultural Education might elect a minor in Learning & Instruction by taking four 3-credit courses in that program. Students must obtain the approval of their advisor in their major program as well as an advisor in the proposed minor program in a Petition to Declare a Minor form. Students must submit the Petition to Declare Minor form (with signatures of approval from their advisor in their major program and the advisor in the proposed program) to the Dean's Office. Students should submit the petition to the Dean’s Office prior to registering for coursework that may lead to the minor. Prior to enrolling in additional coursework toward the minor, students should wait for formal approval from the Dean's Office. 

Master’s Level Courses  

Students in doctoral programs must enroll in doctoral level (600) courses. Master’s level courses may be used to fulfill only the elective portion of the doctoral program requirements. 

Dissertation Courses and Requirements

This block of 9 credits is devoted to the development of a dissertation proposal and to the research and writing of a dissertation. 

709, 729, 790, & 791 may not be taken during intersession or the summer semesters. They may not be taken concurrently.

If students do not complete this work in 709, they can subsequently enroll in 729 for this purpose.   729 credits do not count towards the graduation requirement.

During 790, students write their dissertation proposal.  The proposal includes a complete written version of Chapters 1, 2 and 3 of their dissertation. At the completion of the dissertation proposal, students then defend their proposal with their dissertation committee.  After the successful defense of the dissertation proposal,  students submit their IRB application (if relevant).

Once a student enrolls in 790, they must continue to enroll in 790 each semester until they have submitted the corrected dissertation proposal as approved by the dissertation committee and successfully enrolled in 791.  Students must register for a total of 3 credits in 790.  In consultation with their advisor, these 3 credits may be taken in one semester or spread over two semesters (1 credit during one semester and 2 credits during the other semester).  Only a total of 3 credits can count toward the minimum 60-credit degree completion requirement. Financial aid credit minimums should be considered when selecting the number of credits in any given semester.

  • 709 Dissertation Proposal Seminar: The students prepare a full draft of Chapter 1, a summary and initial annotated bibliography in Chapter 2, and an outline of Chapter 3.
  • 790 Dissertation Proposal Development: The student writes and defends the dissertation proposal:  Complete written version of Chapters One, Two, and Three of dissertation. (With the approval of the dissertation chair and committee, the student may defend the proposal while enrolled in the 709/729 sequence.)
  • 791 Dissertation Research and Writing: The student carries out the proposed research, completes the writing, and defends the dissertation.

Once a student enrolls in 790, they must continue to enroll in 790 each semester until they have submitted the corrected dissertation proposal, as approved by the dissertation committee.  Students must be continuously enrolled in 791 until the final dissertation has been successfully defended and submitted.  

Students must have IRB approval (if relevant) prior to registering for 791 and beginning data collection.   During 791, students carry out the proposed research, complete the writing of the dissertation and defend their dissertation.  Students must be continuously enrolled in 791 until the final dissertation has been successfully defended and submitted.  Students must register for a total  of 3 credits in 791.  In consultation with their advisor, these 3 credits may be taken in one semester, spread over 2 semesters (1 credit during one semester and 2 credits during the other semester), or spread over three semesters (1 credit each semester).   Only a total of 3 credits can count toward the minimum 60-credit degree completion requirement.  Financial aid credit minimums should be considered when selecting the number of credits in any given semester. 

Students must register for a total of 3 credits in 790 in consultation with their advisor, these 3 credits may be taken either in one semester or spread over two semesters (1 credit and 2 credits; or 2 credits and 1 credit.  Financial Aid requirements should be considered when choosing the 1 or 2 credit option.  In consultation with their chair, students may choose whether to enroll in 791 for 1, 2 or 3 credits.  Students must accumulate a total of 3 credits of 790 and 791 to graduate, but, unlike 790, students do have an option of 1, 1, 1 in 791. Only 3 credits of 790 and 3 credits of 791 may be counted toward the minimum 60-credit degree completion requirement.

Following the final dissertation defense, students submit all required documents with all of the proper signatures by August 1st (Spring/May degree posting) or January 30th (Fall/December degree posting).  The Doctoral Program Assistant must be allowed at least one week to process the dissertation.  Failure to complete these procedures by the above dates requires that students register for 1 more credit of 791 in the following semester. Failure to complete Final Procedures in this semester will require students to register for 3 more credits of 791 and re-defend the dissertation (same dates apply for degree posting in the following semesters). Please note that students MUST be registered in the semester the degree is posted.

Dissertation Courses Requirements and Checklist  

Dissertation Courses 
Requirements Checklist: 
Students must complete the following requirements in order to enroll in each course (please note that these requirements are a minimum and that departments may have additional requirements):
709 Dissertation 
Proposal Seminar
□      A minimum of 30 credits completed with a minimum GPA of 3.0
□      Completed (graded) three introductory General Education courses:
□      706 Statistics
□      708 Research Methods
□      One General Education foundations course (see section 11.1d)
□      Must not have any Incomplete (I) or In-progress (IP) grades for any courses
□      Must have approval from the Associate Dean
729 Proposal Seminar □      Must have taken 709
□      Must not have any Incomplete (I) or In-progress (IP) grades for any courses (except 709)
□      Must have approval from the Associate Dean
790 Dissertation
Proposal
Development
□      A minimum of 45 credits completed with a minimum GPA of 3.0
□      An approved application to appoint a dissertation committee
□      Must have passed any qualifying examinations required by the department
□      Must have taken/completed 709/729
□      Must not have any Incomplete (I) or In-progress (IP) grades for any courses
□      Must have approval from the Associate Dean
791 Dissertation
Research & Writing
□      Must have completed a minimum of 51 credits with a minimum GPA of 3.0
□      Must have taken 790 and submitted a corrected dissertation proposal that has been approved by the dissertation committee
□      Must have received research approval from the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects for the proposal**
□      Must not have any Incomplete (I) or In-progress (IP) grades for any courses
□      Must be Advanced to Candidacy
□      Must have approval from the Associate Dean

** Please note that IRBPHS approval can take up to one month, even without any significant delays.  In some instances, additional information is required, thus adding more time to the student’s attempt to secure approval.

Turnitin Requirement

Students must submit all final assignments in 709, 790, 791 to the plagiarism prevention software Turnitin. This can be found on the MyUSF homepage. Turnitin reports must be submitted as part of the final assignment. 

Department/Program Curriculum

11.2a Catholic Educational Leadership (CEL)

Major Core | 21 credits
· CEL 740 - History and Principles of Catholic Education (3 credits)
· CEL 741 - Private School Law (3 credits)
· CEL 742 - Moral Development (3 credits)
· CEL 744 - Curriculum and Instructional Leadership in Catholic Schools (3 credits)
· CEL 750 - Catholic Leadership and Educational Administration (3 credits)
· CEL 651 - Business and Finance for Catholic Schools (3 credits)
· CEL 753 - Personnel Leadership in Schools (3 credits)
 

Electives | 15 credits
Elective courses may be drawn from other CEL courses not listed above, GEDU 725, and any other graduate program in the School of Education with the approval of the student’s doctoral adviser. Students who have completed the Master of Arts degree through the Catholic Educational Leadership Program may pursue a 12-credit block minor in another program within the School of Education. Students should consult their adviser concerning the minor requirements.

11.2b International & Multicultural Education (IME) 

IME Courses | 24 credits |General IME
· IME 702 – Linguistic Rights and Bilingual Education (3 credits)
· IME 703 - Applied Linguistics (3 credits)
· IME 704 - Global Perspectives on Education and Decolonization (3 credits)
· IME 705 - Re-conceptualizing Multicultural Education (3 credits)
· IME 706 - Critical Analysis of Urban Schooling (3 credits)
· IME 710 - Sociology of Language (3 credits)
· IME 711 - Language and Culture (3 credits)
· IME 712 - Critical Race Theory and Praxis (3 credits)
· IME 713 - Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Competency (3 credits)
· IME 715 - Education for Inclusion (3 credits)
· IME 716 - Social Movements and Human Rights (3 credits)
· IME 718 - International Human Rights Law for Educators (3 credits)
· IME 719 - Gender and Globalization (3 credits)
· IME 720 - Human Rights Education: Pedagogy and Praxis (3 credits)
· IME 721 - Human Rights Education: History, Philosophy & Current Debates (3 credits)
· IME 724 - African American Educational History in the United States (3 credits)
· IME 725 - Contemporary International Issues (3 credits)
· IME 728 - Women of Color in Higher Education (3 credits)
· IME 731 - Research in First and Second Language Acquisition (3 credits)
· IME 735 - Latinos and Education (3 credits)
· IME 736 - Human Rights and Media (3 credits)
· IME 737 - Critical Pedagogy (3 credits)
· IME 739 - Cross-Cultural Literacy (3 credits)
· IME 740 - Immigration and Forced Displacement (3 credits)
· IME 750 - Asian Americans (3 credits)
· IME 768 - Discourse, Pragmatics, and Language Teaching (3 credits)
· IME 776 - Teaching and Learning Through the Arts (3 credits)

Concentration in Second Language Acquisition
Students who choose this concentration must take a minimum of 4 courses from Section A.
Section A: Second Language Acquisition

· IME 702 - Linguistic Rights and Bilingual Education (3 credits)
· IME 703 - Applied Linguistics (3 credits)
· IME 710 - Sociology of Language (3 credits)
· IME 711 - Language and Culture (3 credits)
· IME 731 - Research in First and Second Language Acquisition (3 credits)
· IME 739 - Cross-Cultural Literacy (3 credits)
· IME 768 - Discourse, Pragmatics, and Language Teaching (3 credits)
 

Concentration in Human Rights Education
Students who choose this concentration must take all 3 courses from Section B plus 1 course from Section C.
Section B: Human Rights Education

· IME 718 - International Human Rights Law and Advocacy (3 credits)
· IME 720 - Human Rights Education: Pedagogy and Praxis (3 credits)
· IME 721 - Human Rights Education: History, Philosophy and Current Debates (3 credits)
Section C: Choose at least one of the following:
· IME-719 - Gender and Globalization (3 credits)
· IME-716 - Social Movements and Human Rights (3 credits)
· IME-736 - Human Rights and the Media (3 credits)
· IME-740 - Immigration and Forced Displacement (3 credits)
· IME-702 - Linguistic Rights and Bilingual Education (3 credits)
 

Electives | 12-15 credits
Elective courses may be taken from any department in the School of Education (including IME).

Optional Minor

Students may develop a Minor with a sequence of at least four related courses from another School of Education program approved by the IME advisor and an advisor for the minor.

11.2c Learning & Instruction (L&I)

One Foundation Core Course | 3 credits
· L&I     700 - Cognitive Psychology (3 credits)
 

Two Advanced Research Core Courses | 6 credits
· L&I     707 - Literature Reviews (3 credits)
· One advanced methodology course selected in consultation with advisor (3 credits)
 

Six Learning & Instruction Courses | 18 credits
· L&I 701 - Multimedia Learning (3 credits)
· L&I 702 - Human Abilities (3 credits)
· L&I 712 - Performance-Based Assessment (3 credits)
· L&I 713 - Essentials for Teaching in Higher Education (3 credits)
· L&I 714 - Problem-, Project-, & Inquiry-Based Learning (3 credits)
· L&I 724 - Grant Writing (3 credits)
· L&I 732 - Motivation (3 credits)
· L&I 735 - Creativity (3 credits)
· L&I 743 - Constructivism and Technology (3 credits)
· L&I 798 - Special Topics (3 credits)
· GEDU 721 - Correlational Designs (3 credits)
· GEDU 722 - Meta-analysis (3 credits)
· GEDU 724 - Intro to SPSS (3 credits)
 

Four Electives | 12 credits
Courses may be taken from any department in the School of Education (including L&I).

11.2d Organization & Leadership (O&L)

Required O&L Department Curriculum | 9 credits
· O&L 750 - Organizational Theory: Applications and Implications (3 credits)
· O&L 751 - Leadership Theories (3 credits)
Choice of one of the following:
· O&L 754 - Schools, Community and Society (3 credits)
· O&L 763 - Race, Diversity and Higher Education (3 credits)
· O&L 766 - Ethical Organization (3 credits)
 

Specializations and Professional Interests | 21 credits
Students are assisted on an individual basis by a faculty adviser in making course choices based on their areas of interest. Students have the option to change faculty advisers at any point in the program as their specific interests develop. Directed studies are opportunities to explore particular interests with a student-selected faculty member. Instructors for a particular directed study may or may not be the student's adviser.

The department offers focus areas:
· 21st Century Leadership;
· Higher Education Leadership.
 

Electives | 9 credits

Elective credits offer another opportunity for each student to pursue individual intellectual and professional interests. In making selections, students may choose:
· O&L courses;
· Courses from other School of Education departments or approved courses from the University at large.

11.2e Special Education (SPED)

Foundation Core | 6 credits:
· L&I 700 - Cognitive Psychology (3 credits)
· GEDU 704 - Psychological Foundations (3 credits)


Special Education Core | 18 credits:
· L&I 716 - Curriculum and Instruction in Special Education (3 credits)
· L&I 717 - Research-Based Practices and Critical Issues in Special Education (3 credits)
· L&I 718 - Special Education Law and Public Policy (3 credits)
· L&I 752 - Data-Based Decision Making for School Leaders (3 credits)
· L&I 798 - Intercultural Competence in Special Education (3 credits)
· L&I 798 - Atypical Learning and Development (3 credits)
 

Special Education Practicum | 3 credits, 1 credit each:
· L&I 719 - Practicum in Special Education Higher Education (1 credit)
· L&I 722 - Practicum in Research in Special Education (1 credit)
· L&I 798 - Practicum in School Consultation and Collaboration (1 credit)


Advanced Research Core | 3 credits:
One advanced methodology course selected in consultation with the student's adviser: Meta-Analysis, Survey Research, Qualitative Research in Education, Program Evaluation, Correlational Designs, or Introduction to SPSS.


Elective courses | 6 credits from the following:
· L&I 701 - Multimedia Learning (3 credits)
· L&I 702 - Human Abilities (3 credits)
· L&I 712 - Performance-Based Assessment (3 credits)
· L&I 713 - Essentials for Teaching in Higher Education (3 credits)
· L&I 721 - Models of Teaching and Instruction (3 credits)
· L&I 724 - Grant Writing (3 credits)
· L&I 732 - Motivation (3 credits)
· L&I 743 - Constructivism and Technology (3 credits)
· L&I 798 - Instructional Design (3 credits)
· L&I 798 - Inquiry-Based Learning (3 credits)
· L&I 798 - Psychology of Reading (3 credits)
· L&I 798 - Sociocultural Theories  (3 credits)

Research: The Dissertation Experience:

Description of the Dissertation 

The doctoral dissertation will be a piece of original, independent research in an area of educational significance. It will reflect the candidate's knowledge and understanding of the related literature and of the research methodology appropriate to the investigation. The dissertation in the form of an organized and competently written study should represent a contribution to the knowledge base in the candidate's field or area of specialization.

Dissertation Research: Topic Relevance

The dissertation research activities of doctoral students must be congruent with the goals of a doctoral program in education. The student must secure the agreement of three faculty members who are qualified to guide the proposed research and willing to serve on the dissertation committee.

Dissertation Research Types

From time to time, authorities in the field of research have developed lists of types of research design. They describe each category and provide a set of models to guide the researcher. General Education courses 708 and 710-719 will introduce students to a variety of these models. No one model is considered more desirable to use than another. Rather, the task will be to select the model best suited for the study.

Establishment of Dissertation Committee

When the student and faculty advisor jointly determine readiness - prior to enrolling in 790 - a request is made to the Associate Dean to establish a dissertation committee. The primary functions of the dissertation committee are to review and approve the dissertation proposal, review and approve the dissertation, and conduct the oral proposal and dissertation defenses/hearings. 
 
Ordinarily, a doctoral dissertation committee includes a chairperson from the student’s department, one member from the School of Education’s full-time faculty, and one member from the SOE or USF at large, who are qualified in either or both the substantive area of the student's research topic and the design and procedures of the student's research method.
 
If the faculty members in the student's department agree, the student may request a chairperson outside the department. To utilize this option, the student must write a request to the Doctoral Program Policies Committee.  This request must be endorsed by the department and have the signature of the Department Chair.
 
Also, at the student’s option, the committee may include a fourth reader who is a qualified member of the faculty of another school or college at USF, or of the professional community outside USF who is distinguished in the area of the student’s dissertation topic, possesses a doctoral degree, and is approved by the chairperson and the other two members of the student’s committee.

In any case, the student, in consultation with the student's advisor, secures the agreement of the chairperson and, then, in consultation with the chairperson, also secures the agreement of the second and third readers and, optionally, of the fourth reader. The chairperson then approves the student’s selection of committee members and recommends this selection to the Associate Dean, who appoints the dissertation committee. When the Associate Dean has approved the committee, the student and the committee members will receive a copy of the signed form.
 
If it becomes necessary or desirable to change the membership of the dissertation committee, students should obtain a Change in Membership of Doctoral Dissertation Committee form that the chairperson of the new committee should submit to one of the Associate Deans after the student has obtained the appropriate signatures.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal should describe the problem to be investigated, the methodology/design to be used, instrumentation, the proposed plan for data collection and analysis, a theoretical rationale, a review of the literature, procedures for the protection of human subjects when appropriate, and the probable contribution the dissertation would make to the field. In no case should the student begin dissertation research until the IRBPHS has approved the application for the protection of human subjects, and one of the Associate Deans has officially approved your proposal. University stationery should not be used in conducting student research.
 
All work submitted for review at this stage should reflect not only scholarship but also concern for the technical details of format and style. The body of the text should be divided into appropriate sections, with one standard form for footnotes, references, quotations, and tables. With the approval of the dissertation chairperson, one of two style guides is acceptable: the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) or the most recent edition of the Style Guide of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Other style manuals may be approved upon recommendation of the dissertation chairperson and endorsement by the faculty of the Curriculum Committee. Students should obtain the consent of the chairperson when making the format choice. Dissertation proposals that have not meticulously followed the style manual will be returned for correction.
 
After the formal dissertation proposal hearing, the committee may recommend approval or disapproval.  The dissertation chairperson will communicate this decision to the student with specific reference to any required changes.  After the committee members have signed the Results of Dissertation Proposal Review form, the student attaches the signed Results form, the Advancement to Candidacy Form, and a copy of the IRBPHS approval email (see below for IRBPHS information) to the corrected, approved proposal and submits them to the Doctoral Program Assistant (where they will be recorded as received and placed in the student’s academic file).  Once Advancement to Candidacy has been verified, a copy of that form will be distributed to the student and the dissertation chairperson. The original will be placed in the student’s file. 
 
PLEASE NOTE: The title that is submitted on the “Results” form is the title that will go in the graduation program, unless the Doctoral Program Assistant is otherwise notified of any changes. 

Protection of Human Subjects

Every dissertation involving research with human subjects must have prior approval from the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRBPHS).   Pilot studies and Reliability and Validity studies also need IRBPHS approval.
 
1. The Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRBPHS) application and review process is now being conducted entirely online. The procedure to submit an application is as follows:

  1. Go to the IRB home page at  https://www.axiommentor.com/login/axlogin.cfm  or sign on at https://myusf.usfca.edu/irbphs;
  2. Read the instructions on the home page, then click the tab “my applications,” then “new application”;
  3. Answer the questionnaire, which will lead you to the proper application;
  4. Fill out the application, uploading any additional documents you may need, and submit.

You will find a brief tutorial on the IRB application procedure on the home page. Please take the time to review it before submitting your application.


If you need to renew or modify your current research, please contact the IRB Office directly at irbphs@usfca.edu and include an attachment with your name, approval number, and the basis for your request.

2. The approval letter from the IRBPHS will be e-mailed to the student.  A copy will be forwarded to the advisor. Any modification that involves human subjects must be approved by the IRBPHS. Please note that approval could take up to one month, even when there are no significant delays.

3. Approval of an application is for one year only. If research extends beyond one year, then a renewal application must be filed with the IRBPHS.

Dissertation Proposal Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to help establish common understandings and expectations about dissertation proposals in the School of Education, and to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about proposals. This statement is deliberately brief in order to avoid being overly prescriptive and in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of the many guides to proposal writing and research. Only perennial problem areas and questions are highlighted here.

  • Guideline #1: Students are advised to choose a research problem that has important implications for understanding or for practice. The topic should be one in which the student has an abiding interest and in which the student is willing to become a specialist, by reading all relevant literature.
  • Guideline #2: The proposal should both motivate and explain the proposed study. Motivate means that the proposal should justify the study.  It should make a persuasive case that a particular study needs to be done, and done in the manner proposed.
  • Guideline #3: All parts of the proposal must be logically coherent, that is, the research problem must flow from the review of the literature; the specific research questions must be congruent with the statement of the problem, as well as the purpose statement; the theoretical rationale must anchor the study in relevant theory; the design and method must be appropriate to answer the research questions; and the sample or the data sources must be adequate to yield the required information.
  • Guideline #4: Definitions must be operationalized. While conceptual definitions are essential in a discussion of the problem, most studies at some point require operational definitions. These must be stated explicitly in the proposal. Likewise, in the description of the design of the study, readers will pay close attention to whether the proposed operational steps are appropriate to answer the questions stated conceptually in the description of the problem to be investigated.
  • Guideline #5: The methodology and statistical procedures should be stated with a degree of specificity that would allow the proposal to be sent to an independent researcher to conduct the study in the manner prescribed.
  • Guideline #6: The student should briefly indicate that the student is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the data collection procedures chosen. In the case of unpublished measures, the student should contact the author(s) for normative, reliability, and validity data.  Likewise, the strengths and weaknesses of the design of the study must be discussed.
  • Guideline #7: The proposal should speak for itself. All matters of theory, sample, sources, and method that are necessary to understand the proposed study should be described in the proposal, not left to the reader’s imagination. Vague promises to include such material in the final dissertation itself are not satisfactory.
  • Guideline #8: Students should avoid gratuitous references to “the computer,” “SPSS,” or other tools. Do not go into unnecessary detail on standard statistical formulas that are used in a conventional way.
  • Guideline #9: When using an analysis of covariance, regression, discriminant analysis, or other statistical approaches that model a hypothesized relationship among several variables, the model that will be estimated should be explained clearly. For example, the student should show the regression equation(s) that will be estimated and explain how results will be interpreted and how they bear on the research questions.
  • Guideline #10: Academic English style should be evident. Proposals containing numerous errors in academic English usage will be rejected as unreadable.
  • Guideline #11: One standard citation and organization style should be used. At the University of San Francisco, only the APA and AAA styles are acceptable. It is incumbent on the candidate to learn and properly use a standard style.  See section 11.3E for additional notes.

Dissertation Proposal Q&A

Question #1: How long should the proposal be?
Answer: Long enough to satisfy the above guidelines. That is, the proposal should not be a mere sketch or outline. It must be thorough enough to satisfy faculty and administration that you have identified a researchable problem and placed that problem in context; it must be detailed enough to provide a blueprint by which someone other than the author of the proposal could do the study.

Question #2: What should be in a review of the literature?
Answer: The literature review should include theoretical, empirical, and review articles, reports, dissertations (too often overlooked) and the like which set the context for the proposed study. The narration connecting the works cited in the review should make clear to the reader why the works are cited and how their strengths and weaknesses support the case for the present proposal. The most recent and the most pertinent literature should be discussed in greater depth than the historical material.

Question #3: What types of studies are acceptable?
Answer: Any well-reasoned proposal that meets the applicable canons of disciplined inquiry may be accepted, provided that one or more School of Education faculty members who are qualified to direct such work endorse the proposal. Students should state the implications of the results for research, policy and practice in your related program of study.

Question #4: Is it acceptable to collect data before the proposal is approved?
Answer: No. 

Proposal Defense

Normally, the proposal is defended while enrolled in 790. Students should see their advisor for other possible options. A proposal must demonstrate mastery of an area of specialization and a proposed investigation of a problem in an analytic, creative, and scholarly way. When this has been done to the satisfaction of the committee chairperson, a defense is scheduled. Supply a copy of the proposal to each member of the committee at least three weeks before the date of the defense.  When necessary, defenses may be done remotely via a platform such as Zoom.  To request a remote defense, please discuss with your dissertation committee chairperson.  Reasons to schedule a remote defense include illness, prohibitively expensive to travel to USF for defense, and shelter-in-place ordinances.  When the University conducts academic semesters remotely, all defenses will be also remote.

Audio taping (and occasionally videotaping via Zoom) of formal proposal hearings by a candidate is allowed with permission from the chair and each member of the committee prior to the date of the defense.  Students should establish the date and time with the chairperson and committee members and then request the Doctoral Program Assistant to schedule a conference room or Zoom room. The proposal defense must be on the schedule (kept by the Doctoral Program Assistant) three weeks before the defense. The defense must take place by the second week in May (Spring) or December (Fall).

All members of the committee must be present for the defense. 
Prior to the defense, the committee chair and the candidate agree upon the method used to record the feedback.  At the defense, the student should be prepared to provide a very brief presentation of the proposal.  Allow at least two hours.

The committee must take one of four actions on the proposal:

  • Approve with no substantive (i.e. only style, grammar, etc.) revisions
  • Require minor substantive revisions
  • Require major substantive revisions
  • Reject

In case substantive revisions are required, the chairperson will confer with the student regarding the required revisions and establish a time schedule for completion. The committee signs the proposal after the revisions have been completed to the committee’s satisfaction.

Occasionally, the committee may suggest a “work session.”  A student may have one such work session. In the case of rejection, the committee chairperson shall communicate in writing the reasons for rejection.  Students may attempt one more proposal defense at a later date. In the event that the proposal is still found to be unsatisfactory, the student may not continue in the School of Education. A conference should be scheduled with the Associate Dean.

Following a successful proposal defense, the student continues to be enrolled in 790 or to be enrolled in 791 after having completed all of the prerequisites.

When the committee has approved the proposal and the members have signed the final version, the student submits it to the Doctoral Program Assistant, together with the required forms for advancement to candidacy. Following receipt of all the required materials, the student will be Advanced to Candidacy and permitted to register for 791.

Advancement to Candidacy 

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy:

  • Completed a minimum of 51 credits (no incomplete grades);
  • Passed any qualifying examinations required by your program;
  • Submitted a proposal approved by your dissertation committee.

The Application for Advancement to Candidacy helps to verify that upon successful completion of all required courses and the submission of an approved doctoral dissertation, the student has satisfied all requirements and is eligible for the Doctor of Education degree.

The following items should be submitted to the Doctoral Program Assistant to be considered for Advancement to Candidacy:

  • The Yellow Advancement to Candidacy form (signed by the student’s chairperson)
  • The goldenrod Proposal Results form (signed by your committee)
  • A completed, corrected, approved proposal
  • A copy of the IRBPHS approval email (students may forward this via email)

A grade of In-Progress is acceptable only in 790, Dissertation Proposal Development. The advancement to candidacy form is usually submitted at the same time as the proposal. The student will receive written notice and an Advancement to Candidacy Packet from the Dean’s Office. Advancement to Candidacy is necessary prior to enrolling in 791.

The Dissertation

The Ed.D. dissertation is a demonstration of the student’s ability to bring theory and knowledge to bear on the solution of a significant educational problem.

For final evaluation, dissertations must show evidence of:

  • Mastery of academic English language usage
  • Valid methodology (appropriate research design and analysis)
  • Use of critical analysis and logic
  • Comprehensive review of appropriate literature
  • Initiative and original treatment
  • Significant contribution to educational knowledge and/or practice

Dissertation Defense (Orals)

A dissertation developed from the proposal must demonstrate mastery of an area of specialization and the ability to investigate a problem in an analytic, creative, and scholarly way. When this has been accomplished to the satisfaction of the student’s committee, an oral defense is scheduled. The student should supply a copy of the dissertation to each member of the committee at least four weeks before the date of the oral defense.

Audio taping of formal proposal hearings by a candidate is allowed with permission from the chair and each member of the committee prior to the date of the defense.

The student should establish the date and time with the chairperson and committee members and then notify the Doctoral Program Assistant. The dissertation defense must be on the schedule (kept by the Doctoral Program Assistant) by the first week in April (for defenses in the Spring semester) or the first week in November (for defenses in the Fall semester). The defense must take place by the second week in May (Spring) or December (Fall).

All members of the student’s committee must be present for the defense.

Under the direction of the chairperson, the student must be prepared to provide a very brief statement of the problem, procedures, major findings, and conclusions. The committee members encourage students to make the opening statement brief; they have read the study and are anxious to join in discussion of its important elements. The student should be prepared to discuss substantive issues regarding the research design, related literature, theoretical frame of reference, the validity of the findings, and the implications of the work.

Students are advised to allow at least two hours for the defense and to make careful written notes of any changes or corrections that are recommended by the committee. At the conclusion of the meeting, the student will be asked to leave the room while the committee deliberates.

The committee must take one of four actions:

  • Approve with no substantive (i.e. only style, grammar, etc.) revisions
  • Require minor substantive revisions
  • Require major substantive revisions
  • Reject

When substantive revisions are required, the chairperson will confer with the student, provide a written statement of the required revisions, and establish a time schedule for completion. The committee signs the dissertation after the revisions have been completed to the committee’s satisfaction. In the case of rejection, the committee chairperson shall communicate in writing to the student the reasons for rejection. If the decision to approve is not unanimous, one of the Associate Deans will meet with the committee, hear reasons for and against approval, and make the final determination.

Final Procedures

Once the final defense is officially scheduled, the Final Procedures Packet may be downloaded from SOE’s website here: https://myusf.usfca.edu/education/handbooks-forms. It contains information regarding electronic submission of the final, approved dissertation, as well as forms to be submitted for degree completion and degree posting. Completion deadlines are also outlined in the Final Procedures Packet. The School of Education and Gleeson Library have worked together to create procedures to submit dissertations in an electronic format.  Students should refer to the Final Procedures Packet for information.

Degree Posting

Upon completion of the 60 credits required for the degree and the receipt of the final corrected dissertation, the University Registrar’s Office will evaluate the student’s academic record for degree completion.

Degrees are posted when ALL requirements have been fulfilled. The date of the defense of a dissertation has no bearing on the degree posting. Students must submit all required documents with all of the proper signatures by June 30th (Spring/May degree posting) or January 30th (Fall/December degree posting).  These are the Registrar’s timelines.  The Dean’s Office is not authorized to make exceptions.  The Doctoral Program Assistant must be allowed at least two weeks to process the dissertation. Actual deadlines vary each semester and will be outlined in the student’s Final Procedures Packet.  Failure to complete these procedures by the above dates requires that students register for 1 more credit of 791 in the following semester. Failure to complete the Final Procedures in a semester will require students to register for 3 more credits of 791 and re-defend the dissertation at the chairperson’s discretion (same dates apply for degree posting in the following semesters). Please note that students MUST be registered in the semester the degree is posted.
 
PLEASE NOTE: The title that is submitted on the “Results” form is the title that will go in the graduation program, unless you notify your Department’s Program Assistant of any changes.

Doctoral Program Policies Committee (DPPC):

The Doctoral Program Policies Committee (DPPC) has been established to review and recommend changes to, and clarification of, School of Education (SOE) Doctoral Program policies. The DPPC is also available to review student policy exemption requests. The DPPC is comprised of a faculty representative from each Doctoral program in the SOE, is co-chaired by an Associate Dean and Doctoral Program Coordinator, and is an advisory committee to the Dean.

The DPPC meets regularly during the academic year to review the policies and procedures of the Doctoral Program for consistency and fairness.  All DPPC recommendations pertaining to policy and exceptions will be considered by the Dean and any policy changes are presented to the faculty.

 

Making a Request to DPPC

Request Process:
The student should first discuss the request with the student's faculty advisor or dissertation committee chairperson. If necessary, it should be discussed with the department and/or department chairperson. Then, the student must submit five copies of each of the following to one of the Associate Deans:

  1. Written statement of the policy exemption request with rationale;
  2. Copies of all forms and correspondence relating to the request; and
  3. A letter of support from the student’s faculty advisor or dissertation committee chairperson.

Upon receipt of the above noted materials, one of the Associate Deans will place the student’s request on the agenda of the DPPC’s monthly meeting. The student’s faculty advisor or dissertation committee chairperson may participate in the discussion of the student’s request. The committee will forward its recommendation to the Dean who will notify the student.