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The Doctoral Process

The Adult Education doctoral programs, whether a Ph.D. or D.Ed. degree, consist of three phases involving core course work, course work related to an area of specialization, research experiences, internships, candidacy and comprehensive examinations and the writing of a doctoral dissertation.

In the initial phase students are introduced to a wide variety of practices within the field of adult education. Issues cross-cutting these practices are also examined. Core course requirements are usually fulfilled in this phase. During this phase not much difference exists between the experiences of D.Ed. and Ph.D. students. This phase culminates with a candidacy examination, in which a final decision is made regarding which of the two doctoral degrees is best suited to the student’s interests and aptitudes. During candidacy examinations, students identify a specific area of study or practice.

In the second phase, the student conducts an in-dept exploration of her/his chosen area of study or practice. During this phase, the student (with assistance from and his/her doctoral committee) sharpens the subject and focus of her/his research undertaking, and develops theoretical frameworks/perspectives, and research methods and techniques suitable for studying a wide range of problems associated with her/his area of specialization. This is a highly individualized phase; with students pursuing interests that are representative of the faculty’s expertise and of the broader field. Students engage in various sequences of advanced courses and seminars, independent study, practicums, internships, and related research activities. D.Ed. students often engage in extensive internships during this phase while Ph.D. students develop advanced research expertise. This phase culminates with a comprehensive examination, which includes successful completion and defense of a dissertation proposal.

In the final phase, the student conducts doctoral dissertation research, writes and defends a doctoral thesis.

The two doctoral degrees are designed to be completed in three years by students working full-time. However, actual length of time to complete the degree varies depending on the individual student's time and effort.