Ed.D. Dissertations of Practice

As our program is tailored to the needs of working professionals, the culminating research project of the doctoral studies is the dissertation of practice. The dissertation of practice demonstrates the scholarly practitioner's ability to examine problems found within the practice through scholarly inquiry (i.e., a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research project or a program evaluation project).

The topic for the dissertation of practice originates from a real-world issue or problem that is then explored, researched and analyzed. The document is designed to include the development of a publishable paper which can be utilized to further the scholarly knowledge of the field.

Successful defense of the dissertation of practice proposal serves as a candidacy examination. The defense must be completed within two semesters of completion of coursework.

Dissertation requirements can be found in the Graduate Catalog.

A faculty member, in alignment with their research expertise and interest, is designated as your dissertation chair. Two additional committee members of your choosing will guide and support you through the dissertation process.


Faculty are committed to supporting you in making significant progress toward the dissertation each term. You will submit reports of progress at least twice a semester to their dissertation chair to ensure they are making progress toward degree completion. Dissertation chairs provide feedback and individual support throughout the semester.

Our students complete the dissertation within 2-5 semester terms. Students’ progress depends on their topic, research design, and ability to dedicate time toward their dissertation research.

Required Hours

Minimally, twelve credits of dissertation hours (HESA 799) need to be taken. Once you complete your coursework and start dissertation hours, you will remain continuously enrolled and take a minimum of 3 credit hours of dissertation hours per semester.

Example Timeline

Ed.D. Community College Leadership Ed.D. Higher Education
Begin to consider a topic, learn about different research and evaluation methods, and start reviewing the literature on your potential topic. Year 2 - Summer Year 2 - Fall
Faculty member is designated as your dissertation committee chair Year 2 - Spring Year 2 - Spring
Develop and write the Dissertation of Practice Proposal Year 3 – Summer Year 3 – Fall
Finalize and defend the Dissertation of Practice Proposal Year 3 – Fall or Spring Year 3 – Spring or Summer
Collect and analyze data Year 3 - Spring or beyond Year 3 - Summer or beyond
Write of Chapters 2 and 3 of the dissertation and defend the Dissertation of Practice Year 4 - Summer or beyond Year 4 - Fall or beyond

On average is 25-30 pages in length, excluding cover page, references and appendix. The proposal contains the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Background of the topic
  • Literature review (approximately 10 pages)
  • Methodology and methods to be used in the study (approximately 10 pages)
  • Significance of the research

Once the proposal is written, you will provide an oral presentation to the committee which serves as the dissertation defense. Successful defense of the proposal serves as a candidacy examination.

Andrews, M., and Hu, X. (2021). A descriptive profile of online faculty training practices in the Illinois community college system. The Journal of Educators Online, 18(3), 1-12.

Berek, J., and Kortegast, C. A. (2022). Widening the Pathway to a Degree: Community College Students Experiences With Credit for Prior Learning. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 34(2), 111-127.

Clark, P., and Hu, X. (2022). What’s after a D/F/W grade? Community college students’ online course-taking and reenrollment outcomes. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, advance online publication.

Lango, M., and Kortegast, C. (2023). “We’re in This Together”: Small Private College SSAOs Crisis Leadership During COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 60(1), 95-107.

Latiolais, S. J., and Hu, X. (2022). Pathways Toward (unequal) Earnings: Students' Choice of Career Training Programs in Washington State. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 29(1), 83-106.

Pridgen, R., and Nyunt, G. (2023). How College Culture Shapes the Experiences of Students with Food Insecurity. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice. Advanced online publication.


"I knew that I would need structured support in the dissertation writing stage of the program. My dissertation chair provided a structure where I felt confident in completing milestones to progress in writing and completing my research." Cynthia Padilla-Gaytan, Ed.D. Higher Education, 2022, Director Student Success Strategy, College of Lake County

"One of the highlights of my journey was the opportunity to undertake an ambitious dissertation, designed with my position as a Director of International Education in mind. The work done in my dissertation not only expanded my expertise in international education but also allowed me to make a tangible impact on my campus community." Jacob Cushing, Ed.D., Higher Education, 2020, Director of Student Recruitment and Onboarding, College of Lake County

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