Research Symposium
Graduate students presenting at the annual Education Department research symposium

The mission of the Department of Education is to prepare highly qualified professional educators, administrators, and researchers through exemplary campus and distance based programs and field placements in quality public and private schools. In addition, the department contributes to the State of Montana and the nation through the faculty's active research and outreach efforts.

We would like to congratulate you on your admission to The Graduate School at Montana State University. Our faculty in the Department of Education welcomes you. We hope that you will have a meaningful learning experience as you work towards your graduate degree. 

Faculty and staff across the Department are available to assist and advise you on your graduate journey. Please do not hesitate to ask for help. In the words of Isaak Walton, “Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.”

The Department of Education proudly offers four graduate certificates, a Master of Arts in Teaching leading to initial Montana teacher licensure, three M.Ed. programs, an EdS program, and two doctoral programs.
See details about each program.

Position Name and Contact Responsibilities
EHHD Dean

Alison Harmon
Admin: Julia Teitz
ehhddean@montana.edu

Grievance and appeal procedures (contact department personnel first)
Department Head Ann Ewbank
ann.ewbank@montana.edu
Graduate teaching and research assistantships, grievance and appeal procedures
Director of Accreditation and Operations TBD Student travel scholarships (department), student issues and concerns (contact first), support for GTAs whose undergraduate students are struggling
Graduate Programs Coordinator Micki MacGregor
edgrad@montana.edu
Graduate school policies, required paperwork, registration, Monday Minutes weekly communication
Adult and Higher Education Program Leader Carrie Myers
cbmyers@montana.edu
Program-specific questions (contact advisor/chair first)
Curriculum & Instruction Program Leader Nick Lux
nicholas.lux@montana.edu
Program-specific questions (contact advisor/chair first)
Educational Leadership Program Leader Tena Versland
tena.versland@montana.edu
Program-specific questions (contact advisor/chair first)
EHHD Associate Dean of Research Bill Ruff
wruff@montana.edu
Student travel scholarships (EHHD)
 EHHD Assistant Dean/Director of Student Success Kayte Kaminski
katherine.kaminski@montana.edu
University and college resources, graduate student well-being, emergency assistance
EHHD Business Operations Manager Rebecca Stanton
rebecca.stanton@montana.edu
Human resources and payroll, teaching supplies, textbook orders, room scheduling, technology requests
EHHD Accounting Associate Lynn Marlow
lmarlow@montana.edu
Travel and reimbursement
EHHD Scholarship and Events Coordinator Karen Funke
karen.funke@montana.edu
Scholarship application assistance, special events
Name Email Office Phone (406) 994 -
Alexandra Aylward, PhD alexandra.aylward@montana.edu Reid 209  
Michael Brody, PhD brody@montana.edu Reid 138 5951
Jioanna Carjuzaa, PhD jioanna.carjuzaa@montana.edu Reid 417 4941
Robert Carson,  PhD rcarson@montana.edu Reid 412 4709
Lauren Dotson, EdD lauren.dotson@montana.edu Reid 115 7424
Jayne Downey, PhD jdowney@montana.edu Reid 119 7426
Ann Ellsworth, PhD ann.ellsworth@montana.edu Reid 138A 5793
Ann Ewbank, PhD ann.ewbank@montana.edu Reid 210 5788
Rebekah Hammack, PhD rebekah.hammack@montana.edu Reid 112 6424
Joyce Herbeck, EdD jherbeck@montana.edu Reid 137 5792
Bryce Hughes, PhD bryce.hughes@montana.edu Reid 135 6419
Gilbert Kalonde, PhD kalonde@montana.edu Reid 212 5775
Marilyn Lockhart, EdD lockhart@montana.edu Reid 133 4555
Fenqjen Luo, PhD fluo@montana.edu Reid 118 5950
Nick Lux, EdD nicholas.lux@montana.edu Reid 136 6581
Carrie Myers, PhD cbmyers@montana.edu Reid 134 4203
Kristofer Olsen, PhD kristofer.olsen@montana.edu Reid 117 4617
Sarah Pennington, PhD sarah.pennington2@montana.edu Reid 138B 5952
Christine Rogers-Stanton, PhD christine.rogers1@montana.edu Reid 141 1890
Bill Ruff, EdD wruff@montana.edu Reid 457A 4182
Tricia Seifert, PhD tricia.seifert@montana.edu Reid 133 3127
Tena Versland, EdD tena.versland@montana.edu Reid 114 6799
Sweeney Windchief, EdD sweeney.windchief@montana.edu Reid 139 3339

Graduate Assistantships provide an opportunity to apply graduate course learning in research, teaching, and learning environments that support faculty research and/or the Teacher Education undergraduate program. Students who are offered a Graduate Assistantship work on average 19 hours per week from August 1 – December 31 and January 1 – May 31. Department of Education Graduate Assistants earn $1230 per month for 10 pay periods and may receive six to nine credits of tuition waiver per semester. Only students accepted into an MSU graduate program, who are not otherwise employed by MSU, and are enrolled in 6-credits per semester will be considered for a Graduate Assistantship. For Graduate Teaching Assistantships, applicants will need to be available to teach on-campus. Graduate Assistantship applications are distributed by the Department Head at time of admission and each semester for continuing students.

A three year graduate-level course rotation is available for planning purposes. Please note that courses are subject to change due to faculty availability and/or enrollment.

Graduate Student Lounge

431 Education Graduate Student Lounge sign

The Graduate Student Lounge is located in Reid 431.  Feel free to use the lounge for working, meeting, and socializing.

    

All graduate students are members of the Department of Education Graduate Student Club (DEGS). The club facilitates writing groups, brown bags with faculty, and social events.

Look for College of EHHD student travel scholarships on the Office of Research Development page.

Apply for Department of Education student travel scholarhips at Department of Education Student Travel Scholarships

Computers: If you are employed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant or Graduate Research Assistant within the Department of Education, you will be provided with a computer and access to a printer. The computer will be issued to you, along with keys to your office, by the Department of Education Business Operations Manager.

Stata quantitative data analysis software is available on ten labeled computers in the education department lab in Reid 423. Stata is also provided on computers in the University Information Technology (UIT) run student labs including Reid 302, 305, and 306. When logging in, select Full Application suite. If an individual requires a licensed copy, requests should be sent to EHHD technology support.

NVivo qualitative data analysis software is available to MSU faculty, staff, students, and graduate teaching assistants via an MSU site-wide license. NVivo with a one year license may be installed on personally-owned or MSU-owned devices.

UIT Student Lab software

University licensed software

University IT support

Technology equipment checkouts are available in the Renne Library. These are short term checkouts for a period of hours or a few days.

You have the responsibility of following the policies and procedures of both the Department of Education and the Graduate School.

Students are assigned a temporary advisor at admission. Certificate and Masters students can continue with the temporary advisor, or can change advisors using the Committee Change Form on the Graduate School website. The advisor facilitates the student’s degree progress and completion. The committee, as a whole, is subject to the approval of the Head of the Department of Education.

EdS and doctoral students should carefully select the chair after thorough conversations with tenured or tenure-track program faculty no later than the third semester of attendance. The graduate committee chair serves as the student’s primary advisor and will work with the student to select potential committee members. The chair facilitates the student’s degree progress and completion. Students can change chairs and committee members at any time by submitting the Committee Change Form on the Graduate School website. The committee, as a whole, is subject to the approval of the Head of the Department of Education.

The program of study (POS) acts as a contract between the student, the graduate committee, the department, and the Graduate School at Montana State University.  The program of study, jointly developed by the chair and the student, defines the minimum requirements for the degree. Other requirements as determined by the student's graduate committee may also be listed. Deadlines to submit the program of study are as follows: Certificate- end of 1st semester; Master’s- end of second semester; EdS and doctoral- end of third semester. POS requirements are located at http://www.montana.edu/gradschool/policy/index.html.

All first semester students are strongly encouraged to take EDU 600: Doctoral Seminar. Contact your temporary advisor for guidance.

Doctoral students are initially assigned an advisor at the time of admission. Over the first three semesters, the student should carefully select his/her chair after thorough conversations with tenured or tenure-track program faculty who might have an interest in their doctoral research and/or the ability to work with them towards generating a defensible dissertation. The graduate committee chair serves as the student’s primary advisor, will give strong leadership and approval regarding the balance of the committee's potential membership. The chair will facilitate program approval, comprehensive exam planning and clarification, proposal hearing, and dissertation defense. Chairs and members of a student's committee are subject to change by submitting a Committee Revision form.

Each committee must consist of four members. The majority of the committee will be made up of faculty from the Department of Education, but due to the interdisciplinary nature of our degrees, is not limited to the degree-granting department. The graduate committee chair and the department head recommend the committee composition to The Graduate School for their approval.

The student, in collaboration with the advisor/chair, develops the dissertation committee using the below guidelines:

  1. Student approaches faculty member to ask to chair
  2. Student and chair collaboratively identify potential faculty members to serve on the committee. Committee members must be asked and must agree to serve.
  3. When appropriate, an individual with a terminal degree who works in a practitioner setting can sit on the committee. This individual must be approved by the department head and Graduate School dean.*
  4. The student’s Program of Study and Committee must be submitted to the Graduate School by the third semester of attendance (this includes summer).

The purpose of the doctoral comprehensive exam is to assess the students in depth understanding of their foundational knowledge, area of specialization, and research comprehension from their doctoral coursework. The exam allows students to synthesize what they have learned from their studies and reinforce an area of expertise within the field of study. The doctoral comprehensive exam is comprised of two parts: written and oral. The students’ doctoral committee evaluates each part of the exam separately, and students need to pass both parts of the exam for successful completion. Students must be enrolled in three credits during the semester in which they take the exam.

  • Communicate a comprehensive and dynamic understanding and ways thinking about foundational knowledge, an area of content expertise, and research approach.
  • Synthesize a current state of understanding of empirical and theoretical literature within an area of specialization.
  • Demonstrate the capacity and readiness for conducting independent research.
  • Demonstrate a proficiency in qualitative, quantitative or other approaches to research.
  • Demonstrate a positionality through explanation of philosophical assumptions (epistemology, axiology, ontology, and methodology).
  • Communicate the value, ethical considerations, intellectual merit, and broader implications of research.
  • Prepare students for work on their dissertation.

A doctoral student may not take more than six (6) credits of EDU 690 prior to the comprehensive exam.

  • The student submits a request to the entire committee to take the written portion of the comprehensive exam by March 15 (for summer) and October 1 (for winter break).

  • The committee approves or denies the request.

  • If the request is approved, questions for the written portion of the exam are developed by the committee, and the chair provides the questions and deadline for submission to the student. It is advisable to schedule the written exam as close as possible to the oral exam (i.e. summer written exams should be scheduled for the latter part of the summer).

  • No oral comprehensive exams will be scheduled between 5/15-8/30 or over winter break.

  • The written and oral exam results are reported to the Graduate School in the semester in which the oral exam is taken. In accordance with Graduate School policy, students must register for three (3) credits in the semester when the exam results are reported.

  • Any exemptions to this policy must be approved by the department head or designee.

The professional doctorate in education prepares educators for the application of appropriate and specific practices, the generation of new knowledge, and for the stewardship of the profession.*

Graduates of the EdD and PhD programs in Education receive equally rigorous scholarly training. Both degrees require coursework that develops knowledge of the interdisciplinary nature of education, skills and expertise in the range of methodologies needed to conduct high-quality and rigorous educational research, and values becoming of an ethical and scholarly researcher or practitioner.

Although these two degrees share much in common, each degree has a distinct focus. Graduates of the PhD program will prepare to advance the field of education through the creation and dissemination of new knowledge by specializing in research. Graduates of the EdD will prepare to work as leaders and innovators in educational settings, where they will generate and apply research-based solutions to specific problems of practice.

The EdD Dissertation should be meaningful at the crossroads of the student’s profession and academic interests.

The dissertation committee must be approved by the department head and Graduate School.*

The student, in collaboration with the chair, develops the dissertation committee using the below guidelines:

  1. Student approaches faculty member to ask to chair
  2. Student and chair collaboratively identify potential faculty members to serve on the committee. Committee members must be asked and must agree to serve.
  3. When appropriate, an individual with a terminal degree who works in a practitioner setting can sit on the committee. This individual must be approved by the department head and Graduate School dean.*
  4. The student’s Program of Study and Committee must be submitted to the Graduate School by the third semester of attendance (this includes summer when registered for credit).*

Note: The dissertation proposal and the comprehensive exam are two separate processes. Candidates are required to complete both a written/oral comprehensive exam and a dissertation proposal.

For Path #1, the proposal consists of a full draft of the first three chapters.

For Path #2, the proposal consists of a full draft of the chapters that include the following:

  1. Complete description of the problem of practice
  2. The context of the problem of practice
  3. Relevant literature
  4. Positionality
  5. Theoretical foundations
  6. Purpose and significance of the research
  7. Research method

The dissertation proposal hearing is a departmental policy and may vary based on the dissertation avenue that the student pursues. Students should prepare the documents in adherence to the Graduate School format. Students work with their chair to prepare the dissertation proposal for committee review. Prior to the proposal hearing, the chair may solicit feedback on specific sections of the proposal from other committee members. Students should not expect other committee members to read sections of their draft pre-proposal unless it is initiated by the chair and committee member.

Once the chair and the student have decided that the proposal is ready for the hearing, the student sends the completed proposal to the committee members. The hearing occurs at least two weeks after the committee members have received the proposal. Students are responsible for scheduling the two-hour proposal hearing and securing a room. Rooms are scheduled through the Dean’s office.

The goal of the proposal hearing is to ensure students have a sound, rigorous theoretical and methodological approach to the dissertation research. The research should be feasible, ethical, and doable.

In preparation for the proposal hearing, students should prepare a 30-35 minute Power Point Presentation (PPT). The PPT should cover the main elements of the various chapters of the dissertation and methodology. The PPT will be used as talking points to guide the conversation with the committee. In this sense, the PPT is not a formal presentation but rather a mechanism to structure the conversation.

The chair is responsible for taking notes during the proposal hearing and making sure that the constructive feedback is clear to the student after the meeting.

The committee will decide the following outcomes:

  1. The student can move forward with the research process.
  2. Immediate revisions are needed for Chapter 1-3 or the research prospectus and the committee would like to review the revisions.
  3. Revisions of Chapter 1-3 or the prospectus are expected prior to the dissertation defense. The chair oversees these revisions.

The chair and student decide when the dissertation is ready to defend. The goal of the dissertation defense is for the student to demonstrate a deep and comprehensive understanding of the research process, cognate area, and implications for the research. The dissertation defense is two hours in length. The first hour is open to the public. Students prepare a 40 minute PPT to share their research with the public. Students should consult with their chair on the content of the PPT presentation. Following the first hour, the public is excused, and the student has a closed door meeting with the committee. During the closed door meeting, students engage in a scholarly conversation about their research and the final document. The chair is responsible for taking notes during the dissertation defense and for making sure the constructive feedback is clear to the student after the meeting.

Students must be enrolled in at least three credits during the semester in which they plan to graduate. The student must notify the Graduate Coordinator once the date and time of the defense has been confirmed in order to publicize the event.

The committee will decide the following outcomes:

  1. The student has passed the defense and can file paperwork with the Graduate School.
  2. The student has passed the defense, however, revisions are needed before submission to the Graduate School. The chair will oversee the revisions.
  3. The student did not pass the defense and will work with the chair to defend again following the Graduate School policy.

 

The EdD Dissertation is a scholarly endeavor that focuses on a Problem of Practice. The EdD dissertation is original, empirical research independently conducted by the candidate under the direction of the chair and committee.

The dissertation must adhere to the policies of the Graduate School.*

A Problem of Practice is a persistent, contextualized, and specific issue embedded in the work of a professional practitioner, the addressing of which has the potential to result in improved understanding, experience, and outcomes.*

Below are the two paths for the EdD dissertation:

The chair and student decide when the dissertation is ready to defend. The goal of the dissertation defense is for the student to demonstrate a deep and comprehensive understanding of the research process, and implications for practice. The dissertation defense is two hours in length. The first hour is open to the public. Students prepare a 40 minute PPT to share their dissertation with the public. Students should consult with their chair on the content of the PPT presentation. Following the first hour, the public is excused, and the student has a closed door meeting with the committee. During the closed door meeting, students engage in a scholarly conversation about their research and the final document. The chair is responsible for taking notes during the dissertation defense and for making sure the constructive feedback is clear to the student after the meeting.
Students must be enrolled in at least three credits during the semester in which they plan to graduate. The student must notify the Graduate Coordinator once the date and time of the defense has been confirmed in order to publicize the event.

Chapter 1: Describes the problem of practice and the context of the problem. Providing a positionality statement or statement of self-location is appropriate for this chapter. Research questions to address the problem of practice are introduced.

Chapter 2: Provides a review of supporting literature, including the history of the problem of practice that the candidate will examine. Makes explicit the theoretical foundations upon which the work rests as well as the literature and contextual base. Provides explanation of the significance of the research. “The review of scholarship in the dissertation reports especially appropriate selections from the literature; it is targeted, selective, practical, and highly relevant.”*

Chapter 3: Provides a description and justification of the research methodology used to study the problem of practice. The research question(s) should drive the methodology.

Chapter 4: Reports the results of the research.

Chapter 5: Revisits positionality/self-location as a result of conducting the research. Reflects on lessons learned by the doctoral candidate as well as the impact of the study of the problem of practice. Provides recommendations for addressing the problem of practice. Recommendations may be pragmatic, methodological, conceptual, and/or theoretical. Identifies a trajectory post-matriculation which embodies the mindset of a scholarly practitioner.

Note: The chair and student determine the chapter structure and products communicating the results of the research. Below is a sample chapter structure.

Chapter 1: Describes the problem of practice and the context of the problem. Providing a positionality statement or statement of self-location is appropriate for this chapter. Research questions to address the problem of practice are introduced.

Chapter 2: Provides a review of supporting literature, including the history of the problem of practice that the candidate will examine. Provides explanation of the significance of the research. “The review of scholarship in the dissertation reports especially appropriate selections from the literature; it is targeted, selective, practical, and highly relevant.”

Chapter 3: Provides a description of the research method used to study the problem of practice. The research question(s) should drive the methodology. Reports the results of the research.

Chapters 4-6: Three separate products that communicate the results of the research and/or are developed as a result of the research. Products may include but are not limited to:

  • Grant proposal
  • Program evaluation
  • Publishable manuscript for a professional audience (professional journal such as Educational Leadership, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, Mathematics Teacher, etc.)
  • White paper/policy brief
  • Instructional or professional resource
  • Creative representation of the research results (such as film, theater production, visual art, literary writing, musical composition, etc.)

Products submitted for external review (e.g., grant proposal, manuscript) need not be accepted by the external entity in order to be included in the dissertation. It is recognized that candidates may collaborate with others in communicating the results of their original research through these products. Candidates must include a one-page statement of contribution to the collaborative product at the beginning of the chapter that includes the product.

Chapter 7: Revisits positionality/self-location as a result of conducting the research. Reflects on lessons learned by the doctoral candidate as well as the impact of the study of the problem of practice. Provides recommendations for addressing the problem of practice. Recommendations may be pragmatic, methodological, conceptual, and/or theoretical. Identifies a trajectory post-matriculation which embodies the mindset of a scholarly practitioner.

  • The written comprehensive exam covers three cognate areas:
    • Foundations of Higher Education
    • Specialization
    • Research
  • Students work with their chair to develop appropriate content of the exam questions based on their area of specialization.
  • Each exam question is 20 pages in length excluding tables, figures, and references, and the written exam should adhere to APA format.
  • Students have 17 days to complete the written comprehensive exam. The chair sends the exam to the student by email at 9:00 AM on Friday. The student returns the exam responses to the chair by email by 5:00 PM Monday. The exam responses should be returned in MS Word Format. The chair disseminates the exam responses to the committee.
  • The student may contact the chair any time during the exam process with questions or concerns.
  • Students who pass the written exam will move forward to the oral portion of the exam. Student work with their chair to schedule the date for the oral exam.
  • In the event of a failed written exam, the chair communicates the results to the student and feedback is provided to prepare the student to retake the written exam. According to graduate school policy, the student cannot retake the exam before the next semester.
  • If a student fails one question but has adequate responses on the other questions, the student only has to retake the failed questions.
  • The committee chair sends documentation to the student and the graduate coordinator about which questions of the exam were passed and failed.
  • Students may not copy and paste from previous coursework into their written comprehensive exam. This is considered a violation of the MSU Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures for Students under the “Multiple Submissions” category.
    • However, students are encouraged to build upon, modify, and adapt previous course work, transferring that knowledge and understandings to the new context in the written exam
    • The goal is to use that previous coursework to create new knowledge and understandings
  • The oral exam is an opportunity for students to engage in a scholarly conversation with the doctoral committee about their knowledge of the field.
  • The oral portion of the exam is scheduled no earlier than 2 weeks from submission of the written work. This timeframe allows the committee to have at least two weeks to read the exam.
  • The oral is exam is two hours in length.
  • The chair facilitates the oral exam and determines the order of questioning. The committee’s questions may address any part of the written exam or related to relevant coursework. The nature of the questions is intended to (1) expand on what is written, (2) clarify any ideas or analysis of the work, and (3) stimulate thinking to create a rich, scholarly conversation.
  • During the final 20 minutes of the oral exam, students are excused from the room while the committee deliberates on the evaluation of the students’ oral responses. The committee decides on whether the student “passed” the oral portion of the exam.
  • If students pass the exam, then the committee is not expected to provide the candidate with any formal written feedback. In the event that the committee decides that a student did not pass the oral exam, the chair prepares a document of recommendations for retaking the oral exam no earlier than the next semester.

 Near the end of completing coursework and before the dissertation proposal defense, Curriculum and Instruction graduate students pursuing the EdD will complete a written and oral Comprehensive Exam.  The policies and procedures that govern the administration and completion of the comprehensive exams are as follows:

  • For the written exam, three questions will be administered, each focusing on one of the following general categories intended to assess the student’s comprehensive understandings resulting from the entirety of the student’s doctoral work:
    • Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning
    • Research
    • Concentration
  • Students responses to each question should be 10-15 pages (not including references).
    • APA formatting is required.
    • Conciseness and precision in the student’s response are encouraged.
  • Students will have 10 days to complete the written comprehensive exam.
  • Students will work with their chair to schedule the administration date of the written exam, in addition to scheduling the oral exam.
  • In the event of a failed written exam, the chair will communicate the result to the student, cancel the oral exam, and set a date for the committee to meet with the student to discuss next steps.
  • If a student fails one question but has adequate responses on the others, the student will only have to retake the failed question after the waiting period (delete period) established by the Graduate School.
  • The committee chair sends documentation to the student and the graduate coordinator about which questions of the exam were passed and failed.
  • Students may not copy and paste previous coursework into their written comprehensive exam. This is considered a violation of the MSU Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures for Students under the “Multiple Submissions” category. However, C&I EdD students are encouraged to build upon, modify, and adapt previous course work, transferring that knowledge and understandings to the new context in the written exam. The goal is to use that previous coursework to create new knowledge and understandings.
  • To give the committee ample time to review the student’s written responses, the oral exam will be scheduled no less than two weeks after the due date for the written exam.
  • For the oral exam, the committee will meet with the student for roughly two hours. In certain circumstances, the exam might take longer.
  • The chair will facilitate the oral exam and determine the order of questioning.
  • At the completion of the questioning and in the absence of the student, the entire committee will discuss their evaluation of the outcome of the examination.
  • The chair will work with the committee to make a final determination regarding passing or failing both the written and comprehensive components of the examination.
  • The student’s doctoral committee and the department head are responsible for submitting a written notice of the outcome of the examination to the student and to the Graduate School within five business days. (for student how is this done?)

Comprehensive examinations are required for completion of all graduate degrees at Montana State University. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the program of study and the ability to interact with the research in that area. Students should refer to The Graduate School's web page at: http://www.montana.edu/gradschool/policy/degreq_doctoral.html. The comprehensive exams must be completed by the posted Graduate School deadlines.

Near the end of completing coursework and before the dissertation proposal defense, EdD students will complete a written and oral comprehensive exam. The exam is completed in writing and then orally defended in front of the entire Graduate Committee.

The written Comprehensive Examination  is composed of one question from each of three primary areas: 1) Educational Foundations (e.g., synthesis of theoretical and empirical literature regarding various aspects of educational leadership); 2) Educational Research (demonstration of mastery of aspects of both qualitative and quantitative projects such as sampling, validity, reliability, data analysis) pertaining to the student’s intended area of research  (e.g., school leadership in rural contexts); 3) Literature Review (a relevant review of the extant research and literature associated with the student’s intended dissertation study).

The written comprehensive examination will be structured as a written take-home exam that is to be completed within a 17- day window (2 weeks and 2 weekends). Students are required to complete the exam using APA format.  This date will be mutually agreed upon by the Chair and student.

The completed written examination will be submitted to the committee chair and copies will be distributed to the entire doctoral committee for evaluation. Committee members will have two weeks to read and evaluate the content and written competency of the student’s responses. The chair will then schedule a two-hour oral exam for the student to address questions from his/her written comprehensive examination. The chair will facilitate the meeting and determine the order of questioning. At the completion of the questioning and in the absence of the student, the entire committee will discuss their evaluation of the outcome of the examination. The chair will work with the committee to make a determination regarding passing or failing both the written and oral comprehensive components of the examination.  The student will be notified immediately about the outcome of the exam.  Students who fail one or both portions of the Comprehensive Exam will have a second opportunity to re-take all or a portion of the exam (that was failed) within the following semester. The committee chair sends documentation to the student and the graduate coordinator about which questions of the exam were passed and failed.

The Dissertation Proposal, which is a separate, whole committee meeting, will be scheduled after successful completion (and passing) of the entire Comprehensive Exam.

  •  The written comprehensive exam covers three cognate areas:
    • Foundations
    • Specialization
    • Research
  • Students work with their chair to develop appropriate content of the exam questions based on their area of specialization.
  • The entire comprehensive exam is 60 pages in length excluding tables, figures, and references. The written exam should adhere to APA format.
  • Students have 18 days to complete the written comprehensive exam. The chair sends the student the comprehensive exam questions by email by 9:00 AM on a date agreed upon. Students return the written exams to the chair no later than 11:59 PM 18 days from receiving the exam questions. The exam responses should be returned in MS Word Format. The chair disseminates the exam responses to the committee.
  • The student may contact the chair any time during the exam process with questions or concerns. The student cannot contact other faculty unless approved by the chair.
  • Students are notified about the outcome of the written and oral exam anytime during the two weeks after the committee receives the responses or at the oral hearing. The committee collectively decides about when and how to notify the student about a failed exam.
  • Students who pass the written exam move forward to the oral exam. Students work with their chair to schedule the date for the oral exam.
  • In the event of a failed written exam, the chair communicates the results to the student and feedback is provided on the areas that need further development. Student retakes the exam according to graduate school policy.
  • In some cases, students may fail one or more parts of the written exam, which results in a failed written exam. The formal report for the failed exam is filed with the Graduate School and the Graduate School policies for retaking the exam are followed.
  • If a student fails one or two written question or oral responses but has adequate responses on the other questions, the student only has to retake the failed question(s).
  • The committee chair sends documentation to the student and the graduate coordinator about which questions of the exam were passed and failed.
  • Students may not copy and paste from previous coursework into their written comprehensive exam. This is considered a violation of the MSU Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures for Students under the “Multiple Submissions” category.
    • However, students are encouraged to build upon, modify, and adapt previous course work, transferring that knowledge and understandings to the new context in the written exam
    • The goal is to use that previous coursework to create new knowledge and understandings.
  • The oral exam is an opportunity for students to engage in a scholarly conversation with the doctoral committee about their knowledge of the field.
  • The oral exam is scheduled no earlier than 2 weeks from submission of the written work This timeframe allows the committee to have at least two weeks to read the exam.
  • The oral is exam is two hours in length.
  • The chair sends the student three question prompts (one for each cognate area) to help prepare the student for the oral exam one week in advance.
  • The chair facilitates the oral exam and determines the order of questioning. The committee’s questions may address any part of the written exam or related to relevant coursework. The nature of the committee’s questions is intended to (1) expand on what is written, (2) clarify any ideas or analysis of the work, and (3) stimulate thinking to create a rich, scholarly conversation.
  • Students can bring outside resources beyond the written exam responses to the oral exam.
  • During the final 20 minutes of the oral exam, students are excused from the room while the committee deliberates on the evaluation of the students’ oral responses. The committee decides on whether the student “passed” the oral portion of the exam.
  • If students pass the oral exam, then the committee is not expected provide the candidate with any formal written feedback.
  • In the event that the committee decides that a student did not pass the oral exam, the Graduate School policies will be followed. The chair will prepare a document of recommendations for retaking the oral exam no earlier than the next semester.

The purpose of the PhD dissertation is for students to communicate their research proficiency, comprehensive understanding of an area of specialization and related literature, and an emerging and cohesive research agenda. There are two potential dissertation paths that students can pursue. The decision about which path to pursue should be in consultation between the student and the chair. Students should consider which dissertation option best serves their educational goals early in their coursework. This allows students to engage with the literature early to identify and develop their research agenda. The goal of a dissertation is two fold. One, the dissertation is an original, substantial, and important contribution of knowledge to the extant literature. Two, the dissertation is a way to develop important research skills for future work. The next section outlines the two paths for dissertation research within the PhD.

The traditional dissertation is an original, single research study. By “traditional,” this means that the dissertation is an original, document on a single research topic. The advantage of this type of dissertation is that students learn and demonstrate a rich, in-depth, historical, and contemporary understanding of an area of knowledge. Further, students learn to carry out an original and entire research study from the planning phase to the dissemination.

Topics for discussion with your advisor/chair: (1) relevant theories and literature, (2) appropriate methodologies, (3) sample and context, (4) expectations and guidelines, and (5) timeline.

The manuscript option for the dissertation is a multiple article dissertation on an integrated topic or theme of knowledge. The advantage of this type of dissertation is that students have an opportunity to practice different kinds of academic writing, engage in different research approaches, collaborate with experienced researchers, and develop multifaceted and integrated knowledge around a thematic topic. 

Topics for discussion with your advisor/chair include: (1) themes of the integrated research topic, (2) publication or journal outlet(s), (3) authorship, (4) expectations and guidelines of the student and other contributors, and (5) timeline.

The three manuscripts may be a combination of different types of writing including: *primary research study (Required), theoretical, practical, book chapter, literature review, book review, grant proposal, and evaluation report. Manuscripts must meet standards of rigor and quality acceptable to a peer reviewed publication, but they do not need to be published. The student must be the first author on each of the manuscripts. At least one committee member needs to supervise or be a co-author on the manuscripts. Manuscripts co-authored with committee members requires approval of the chair.

The dissertation proposal is a departmental policy and may vary based on the dissertation avenue that the student pursues. Students should prepare the documents in adherence to the Graduate School format. Students work with their chair to prepare the dissertation proposal for committee review. Prior to the proposal hearing, the chair may solicit feedback on specific sections of the proposal from other committee members. Students should not expect other committee members to read sections of their draft pre-proposal unless it is initiated by the chair and committee member.

Once the chair and the student have decided that the proposal is ready for the hearing, the student sends the completed proposal to the committee members. The hearing occurs at least two weeks after the committee members have received the proposal. Students are responsible for scheduling the two-hour proposal hearing and securing a room. Rooms are scheduled through the Dean’s office.

For the traditional dissertation, students prepare a strong draft of Chapters 1-3 after the successful completion of comprehensive exams.

For the manuscript option, students prepare a strong draft of Chapters 1-2 and a research prospectus for each manuscript. Guidelines for the research prospectus can be obtained from the chair. Students may not copy and paste material between the three research prospectus. This is considered a violation of the MSU Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures for Students under the “Multiple Submissions” category. However, students are encouraged to modify and adapt work across the three manuscripts. The proposal hearing can occur at anytime during the students educational path. A proposal meeting prior to comprehensive exams does not imply a successful completion of a comprehensive exam. 

The goal of the proposal hearing is to ensure students have a sound, rigorous theoretical and methodological approach to the dissertation research. The research should be feasible, ethical, and doable.

In preparation for the proposal hearing, students should prepare a 30-35 minute Power Point Presentation (PPT). The PPT should cover the main elements of the various chapters of the dissertation and methodology.  The PPT will be used as talking points to guide the conversation with the committee. In this sense, the PPT is not a formal presentation but rather a mechanism to structure the conversation.

The chair is responsible for taking notes during the proposal hearing and making sure that the constructive feedback is clear to the student after the meeting.

 The committee will decide the following outcomes:

  1. The student can move forward with the research process.
  2. Immediate revisions are needed for Chapter 1-3 or the research prospectus and the committee would like to review the revisions.
  3. Revisions of Chapter 1-3 or the prospectus are expected prior to the dissertation defense. The chair oversees these revisions.

The chair and student decide when the dissertation is ready to defend. The goal of the dissertation defense is for the student to demonstrate a deep and comprehensive understanding of the research process, cognate area, and implications for the research. The dissertation defense is two hours in length. The first hour is open to the public. Students prepare a 40 minute PPT to share their research with the public. Students should consult with their chair on the content of the PPT presentation. Following the first hour, the public is excused, and the student has a closed door meeting with the committee. During the closed door meeting, students engage in a scholarly conversation about their research and the final document.  The chair is responsible for taking notes during the dissertation defense and for making sure the constructive feedback is clear to the student after the meeting.

Students must be enrolled in at least three credits during the semester in which they plan to graduate. The student must notify the Graduate Coordinator once the date and time of the defense has been confirmed in order to publicize the event.

The committee will decide the following outcomes:

  1. The student has passed the defense and can file paperwork with the Graduate School.
  2. The student has passed the defense, however, revisions are needed before submission to the Graduate School. The chair will oversee the revisions.
  3. The student did not pass the defense and will work with the chair to defend again following the Graduate School policy.