Educational Administration and Leadership (Ed.D.)


Your dissertation represents a culminating project within your doctoral degree in which you design and implement empirical research. You design the study, obtain or develop data collection tools, conduct your study, analyze the results, and write your findings. 

You select your own dissertation research topic you are passionate about that contributes to the field and can be applied to real-life higher education settings. You may know what topic you want to research right away, or you may need time during the program to determine exactly what you want to do. 

The program strategically aligns research courses with your dissertation.  Coursework provides opportunities to read literature and conduct research to help you determine your dissertation topic and to refine it. You receive guidance through milestones as you progress through your research. 

You begin by completing a qualifying exam which consists of a 20-page prospectus about the topic you are considering for your dissertation.  After passing the qualifying exam, you move on to Candidacy and begin work on your dissertation. 

Next, you select your dissertation committee chair (adviser) and committee members for your doctoral dissertation who best fit your research.  Your chair guides you throughout your research and provides you with feedback.  Your adviser will authorize you to conduct your dissertation proposal once you complete chapters 1, 2, and 3 of your research, 

The dissertation proposal meeting is conducted with your chair and committee members. They ask you questions about your research and provide you with feedback to improve it.  Upon passing your dissertation proposal, you make revisions, attain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, conduct your study, analyze the results, and write chapters 4 and 5.

Your adviser will authorize you to conduct your dissertation final defense upon completion of chapters 4 and 5 of your research. You conduct a public presentation and receive advice from your chair and committee members.  Upon passing your dissertation final defense, you conduct final editing and prepare your dissertation for format review and approval.  Once all program requirements are complete, the candidate will be granted the degree. 

Graduate Studies Policies and Guidelines

The School of Graduate Studies includes the guidelines, submission directions, guidelines and timelines for completion as well as tips and workshops for students doing their Culminating Experience.

The St. Cloud State Institutional Review Board ensures that any research project that involves human subjects is in compliance with the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects. The board’s website includes application forms, training modules and information to assist you.

Tips to help plan your dissertation schedule

Culminating Experience Resources

The University Library contains numerous resources available to help you with your research. The library also offers study rooms, equipment check out and personal assistance. 

Other Resources

St. Cloud State’s The Writing Center offers individualized help and additional online writing resources.

Dissertation Research Examples

Many past dissertation projects can be found in the Repository. Use these as examples that you can review for ideas about formatting and designing your own dissertation project.