PhD Dissertation Milestones


At Capella, you'll begin your doctoral journey with the end in mind: your dissertation. You'll complete four integrated components—coursework, colloquia, comprehensive examination, and dissertation—each designed to build your skills as an independent researcher, scholar-practitioner, and subject matter expert.

COLLOQUIA TRACK I
Indentify your research problem & apply theory

COLLOQUIA TRACK II
Develop researchquestion

COLLOQUIA TRACK III
Complete your Research Plan

COMPS

Evaluate and apply knowledge of the discipline and research methods.

5 CHAPTER DISSERTATION

Contribute to the body of knowledge through an independent research study.

Colloquia structure:

The colloquia curriculum provides structure for you to develop critical doctoral skills and establish a Research Plan that lays out the essential elements of your dissertation.

2.5 WEEKS Courseroom Work + 4-DAY WEEKEND Face-to-Face workshop + 2WEEKS Assessment Work


Estimated number of weeks

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

The number of weeks for each Milestone is estimated. The dissertation is highly individualized, and the rate at which you'll progress will depend on many factors such as your mastery of key competencies, your ability to manage your time, and your research design.

 


Milestone 1: Research Ethics Education

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

Because scholarly research often involves human subjects, it's essential to understand how to conduct ethical research. To prepare you to create an ethically sound research plan, you'll complete a set of online learning activities focused on the ethical dimensions of human participant protection in research.

Next steps:

Continue developing your list of resources and begin work on the first two sections of your research plan.


Milestone 2: Topic Approval

Estimated Time to Complete: 8 weeks

Your topic must be appropriate for your program and specialization. It should also be feasible and appropriate for a novice researcher. Submit your research topic to your mentor, who will offer feedback and suggestions. Once you have made appropriate revisions, your mentor will submit the Topic Approval section of your research plan for official review and approval by your school.

While you're awaiting approval:

Begin working on the next sections of your Research Plan. Explore alternative topic ideas in case you don't obtain initial topic approval. Keep building your resources, refining your knowledge of the literature in this area, and brushing up on your information literacy skills. This is also a good time to explore ways to improve your academic writing and brush up on your knowledge of research methodology.


Milestone 3: Mentor-Approved Research Plan

Estimated Time to Complete: 12 weeks

Complete your Research Plan and obtain Mentor approval. Your Research Plan specifically addresses all aspects of your proposed study and will be the outline of your dissertation research. Your Research Plan forms the foundation of your study. Your plan may require multiple iterations before mentor approval is obtained. Once your Research Plan is approved by your mentor, Milestone 3 is marked complete.

While you're awaiting approval:

Be ready to revise your research plan in response to your mentor's feedback. Keep building your resources, and refining your knowledge of the literature in this area. Find help in expanding your scholarly sources by visiting the Library and improving your information literacy skills. This is also a good time to explore ways to improve your academic writing.


Milestone 4: Research plan: committee approval

Estimated Time to Complete: 12 weeks

This step gives your dissertation committee an opportunity to ask questions and offer input on your work. Your mentor will share your approved research plan with the committee for review, feedback, and approval.

While you're awaiting approval:

Be ready to revise your research plan based on your committee's feedback. Continue finding appropriate resources and continue your work on Chapters 1 and 2. Find help in expanding your sources:


Milestone 5: Scientific merit review approval

Estimated Time to Complete: 12 weeks

Scientific merit review (SMR) is a multi-step process designed to ensure that your dissertation advances scientific knowledge in your field, contributes to research theory, and meets methodological standards. In this milestone, your mentor will submit your research plan to an SMR expert for review and approval.

While you're awaiting approval:

Be ready to revise your research plan based on SMR feedback. Continue to work on the development of Chapters 1 and 2. Explore more resources to support your work:


Milestone 6: Institutional Review Board approval

Estimated Time to Complete: 12 weeks

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) ensures the protection of your research participants in accordance with established ethical practices. Your mentor will assist you in submitting your research plan for IRB review. You may not collect data until you have received IRB approval.

While you're awaiting approval:

Be ready to revise your research plan based on IRB feedback. Work on your draft of Chapters 1 and 2 or prepare for your pre-data collection conference call. Explore more resources to support you:


Milestone 7: Data-collection conference call

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

This phone meeting, which will include your mentor and committee, is an opportunity to present your approved research plan, ensure that both you and your committee understand the proposed methodology, and seek your committee's guidance before you begin collecting data.

Next steps:

You're about to enter an intensive period of writing and research. This is a great time to step briefly away from your work to recharge yourself.


Milestone 8: Chapters 1 and 2: mentor approval

Estimated Time to Complete: 12 weeks

Submit dissertation chapters 1 and 2 to your mentor. Chapter 1 is essential in outlining the full background for your study. And chapter 2 is a comprehensive literature review supporting your research.

While you're awaiting approval:

Be ready to revise Chapters 1 and 2 based on your mentor's feedback. Collect the data you will need for Chapters 3, 4, and 5, making sure to keep meticulous records and carefully document every source.


Milestone 9: Chapters 3–5 mentor approval

Estimated Time to Complete: 36 weeks

Submit dissertation chapters 3–5 to your mentor. Chapter 3 explains your choice of research design, data collection and analysis, and details the steps of the research design. Chapter 4 includes your data analyses and results. Chapter 5 is where you evaluate your work and interpret the results of your study.

While you're awaiting approval:

Keep collecting data and working on Chapters 3, 4, and 5. And take a moment to refresh yourself.


Milestone 10: Keep collecting data and working on Chapters 3, 4, and 5. And take a moment to refresh yourself.

Estimated Time to Complete: 12 weeks

Your mentor will submit your dissertation to your committee for feedback and approval.

While you're awaiting approval:

Review earlier drafts of your dissertation chapters and the feedback you've gotten so far. Examine every detail and data point. Check your grammar. If you're struggling with a particular section, explore support resources:

Milestone 11: School approval of dissertation

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

Your mentor will submit your dissertation to your school for feedback and approval.

While you're awaiting approval:

Be ready to revise Chapters 1–5 based on school feedback. Review your school's format requirements. Go back through your work and check for errors.


Milestone 12: Format editing

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

Submit your dissertation to Capella's Format Editing team for a format and style review.

While you're awaiting approval:

Be ready to revise Chapters 1–5 based on school feedback. Get started on the PowerPoint presentation you will make during your final conference call in the next milestone. Explore this PowerPoint guide:

Next steps:

Apply for graduation and plan to attend your commencement ceremony: Graduation and Commencement


Milestone 13: Final conference call

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

This phone meeting is the forum for you to share the completed dissertation with the academic community. Your call is an opportunity for you to present your research, collaborate with the members of the committee, and create new possibilities for future research.

Next steps:

Consider how you might share your work with other professionals. Explore options for publishing or conference presentations. Explore support resources:


Milestone 14: Final manuscript approval

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

If you received feedback during milestone 13, incorporate any revisions into the final manuscript. Then submit your dissertation to your mentor.

Next steps:

Consider what this accomplishment might mean to your career. Explore support resources:


Milestone 15: Submit manuscript for publication

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

Once milestone 14 is completed, you'll receive instructions for submitting your manuscript for publication to ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, which is required for the dean's final approval.

Next steps:

Update your resume and your Curriculum Vitae (CV) to include this accomplishment. Consider how your PhD will impact your career options. Explore support resources:


Milestone 16: Dean's final approval

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 weeks

Congratulations! Now your final step is to submit your manuscript for approval by the dean of your school.