What is a doctoral residency?

February 1, 2019

When looking at the components of a PhD or professional doctorate program, many of the parts may seem (on the surface, anyway) easy to understand: Coursework. Research. Dissertation or Capstone.

But there are also requirements involving residencies. Curtis Brant, PhD, Associate Vice President of Doctoral Affairs, explains the process.

Different from coursework

The residency portion of a Capella PhD or professional doctorate (ProDoc) program occurs simultaneously with coursework. “Residencies are face to face academic experiences that occur as part of a course experience and offer students a chance to make significant progress on their dissertations,” says Brant.

During Capella residencies, the student will connect directly with faculty and other students from their courses. They can also meet with consultants from Capella’s research and writing groups, as well as the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Students can gain many of the needed levels of approval for research topics and methodology through residencies. “Residencies allow students to get feedback on their dissertation or capstone topics and methods much earlier than in more traditional programs and thus allows students a head start on completing their final project,” says Brant.

Capella residency structure and content

At Capella residencies, there is always an in-person component. Capella provides weekend residencies, usually taking place Thursday through Sunday. Students may be asked to complete pre-work in preparation for the upcoming in-person session, and there could be post-residency coursework as well.

What will be covered in Capella’s residencies will vary according to your program’s focus and requirements, but the following are examples of topics and skills covered:

  • Learn how to identify a research problem.
  • Examine and narrow down potential topic areas.
  • Develop a literature review.
  • Craft a well-formed research question.
  • Select the appropriate research methodology and design.
  • Develop a full research plan.

Residencies not only provide you with guidance during the development of your dissertation topic and research plans, they also help you receive thorough feedback and several levels of necessary approvals. The proficiency gained will prepare you for both the comprehensive exams that follow and the heart of the PhD: the dissertation, or the ProDoc: the capstone.

Capella University offers PhD and professional doctorate degrees in programs ranging from business to education and psychology to nursing. Learn more about Capella’s doctoral degree programs.

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