Doctor of Education – Dissertation Process

The dissertation process for the UNE Online Ed.D. program is embedded within the program itself. Throughout the program, students focus on “applied research” – that is, asking questions or “problem-posing” in organizational settings. These questions are examined throughout the program and this research culminates in a dissertation that reflects the student’s professional goals and interests and meets the standards provided by the program.

Doctoral students are asked to apply theory to inform their individual development, for decision-making in their organizations, and to demonstrate engagement as current or aspiring leaders and professionals in the greater community. These dissertations can employ a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods approach. 

Dissertations are conducted by students with the support of instructors, advisors, and committee members, as well as a peer study group.

Dissertation development takes place throughout the Ed.D. program and is developed in five stages:

  1. Topic exploration that begins in the application essay.
  2. Topic approval early in the program (within the first few courses) and continued review of alignment and consistency throughout.
  3. Development of a literature review that will be reviewed by a designated sub-group of the graduate curriculum committee.
  4. Completion of the data collection.
  5. Completion of a final dissertation that meets the standards provided by the program and reflects commonly accepted tenets of applied research. The final dissertation is presented and defended to a committee using an online video conference service. After a successful defense, a digital copy may be uploaded to UNE’s digital repository, DUNE. 

See examples of successful dissertations hosted on DUNE >>

After completing all coursework and successfully presenting and defending their dissertation, students are welcome to join our annual Commencement ceremony typically held in May on our Portland, Maine campus.

Peer and Faculty Support

The faculty advisor serves as the lead instructor, and the second committee member supports the advisor by providing consultation and editing of student writing. This two-person team is responsible for overseeing and approving dissertation development. The third member, an affiliate, is selected by the Ed.D. student and serves as a the site-based or external local resource, and attends both the proposal and dissertation presentation. The affiliate does not have approval authority but provides support along the way as requested by the student.

Students’ lead advisor and secondary advisor will review all related work and support students’ development as a scholar. Each team makes different arrangements regarding “taking the lead” as first reader or methodologist, depending on the nature of the study and their expertise.

Administrative Support

UNE Online’s distinct and dedicated student support specialists will continue to reach out to students each term as they have throughout the program. Student support specialists are excellent resources who assist students with administrative tasks related to their program and respond to any immediate concerns students may have along the way. 

The Assistant Director of the Doctor of Education Program and the Director of the Graduate Programs in Education, along with faculty and staff, are also available to students as resources for academic and other matters.



If you have any questions about the graduate programs in Education coursework or the program requirements, please speak to one of our enrollment counselors at the email or phone number below.