Each candidate for the doctoral degree is required to prepare and defend a Dissertation. The dissertation is a scholarly project that represents the results of original and significant research that is grounded in the current scientific literature related to the field. The candidate must demonstrate the ability to conceive, design, conduct, interpret, and disseminate independent, original, and publication-worthy empirical research. The Dissertation Defense is the culmination of the doctoral program.


After successful completion of the practicum and internship, students will:

  1. Register for either COUC 870 or COUC 871 [Advanced Quantitative or Qualitative Research Seminar (three hours)].
  2. Form their Dissertation Committee.
    • The student’s Dissertation Chair will guide him or her through the research process.
    • The committee chair and other members must be from the graduate program department of the CCFS.
  3. Register for COUC 989 [Dissertation Proposal and Research (three hours)]
    • Continue to enroll for three credit hours of COUC 989 until their chair determines that they are ready to defend the dissertation (at least two terms).
    • International students who need to maintain 6 hours may take up to 6 dissertation hours per semester.
  4. When the chair gives permission to do so, the student will register for three credit hours of COUC 990 Dissertation Defense.
    • Any student who does not finish his/her dissertation in six credit hours will need to remain enrolled in COUC 989 for consecutive semesters until the chair of their dissertation committee has approved them for defense.
    • Failure to maintain continual enrollment could result in dismissal from the program.

Dissertation Defense

Students will first orally defend their dissertation proposal (first three chapters) and then defend their full dissertation (five full chapters). The final oral dissertation defense is primarily an opportunity to share the research and address questions and challenges about the research.


  • Open to the public
  • Held on campus
  • Scheduled a minimum of one month following approval

See Dissertation Handbook for further information.