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Dissertation Information

The Helms School of Government’s doctoral programs are intended to make you an authority in your chosen field of research.

Each of our doctoral programs (in Criminal Justice, Public Administration, and Public Policy) consists of three main components:

  • A core of academic coursework designed to familiarize doctoral scholars with the intellectual foundations of their respective fields;
  • A series of methods courses used to prepare doctoral scholars to design and carry out their own original research;
  • A sequence of dissertation courses within which doctoral scholars will prepare their Research Concept paper and Dissertation Proposal, conduct their dissertation research and writing, and defend their dissertation.

If you are considering – or already pursuing – one of these degree programs, begin thinking about your dissertation topic, and your desired Chair and Reader, as early and as often as possible. Writing a dissertation is an intensive and extensive project! You will benefit greatly if you are able to begin your coursework with an understanding of how the content and methods you are learning are relevant to your own research interests. It will also help you to be conversing with your faculty about your research interests throughout the program.

Dissertation Requirements

You must have completed CJUS/PADM/PLCY 885: Research Concept before enrolling in CJUS/PADM/PLCY 987 Dissertation I.

In order to begin the dissertation process, the doctoral scholar must complete the “Dissertation Pairing Tool” form. This form requires you to announce your Chair and Reader prior to registering for 885: Research Concept.

Note: The doctoral scholar may complete this form as early as necessary to accommodate specific financial aid plans, but the form must be completed no later than the registration deadline of the term in which the doctoral scholar is to take 885: Research Concept. After the Dissertation Pairing Tool is approved, the doctoral scholar may then complete the “Registration Override (ROVER)” form through Beacon.

Dissertation Courses

There are five courses in the dissertation sequence.

  • 885: Research Concept
    • The candidate will engage a Chair and Reader.
    • The candidate will review and distill relevant content from coursework into a preliminary literature review.
    • The candidate will develop a preliminary research question and methodology.
  • 987: Dissertation I
    • This course is the first step for doctoral candidates in the process of developing and completing their research study and dissertation.
    • The candidate will develop the first section of the dissertation, which includes the Foundation of the Study, to include a detailed Literature Review relevant to the proposed research study.
  • 988: Dissertation II
    • This course is the second step for doctoral candidates to develop and complete their dissertation.
    • The candidate will develop the second section of the dissertation, which includes their methodology for conducting the study.
    • The candidate will also complete and submit their IRB package to complete their proposal defense.
  • 989: Dissertation III
    • This course is the final step in developing the dissertation manuscript.
    • The candidate will conduct the study, analyze data, and state their findings and develop the third section of their dissertation.
    • The candidate will combine all three sections into a completed dissertation manuscript in preparation for their dissertation defense.
  • 990: Dissertation IV
    • This course is the last step in the doctoral program.
    • The candidate will defend their dissertation before their Committee.
    • The candidate will make any revisions required by the Committee and finalize their dissertation manuscript for publication.

Writing Center

As a doctoral scholar, you are encouraged to take full advantage of the Graduate Writing Center/Online Writing Center when composing your thesis. These centers provide free services, links to writing aids, and valuable assistance that will help take you through the writing process.

Resource Links



Please contact the Doctoral Student Support Coordinator (HSOGDoctoralPrograms@liberty.edu) with questions.

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