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The emphasis of a Doctorate of Education is upon the application of theory to the improvements of practice. The test of knowledge is the ability to demonstrate applicability to a variety of situations. Emphasis is upon the development of decision-oriented skills in which the person applies theory and knowledge to the solution of problems. A person holding the Ed.D. is a practitioner, but one whose practice is drawn from a highly developed, scholarly study of theory coupled with skills of analysis which permits direct application of that theory. 

Graduates of the doctoral program are expected to have sufficient depth of knowledge in a research strategy to carry through an entire research project, ordinarily the dissertation. The Dissertation Committee will consider at the time the dissertation proposal is presented for approval whether the student has sufficient understanding and skill to carry out the proposed research design and methodology, is appropriately relating the research design to the problem, and fully understands the necessary research assumptions and skills before embarking on data gathering.  

The dissertation will be a field-based study that involves application of theory to practice. The laboratory for students in the Ed.D. program is their workplace, where research can be conducted that links theory to practice in the Scholar-Practitioner model. Most dissertations will likely follow an action research model which is a systematic process of inquiry into one’s practice and actions, with application of theory and knowledge in proposing small-scale innovations in their practices, studying the consequences and making evidence-based arguments for promoting improvement (Olson & Clark, 2009).   

Students will be expected to work collaboratively as members of the learning community, and joint research by several students on an approved area of interest/topic will be encouraged. 

The dissertation will carry nine (9) credit hours upon successful completion and acceptance by the Dissertation Committee and the Office of Graduate Studies.

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