Graduation Success and Timely Completion
The pursuit of a doctorate includes two major activities that are required for graduation. A doctorate generally requires a major research project, such as a dissertation, in addition to a series of courses. The dissertation represents the culminating project of a doctorate in which the student uses existing research in order to discover new knowledge. In most doctoral programs the dissertation process resides at the end of the course sequencing, after traditional course work has been completed. This can lead to extended time frames for completion as students often encounter feelings of isolation and low motivation levels for taking on such a task "alone". It is also the point in a degree program where most students fail.
The UMHB EdD has a level of success as measured by graduation rates that far exceeds that of many other doctoral programs. National statistics on the graduation of doctoral students are generally fairly bleak. In spite of the fact that doctoral programs primarily require a strong record of academic skill and quality for admission, it is widely estimated that between 40% and 50% of doctoral students fail to complete their degree (Berelson, 1960; Bowen & Redenstine, 1992; Golde, 2005). An additional challenge to doctoral students is the length of time to completion. While the coursework for most doctorates can be completed in less than three years, a variety of complications lead to an estimated 9% of all doctoral students completing a degree through graduation within four years (Council of Graduate Schools, 2008).
The UMHB EdD program encourages and facilitates the timely completion of high quality, relevant dissertation research. The program sequence incorporates 9 hours of research and statistics courses in the first 18 months of the program, followed by 6 hours of dissertation courses in the last 18 months. Culminating products for these courses are intentionally and strategically aligned to the dissertation process. Therefore, students are consistently guided and mentored on their individual projects throughout their time in the program, from beginning to end.
In contrast to national trends in doctoral programs, the UMHB EdD program has a history of producing graduates in a high percentage and in a relatively short time period. Throughout its existence, the doctoral program has had a majority of its students complete their degrees within 4 years. For example, over 68% of the students who began the program in the summer of 2009 had completely earned their degrees by May of 2012. This superior performance may be related to intensive personal advising that each student receives and the embedded dissertation process that begins in the first semester of study.
Researching Professional vs. Professional Researcher
A doctoral degree expresses the obtainment of the highest degree of achievement within a specific field. At its core, the degree not only entails an extended period of knowledge consumption but also an evolution of the learner to the point in which they can add to the existing body of knowledge through research. According to Taylor (2008) doctorates are awarded to students that have demonstrated an acquisition and understanding of existing knowledge and also the creation and interpretation of new knowledge. The applied doctorate on the other hand focuses on training individuals for applied fields. The Doctor of Medicine and the Doctor of Education are two examples of applied doctorates as they use research in order to better practice their craft.
Individuals are often attracted to professional doctorates for their perceived “relevancy” to their field (Neumann 2005), in which most students have prior experience before enrolling. One of the key differences lies within this facet, due to most professional doctorate students being more experienced and serving as part time students while continuing their full time profession (Neumann, 2005). These students wish to increase their base knowledge and their ability to conduct applicable research to their chosen field in order to develop into more complete professionals.The UMHB EdD attempts to create educators that are researching professionals that are equipped to make informed decisions in an applied realm.
Berelson, B. (1960). Graduate education in the United States. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Bowen, W. & Rudenstine, N. (1992). In pursuit of the PhD. Princeton, HJ: Princeton University Press.
Council of Graduate Schools. (2008). Ph.D. completion and attrition: Analysis of baseline program data from the Ph.D. Completion Project. Washington, DC
Golde, C. (2005). The role of the department and discipline in doctoral student attrition: Lessons from four departments. Journal of Higher Education, 76(6), 669-700.
Lovitts, B. (2001). Leaving the ivory tower: The causes and consequences of departure from doctoral study (1st ed.). New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Neumann, R. (2005). Doctoral Differences: Professional doctorates and PhDs compared. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 27(2), 173-188.
Taylor, J. (2008). Quality and Standards: The challenge of the professional doctorate. Higher Education in Europe, 33(1), 65-87.