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What You Need to Know: SNU’s Dissertation Process

Dissertation Blog

Earning a doctoral degree is no longer a pie-in-the-sky aspiration. In less than 32 months, SNU’s EdD in Administration and Leadership prepares you to become an expert leader in your organization and inspire meaningful change. Plus, you can choose to complete this program entirely online or in-person.

But if you’re like many students considering a doctorate, the first thing that comes to mind is the daunting dissertation. You’ve heard stories about how much work it is and wonder how you could possibly fit that into your life and schedule.

At SNU, we use what’s called an embedded dissertation process, allowing you to start chipping away at it from day one—rather than dreading it until the end. Beyond the support of your cohort, you’ll also have an entire team of faculty and administrators to guide you through the journey.

To give you the clarity you need, we’ve answered 10 common questions about our dissertation process and what you can expect.

What does “embedded dissertation” mean?

In our EdD program, the dissertation is completed simultaneously as you complete coursework. A traditional doctoral program follows a format of completing coursework while leaving the dissertation at the end. At SNU, you’ll begin working on your dissertation from the beginning. Many courses have dissertation components that build into the completed study by the time you graduate. There are 15 three-hour courses and 12 hours of dissertation for a total of 57 hours to complete the program.

How does the dissertation process work?

You will begin the process of identifying a topic to study in the first course of the program—and begin building a research collection around a problem that exists in your field related to the topic. Many courses in the program have dissertation components built into the assignments, discussions, and course content. Dissertation courses have a specific set of requirements to be completed each semester during the 32-month program. 

Do I need to have a dissertation topic before I enroll?

No, you do not need a dissertation topic to enroll, but it is highly recommended to at least have an idea for a topic. Your assigned dissertation director will work closely with you to identify a researchable topic and help you to refine the problem statement, which is the foundation of your study. 

Am I on my own in the dissertation process?

You are not on your own as a student in this program. You’ll have an assigned Dissertation Director and an assigned Dissertation Chairperson at the appropriate time. In addition, you’ll have an editor on your dissertation committee who will assist with aligning academic writing skills on the graduate level and the application of APA 7th edition.

Can I really complete the coursework and dissertation in just 32 months?

Yes, you can complete the coursework and dissertation in the 32 months if all timelines and criteria are met for coursework and dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Directors will guide you through the process so all requirements for completion are communicated.

How much time will I spend each week on course work?

This number will vary depending on the individual student. Generally speaking, an average of 10-12 hours per week is necessary to be successful in the program. The amount of time spent could also depend on the specific course, the timeframe of the program requirements, and the individual student. 

What if I need extra help with my writing?

You will have a Dissertation Editor to assist with academic writing voice and the alignment of APA. However, if you need assistance with writing skills, the program has professional editors who may be contracted with (on their own) to assist with overall writing.

What if I have a vacation or conference planned during a course?

Attendance and engagement in a doctoral program is imperative and required in this program. However, we all understand there are times when professional or personal events happen. If you’re taking classes in-person, you will need to make arrangements with your instructor if you need to be away and possibly Zoom into class. You will be expected to continue meeting assignment deadlines even if you are unable to attend class. If you choose to enroll fully online, you can take your classes and coursework with you wherever you go.

How many students will be in my classes?

The cohort model can range from 14 to 24. Our average cohort size in the doctoral program is approximately 18 students, but this number can vary. 

Will we ever have to meet in-person?

If you’re part of an online cohort, you will not be required to attend or meet in-person, but we do have an optional orientation at SNU in Bethany, Oklahoma before the cohort begins. We also have an optional summer post-orientation weekend after the first and second years for the online students to attend. The Dissertation Directors also use Zoom for meetings to update and stay connected with the online cohorts.


You have what it takes.

Fitting a doctoral program in your life has never been easier. There will always be reasons to keep putting it off. But with built-in support from SNU and a determined focus to reach your goals, you have what it takes. When it comes to balancing a busy life, you don’t have to compromise. Choose a university that enables you to live life more fully with a degree program you can manage.

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