Skip Top Navigation

Doctoral Examination and Dissertation

Doctoral Examination

A doctoral examination is required as the student nears completion of coursework in the doctoral program. The examination is designed to ensure that the student has a firm foundation of knowledge and application in the three core areas of the program. Successful completion of the doctoral examination attests to the student's ability to undertake independent research and marks the student's Advancement to Candidacy. Advancement to Candidacy is required before the student may defend a dissertation proposal.

Those interested in applying should contact COE's Office of Academic Advising in Bayou 1231 (by phone at 281-283-3600 or by e-mail at The deadline for application is March 15; however, early admission is available. Contact COE's Office of Academic Advising for details.


The capstone experience of the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is the writing of a dissertation. Once a doctoral student has been advanced to candidacy, he or she can begin the process of getting a doctoral proposal approved. While the dissertation proposal may not be formally approved prior to being advanced to candidacy, students are advised to begin consideration of possible dissertation topics and conducting preliminary literature reviews as early in the program as possible. It is to the student’s advantage to have a plausible dissertation topic in mind at the time the student is advanced to candidacy.

Once the proposal is approved and all other approvals have been granted (for example, from the site where the data will be gathered, from the participants in the study, from UHCL's Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, etc.), the student can begin the actual study. The point to be made is that one should allow at least one year for the completion of one’s dissertation. Since UHCL's Ed.D. uses the practitioner-research model, the Texas Higher Education Coordinator Board says the following in describing an appropriate dissertation:

The dissertation may be appropriately related to the immediate operational program of the schools, either in an analysis and solution format or in a application of theory or research context. The professional degree in Education, as with other professions, should emphasize problem solving or applied research.

It is important that the student work with his or her dissertation chair  to create the best possible dissertation committee. The student and the dissertation committee work together to develop the dissertation. When the dissertation is completed and with the approval of the dissertation chair, an oral defense of the dissertation will be scheduled for the student with the dissertation committee. Completion of the dissertation requirement will occur when the dissertation is approved by the dissertation committee and copies have been submitted to the university as required by policy.

A student must enroll for a minimum of six hours of dissertation credits to fulfill degree requirements. A student also must be continuously enrolled in a minimum of three hours of dissertation credits from the semester in which the dissertation proposal is approved through the semester in which the student graduates.

Before being permitted to register for dissertation hours, a doctoral student must have advanced to candidacy (after successfully passing the doctoral comprehensive exam). Students register for dissertation hours each long semester until completion of their dissertation writing. Only six hours of dissertation are required in the doctoral program, however, students may take more than six hours if they do not complete their dissertation after two full semesters.

Dissertation Resources



  • Office of Admissions

    Phone: 281-283-2500
    Fax: 281-283-2522

    SSCB 1.101
    2700 Bay Area Blvd, Box 13
    Houston, TX 77058-1002

    Office Hours:
    Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.