Topic 2: Overview of the Dissertation Process
What are the key deadlines you should be tracking? Perhaps the syllabus for 792 outlines the due dates for drafts of components of chapters one, two and three. If so, those are good deadlines to follow. However, they are in place to keep you on track to the more significant deadlines: defending your proposal, defending your final draft, and uploading the draft into the University's system. So let's work backwards:
When will my degree be conferred? USC confers degrees three times a year: May, August and December. While the final defense is a major milestone, you are not really done until the University has accepted your draft (meaning, that you have uploaded it and received verification from the University). And that upload date triggers the date of the conferral of your degree by the University. As an example, below is the schedule for a May conferral:
Degree Conferral Date: May (year of graduation)
Deadline to upload thesis or dissertation manuscript: First of April (day and time sensitive)
Deadline to submit completed documents, including signatures: End of March (day and time sensitive)
Notice that there are two tasks: the submission of "completed documents” (these include your signature pages from your defense, which, when signed and dated, indicate that the draft is done except for very minor edits). That deadline comes about 2 MONTHS before conferral date (which, for the Spring conferral, is usually the day of Commencement).
Think about that for a minute. To be able to turn in the forms that indicate that virtually no more revisions are needed, two months before Commencement, you would need to defend AND complete any revisions well in advance. The second deadline is the upload deadline, which is about 6 weeks before the conferral date.
What do I have to do, academically, to participate in Commencement? The faculty has determined that in order to participate in Commencement in May, a student would need for each of the three conferral dates (May, August, December), to turn in final documents about two months prior and upload a completed document about six weeks prior. Therefore, most Ed.D. students aim for the August conferral date, which means defending before June, turning in your documents no later than about mid-June, and uploading around the first of July. If you follow those deadlines, you will have graduated in 3 years! Thus, for an August conferral date, students would have:
- successfully defended their proposal;
- completed the IRB process;
- completed any data collection;
- submitted a solid draft of the remaining chapters; and either have defended the full dissertation or have a defense scheduled that would permit uploading by July 1.