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EdD Capstone Research

At UIC, as in other research institutions, the professional doctorate is distinguished from the research doctorate in several ways.  For example, professional doctorates in Medicine (MD), or Occupational Therapy (OTD), or Education (EdD) are different from the PhD in that the goal is not to prepare and develop researchers, but to prepare and develop the highest level of practitioner in each respective field.  The final or capstone demonstration of knowledge and skills In these fields is therefore not a research dissertation, but a demonstration of other kinds of professional practice capacities. With permission, an EdD student may elect to write a PhD-style research dissertation, but the degree will remain an EdD.

UIC’s EdD Program is grounded in the view that the highest levels of professional practice in school leadership require advanced capacities in practitioner inquiry—capacities for asking the right questions in organizational change efforts, pursuing the right information to answer them, analyzing the information collected, and using the results of that analysis in effective ways.  These are among the core capacities that we seek to develop in the EdD program. The final capstone project is a demonstration of disciplined practitioner inquiry that integrates practice with theory, research, and analytic skills and dispositions.  More specifically, the capstone thesis is intended to be a case study of the processes and outcomes of organizational change intended to improve student learning.  Most candidates focus on their schools as the organizations to be studied, but students working at the district level may choose to focus on the district or portion of the district as the case.

EdD capstones typically do not require normal IRB approval.  Instead, each semester the EDPS department submits an IRB Determination Form to determine whether any of the capstone projects scheduled for proposal defense that semester require formal human subjects review.  Typically, this determination process identifies capstone studies as not requiring formal review because the cases are constructed with publicly available data that does not require participation of human subjects.

EdD capstone inquiry is therefore different from PhD dissertation research, yet similar in a number of ways.  For example, the thesis proposal and completed capstone project will be evaluated and approved by the doctoral candidate's capstone advisor and a faculty committee, but for the EdD capstone, the final defense committee is three members, not five.  And similar to the dissertation process, the Policy Studies Department supports the doctoral candidate’s formal constitution of this committee by submitting the Committee Recommendation Form to the Office of Student Services at least three weeks before the proposal defense and the final capstone defense.

When EdD candidates distribute their completed capstone to committee members prior to the final defense, they must also submit a copy to the College of Education Office of Student Services for review by the Policy Studies Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Along with the thesis, doctoral candidates must submit an approved IRB protocol, or any approved determinations or amendments, and a blank copy of consent and assent forms if they were used in the study.  The main purpose of the DGS review is to make sure that OPRS Determination procedures were followed, and that any assurances that were made to research participants about anonymity and confidentiality are honored in the final write-up.  The DGS will notify your capstone committee chair if there are issues that need to be addressed.

A candidate’s capstone project cannot be approved by the review committee if more than one committee member fails to approve the thesis.  You should be aware that it is not uncommon for review committees to require that additional work on the capstone be done before the committee gives its final approval.

Although EdD students will want to check with the EDPS capstone advisor for any changes, the current checklist for steps needed to graduate is as follows.

Checklist for Completion of Graduation - Doctoral Candidates Heading link

_____ Apply for graduation for term during the term registration period, through the third week (second week in summer) of the term.  The Intent to Graduate is available online, through the my.UIC Web Portal, or Student Self-Service.

_____ Finalize any issues with formation of my Defense Committee with department

_____ Verify with department that my preference for my name and capstone project title are correctly typed on the Committee Recommendation Form

_____ Verify with department that they submit the Committee Recommendation Form to the Graduate College a minimum three weeks before proposed defense date

_____ Write an abstract of the capstone –include with the body of the capstone as a separate document, just as the red-bordered Certificates of Approval and other documents will later be included

_____ After successful defense, verify that the Examination Report and the Certificates of Approval are endorsed by the Chairperson, Department Head, and members of the committee

_____ Obtain fully endorsed Certificates of Approval from department (Examination Report should be sent to the Graduate College by your program within forty-eight hours of defense)

_____ Submit final defended capstone project to advisor or departmental designee for format approval, making any corrections as they may indicate

_____Obtain endorsed Departmental/Program Format Approval Form after format cleared by program

_____ Place the Certificates of Approval as the top page of each copy of the capstone

_____ Place three copies of completed, final capstone (with Certificates of Approval) into individual manila envelopes:  one of these identical copies is for the student, one for the EDPS Department, and one for the project advisor.

_____ A few weeks after the term ends and grades are posted a congratulatory letter will be received, assuming all requirements are completed, or notification of a problem