Note: Once a prospectus is approved, a student is designated “Doctoral Candidate.”

Please recall that Middle and Secondary Doctoral Candidates must add 2 weeks reading time for the MSE Department Chair prior to sending announcement to Dr. Varjas’s office. Doctoral Candidates must submit a hard copy of the completed dissertation to the Chair of the Department of Middle and Secondary Education, Dr. Gertrude Tinker Sachs, two weeks prior to submitting the announcement to the Office of Academic Assistance for a total of four weeks prior to defense.

For your dissertation announcement, follow these steps:

  1. You send the dissertation document + the dissertation defense announcement with your dissertation chair’s signature on it to Ms. Bobbie Turner (bnturner@gsu.edu) at least 2 weeks prior to the deadline for the associate dean for graduate research (that deadline is 15 calendar days prior to the defense date).  This means that you send these items about 1 month prior to your defense date to Bobbie Turner.
  2. You send a copy of your full dissertation document at least 15 days prior to the defense to coedissertations@gsu.edu.
  3. Dr. Tinker Sachs reviews the documents (she will require a printed copy delivered to the office) and adds her signature. She sends it to Ms. Turner and she routes it to Dr. Varjas in time for the deadline.

Graduate Student Services Deadlines EDD-PHD 2024 Calendar

Doctoral Candidates  will demonstrate the ability to use research to promote student learning and to contribute to the teaching profession.  Doctoral Candidates:

  • Give evidence of the ability to apply theoretical insights and research findings to curriculum, instruction, and assessment in P-12 systems to improve student learning, classroom processes, and /or institutional practices.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use quantitative, qualitative and/or mixed research methods to investigate education problems and are able to articulate the findings in a variety of forums.


Successful production and defense of a dissertation is the culminating event of the student’s doctoral program.  The College of Education and Human Development faculty provides this guide to facilitate the substantive and technical aspects of those activities.  The student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee is responsible for facilitating thoughtful and scholarly development of the dissertation content. The format follows the Georgia State University College of Education and Human Development standard doctoral format. 

The dissertation will follow the approved dissertation format in the Georgia State University College of Education and Human Development.  The dissertation will consist of a research study contextualized in the PK-12 school, community, and/or family setting as approved by the student’s dissertation committee.  Be sure that you plan your schedule well for submission of documents and forms in a timely manner.  Instructions for this process are found on the Forms, Policies, and Regulations link. 

The culminating product of a student’s doctoral program, the dissertation is a substantial work of research that contributes significantly to the student’s field of study.  Developed through disciplined inquiry, the dissertation is the student’s original contribution to knowledge in his or her field.  Additionally, each dissertation must demonstrate the Doctoral Candidate’s

  • expertise in their field of study and the student’s ability to identify a significant research problem with their field of study;
  • ability to design and implement inquiry appropriate to the identified problem;
  • ability to present and synthesize the result of their inquiry results; and
  • understanding of the relevance of their conclusions to their field of study and implications for future inquiry.

Additionally, the Doctoral Candidate must orally defend their dissertation to their committee as well as to the faculty and guests invited by the committee.  The main purpose of the defense is to allow an opportunity for the faculty of the college to comment on the quality of the investigation and to judge the Doctoral Candidate’s ability to defend their conclusions.

Defending the Dissertation: The dissertation defense is scheduled on the main campus of the University during any academic term, between the first day of classes and the last day of final examinations, excluding holidays and term breaks.  The defense cannot be scheduled during a time when the university is not in session.  At the defense, the Doctoral Candidate presents their dissertation inquiry to demonstrate that it has met the requirements described in Part I of this guide (see above).  Students are encouraged to attend other Doctoral Candidates’ dissertation defenses prior to participating in their own.

The defense must be attended by no fewer than three members of the Dissertation Advisory Committee, and it is open to all College of Education and Human Development faculty and invited guests.  The committee will invite other faculty and guests present to question the candidate and communicate to the committee their professional reactions.

Approval and acceptance of the dissertation requires a favorable vote of the majority of the Dissertation Advisory Committee, but the majority must include no fewer than three members regardless of the size of the committee.  Should revisions to the dissertation be necessary, the student is required to make those changes in a timely manner and submit them to the Dissertation Advisory Committee for approval.

Dissertation Template Link

Commencement Ceremonies

Students who successfully complete the program requirements will be eligible to participate in the doctoral hooding ceremony at the College of Education and Human Development Commencement.