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Dissertation Defense

 

Doctoral students at Westcliff University are required to prove scholarly competency through a (1) Preliminary and (2) Final Defense. The defenses require doctoral students to present their dissertation research in a detailed and logical manner to demonstrate mastery, rationale, and justification. The Dissertation Chair and Committee Members are present at both defenses and sign upon approval of a successful defense.

Process of the Defense

The Preliminary Defense

In the Preliminary Defense, the doctoral student will provide the completed proposal and a clear presentation of their dissertation research. The Dissertation Chair and Committee Members are present. After the defense is successfully completed, the doctoral candidate may proceed to completing the IRB application.

Eligibility

Students are eligible for the Preliminary Defense after the initial Committee Member review and Chair approval of the first three chapters of the dissertation. 

Scheduling

Once eligible for the Preliminary Defense, the Dissertation Chair will arrange the meeting for the defense and send the dissertation documents to the Dissertation Committee Members, the Program Chair, and Dissertation Director two weeks prior to the defense. The Dissertation Chair will notify the student of the finalized time, place, and date for the defense.

For students beginning Fall 1, 2022, once eligible for the Preliminary Defense, the Chair will sign the Preliminary Defense Readiness Form. This form will be email to the Dissertation Department. The Dissertation Department will schedule the defense date.

 

Process

The preliminary defense is an oral presentation of the proposed research. It will consist of:

  • 30-40 minutes for the presentation with a PowerPoint
  • 15 minutes of questions from the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members
  • Dissertation Chair and Committee Members will meet to review the results of the defense
  • Dissertation Chair will schedule a meeting after the results are finalized to discuss next steps

Materials

Prior to the Preliminary Defense, students should be sure to have:

  • Sent the Dissertation Chair the final version of the Proposal (Chapters 1-3).
  • Created a professional PowerPoint that helps to guide the audience through the defense (Do not simply read off of the slides). In the defense, faculty members can ask questions about what the student has developed to date and make sure that the student fully understands their field and focus area.
  • (For help, refer to this Professional Powerpoint Tutorial or set an appointment with a Graduate Writing Center Specialist to review the PowerPoint)
  • Come prepared for questions from your Dissertation Chair and Committee Members (see common questions here)

Final Defense

In the Final Defense, the doctoral candidate will present their dissertation research to assess the merits of the completed dissertation research and the ability of the doctoral candidate to interpret and explain research results and implications, explain the rationale for the research and methodology used, and justification for how this work adds to the current body of research available on the topic. In the final defense, the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members, Program Chair, Dissertation Coordinator, and guests (upon approval) may be present.

Eligibility

Students are eligible for the Final Defense after the secondary Committee Member read-through and Chair approval of all  five chapters of the dissertation. 

Scheduling

Once eligible for the final defense, the Dissertation Chair will arrange the meeting for the defense and send the dissertation documents to the Dissertation Committee Members, the Program Chair, and Dissertation Director two weeks prior to the defense. Your Chair will notify the student of the finalized time, place, and date for the defense.

For students beginning Fall 1, 2022, once eligible for the Final Defense, the Chair will sign the Final Defense Readiness Form. This form will be email to the Dissertation Department. The Dissertation Department will schedule the defense date.

Process

The final defense is an oral presentation of the completed research. It will consist of:

  • 30-40 minutes for the presentation using a PowerPoint slide deck
  • 15 minutes for questions from the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members, Program Chair and/or Dissertation Coordinator
  • 15 minutes for the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members, Program Chair and/or Dissertation Coordinator to meet and review the results
  • 10 minutes for the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members to review the results with the student
  • 10 minutes for the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members to conclude the defense

Evaluation

To see how the oral defenses are evaluated, please refer to the DBA Programs Handbook. Ensure you cover the five chapters, and specifically: literature review, research methodology, data collection process, results and analysis, discussions, conclusions, and recommendations. Students must be able to respond fully to questions on any aspect of the research conducted.

Materials

Prior to the final defense, students should ensure they have:

  • Sent their Chair the most finalized versions of chapters 1-5 and the associated addendums and appendices
  • Created a professional PowerPoint that helps to guide you through your defense (do not simply read off of the slides. In the defense, students need to prove that they know the information and can take mastery over it). (For help, refer to this Professional Powerpoint Tutorial or set an appointment with a Graduate Writing Center Specialist to review the PowerPoint)
  • Prepared for questions from the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members, Program Chair and Dissertation Coordinator (see common questions here)
  • Have had the final document edited.

After the Defense

After the defense, the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members will provide one of the three responses (for more information, consult the DBA Programs Handbook): pass, pass with revisions, or fail.

Pass

If a student receives a pass, the dissertation will have been approved in its entirety (omitting any minor editorial changes in formatting). You will proceed forward with the final steps prior to clearance for graduation.

These steps are followed:

  • Submit the final edited version of the dissertation to your Committee Chair
  • The final document will be reviewed by the Committee to determine quality of writing and formatting is sufficient
  • Complete the Doctoral Research Approval Form
    • Final Submission of Doctoral Research
    • Approval from the IRB
    • Copyright form

Pass with Revisions

If a student receives a pass with revisions, they will be required to make specific revisions to the dissertation prior to receiving a pass.

These steps are followed:

  • Resubmit the revised and edited version of the dissertation to your Dissertation Chair and Committee
  • The final document will be reviewed by the Committee
  • If approved, the doctoral candidate will receive a pass (see process above after receiving a pass)
  • If not approved, the student will fail

Fail

If a student receives a fail from the Committee, they must remediate their dissertation and resubmit.

These steps are followed:

  • Resubmit the revised edited version of the dissertation to the Dissertation Chair
  • Submit the Final Defense Readiness Form to the Dissertation Department
  • If the defense is passed, the student will submit the final documents as per the guidelines above.

Timeline

Doctoral students must complete their degree (be cleared for graduation) within 200% of the published program length. For the three year degree, this would be within 6 years. The maximum timeframe for the completion of a doctoral degree is 7 years. Should a student need to request an extension based on hardship, a one-year extension can be granted by the Dean of the College of Business.

Questions

For questions about the dissertation sequence or any academic concerns, please contact your Chair.
For administrative questions about the dissertation sequence, please contact the Dissertation Director.
For questions about the IRB, please contact the IRB Chair.

Dr. La Juan Fuller, Program Chair – lajuanfuller@westcliff.edu
Dr. Colleen Meyer, Dissertation Coordinator – dissertationdept@westcliff.edu
Dr. Brett Gordon, IRB Coordinator – brettgordon@westcliff.edu