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Doctoral Milestones

During a student’s studies in the EDRE program, a number of milestones mark progress toward degree completion.


Annual Evaluations

An evaluation of doctoral students in EDRE is conducted toward the end of the spring semester of each academic year. The purpose of the evaluation is to ensure that each student is making adequate progress toward the program milestones. This evaluation involves the review of courses taken, grades earned, progress toward milestones, and professional accomplishments. Professional accomplishments should be documented with full citations and following APA style guidelines.

If a student fails to make satisfactory progress toward the degree, permission to continue may be denied. In accordance with Graduate School policy, this denial decision may be initiated by the Advisory Committee and may be recommended to the Graduate School. A grade of less than B in any course in the program of study is viewed as less than satisfactory unless the student can demonstrate a conceptual knowledge of the material through other means. The Advisory Committee may also request a conference with any student during the academic year.

Relevant FormsSatisfactory Progress Form

Plan of Study

Upon entry into the program, each student is assigned a temporary advisor. The temporary advisor guides the student on course selection, potential directions for research, and the identification of potential faculty members who can contribute to those research efforts. After completing one full-time semester of coursework (or the equivalent), students formalize their plan of study under the guidance of the advisor.

Relevant Forms: Change of Advisor or Committee, Course Justification Request, PhD/EdD Degree - Proposed Plan of Study, Request for Plan of Study Changes

Qualifying Examination

Prior to the Qualifying Examination, in consultation with his or her advisor, each student forms an advisory committee that will help to guide the student's initial research efforts. Selection of committee members should be guided by the members' expertise and made jointly by the student and the advisor. The committee consists of four members and must (a) be chaired by an advisor who is an EDRE faculty member, (b) contain a minimum of two additional EDRE faculty members and, (c) may, under unusual circumstances, include non-EDRE members who are approved by the Graduate School.

The Qualifying Examination includes a written component and an oral component. The written component of the Qualifying Examination includes (a) a Statement of Intent and (b) a completed Plan of Study. The Statement of Intent should normally be two to four pages (double spaced) in length and address four major topics: (a) relevant educational, professional, and personal background; (b) current research interests; (c) expertise and specific skills sought through completion of the Ph.D. program in EDRE (i.e., area of focus, methodological and other expertise, specific training and skills resulting from coursework or other program experiences); and (d) career goals and, if relevant, long-term research goals, and the ways in which obtaining a Ph.D. in EDRE will contribute to the achievement of these goals. The oral component of the Qualifying Examination includes (a) a brief (ten-minute), informal presentation by the student that focuses on the four major topics addressed in the Statement of Intent; (b) discussion of the Statement of Intent, including committee members' questions or comments about its content; (c) the Advisory Committee Chair's presentation of the Plan of Study; and (d) discussion of the Plan of Study, including committee members' questions or comments about its content. After the completion of the Qualifying Examination, each committee member assesses the student's performance using the Qualifying Examination Evaluation Rubric

Relevant Forms: Results of Qualifying Examination; Sample Statement of Intent

Research Apprenticeship (recommended but not required)
All EDRE students are expected to develop the skills and expertise to design, conduct, and report a research project. The apprenticeship is designed to help the student to develop these skills and to be prepared to design, conduct, and report dissertation research. It is a guided research project completed through an independent study with a faculty member in EDRE. It culminates in either a research presentation at a conference and/or a manuscript that can be submitted to a journal for publication. At the discretion of the advisor and with agreement from members of the advisory committee, it can also count toward the core course requirements or toward the students' chosen focus area.  
Preliminary Examination

When a student has completed at least 80% of the coursework in the formal plan of study (including most, if not all, of the required core research courses) and the advisor has certified the satisfactory completion of the research apprenticeship, the student is eligible with the consent of the advisor to schedule the Preliminary Examination.

The Advisory Committee for the Preliminary Examination consists of four members and must (a) be chaired by the EDRE advisor and, (b) contain a minimum of two additional EDRE faculty members. It may also include non-EDRE members who have been approved by the Graduate School. The selection of committee members should be guided by each committee members' expertise and such decisions should be made jointly by the student and the advisor. 

The EDRE Preliminary Examination contains two components: (a) a written component, consisting of questions that are written and graded by individual Advisory Committee members or, in some cases, other EDRE faculty who are not committee members but who supply a question, if needed; and (b) an oral component. The written component of the Preliminary Examination assesses mastery of EDRE content  and depth of knowledge in the chosen focus area, and it affords the student with an opportunity to strengthen any deficiencies prior to the dissertation phase of the program. The oral component of the Preliminary Examination focuses on both EDRE content knowledge and the development of an initial dissertation topic and identifying members of the Dissertation Committee.

Following the written and oral components of the Preliminary Examination each committee member completes a Preliminary Exam Rubric to assess the student's performance.

Relevant Forms: Request to Admit Candidate to Preliminary Examination (Note that this form must be submitted to the Office of Academic Programs in the School of Education at least three weeks prior to the date of the Preliminary Examination.)

Prospectus Examination

When the student has completed courses listed on the plan of study and pass the preliminary examination, he or she forms a Dissertation Committee. Depending on the student's research interests, the membership of the Dissertation Committee may differ from that of the Advisory Committee. As always, the selection of committee members should be guided by each committee member's expertise, and such decisions should be made jointly by the student and the advisor.

The Dissertation Committee is normally chaired (or co-chaired) by a full-time EDRE faculty member and contains two additional faculty members from EDRE who have appropriate expertise. The fourth member of the committee may be a faculty member in another program or an administrator who has appropriate expertise and who has been approved by the Graduate School.

The Prospectus Examination, which is normally one to two semesters after the Preliminary Examination, provides the student with the opportunity to present a formal dissertation proposal to the Dissertation Committee. The student develops the dissertation proposal under the guidance of the Chair of the Dissertation Committee, and the document must be distributed to committee members at least two weeks prior to the Prospectus Examination. Following the prospectus examination, each committee member complete a prospectus exam rubric to assess the student's performance. 

Relevant Forms: Non-Virginia Tech Committee Member, Request to Schedule Dissertation Prospectus Examination (Note that this form must be submitted to the Office of Academic Programs in the School of Education at least three weeks prior to the date of the Prospectus Examination.), Results of Dissertation Prospectus Examination
Dissertation Research

EDRE Ph.D. students must take a minimum of 30 hours of dissertation research credit during their studies.

Final Examination

The final examination, administered by the Dissertation Committee, is taken no less than six months after the preliminary examination has been passed and no less than one semester after the prospectus examination has been passed. It serves as the culminating experience in the student's program, wherein he or she presents and defends the dissertation research. The student conducts the dissertation research and writes the dissertation under the guidance of the Dissertation Committee. The student must distribute a final draft of the dissertation to all committee members at least five weeks prior to the intended date of defense. This draft is reviewed by committee members who will then sign the Request to Admit Candidate to Final Doctoral Examination form, which indicates that the dissertation is ready for defense three weeks prior to the Final Examination. The student must distribute the dissertation to be defended to the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks prior to the Final Examination. During the Final Examination, the student provides a brief oral presentation of his of her dissertation research and answers questions posed by Dissertation Committee members. Following the Final Examination, all committee members complete the EDRE final examination rubric to assess the student's performance. Please see the Graduate School’s website for information about upcoming commencement deadlines.

Relevant Forms: Application for Degree, Certification of Defending Student Status, Request to Admit Candidate to Final Doctoral Examination (Please note that this form must be submitted to the Office of Academic Programs in the School of Education at least three weeks prior to the date of the Final Examination.)

EDRE Residency Requirements

Each student must be engaged in full-time study during two consecutive academic year semesters in residence at the Blacksburg campus.

Relevant Forms: Change of Campus