Doctorate Degrees without Dissertation

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PhD without dissertation options are available for those looking to complete their education without the traditional classroom study and testing. Sometimes, proving your knowledge goes beyond exams. Typically, completing a dissertation is part of earning a doctorate. For those aiming for a professional career in research or academia, obtaining a PhD (doctorate degree) is often essential. Before you embark on this journey, consider what a dissertation entails and explore degree programs that do not require one.

What is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is a document that summarizes the research completed. Many times, this is the final step of a PhD program. It brings together everything you learned and researched into one written document during your doctoral studies.

In many ways, completing a dissertation takes a lot of time, but it may also be a rewarding experience. It may be something you are proud of once it is complete.

The objective of a doctoral program is often to help the student become knowledgeable in the field and become an independent researcher. During the initial part of the process, students may work to narrow down the research topic into a very specific view. Their goal is to not just research any topic but to complete a research project that contributes to the knowledge of the field chosen. Sometimes students may work to deepen previous studies through their own research.

By the time the coursework for the doctoral degree is complete and formal research is wrapped up – which may take years – at that point, the student develops their dissertation. Prior to this, students typically need approval for the dissertation and may have a mentor overseeing them. There’s a long process to get started and to complete the dissertation.

It’s easy to see why some students may be looking for a doctoral degree without a required dissertation. The good news is there are some doctoral degrees without dissertation requirements.

Do all Doctorates Require a dissertation?

No, some PhD programs may not require students to complete a dissertation. These programs may still require research projects, and some may have other requirements for completion, but a formal, written dissertation may not be a requirement.

There are some fields that may not require a dissertation. If you are studying in one of these areas, you may not have to complete one. Keep in mind, too, that it is really up to the program itself and the school. However, sometimes there is a dissertation in these fields if the program requires it.

Some examples of programs that may not require a dissertation include:

  • Juris doctorates, law degree (JD)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Management (DM)
  • Doctor of Leadership

One of the more common paths for doctoral study that often does not require a PhD dissertation is that of the Doctorate in Leadership. This path is rather new when considering all other types of doctorate degrees. There are various types of leadership PhDs such as those in organizational leadership, higher education leadership, and leadership and management.

Many doctoral programs require a dissertation. Students in these fields may not have to complete one, but it may be necessary to do so unless this is a chosen path for you.

Who Decides If a Dissertation is Necessary?

It is usually up to the college or university that offers the PhD program to determine if a dissertation is a part of the process. This may be done as the professors and educational board develop that educational curriculum and program for students. Keep in mind that a dissertation may not always be required, but there may be other types of educational requirements or steps required to complete a doctoral degree.

Schools often communicate the requirements for a dissertation with students prior to their enrollment. Many times, there is comprehensive preparation for such programs. For example, if a dissertation is a requirement, the college or university may outline this in the curriculum presented to the student prior to enrollment. In other words, you typically know what the requirements are prior to starting your education.

Colleges and universities often develop educational programs they think students benefit from based on the coursework completed. Therefore, many colleges may create programs with a wide range of topics and in-depth education. They often want students to not only become knowledgeable but to enjoy the process. That is why some dissertations now are not required.

Often, professional doctorate programs that do not require a doctorate still require some type of program completion. One example of this is a doctoral capstone. This capstone often still puts a lot of focus on a student’s ability to research and develop insights into the industry. A doctoral capstone may still be quite challenging, too.

Capstones typically include some type of deliverable, such as a portfolio or a publishable paper. It also often includes a final report or presentation, which typically includes a lot of information and research. The doctoral program typically explains what is necessary to complete a capstone as this may change from one college to the next.

How Do You Find a College Offering a PhD without Dissertation?

Start with knowing what type of PhD program you plan to take. Then, seek out a university that does not require a dissertation in that particular field of study. You may use our website to help you locate programs that may fit your needs here, including many of the colleges that do not require a dissertation from students in various fields.

As you look for colleges that do not require a dissertation, keep in mind that it is critical to learn what they do require. A doctoral capstone often still requires a good amount of work. Other doctoral programs may include other ways to complete the program that may be just as intense. Some could require testing, too.

The key here is to know what is expected of you prior to heading into the PhD program. Since this typically takes several years to complete, you want to be sure you know what to expect throughout the process.

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