The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

The Dissertation

Coursework, seminars, independent study, and research experience culminate in the development and execution of a student’s dissertation. Students work with an adviser during their residency years to assure that they are laying the foundation to achieve this goal. After submitting a passing comprehensive paper, students are eligible to name a four-person dissertation committee tailored to the needs of their specific dissertation topic. The committee members serve as mentors and guides through the dissertation process and always include a scholar from outside the Heller community

A Heller dissertation must be independent scholarly research that analyzes a significant social policy issue and makes an original contribution to the field. Students have the option of presenting the problem statement, review of literature, methodology, findings, and policy implications of their dissertation project as a traditional monograph-style dissertation, or may opt to prepare three publishable papers on related topics. Full-time doctoral students have 10 years from the date of entry into the program to complete all requirements for the degree, including the dissertation.