Doctoral Dissertation FAQ’s: What You Need to Know When Enrolling in Our Exercise Science Doctoral Program

Home » Doctoral Dissertation FAQ’s: What You Need to Know When Enrolling in Our Exercise Science Doctoral Program
By Published On: May 5, 2021

If you’re thinking of enrolling in Concordia University Chicago’s exercise science doctoral degree program, you’ll take on the lofty goal of completing original research in exercise science and writing a dissertation to explain your findings.

As a doctoral student, the dissertation process can be one of the most intimidating aspects of obtaining your degree. What is the full scope of a dissertation? What does the process look like? When can you start working on it? Here are some of these frequently asked questions—and answers—for Concordia-Chicago’s dissertation process.

What is a dissertation?

Your dissertation is your opportunity to conduct your own independent piece of scholarly work in exercise science and show off your research skills. Your dissertation should seek to find an answer to an important question or issue in exercise science.

Dissertations average between 100 and 300 pages, and typically take two to three years of research and writing to build out a theory and then test and review it.

When do I start my dissertation?

You can officially start your dissertation once you’ve completed the following:

  • You’ve passed the Comprehensive Exam.
  • You’ve been admitted to your doctoral candidacy.
  • Your preproposal has been approved by the Division of Research and Doctoral Programs.
  • Your dissertation committee has been formed. 

However, it’s a good idea to be thinking of your dissertation early on in your coursework. The earlier you begin, the sooner you can begin gathering information on your topic in exercise science and human performance and exploring what questions have yet to be answered.

What does the dissertation entail?

Your dissertation should cover five chapters:

  • introduction
  • literature review
  • methodology
  • results
  • conclusions, implications, and recommendations

Your first three chapters have to be written before you begin your data collection and prior to holding a dissertation proposal defense with your dissertation committee. 

Students will have access to the Concordia University Chicago Proposal and Dissertation Template to assist them in laying out their dissertation. 

What is a dissertation proposal?

The proposal is your first three chapters of your dissertation: your introduction, literature review and methodology. Your dissertation committee chairperson will work with you to refine the structure, review your process, and distribute your proposal to your committee members. 

You will give a dissertation proposal defense when your proposal is ready, which will be a public presentation you give to your committee members. As an online student, your presentation will be conducted virtually. The presentation will last around 90 minutes, and while your entire committee must be present, you may also invite family, friends, and colleagues to your proposal. 

Committee members will either approve, approve with revisions, or fail your proposal. You must have a signed ballot of approval from two of your three committee members to move forward with your dissertation. Once it is approved, you may submit your proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). If you have changes to make to your proposal, you’ll have to do so before submitting it to the IRB. If you fail your proposal, you’ll have to repeat your process.

When can I start my research, and how long will it take?

You can begin your research once you have approval from the IRB. You have to submit an IRB to the Concordia University IRB Office and any other district or local IRB such as the Chicago Board of Education or the New York Board of Education.

As for the length of time for your research, it varies greatly. The average time to complete your dissertation is around two years, but you technically have up to ten years to complete it, if needed. 

What do I register for while completing my dissertation?

Doctoral students must be continuously enrolled in fall, spring and summer semesters at Concordia-Chicago while they complete their dissertation.

When registering for classes, you will register for DISS 7010, DISS 7020, and DISS 7030 as registration placeholders to keep you enrolled and eligible for financial aid. Once those are completed and all your program credit hours have been earned, you can enroll repeatedly in DISS 8000: Dissertation Supervision until you’ve completed your dissertation. 

Interested in learning more about our doctoral program? Check out our webinar hosted by program alumna Dr. Kathleen Fritch, as she goes over everything you need to know about our Doctorate in Health and Human Performance.

About Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University Chicago has been educating students for over 150 years. When you enroll in our online programs you earn the same campus-quality degree. Ready to advance your career in health and fitness with a degree in exercise science? Contact one of our Admissions Advisors to learn more or download our program guide now.


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