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Walden University Dissertation Guidelines

Students start the dissertation by documenting their initial investigation into a research topic, which is used to make decisions about the capstone and is provided to prospective faculty members of the supervisory committee. In all PhD programs, this document is called the Premise, which is followed by a Prospectus. The Prospectus is a second document used to confirm the topic for the proposal and the structure of the dissertation committee.

Guides for completing these documents can be found on the Center for Research Quality website. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition style should be used for both the Premise and the Prospectus, as well as for the proposal and final study.


The Dissertation Guidebook is a complete resource for information on form and style, steps in the dissertation process, and procedures.  We also offer a series of capstone webinars on a variety of capstone-related topics.

For proposal, dissertation, thesis, or doctoral study questions, contact editor@waldenu.edu.

Confused about assumptions, limitations, and delimitations?  See Jen's blog post.

Throughout the dissertation process, you are required to do more than just present research. You are required to evaluate critically and synthesize literature; identify a research problem, including the purpose of the study; craft arguments regarding the importance of your study; and describe the background of your topic and the research problem. Further, you are required to identify a theoretical framework; develop research questions; describe the nature of the study in terms of the research design and methodology; describe ethical research; and identify possible types and sources of information or data.  Finally, you are required to identify possible analytical strategies and explain the significance of the potential study and implications for positive social change. Knowing how to do each well is critical to being a scholar and to completing your proposal and then your dissertation.

Two of the most important components of the dissertation process are the prospectus, beginning with the premise, and the proposal, which comprises the first three chapters of five in your dissertation. In PPPA-8115 Writing a Quality Dissertation, you will develop your premise, followed by your prospectus. The prospectus provides the “blueprint” for your proposal, and, ultimately, your dissertation.

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