Once you’ve completed your coursework, you’ll shift your attention to the doctoral capstone. Your capstone is the final stage of your doctoral journey, and while it will take time and effort, it’s an exciting experience that allows you to examine a specific problem in your discipline.
The format your capstone takes will depend on your program. Most PhD programs require a dissertation as the capstone, which will be your opportunity to focus on a gap in literature and contribute new knowledge to your field through original research. In a professional doctoral program, you’ll focus on a gap in practice. This could take the form of a dissertation or a project study where you apply what you’ve learned to solve a unique problem in your field. Some professional doctoral programs also offer the opportunity to complete a consulting capstone in which you’ll work with a real-world company, nonprofit, or government body to solve a problem by applying your expertise.
Throughout the capstone stage, you will demonstrate competence in research and research design, subject matter expertise, and a command of critical thinking and academic writing skills. It’s a challenging process, but you’ll have us to lean on the whole way. We’ll provide extensive resources and guidance, and your doctoral committee will push you to do the best possible work and embrace the greatest version of yourself. When you’re done, you will have achieved what few others ever have. And you’ll be ready to make a difference in the world.
- Committee Formation. This is the first step in the capstone process. Walden will assign your committee, which will consist of a chair, second committee member, and university research reviewer. Each member will play a different role in supporting you throughout the capstone process.
- Prospectus Development and Evaluation. Your prospectus sets the groundwork and direction for your entire capstone. It requires preliminary research and alignment with your degree program, focusing on research questions and proposed data collection.
- Proposal Development and Evaluation. To complete your proposal, you’ll write the first few chapters or sections of your dissertation or capstone project, including an overview of the problem and the research design you will use. Additionally, your proposal will include an extensive review of literature and sources. Before you advance to the next step, your committee will assess your proposal, and you’ll complete an oral defense of it.
- Final Capstone Defense and Evaluation. While continuing to receive support from your committee, you’ll complete your research, study, or consulting experience and then write up the results, conclusions, and recommendations. Your committee will assess your work, and you’ll participate in an oral defense of the completed capstone.
- Completion of the Program. Once your committee approves your work, your capstone will move into the form and style review, which will verify that you’ve followed APA guidelines, scholarly style, and Walden institutional preferences.
- Chief Academic Officer (CAO) Review and Approval. As a final step, Walden’s CAO will review your doctoral capstone. Upon CAO approval, your capstone will be fully complete and you can look forward to graduation!
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