Skip to Content

Join our Winter 2022 Commencement Celebration this Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern time!

Resource Articles //

All But Dissertation? A Great New Option for Doctoral Candidates

Through an all-but-dissertation program, you can finally finish your dissertation and earn your doctoral degree.

Only about 56% of people who start a doctoral degree program earn their doctorate or PhD within 10 years.* Those who end up leaving their program often struggle to enter a new program because few credits are transferable, requiring students to all but start over. The good news is, there’s a new kind of program that can help.

If you’re one of the many doctoral degree candidates who have completed all of the coursework for a PhD at an accredited university but still need to finish your prospectus and dissertation, you can now enroll in an all-but-dissertation (ABD) program. Also known as PhD completion programs, this option allows you to transfer the credits you’ve already earned and focus on writing your dissertation.

All But Dissertation? A Great New Option for Doctoral Candidates

Best of all, you can find ABD programs that are part of an online PhD program. Most allow you transfer your credits as opposed to starting over in a whole new doctoral program, plus you can earn your degree from just about anywhere.

How does an online ABD program work? Here’s what you’ll find at Walden, a top online university:

Requirements for Admission

It doesn’t matter why you’ve never completed your doctoral degree. To enter an ABD program, you simply submit a valid transcript from your previous university and a few other items, which might include a writing sample, an application essay, and GRE scores. Assuming everything is in order, the online university will honor all applicable coursework completed within the past 8 years.

Faculty Mentorship

Once you’re admitted into your ABD program, you will be paired with an experienced faculty mentor who specializes in working with ABD students. Your mentor will serve as your dissertation chair and will provide one-on-one guidance with the assistance of a dedicated dissertation committee.

Dissertation Process

You will begin by completing a learning agreement contract with your faculty mentor, which will include the specific milestones and gateways that must be followed for you to complete your dissertation and earn your doctoral degree. Next, you will develop a prospectus that includes all the major components of your doctoral dissertation, from the framework to the data collection and analysis procedure you plan to employ.

If your faculty mentor, the dissertation committee, and the program director approve your prospectus, you’ll develop a draft dissertation proposal with the guidance of your faculty mentor.

Once your proposal is approved, you will begin to collect and analyze data and, ultimately, complete your dissertation. At this point, your dissertation will go through a form and style review and you will again present orally over the phone to the committee. If your dissertation meets all requirements, the university research reviewer will conduct a final quality check. The university’s chief academic officer will then decide on final approval and you’ll earn your doctoral degree.


Most of the best ABD programs, like the one at Walden University, give you 3 years to complete your doctoral dissertation, although you will be encouraged to finish in 2. Your dissertation must meet all APA and university standards. Plus, with Walden you will be expected to attend two face-to-face doctoral capstone intensives in the United States, which are dedicated to assisting you with the completion of your proposal and dissertation. Walden even keeps a calendar of their upcoming PhD intensive retreats so you can better understand your options. Other than those two U.S. face-to-face intensives, you can complete all your other work, including your oral presentations, from home.


When you earn any kind of degree online—including a PhD degree—from a top online university, you’ll have access to a great number of resources. For instance, in addition to your faculty mentor, dissertation committee, and other university staff who will be there to guide and assist you, Walden’s online ABD programs give you access to a vast online library as well as a writing center where you can receive guidance on all facets of your writing. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of Walden’s two face-to-face doctoral capstone intensives.

If you’ve been a part of a doctoral program but were not able to complete your dissertation, an all-but-dissertation program can help you finally earn your doctoral degree. It’s an amazing opportunity to reach a lifelong goal.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online doctoral dissertation completion programs for a PhD in Management. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*Council of Graduate Schools, The Crucial Issue of Doctoral Non-Completion, on the Internet at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,


Our site uses cookies to provide necessary website functionality, improve your experience, analyze data & deliver relevant ads. By using our website, you agree to our cookie usage.