Jul 13, 2024  
2016-17 Graduate Catalog 
2016-17 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Education Degree

Middle Tennessee State University offers the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in Assessment, Learning, and School Improvement. The Ed.D. degree is offered for the purpose of developing doctoral-level expertise in applying educational research to real-world educational environments in order to improve the quality of learning across the student population. Above all, the Ed.D. recipient from MTSU is an educational scholar who has acquired the advanced academic skills needed to be a change leader in contemporary educational settings by assessing challenges, researching best practices, and applying those to student learning in order to bring about school improvement.


General admission requirements for the Ed.D. degree may be found in the admission section  of this catalog. Applicants for admission to this degree objective must hold a master’s degree.

University Requirements Leading to the Ed.D. Degree

Following are the minimum University requirements that must be met to be eligible for the granting of the Ed.D. degree.

General Course and Credit Requirements

The required minimum is 60 semester hours of coursework with at least two-thirds of the program at the 7000 level. No more than 12 semester hours of dissertation research (course 7640) may be applied toward this 60-hour requirement.

The 60-credit requirement must include the following:

  1. At least 48 hours in discipline-specific coursework. Undergraduate or dual-listed 4000/5000 courses (or their equivalents) cannot be used toward this requirement.
  2. At least 12 semester hours for the dissertation research (course 7640).

NOTE: Once an Ed.D. student has begun taking dissertation research, she/he is expected to enroll in at least 1 semester hour of dissertation research until the dissertation is completed. Failure to maintain continuous enrollment will require the student to apply for readmission to the program. Readmission is not guaranteed.

Additional Program Requirements

Each doctoral program establishes degree requirements that are specific to that discipline and may be in excess of the minimum University requirements. Students should consult the appropriate graduate program section in this catalog. The graduate program director of each graduate program may also specify additional requirements above the required sixty (60) hours for the Ph.D., such as prerequisites, publication of a research-based article, and/or presentation of a research-based conference paper.

Degree Plan

At the time of admission student should complete a degree plan in consultation with the graduate program director. The degree plan must be approved by the student’s advisor and submitted to the College of Graduate Studies. The degree plan may be amended as necessary by submission of a Change to Degree Plan form.


Each Ed.D. student may be required to take a set of examinations administered by the graduate program. A less than satisfactory outcome (including a fail decision on any component of the examinations) may result in additional academic requirements and/or a re-examination. A re-examination may be given only once. A second fail decision on any component of the examinations results in a recommendation to the dean of the College of Graduate Studies for academic dismissal. The student may appeal the dismissal recommendation, for cause, to the Appeals Subcommittee of the Graduate Council via the chair of the Graduate Council or the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Qualifying Examinations: Each Ed.D. student may be required to take a qualifying examination. The qualifying examination is administered by a graduate program early in the student’s doctoral program, often after the first year of the doctoral program. Students should consult their advisors as to the individual program’s policy in the timing and content of the examination. It may assess overall knowledge upon entry into the program or prior to entering the dissertation phase. To be eligible to take this examination, the student must be fully admitted to the College of Graduate Studies and to the graduate program. Programs may have additional requirements or assess students by different means. The student should contact the individual program to determine qualifying examination requirements.

Preliminary Examination: The Ed.D. student may also be required to pass an additional or subsequent written and/or oral examination. This examination is referred to as the Preliminary Examination. The student must be in good academic standing and must have at least a 3.25 grade point average in all graduate work. The preliminary examination is intended to assess whether a candidate is qualified to continue in a doctoral program, advance to candidacy, and pursue dissertation work.

All written examinations are given at least one month before the close of the Fall, Spring, and/or Summer semesters. Permission for the Ed.D. student to schedule the preliminary examination requires the approval of the student’s advisor and the graduate program director. The student should contact the individual program to determine the deadlines for submitting these applications.

A satisfactory or passing performance on the written and/or oral examinations means that the candidate is qualified to continue the program as planned.

The graded written examinations are maintained by the program for a period of five (5) years and are available to the student upon request.

Advancement to Candidacy

After a student successfully completes the preliminary examination, the program files an Advancement to Candidacy Form with the dean of the College of Graduate Studies. At this time the dissertation committee is formally constituted and usually has the same membership as the pre-dissertation advisory committee, although this is not mandatory. For example, should the student’s research area change, it may be relevant to replace one or more of the original advisory committee members with faculty better qualified to provide research mentoring in the new area of inquiry. The Advancement to Candidacy Form certifies that the student has successfully completed the preliminary examination and lists the proposed chair and members of the dissertation committee. Upon approval, the College of Graduate Studies will notify the applicant of advancement to candidacy.

Before an applicant is officially admitted to candidacy for the Ed.D. degree, the student must have satisfied the following requirements:

  1. Advancement to Candidacy and degree plan forms must be filed by the deadlines published in the Graduate Catalog and registration guide. The Advancement to Candidacy Form may not be filed in the same semester in which the student is to be graduated.
  2. The student must have at least a 3.25 grade point average on all coursework listed on the degree plan as well as any other graduate work undertaken at Middle Tennessee State University within the specified time limit (ten years). Grades of D or F are not accepted for any graduate degree credit, and no more than seven (7) hours of C grade may count toward Ed.D. degree requirements. However, all C, D, and F grades will be included in the student’s GPA computation.

Defense of Dissertation

Upon submission of the completed dissertation, the doctoral candidate who has successfully completed all requirements for the degree will be scheduled by the chair of her/his dissertation committee, in consultation with the other committee members, to defend the dissertation. The College of Graduate Studies must be notified of the dissertation title, date, time, and location of the defense at least two weeks prior to the date of the examination. The defense is open to all members of the University community who wish to attend. The dissertation defense is administered by the dissertation committee according to program guidelines. Successful defense of the dissertation must be attested to in writing by all members of the dissertation committee.


Residency requirements will be established by each program, pending Graduate Council approval.

Time Limit

There is a ten-year limit for completing all doctoral degree requirements. Thus, all coursework offered toward the doctoral degree as well as the dissertation must be completed within ten years after matriculation (i.e., the first semester of enrollment).

NOTE: The Ed.D. in Assessment , Learning, and School Improvement is a cohort program and is intended to be completed as part of a cohort of students over a three-year period. Students who withdraw or otherwise fail to continue with their cohort must apply for readmission. Readmission is not guaranteed.