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Programs: PhD Dissertation

PhD Dissertation Resources


For more information on the prospectus for your program, check the resources for PhD programs on the Center for Research Quality’s Doctoral Capstone and Project Resources page.

PhD Management Prospectus Templates

Beginning June 1, 2020, all prospectus starts should use the new PhD Prospectus Form found on the Doctoral Prospectus Form page.

PhD Management Dissertation Templates


To prepare for the form and style review, use the following checklist, which is the same checklist we use when we review capstone manuscripts and the checklist we return to the student and committee along with their completed review.

Doctoral Capstone Template Guidance

To accompany the doctoral capstone template document, here is some information to note when first beginning to use the template.

  • The document contains front matter (i.e., two title pages, the abstract, a Dedication page, and an Acknowledgements page), a Table of Contents (TOC), Lists of Tables and Figures, the document body text, a References list, and Appendices.
  • Students should ensure that the text in brackets [ ] on the two title pages is changed to reflects their own information and then remove the brackets. This includes the title, name, degrees earned, degree program, date of anticipated completion.
  • Begin using the template by copying and pasting the text from a working document into the appropriate headings of the template and references to the reference list.

How to tag headings (so that headings show up in the TOC):

  1. Most headings are already placed into the document. Headings students add (i.e., primarily for the literature review and results chapters and sections) should be added by creating a new heading and tagging it so that it appears in the TOC when updated.
  2. Add a heading by first ensuring the Pilcrow [ ] is turned on —this allows the writer to see hidden formatting in the document that should not be deleted (e.g., page breaks and section breaks).
  3. Add the heading by placing the cursor where the heading should be inserted and creating a hard return.
  4. Then type the text for the heading and highlight it with the cursor, ensuring NOT to highlight the pilcrow.
  5. Once the text is highlighted, choose the appropriate APA Style Heading from the Styles box on the Home tab. This is called tagging a heading. HINT: The Styles tab may need to be expanded by clicking on the small box with the arrow at the bottom of the Styles section.

How to update the TOC (to bring in new headings and update page numbers):

  1. Once new headings have been added or text created or inserted such that the page numbers have shifted, the TOC should be updated.
  2. Update the TOC by clicking on it with the cursor so that the section becomes grey.
  3. Then, right click (or control click on a Mac) and choose “Update field.”
  4. Depending on whether headings or just text has been added, choose “Update entire table” or “Update page numbers only.”

Template and Formatting Resources:

About the PhD Dissertation

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, Seventh Edition style should be used for both the Premise and the Prospectus, as well as for the proposal and final study.


The Dissertation Guidebook, available at the Center for Research Quality's website, 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 questions about writing the proposal, dissertation, thesis, or doctoral study, contact editor@waldenu.edu.

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