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How to Create an Effective Thesis Statement in 5 Easy Steps

Creating a thesis statement can be a daunting task. It’s one of the most important sentences in your paper, and it needs to be done right. But don’t worry — with these five easy steps, you’ll be able to create an effective thesis statement in no time.

Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas

The first step is to brainstorm ideas for your paper. Think about what you want to say and write down any ideas that come to mind. This will help you narrow down your focus and make it easier to create your thesis statement.

Step 2: Research Your Topic

Once you have some ideas, it’s time to do some research on your topic. Look for sources that support your ideas and provide evidence for the points you want to make. This will help you refine your argument and make it more convincing.

Step 3: Formulate Your Argument

Now that you have done some research, it’s time to formulate your argument. Take the points you want to make and put them into one or two sentences that clearly state what your paper is about. This will be the basis of your thesis statement.

Step 4: Refine Your Thesis Statement

Once you have formulated your argument, it’s time to refine your thesis statement. Make sure that it is clear, concise, and specific. It should also be arguable so that readers can disagree with it if they choose.

Step 5: Test Your Thesis Statement

The last step is to test your thesis statement. Does it accurately reflect the points you want to make? Is it clear and concise? Does it make an arguable point? If not, go back and refine it until it meets all of these criteria.

Creating an effective thesis statement doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With these five easy steps, you can create a strong thesis statement in no time at all.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


what is a doctorate without dissertation called

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what is a doctorate without dissertation called

Setting The Record Straight: ABD (All But Dissertation) Degree Status

Doctorate degrees are a lifetime achievement that few individuals pursue and complete. In fact, according to leading labor market analytics firm EMSI, only 3.6% of degrees completed in 2020 were doctoral degrees.

It’s not surprising that doctorates are completed by fewer individuals. Doctorate degrees are intensive, requiring the highest levels of scholarly research and writing. For many people, the dissertation is the most challenging part of getting a doctorate degree. That’s why “ABD,” or “all but dissertation,” has entered the mainstream terminology of doctorate degrees. However, the term leaves many confused if ABD is a type of degree or not. 

We’re here to help clarify what ABD means and how it relates to earning your doctorate degree.

Is ABD A Form Of A Doctorate Degree? 

No . High-quality doctorate programs require the completion of a dissertation to earn your doctoral degree (with the exception of professional and clinical doctorates in areas like law and nursing). ABD simply means you have completed all required doctorate coursework, but have not written and defended your dissertation.

While ABD brings you one step closer to completing your doctorate, achieving ABD status doesn't mean you can take your foot off the gas. ABD doesn’t hold academic weight and you can’t be called a doctor until you finish your dissertation. 

Unfortunately, many doctorate students stop at ABD. Let’s look at the reasons why.

Why So Many Doctorate Students Stop at ABD

what is a doctorate without dissertation called

There are a host of reasons doctoral students may dropout or take a break at the ABD stage of their doctorate program. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons students stop at ABD so you can navigate these pitfalls:

  • Self doubt: Some students struggle with imposter syndrome and wonder if they’re really qualified to get their doctoral degree. Lack of confidence can leave students feeling unmotivated, causing them to put their degree on pause or dropout all together.
  • Time Management: Once you get to the dissertation stage, you no longer have the structure of a typical course with weekly deadlines. Some students struggle with managing their time and fall behind. If procrastination gets the best of them, it may feel easier to quit than get back on track.
  • Finances: Getting a doctorate degree is a significant financial investment. If students don’t properly budget, or face new financial challenges, they may pause their degree at ABD.
  • Personal Circumstances: Whether students have family or professional changes, some situations that lead to ABD are unavoidable. If students need to take a break, they should put a plan in place for picking up where they eft off.
  • Dissertation Intimidation: Starting a dissertation can feel like a stark departure from the familiarity of taking coursework. At this stage, students are put into the driver’s seat and are responsible for their own progression, which can feel daunting.
  • Difficulty Writing: The dissertation is extremely research and writing intensive. Most dissertations are over 100 pages. If students struggle with focused and scholarly writing, it can be a detriment to finishing a doctoral degree.
  • Lack of Support: Some students feel isolated when they move into the dissertation phase of their doctorate degree. If you don’t choose a program with support services or create a strong peer network, the solitary nature of a dissertation can deter students from finishing.

Earning a doctorate is challenging and rewarding, but do you know what to really expect? Download this free guide for tips and insights to help you prepare for success.

If you started but haven’t completed a doctoral program you aren’t alone. According to the Council of Graduate Schools, almost 50% of students who start a Ph.D. program don’t complete their degree. However, Ph.D. programs only represent one type of doctoral degree. Completion stats vary widely between universities and doctoral degree programs. The biggest difference in successful completion of a doctoral degree is often the university and program a student chooses. If you’re ABD, you need to find a student-centered program designed to meet the needs of ABD students.

Measuring Doctoral Student Success: Average Doctoral Program vs. Student-Centered Doctoral Programs at Franklin University

*Source: First Cohort Data January 2017-August 2021

Are you still feeling stuck at ABD? Let’s look at ways you can set yourself up to successfully complete your doctoral degree.

6 Tips to Complete Your Doctorate—from ABD to Dr.

No matter how long you've been ABD, you can regain your motivation and finish strong. Here are 6 tips that can help you graduate from your doctorate degree program:

  • Get inspired early and start thinking about the topic of your dissertation at the beginning of your doctorate program. If you’re ABD, pick a topic you’re passionate about before restarting your doctorate.
  • Create a plan that maps out steps and milestones to complete your dissertation in your desired timeframe. Being proactive and setting your own deadlines will help you stay on track.
  • Get into a routine so that researching and writing your dissertation just feels like a normal part of your schedule. 
  • Develop a support system —both at home and in your program. Your family and friends can help you stay motivated, while faculty advisors, committee members and peers can make writing your dissertation feel more manageable.
  • Practice self care , because a dissertation isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Most students take anywhere from 1 to 2 years to complete the dissertation, but it can take longer based on the amount of time you commit.
  • Find a student-centered universit y that offers dedicated support, including personal faculty advisors and a student support network, that make it easier to complete your doctorate.

what is a doctorate without dissertation called

Don’t Stop at ABD—Find The Right Program and Complete Your Doctorate Degree

Remember, ABD is not a recognized credential and there are ways to overcome the barriers that prevent many from finishing the work. A doctorate is the academic achievement of a lifetime and is attainable if you stay organized, motivated and dedicated. 

Choosing the right doctorate program is the first way to set yourself up for success. Whether you’re starting from the beginning or picking up where you left off, you need a doctorate designed for your unique needs.

Franklin University offers transfer-friendly online doctorate degrees that help working adults achieve their goals. From start to finish, you can complete your doctorate degree in as few as 3 years, including your dissertation. Franklin doctorate programs accept up to 24 hours of transfer credit, so if you have completed coursework, but not your dissertation, Franklin can help you get over the finish line.

Explore the doctoral programs offered at Franklin to see if there is a program that will help you take your career to the next level.

what is a doctorate without dissertation called

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what is a doctorate without dissertation called

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Academia Insider

PhD ABD (All But Dissertation) [the scary reality]

All but dissertation is the equivalent of academic limbo. The scary reality is that there is a huge portion of students who make it to the dissertation stage but simply do not write up their thesis in order to finish their degree.

ABD stands for all but dissertation and refers to a PhD student who has completed all of the prerequisites (such as coursework, and research) but has not yet written up their dissertation.

There are a variety of reasons why people find themselves as an ABD student in this article will go through all of the important aspects of why people do not qualify despite having done most of the work of their doctoral degree.

What does ABD Mean?

ABD stands for “all but dissertation” and refers to someone who has successfully completed all the coursework and exam requirements for a doctoral program, but has yet to complete their final dissertation.

This means that they have often completed:

  • literature review
  • significant amount of research

but have still yet to write up their thesis.

ABD status is important because it signifies that someone has made significant progress towards earning their PhD, but it is not the same as having completed the degree program.

It is important to note that even though someone may be ABD, they are not yet a doctoral graduate until they have successfully written and defended their dissertation.

All But Dissertation: Why Do So Many PhD Candidates Quit?

It’s a surprising fact that many phd candidates quit at the ABD stage, for reasons that vary from personal to systemic.

There are many reasons why someone may not finish their degree and I have seen multiple students become stuck at the dissertation stage because:

  • the supervisor does not help them with revisions
  • they have left to get a job and say that they will “write up alongside a full-time job” – often this never ends up happening
  • they don’t actually need a PhD for their current career directions so focus on growing and networking in their current role
  • being overwhelmed by thought of writing such a large document

One major factor is the pressure and stress that the dissertation process entails.

Writing a dissertation takes a significant amount of time, research, and effort, and requires a student to write diligently every day for multiple weeks to complete.

There are loads of reasons why a PhD is hard to write – check on my YouTube video about the unglamorous truth about writing any graduate thesis.

Additionally, a lack of support from faculty members, financial struggles, and competing priorities, such as work or family, can also contribute to candidates dropping out of their PhD program.

Who is considered an ABD? Dissertation status?

If you are a PhD candidate and have completed all your coursework, passed comprehensive exams, and are now in the process of researching and writing your dissertation, you can consider yourself ABD (All but dissertation).

ABD means that you have finished all the requirements for the PhD except the dissertation. You are then considered a doctoral candidate, and not yet a doctor, until you have defended your dissertation.

ABD is a term used to describe the status of a graduate student who has completed everything for their PhD except the dissertation.

If you have submitted your dissertation proposal, conducted extensive research, and prepared your work for publication, but have yet to defend your dissertation, then you are considered ABD.

Once you have defended and successfully completed your dissertation, you will be awarded your PhD.

How Long Does the All But Dissertation Phase Last on the Doctoral Journey?

The length of the dissertation phase may vary significantly, depending on the program and the individual student’s progress.

Some doctoral programs require their students to complete the dissertation within a certain time frame, while others may not enforce strict deadlines.

I was able to write up my PhD thesis within three months . I had a very tight deadline and I spent eight hours a day in the library working in two sprints until my thesis have been written.

The ABD phase can last for a few months to several years, depending on the research work required, the amount of time the student can dedicate to the project, and the feedback provided by advisors.

I know of one person who took over 10 years to complete their PhD – much of it in the “all but dissertation” stage.

Here is my video on how to write up quickly if you just want to get over the all but dissertation hurdle:

Can You Get a “PhD ABD Degree”?

A PhD ABD degree refers to a student who has completed all the requirements of a PhD program, except for the dissertation.

It is not officially recognized or awarded as a degree but colloquially it is what many people refer to ADB students as.

While it is possible to have a successful career without completing a doctoral program, having an ABD status may limit some potential job opportunities.

Quite often it is recommended that you do not put your ABD degree on your CV if it has been many years of writing.

Should you list PhD ABD on your resume? Academic jobs could be harmed.

Listing PhD ABD (All But Dissertation) on your resume is a personal choice.

It is important to consider what message you want to convey to potential employers and if they see your lack of submission as a negative.

For example, I was able to apply for a job with an ADB because my thesis had been submitted but not yet reviewed. Andy Stapleton

If your thesis is about to be submitted, reviewed, it’s probably okay to put on your resume. However, it is been many years since you had last contact with your PhD program is probably best to leave it off.

Potential employers may view this as incomplete education or lacking the necessary qualifications.

It is your decision whether or not to list PhD ABD on your resume, but it is important to consider the potential impact it may have on your job search.

Endless ABD Status?

Being in an Endless ABD Status can be frustrating for graduate students who have completed their coursework, but have not successfully defended their dissertation.

This can be a difficult phase for students as they are often dealing with limited funding, competing demands on their time, and the pressure of completing their dissertation within a reasonable timeframe.

I know of people who spend up to 6 months waiting for their thesis to be examined which severely limited their career momentum and this is very frustrating.

Graduate school is an already challenging experience, and the ABD phase can make things even more daunting.

Challenges of Being All But Dissertation

Being All But Dissertation (ABD) presents a unique set of challenges for graduate students in a doctoral program.

The pressure to complete the dissertation can be daunting and overwhelming. So much so, that many people do not finish.

The research, writing, and revision required to complete a doctoral dissertation can be time-consuming and mentally exhausting.

ABD status can become a barrier to professional opportunities both inside and outside of academia.

It is difficult to secure academic positions without a completed dissertation, and non-academic employers may not fully recognize the value of an ABD status.

This creates a challenging environment for those trying to navigate this stage of their doctoral program.

My recommendation is that if you are an all but dissertation, you should focus 100% of your efforts on your goal of completion if your circumstances allow.

Many people say that they will return to their thesis after a little break – many people I know and are leaving their thesis for ever after the get a job and move away from academia.

If your current career projection doesn’t require a PhD and you are happy with our PhD there is also no pressure for you to actually finish your dissertation.

what is a doctorate without dissertation called

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.

Thank you for visiting Academia Insider.

We are here to help you navigate Academia as painlessly as possible. We are supported by our readers and by visiting you are helping us earn a small amount through ads and affiliate revenue - Thank you!

what is a doctorate without dissertation called

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what is a doctorate without dissertation called

50 Best Doctorate Degree Online No Dissertation Programs – EdD, DBA, DNP, PsyD, PhD [2023 Edition]

Finish your doctoral program faster without a dissertation! Explore 50 doctorate degree online no dissertation programs: DBA, EdD, DNP, PhD, PsyD.

Doctorate Degree Online No Dissertation

In the past, the majority of doctoral programs always required students to write a dissertation.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Now, instead of spending years working on a dissertation, a growing number of universities offer doctoral students an alternative to the dissertation process: a capstone project.

List of Doctorate Degrees without Dissertation Requirements

Here is a list of doctoral programs that don’t require a dissertation. Instead, you complete a capstone project or a doctoral study project.

Click on your desired field to see a complete list of programs:

  • Business A dministration
  • Co mputers & Information Technology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Homeland Security
  • Public Administration
  • Public Health

Like dissertations, capstone projects are a culmination of your education. They usually involve some original research or some type of applied practical knowledge in your field. It all depends on the school and program.

Be sure to check out the specializations available, as well as the particular requirements for each of these non dissertation PhD programs to be sure you select the one that will best suit you and help you achieve your goals.

Online Accounting Doctoral Programs

Accounting DBA no dissertation

The Doctor of Business Administration offers specializations in accounting and focuses on domestic and international managerial accounting.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , financial managers are in high demand with a mean salary of $134,180.

These accounting programs do not require a dissertation:

  • Online Doctor of Business Administration – Accounting
  • Online Doctor of Business Administration – Finance

In addition, the need for financial managers in leadership positions is growing by 17% over the next ten years. And if you’re interested in academia, the need for business educators is growing at the rate of 6% over the next ten years.

Online DBA Without Dissertation – Doctor of Business Administration

Business professionals walking

A Doctor of Business Administration is the highest academic degree program in the business world and is ideal for business professionals in corporations, the public sector, or academia.

Quite a few Online DBA concentrations are available without involving the dissertation process and associated research. Instead, you complete a capstone project or doctoral study project. These projects provide real-world learning and leadership opportunities.

An online DBA program focuses on advanced decision-making and leadership skills, integrating business theory and applied research. The capstone project or doctoral study project will relate to the specialization you have chosen and prepare you for that particular career path.

Most online DBA programs allow you to tailor your education by selecting the specialization that best suits your interests and aspirations.

No Dissertation DBA Programs:

  • Online DBA – Leadership
  • Online DBA – Project Management
  • Online DBA – General Business
  • Online DBA – Accounting
  • Online DBA – Finance
  • Online DBA – Human Resource Management
  • Online DBA – Supply Chain Management
  • Online DBA – Information Systems Management
  • Online DBA – International Business
  • Online DBA – Marketing
  • Online DBA – Entrepreneurship
  • Online DBA – Healthcare Management
  • Online DBA – Homeland Security
  • Online DBA – Social Impact Management
  • Online DBA – Technology Entrepreneurship
  • Online DBA – Energy Management

Whether you work full time as a business consultant or manager, as an entrepreneur, as a school administrator or in government, online PhD no dissertation programs like this can help you take your education – and your career in business – to the next level.

Online Doctorate in Computers & Information Technology

Computer Science managers inspecting server

A doctoral degree in computer information systems or information technology trains you for senior management roles in corporations, government agencies, and non-profits.

These IT programs don’t require a dissertation:

  • Online Doctor of Information Technology

The Doctor of Information Technology and the Doctor of Business Administration are applied doctorate degree programs.

These online doctorate programs can prepare you for top-level positions such as IT strategist, IS manager, chief information officer, or even college faculty member.

Online Doctorate in Criminal Justice Programs

what is a doctorate without dissertation called

Earning your doctorate in criminal justice gives you the tools needed to analyze and operate in the social sciences in areas such as law and society, crime, policing, homeland security, and criminal behavior.

Criminal Justice programs are offered as follows:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Criminal Justice
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Criminal Justice
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Criminal Justice
  • Doctor of Management (DM) in Criminal Justice
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice (DCJ)

Of these five degree program types, the PhD in Criminal Justice is the most common. However, the other four types of doctorates are professional doctorates and are more likely to require a capstone project in place of the dissertation process.

Online Doctoral Programs in Education without Dissertation

Online Doctoral Programs in Education Without Dissertation

Having an advanced level degree in education can really set you apart and open new doors. That’s where Doctor of Education programs come into play.

More and more universities are now offering online doctoral programs in education without dissertation requirements, which means you may be able to complete the program sooner, without neglecting your other obligations, and without writing that massive research paper!

Unlike a PhD in Education which is heavily focused on research, a Doctor of Education (EdD) program is more focused on the real world practical application of knowledge. With the creation of the Carnegie Project for the Education Doctorate (CPED) which looks at EdD curriculum and its development, an increasing number of universities are adopting a more practical approach in their curriculum.

For this reason, Doctor of Education programs are starting to offer capstone projects (or similar applications) as an alternative to the lengthy, research-intensive dissertation process.

Online EdD Programs without Dissertation:

  • Online EdD – Educational Leadership & Administration
  • Online EdD – Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment
  • Online EdD – Reading, Literacy, & Assessment
  • Online EdD – Higher Education Leadership & Management
  • Online EdD – Community College Leadership
  • Online EdD – Educational Technology
  • Online EdD – Special Education
  • Online EdD – Early Childhood Education
  • Online EdD – Higher Education Leadership and Adult Learning

There are two main education doctorate options: a Ph.D. in Education and Doctor of Education (EdD). So which is the best choice?

A Ph.D. in Education is ideal for someone interested in academic and/or research positions in higher education, or in a corporate, military or government position. Unfortunately, this path does not have an online PhD without dissertation process. It is founded in research and theory, and you will be required to complete a traditional dissertation.

Doctor of Education programs, however, focus more on developments in the field and prepare you to work in a classroom or for a school district. Quite a few schools now offer online Ed.D. programs without dissertation programs.

If you are comparing online doctoral programs no dissertation, some of the specializations you may be able to choose from include:

  • Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Educational Administration and Leadership
  • Personalized and Competency-Based Instruction
  • Early Childhood
  • K-12 Studies
  • Special Education
  • Educational Technology
  • Higher Education Leadership

The University of Southern Mississippi, for example, offers a part-time, fully online EdD program that culminates in a capstone project in educational administration instead of a traditional dissertation process.

Southern Mississippi No Dissertation Doctorate

Be sure to select one of the degree programs and specializations that will work with your lifestyle and commitments, and help you achieve your long-term career goals.

Online Doctoral Programs in Finance

Financial managers downtown

The Doctor of Business Administration offers specializations in finance and focuses on international finance, entrepreneurial finance, law, and compliance.

These finance degree programs do not require a dissertation:

In addition, the need for financial managers is growing by 17% over the next ten years. And if you’re interested in academia, the need for business educators is growing at the rate of 6% over the next ten years.

Online Healthcare Administration Doctoral Programs

Healthcare administrators talking

The Doctor of Business Administration with a specialization in Healthcare Management provides advanced training in organizational leadership, professional management, and human resource development.

DBA in Healthcare Management degree programs will prepare you for senior-level leadership positions in the healthcare field.

No dissertation required:

Explore cutting-edge strategies in leadership and decision-making while gaining a deep understanding of both theory and practice.

Online Homeland Security Doctoral Programs

Criminal justice bachelors programs

With the global increase in terrorism and natural disasters, the need for homeland security leaders well-trained in crisis planning is on the rise.

The Doctor of Business Administration with a specialization in Homeland Security addresses global terrorism, risk analysis, policy challenges, organizational leadership, and emerging trends.

Does not require a dissertation:

Courses include an in-depth look into homeland security policies, homeland security business planning, and business infrastructure vulnerability analysis, among others.

Online Management Doctoral Programs

Phd in Management

A Doctor of Business Administration with a focus in management is designed to prepare you for strategic leadership. Not only will you develop advanced research skills, but you will also have the opportunity to learn new ways to address complex problems within your industry.

A Doctor of Business Administration is a professional doctorate that can help prepare you for high-level management positions in corporations, non-profits, or government agencies.

These degree programs don’t require a dissertation:

  • Online DBA – Leadership
  • Online DBA – Project Management
  • Online DBA – Supply Chain Management
  • Online DBA – Information Systems Management
  • Online DBA – Human Resource Management
  • Online DBA – Healthcare Management
  • Online DBA – Social Impact Management

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for management professionals is $109,760, which is the highest wage of all major occupation groups.

  • Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

DNP students

Instead of following a traditional dissertation process in your studies, you will complete a DNP practicum.

Nurses participating in the DNP program will learn to take evidence-based research and put it into practice to improve patient outcomes.

This DNP can be completed in as little as two years:

Leadership and innovation are also areas of focus to help encourage innovation and positive change in the healthcare system.

Online Doctor of Public Administration

Government workers in meeting

The Doctor of Public Administration is an applied doctorate that gives you the in-depth knowledge you need to lead effectively and help create positive change in non-profits, government agencies, or similar organizations.

Doctor of Public Administration degree programs can help prepare you for a career in academia or to work in the public, private, or non-profit sectors.

Does not require dissertation:

  • Online Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows high-demand in the field. For example, the need for social and community service managers will grow by 15% in the next ten years.

Online Public Health Doctoral Programs

Public health programs

The Doctor of Public Health is a professional doctorate degree intended for individuals already working in the field of public health.

The field is interdisciplinary and covers topics ranging from advocacy and marketing to communications and leadership.

A number of concentrations are available such as epidemiology and biostatistics.

Career options vary but can include health officer, health policy advisor, and community health director.

Online PsyD Programs Without a Dissertation

Online PsyD without dissertation

The Doctor of Psychology is a professional degree program that covers both Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology.

There are a few online PsyD programs that require no dissertation .

Some common fields of specialization include:

  • Behavioral Health Leadership
  • Behavioral Psychology
  • Child, Adolescent and Family Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Couple or Family Therapy
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
  • Mental Illness
  • Neuropsychology

Instead of a dissertation, some PsyD programs (like Capella) allow you to complete a capstone project related to your field of specialization.

What is a Doctoral Dissertation?

A doctoral dissertation, the culmination of most doctoral degree programs, is a substantial written document in which the student uses the teachings and skills gleaned from the entire program to develop and discuss an original concept, theory or practice that will help advance the field.

Writing a dissertation is no easy feat! They are typically hundreds of pages long, and students work on them for over a year, reviewing research, conducting experiments and analyzing data.

Because this project is daunting, demanding, and often requires years of research, many universities have come up with alternatives that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and provide worthwhile contributions to their field without completing a traditional dissertation.

What Are All But Dissertation Completion Programs?

“All But Dissertation” (ABD) completion programs, also known as PhD completion programs, are designed to help students who have completed all the requirements of a doctoral degree program except the dissertation.

Quite often, students work diligently through the coursework of their doctoral program, but fall short when it comes to completing the required dissertation. In fact, only about 56% of those who start a doctoral degree program earn their doctorate or PhD within 10 years. Completing a dissertation is an enormous project that entails extensive research… and life, family, careers and other obligations sometimes get in the way.

For example, the Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) offered by National University is one example of a structured program that transfers credit for prior academic coursework and provides guidance and mentorship as you work to finish your dissertation. This type of program typically takes 2-3 years.

Is a Dissertation Required for a PhD?

Not always. In the past a dissertation was required for a PhD, but a growing number of institutions have started to offer online doctoral programs no dissertation.

Instead, students may complete a capstone project to demonstrate their knowledge and provide new contributions to the field. This may be a combination of a research paper and fieldwork, or perhaps you might do some consulting work at a functioning business. However, it most cases, it will require considerably less independent research than what is required for a dissertation.

Capstone projects vary from school to school, and program to program.

One of the benefits of non-dissertation doctorate degrees is that you can finish in less time. Check out our post on accelerated online doctoral programs for a deeper look.

Is Financial Aid Available for Online PhD Programs?

Financial Aid for Online PhD Programs

Yes, financial aid is available for online PhD programs.

Federal Financial Aid

First, you should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) , just like you did when you were an undergraduate student. This will open the door to federal grants and loans, as well as many other resources.

State Financial Aid

In addition to federal financial aid, almost 40 states offer student loan programs. Like Federal loans, the interest rates offered by most state programs are generally less than those charged by private student loan lenders. You can check out the individual State Financial Aid programs here.

Scholarships and Grants for Online Doctorate Programs

Additionally, online PhD and doctoral students are often eligible for grants, fellowships, and scholarships. These may be available through the school, large corporations, or professional associations that take your work experience into account.

Here are some helpful doctoral scholarship resources:

  • CollegeGrant Scholarships and Grants
  • College Scholarships for Doctoral Students
  • PhD Scholarships for Women
  • Graduate Scholarships

You can also check with the financial aid office at the university or college you choose to learn more about institutional funding and financial aid opportunities.

Can You Get a No Dissertation Doctorate Online?

Yes! A growing number of reputable, accredited colleges and universities offer non-dissertation doctorate programs. We’ve compiled a list of universities offering online doctorate degrees without dissertation requirements.

Universities Offering No Dissertation Online Doctorate Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

These programs can work around your existing obligations such as family or work commitments, and will allow you to advance in your career and contribute to your field in ways that don’t require a massive research paper and the massive amount of dissertation research that goes along with it!

Are There Any PhD Programs Without Dissertation Requirements?

Yes, there are quite a few doctoral programs without dissertation requirements, but PhD programs without dissertation requirements are few and far between. In these cases, instead of the dissertation most commonly used in a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program, a capstone project is required to help you put your new-found skills to good use.

In the past, dissertations were required so that you could demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your field. But universities have started to realize that there are quite a few ways you can do that.

As you can see with the online DBA programs , a few colleges are no longer requiring dissertations. They allow you to complete a doctoral capstone project instead. No, it’s not technically a dissertation. But you do prove that you have acquired a high level of expertise in your field of study.

Higher education is continuing to change at a rapid pace. As another example, a number of PhD programs without GRE requirements are appearing.

How Many Credits Do PhD Programs Require?

Most PhD programs require between 54 and 90 credit hours. That’s between 18 and 30 courses. That is a huge range! This is true for both campus-based PhD programs and online PhD programs.

Let’s look at one of National University’s online programs as an example. The online DBA in Accounting is 54 credit hours and consists of 18 courses (most courses are 3 credit hours).

In contrast, if you attend a state university campus program like the University of Illinois , the PhD in Business requires 64 credit hours (around 21 courses), provided you already have your master’s degree.

Are There Any EdD Programs Without dissertation?

EdD Programs Without dissertation

Yes, there are a number of EdD programs without dissertation research papers. Here is a list of Ed.D. concentrations / specializations without a dissertation requirement: Online Doctor of Education list .

Are There Any Online Educational Administration Doctorate Degrees with No Dissertation required?

Yes! You can get a without completing a dissertation: Online EdD – Educational Leadership & Administration

Do All Doctoral Programs Require a Dissertation?

No. A wide-range of doctoral programs do not have a dissertation. Instead, graduate schools allow you to complete a capstone project which focuses on solving a real-world problem.

You can also earn your doctorate through an accredited online program if you don’t want to attend on campus.

Is a PhD Program Without a Dissertation Respected?

A dissertation allows students the opportunity to demonstrate expertise in their field of study through extensive research and an associated dissertation research paper.

In certain fields, a dissertation will be the measure of quality. This is true for academia should you ever want to be a tenured professor at Harvard. But if that’s not your goal, doctoral programs in higher education, leadership, or business administration are reputable – provided you earn your doctorate from a graduate school with regional accreditation.

Can I Get an Online Doctorate Degree Without a dissertation?

Yes. There are dozens of online doctorate degrees with no dissertation being offered from accredited universities. The most common doctoral degree programs are the Doctor of Education, Doctor of Business Administration, Doctor of Psychology, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Are There Any 18 month Doctorate with No Dissertation Programs?

Yes. Some online PhD no dissertation programs can be completed in as little as 18 to 24 months.

To finish in a short time like this, you will need to be enrolled full time and progressing through your courses successfully. You will also need your capstone project to be approved in a timely manner. Again, in order to complete your doctorate in less than 18 months, you’ll need to enroll in a PhD without thesis or dissertation requirement.

Are There Any PhD Without Dissertation Programs Online?

PhD Without Dissertation Programs Online

Yes, a number of universities offer online doctoral degree programs without dissertation to help working professionals juggle full time jobs with their studies. We’ve compiled a list of them above. As more universities offer no dissertation doctorates, we will update the list.

It’s worth noting that while these programs do not require traditional dissertations, there will usually be a research project (usually known as a Capstone) through which you demonstrate what you have learned. Each program should detail the capstone experience requirements and the opportunities you will have while enrolled.

You can complete your program as a full time, working professional from the comfort of your own home!

what is a doctorate without dissertation called

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Earning Your Do...

Earning Your Doctorate Without a Dissertation: Alternative Pathways to a PhD


What Is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is a lengthy and formal research document that is typically a requirement for the completion of a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D. or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). It represents a significant scholarly project that demonstrates a student's ability to conduct independent research, contribute to the existing body of knowledge in their field, and make an original and substantial academic contribution.

Depending on the academic institution and subject of study, dissertations come in a variety of lengths and formats. Some master's programs may also include a thesis or dissertation as a final project, even though these types of projects are most frequently associated with doctorate degrees. However, these types of projects are generally shorter and less comprehensive than doctoral dissertations. Yocket is your go-to resource for information, insights, and support on non-dissertation doctoral programs.  

Read Also - What is Dissertation

How does a dissertation work?

Students are frequently required to conduct research for their dissertations. They may pick the subject. They decide on the dissertation's subject matter. This essay-length document is lengthier. It might include tens of thousands of words. The objective is to convey their research on a certain subject or issue. There are quite stringent guidelines for some programmes. Others let the pupils entirely decide what to talk about.

Dissertations need a significant amount of time to finish. They demand that students invest significant time in thorough research. They could influence whether a student earns a degree. They must thus be finished carefully and with great care.

Why Are Dissertations Required for So Many Programmes?

The majority of programmes need dissertations to be completed. They facilitate the sharing of knowledge by pupils. Many of them are research articles that offer various points of view. Some are designed to be more of a discussion that has a resolution. Making sure a student can finish an independent research report is an aim for many colleges. To some extent, these skills could be quite helpful. They serve as the last grade in several schools.

They require a lot of time to finish. The longest and most significant task that most students will complete is a dissertation. They can need months to plan and finish. A lot of pupils will get assistance from their lecturers. They could be perfect for people who are fervent about a subject. Others may find them to be among the most taxing kinds of tasks.

List of Doctorates that Do Not Require a Dissertation

Numerous Ph.D. programmes do not demand a typical dissertation as the final output. Instead, the dissertation requirement is frequently replaced with alternate research or academic initiatives in these programmes. Following are some instances of such doctorates:

  • Business Administration
  • Computers & Information Technology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Homeland Security
  • Public Administration
  • Public Health

The particular prerequisites for doctorate programmes might change significantly across institutions and even between different programmes at the same institution, which is an essential point to remember. In order to choose a programme that fits your academic and professional objectives, investigate and evaluate several options if you're thinking about earning a doctorate without the conventional dissertation. When selecting a PhD programme , accreditation and programme quality should also be carefully considered. Get personalized advice, program recommendations, and more on Yocket premium .

18-Month Doctorate Without Dissertation Online

There are certain online doctoral programmes meant to be finished in a shorter amount of time, such as 18 months, and may not require a traditional dissertation, although traditional PhD programmes normally contain a dissertation and take several years to complete. These programmes frequently provide a different final project. The following are a few instances of 18-month doctorate without dissertation online:

  • Business Programs-  You can obtain a PhD in business in either accounting or management. Obtaining a Master's degree in business administration with a focus in either of these two disciplines is often the initial step.
  • Education- It is also feasible to pursue your studies and acquire a PhD in education. However, there may be a distinction between the standards you must satisfy if you wish to receive an 18-month doctorate education programme without a dissertation.
  • Engineering- It's also feasible to obtain a PhD in engineering without completing a dissertation. The degrees, which may also be known as Doctor of Science in Engineering degrees, are often given out by institutions with a strong focus on research.
  • Law- Without doing further coursework connected to finishing a dissertation, law degrees are also accessible. The average length of time to earn a law degree is 18 months, and most institutions that offer these programmes normally require an internship or practicum before you can graduate.
  • Liberal Arts- A doctorate in liberal arts without a dissertation is also offered; it takes 18 months to complete. Schools that want their students to learn more in-depth information about specific subjects of study may give the degree, which may go by the designation of Doctor of Philosophy in Arts and Sciences.
  • Nursing- A doctoral programme in nursing can be completed via remote learning with or without the completion of a dissertation. Although some programmes can be finished in as little as 18 months, most students must still complete extra coursework and clinical training before receiving their diplomas.
  • Science- Doctoral science programmes are typically offered by colleges and universities to entice young scientists to complete their education. While some of these programmes could be more focused on encouraging students to conduct research, others might be more concerned with preparing students for the workforce.

For people looking to acquire a PhD while adapting their particular circumstances and professional aspirations, earning a doctorate without the traditional dissertation is an increasingly practical and well-liked choice. We have examined a number of alternate routes that enable people to obtain the greatest degree of academic acknowledgment without the sometimes difficult dissertation procedure throughout this investigation. Explore non-dissertation doctoral programs and take the next step in your academic journey today with Yocket.

Frequently Asked Questions about Doctorate Without Dissertation

1. Can you get a doctorate without doing a dissertation?

A conventional dissertation is required for certain online doctorate programmes, but not all of them. This indicates that you can obtain your PhD without submitting a dissertation online.

2. What does PhD without dissertation mean?

With the exception of completing the dissertation (or thesis) and presenting it for final approval at the conclusion of a PhD programme, graduate students who have earned the informal title ABD have completed all programme requirements.

3. What is the quickest doctorate degree to get?

Online Doctoral Programmes for One Year: 1. Doctorate in Behavioral Health. 2. Doctorate Ethereal Degree in Grief Counseling. 3. Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy 4. Doctor of Nursing Practice. 5. Doctor of Occupational Therapy 6. Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision.

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All But Dissertation (ABD): A Complete Guide

Published by steve tippins on may 8, 2019 may 8, 2019.

Last Updated on: 30th August 2022, 04:36 am

What does ABD Mean?

The term “ABD” stands for All But Dissertation. This means that you have finished everything in a PhD program except for the dissertation. Someone who is ABD has successfully completed all of the required classwork and any required comprehensive exams. The term itself has no academic standing but is used to tell others where you are in your program.

Having completed in the neighborhood of two years of classwork, it is nice to have something to acknowledge this accomplishment. Many use the term “ABD” to let others know their position in their doctoral journey.

However, this should not be a destination. ABD should just be a way to tell people where you are on your journey, similar to telling someone that you just passed the hardware store on your way home. Home is your destination, not the hardware store.

Can You Get a “PhD ABD Degree”?

The short answer is no, there is no such thing as a “PhD ABD degree.” Rather, the term “PhD ABD” is used to refer to a place in one’s journey towards getting a PhD.

Another term that has begun to be used to connote a similar message to “PhD ABD” is “PhDc” (also expressed as “PhD(c)” or “PhD-c”). This term has gained popularity recently but there is concern about its use. The APA has expressed concern that the general public may not know what the term means and believe that the holder has completed her/his PhD. Similarly, the term “ABD Degree” makes claim to a degree that was never completed.

When a similar question was asked online, one user commented, “A PhD that’s All But Dissertation is like an espresso that is All But Coffee. It’s hot water with a bit of sugar, thus defeating the entire purpose of the exercise.”

Neither PhD ABD nor PhDc represents the achievement of a degree, so the use of either in a formal setting, such as your CV or in correspondence, should probably be avoided. Avoid making claims like holding an ABD Degree.

However, a new type of degree has arisen lately for those who stop their studies having completed all but their dissertation. This gives people something to show for their time in the PhD program. Called names such as Certificate of Doctoral Completion, this is a way to allow students who leave a program to do so with a degree–albeit, one not nearly as esteemed as a PhD. This may serve the purpose as an ABD degree.

All But Dissertation: Why Do So Many PhD Candidates Quit?

close-up shot of an open laptop in a college classroom

Around 50% of those who start a PhD program do not finish . Many of those who do not finish get to the All But Dissertation stage before they leave their program. Why would someone leave a PhD program after such a big time and effort investment?

There are many reasons why people leave at the ABD level. Among the reasons are:

Lack of funds

Getting a PhD takes time and money. For many people the money (or access to loans) can run out. If that happens, there may be no other option but to leave.

External obligations

Life happens and situations change. Maybe you have had two kids during the process and they need your time and attention, perhaps your aging parents need your care, or maybe your Aunt Melville died and left you her $30 million estate. We cannot predict the future, and valid reasons may arise to leave a program.

Bad situations

There are many stories about abusive advisors/mentors in PhD programs. There is an uneven power distribution between committees and doctoral students. This can turn into a reason to not finish a degree.

Realization that they don’t want/need a PhD

One of the things that you learn in PhD classes is critical thinking and asking questions. What is not part of these programs is solving problems. You learn to answer questions and leave the application/problem solving to others.

Some people get to the ABD stage and determine that they are more suited to being advocates and solving problems than answering questions, giving them an incentive to go out and begin solving the problems that they see. The world needs both types of people.

All But Dissertation: How Not to Stay There

Many people get stuck at the ABD phase of the journey and do not finish their degree. Most of the time, this leaves them with nothing to show for the considerable amount of coursework they completed.

If you decide to leave a program at the ABD stage, having loans can make it seem worse.  Eight months after you stop attending school, student loan payments kick in. No one really enjoys making student loan payments, and they can seem even worse if you left a program without a degree.

Here is my advice for powering through the all but dissertation phase and earning your degree.

Know what’s coming

close-up shot of a big pile of books

When you were taking classes, your program was laid out in front of you. You knew which courses to take when and what grades you needed. As you enter the dissertation phase things are not as straightforward. You should read everything that your school provides on the process and become familiar with any templates that are provided. A good template can signal to you what sections are needed in each chapter and save you time.

Also understand the review process for the work you submit and plan accordingly. If it takes two weeks for your committee to review your Prospectus , then work on finding more literature for your eventual Chapter 2. If your Proposal is being reviewed, start preparing your IRB submission. Be as efficient as possible.

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Work every day

There is a book titled “Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day.” The idea is that you need to work on your dissertation consistently, everyday. I find that people who put time in on a regular basis, daily if possible, tend to move forward faster than those who put in a lot of time on an irregular basis. If you have large amounts of time between sessions, you have to spend time remembering where you were. Make writing your dissertation a habit and you will move beyond the ABD stage.

Ask for help

In our society, we’re often taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But if you want to complete your PhD program, you’d better let go of that belief and recognize that asking for help is both wise essential for your success.

man and a woman having a discussion in an outdoor café

If you are in a graduate program there are people out there who can help you if you ask. For example, librarians can help you find material and save you lots of time. If your writing needs help, most schools have Writing Centers and if that is not enough, a good academic editor can save you a lot of time and help you move forward.

You dissertation chair and committee are resources as well. Ask the members of the committee for guidance (read: What to Do if Your Advisor is Ignoring You ).

If you are looking for more hands-on help, a dissertation coach can help you towards the finish line.

Be good to yourself

Graduate school is not a sprint. It can be a long, grueling process so you need to take care of yourself along the way. You don’t want to reach the end and be so burned out that you aren’t able to use the degree you worked so hard for.

Self care is very important. Try to add simple things like taking a walk of talking to a friend to your routine. This can save your sanity and help you move forward. For more on this see my article on self care .

Realize your progress

It is easy to get lost in the vastness of writing a dissertation and not realize how much you have actually accomplished. Sometimes it is good to stop and look back at what you have accomplished. For example, you have finished all of your coursework and comprehensive exams. You have done a great deal. Now you get to concentrate on something that truly interests you.

Reward yourself for genuine progress. Rather than paying attention to how much time you spent writing, set mile markers such as writing 2,000 words, finishing a draft of your Chapter One, or addressing all of your committee’s comments.

All But Dissertation: Summary

You have the chance to be one of the 2 percent of the population with a doctoral degree. Take care of yourself on the journey, stay dedicated to the process and call on all available resources. You can do this!

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Steve Tippins

Steve Tippins, PhD, has thrived in academia for over thirty years. He continues to love teaching in addition to coaching recent PhD graduates as well as students writing their dissertations. Learn more about his dissertation coaching and career coaching services. Book a Free Consultation with Steve Tippins

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Best 18-Month Doctorate without Dissertation Programs

Lisa Marlin

A PhD  helps you advance your career and secure senior leadership positions. However, if you’re a busy working professional struggling to manage your family, work, and personal commitments, full-time enrollment with dissertation requirements might not be an option. Most PhDs take 3-7 years to complete, with lots of time spent on dissertations.

But what if you could study a PhD without dissertation requirements or lengthy durations?

Sure, online PhD programs  offer more flexibility; however, you’ll still spend years studying.

Luckily, many schools offer 18-month doctorate without dissertation programs that you can complete in record time, often while studying online on your own schedule. Does that mean you can find the easiest PhD without dissertation requirements? Let’s find out.

Here are some of the top universities and no-dissertation PhD programs you can finish in just 18 months or a little more.

Table of Contents

Top 18-month Doctorate without Dissertation Programs

We’ve separated our list of doctorate degrees without dissertation into a few categories: education, nursing, physical therapy, and business management.

Walden University

PhD in Education (P-20 Education)

Walden University logo

Walden University is known for offering research doctorates to African-American students and has many flexible options in various disciplines to extend education to everyone. This flexible PhD without dissertation requirements is a fabulous education program where you can design your study based on your interests.

  • Courses:  Leading the future of education, governance & politics of education, and learning experiences in supportive environments.
  • Credits:  86
  • Delivery:  Online
  • Tuition: $692 per quarter hour
  • Financial aid:  Grants, education assistance, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate:  100%
  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nebraska Methodist College

Online Doctorate in Education & Leadership in Healthcare

Nebraska Methodist college logo

Nebraska Methodist College is one of the country’s most famous allied healthcare colleges and offers more than 40 healthcare and education programs online and on-campus. You don’t need to complete a dissertation or submit GRE scores to apply for this doctoral degree online; no dissertation. You can also balance your studies with other parts of your life by choosing between part-time or full-time options.

  • Courses: Information technology in healthcare & education, legal & ethical issues in organizations, and healthcare policy.
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Cost per credit hour : $817
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate:  92%
  • Location:  Omaha, Nebraska

Nova Southeastern University, College of Education & School of Criminal Justice

EdD – Educational Leadership

NSU Florida logo

Nova Southeastern University is a nationally renowned private institution that embraces social mobility and diversity. The institution offers an EdD that doesn’t require a dissertation. Instead, you’ll need to complete a Strategic Research Project (SRP) amounting to 12 credits.

  • Courses: Leadership, communication, & technology, legal & ethical issues in educational leadership, and leading an educational organization.
  • Credits:  55
  • Delivery:  On-campus
  • Tuition : $1,505 per credit
  • Financial aid:  Scholarships, employer assistance, and veteran benefits.
  • Acceptance rate:  76%
  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Maryville University

Online Doctor of Nursing Practice

Maryville University logo

Maryville University is renowned for innovative and comprehensive education, using advanced technology to deliver distance learning programs across a range of disciplines. If you are a working nursing professional, this doctoral degree without dissertation requirements will qualify you to reach the highest levels of nursing leadership.

  • Courses:  Principles of epidemiology & biostatistics, ethics for advanced nursing practice, and professional role development.
  • Credits:  33
  • Duration:  20 months
  • Delivery: Online
  • Tuition : $813 per credit
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, and employer assistance.
  • Acceptance rate: 95%
  • Location:  St. Louis, Missouri

Monmouth University

Online DNP Program

Monmouth University logo

Monmouth University has a low student-faculty ratio and believes in immersive learning experiences beyond the classroom. This DNP doctoral program without dissertation requirements helps students analyze evidence to improve clinical policies and practices.

  • Courses: Translating evidence to clinical practice, organizational leadership in healthcare, and health care economics and financial management.
  • Credits:  36
  • Tuition :  $1,348 per credit hour
  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Location:  West Long Branch, New Jersey

Bay Path University

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Family Nurse

Bay Path University logo

Bay Path University is a non-profit institution that offers a range of opportunities for lifelong learning, especially for women. This DNP program seeks to prepare nursing professionals with modern evidence-based knowledge to handle advanced nursing practitioner roles, especially in the family health sphere. You can complete this online doctorate (no dissertation) at your own pace.

  • Courses:  Managing healthcare delivery systems, healthcare informatics, and biostatistics & epidemiology.
  • Tuition : $995 per credit
  • Financial aid: Federal loans and private loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 78%
  • Location:  Longmeadow, Massachusetts

Physical Therapy

The university of north carolina at chapel hill, school of medicine.

Transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill logo

The University of North Carolina is ranked #5  for research among public universities and has two Nobel laureates. This non-thesis PhD helps licensed physical therapists gain advanced knowledge and skills in their area of practice. Additionally, physical therapists earn a median salary of $91,010, making this program one of the highest-paid PhDs . Balance familial and work responsibilities easily as you complete this doctorate degree online (no dissertation).

  • Courses: Advanced patient management, advanced neuromuscular intervention, and advanced practice issues.
  • Credits: 27
  • Tuition :  $902 per credit
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, loans, and employee benefits.
  • Acceptance rate: 25%
  • Location: North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Gannon University

Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate

Gannon University logo

Gannon University is a private Christian institution with a low student-faculty ratio that offers various online programs. This is one of few occupational therapy doctorate degrees without dissertations that help physical therapy professionals translate knowledge from cross-disciplinary theories and research into practice, enabling them to grow beyond a therapist-clinician role.

  • Courses:  Applied research in clinical practice, advanced leadership & ethics, and entrepreneurship for the IT professional.
  • Credits:  34
  • Duration:  2 years
  • Tuition :  $770 per credit
  • Financial aid:  Scholarships, grants, loans, and veteran benefits.
  • Acceptance rate:  79%
  • Location:  Erie, Pennsylvania

Business Management

Capella university.

Doctor of Business Administration in Strategy & Innovation

Capella University logo

Capella University is a private institution that strives to extend education to all by offering programs that fit with busy routines. As a result, many of its programs are highly flexible, allowing you to finish at your own pace. The institution also makes it easy to manage study costs by only requiring payment for 12 weeks instead of per credit. This doctorate without dissertation offers two streams: the GuidedPath, where you have a pre-fixed curriculum structure, and FlexPath, where you can modify the structure and complete the program according to your pace and convenience.

  • Courses:  Effective organizational leadership, strategic decision making, and teaching business in higher education.
  • Credits:  45
  • Tuition : $545 – $810
  • Financial aid: Grants, scholarships, loans, and military benefits.
  • Location:  Minneapolis, Minnesota

Liberty University

Online Doctor of Business Administration

Liberty University logo

Liberty University has been named one of the top 5  online universities and is known for its quality, accessibility, and affordability. This flexible DBA program allows you to specialize in one of a range of business areas, from international business to healthcare management. No dissertation is required for this doctorate degree online.

  • Courses:  Strategic allocation of financial resources, marketing for competitive advantage, and quantitative research methods.
  • Credits:  60
  • Tuition:  $595 per credit
  • Financial aid:  Scholarships, grants, loans, and military benefits.
  • Acceptance rate: 50%
  • Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

What Is a Dissertation and How Does it Work?

A dissertation, sometimes called a thesis, involves conducting research before writing a final report to summarize the research’s findings. It is a fundamental requirement of many graduate programs, especially doctorates, and allows students to develop advanced research, writing, and analytical skills. If a panel approves your dissertation, it will become a part of the field’s current body of knowledge.

The student may choose the topic independently or in consultation with an advisor. In some cases, students can collaborate with faculty members to conduct research. Once complete, the university evaluates the dissertation, and their assessment often decides whether the candidate achieves their PhD .

Why Do So Many Programs Require Dissertations?

A dissertation is usually the most involved and longest-running assignment you need to complete as part of a graduate program. Many schools include a dissertation in the program to develop and test students’ research abilities and set them up for careers in academia.

However, some universities offer graduate programs that don’t require a dissertation. Instead, these programs involve additional research-oriented courses for the students to make up their credits.

Ranking Methodology for 18-month Doctorate without Dissertation Programs

We put together the above list of universities and doctorate programs across various disciplines based on their requirements for a dissertation and the total duration of the program. Of course, we gave preference to 18-month programs, but we also included some slightly longer programs.

Most programs don’t require any dissertation at all, while some require fair research activity for satisfactory completion. We ranked the programs based on accessibility, delivery mode, courses, faculty, and school reputation.

Key Takeaways

While most doctorate programs include a mandatory dissertation, several universities now offer no-dissertation programs. These are ideal for working students who may not be able to attend full-time, on-campus programs involving extensive research that can take years to complete.

But you might wonder whether an 18-month doctorate without dissertation status is still valuable. The good news is that it is — a doctorate without a dissertation is nonetheless a respected advanced degree that can significantly boost your career and secure well-paid, senior positions in the field of your choice.

Looking for other ways to speed up your post-graduate education?

Explore the Best 1-Year PhD Online Programs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a doctorate without doing a dissertation.

Yes. Many universities offer doctorate programs that don’t require a dissertation at all. Review the ones we’ve listed in this article for more information.

What Is a Doctorate Without a Dissertation Called?

There’s no particular term for doctorates without dissertations. Instead, they’re simply known as PhDs, EdDs, DNPs, or doctorate degrees. However, some institutions call them “no-dissertation programs” on their official websites.

Is a Dissertation Required for a PhD?

At many universities, a dissertation is an important and indispensable part of a PhD curriculum. However, some universities offer doctorate programs that don’t require a dissertation or thesis for completion. This can be a good option if you’re uninterested in research, don’t wish to work in academia, or are looking for an accelerated option.

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what is a doctorate without dissertation called

Earn a Doctorate Degree Without A Dissertation

  • October 21, 2022

Getting a doctorate involves hard work and commitment, but not all doctoral programs are built alike. While some doctorate degrees online require a traditional dissertation, many other programs don’t. This means you can get your doctorate online and without a dissertation requirement.

If you’ve been pondering whether or not distance learning is for you, take a look at this list of critical benefits that could help you make a decision.

How is this possible?

studying for doctorate

Advantages of a DRP

writing notes

DRPs are also more practical than dissertations, as the completion time depends on you.

Why choose the DRP?

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The DRP’s components demonstrate your competence in research and research design, your subject matter expertise, and your command of critical thinking and academic writing. Additionally, the DRP will prepare you for the career path of your specialization.

While a dissertation is the most common capstone project, a DRP is an excellent alternative if you want to demonstrate your knowledge differently.

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what is a doctorate without dissertation called

Online EdD Programs

Question: Are there online EdD programs with an All But Dissertation (ABD) option? Doctor of Education Completion Programs

Answer: Yes. Online All But Dissertation (ABD) Ed.D. programs, also known as Doctor of Education Completion programs, are designed to help students who are ABD status to finish their doctorate degree. A student becomes ABD status when he or she has finished all of the coursework in an Ed.D. program, but has not finished his or her dissertation. Online EdD programs with an ABD option provide an accelerated course of study that focuses primarily on dissertation research and writing skills. They also feature intensive faculty support for students on their dissertation so that they can stay on track with their dissertation completion timeline.

The dissertation remains a cornerstone of almost all Ed.D. programs, and gives students a valuable opportunity to apply the research theories, concepts, and skills they have learned to a topic of deep personal and professional interest to them. However, the dissertation is also a particularly challenging pursuit requiring a great deal of independent research and writing, often without the structure and support of a classroom environment. Students of both traditional and online Ed.D. programs who are unable to finish their dissertation after having completed their doctoral degree coursework end up with the designation of ABD, instead of formally receiving their Ed.D. This can happen when personal or professional obligations conflict with their dissertation work, or when students’ research does not progress as planned.

To help ABD students complete their dissertation and therefore earn their doctorate, Ed.D. programs with an option for ABD students (also known as Doctor of Education Completion programs) provide an accelerated, research-focused curriculum and intensive faculty support to ensure students have the structure and mentorship they need to get their dissertation back on the right track. In order to qualify for admission, students of Doctor of Education Completion Programs must have completed most or all of their doctoral coursework in their previous Ed.D. program. This means that ABD programs are often about one half to one third of the typical course credits compared to a full Ed.D. program, ranging from approximately 20 to 30 credits.

While still relatively in the minority, there are a growing number of online Ed.D. programs with an ABD option, as schools and colleges of education see the increasing need to support ABD students. A list of online All But Dissertation Ed.D. programs is provided below:

  • Gwynedd Mercy University’s All But Dissertation (ABD) Doctorate in Education : This 18-month program builds off of students’ previous coursework to help them lead schools, school districts, educational policies, and non-profit educational programming both in the U.S. and abroad. Students can specialize in one of four tracks, which are Leadership in PreK-12 Schools and School Districts, Leadership in Higher Education, Leadership in Special Education, and Teaching & Learning in Higher Education. Students receive a faculty dissertation advisor from the beginning of their enrollment, and also attend several campus residencies for additional support.
  • Edgewood College’s Online Doctoral Completion Program (Hybrid Program) : This program combines dissertation-specific coursework, curricular and extracurricular research and writing guidance, one-on-one faculty advising, and peer-to-peer support. Students can complete their coursework, which includes classes in advanced research methodologies, Institutional Review Board (IRB) proposals, and guided dissertation writing, over 18-14 months and take both in-person and online classes in a blended format.
  • Manhattanville College’s Doctorate in Education’s Dissertation Completion (ABD) Pathway : This program is a new online option with synchronous instruction (live real-time classes) that emulates the individualized faculty mentorship of their on-campus Dissertation Completion Pathway program. This program has students take a series of seminars that are specifically designed to help them with each chapter of their dissertation. For example, the first seminar students take guides them through writing their literature review, while the last seminar supports their writing of their Findings and Discussion chapters. Students also attend one campus residency in July.
  • Bay Path University’s Online Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership & Organizational Studies’ ABD Track : This program has students take classes in visionary leadership, organizational development and change, and entrepreneurial thinking before taking focused courses in action research and numerous dissertation seminars. Action research dissertations are distinct from traditional dissertations in that they focus on a specific organizational or community learning challenge, and discuss research that can be directly applied to solving, preventing, or otherwise mitigating this issue.
  • National University’s (NU) Online Doctorate of Education’s Dissertation Completion Pathway : This program acknowledges students’ past academic work and provides individualized support and guidance as students complete their dissertation. Students must take three bridge courses before entering the EdD program as ABD status students. From there, students and their faculty mentors agree on weekly objectives and meet on a weekly basis to discuss dissertation deliverables. NU offers two specializations in its program–Educational Leadership and Instructional Design. ( Note: This Online Doctorate of Education was previously offered by Northcentral University, which merged with National University in 2022.)

Note : In addition to the non-profit colleges and universities listed above, there are three for-profit institutions that offer online Ed.D. programs with an ABD option. These include Walden University, Trident at AIU, and the American College of Education.

Admission Requirements for All But Dissertation Ed.D. Programs

As online All But Dissertation Ed.D. programs can vary in terms of their curricula and dissertation requirements, their criteria for admission can also differ. Students should reach out to the ABD program that interests them to determine whether their completed Ed.D. coursework and any previous work they have conducted on their dissertation meet the requirements for admission to this program.

On a related note, there are ABD programs that require students to have completed all of their Ed.D. coursework prior to admission. Additionally, there are programs that accept students who are not formally ABD status, but who have completed the majority of Ed.D. coursework in their previous program. Students who are admitted under these circumstances are typically required to complete additional courses as part of their Ed.D. completion program.

In general, ABD programs expect applicants to submit the following in order to be considered for admission:

  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts, including most importantly the transcript of courses the applicant completed from his or her previous Ed.D. program. ABD programs may also have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 or higher.
  • Two or more letters of recommendation written by academic and/or professional references.
  • A dissertation prospectus or draft that demonstrates the applicant’s strong understanding of the issue under his or her investigation, the purpose and general methodologies of the study, and a preliminary plan for conducting research, gathering data, and analyzing data to arrive at insights.
  • A writing sample that represents the applicant’s ability to complete and potentially publish doctoral-level education research.
  • A personal statement that discusses the applicant’s leadership goals and experiences, academic and professional strengths, and objectives for the program specifically.
  • A comprehensive professional resume that illustrates a track record of professional excellence and leadership in educational or organizational settings.
  • Some ABD Ed.D. programs/Doctorate of Education Completion programs also require students to complete an interview with the coordinator of the Ed.D. program.

Online EdD Program FAQs

  • Are there any fully online EdD programs?
  • FAQ: Are there any online EdD programs in kinesiology?
  • FAQ: Are there any online EdD programs in TESOL and English Language Learning?
  • Are there any online EdD programs that can be completed in 2 years?
  • Are there any online EdD programs that do not require a dissertation?
  • Are there any online EdD programs that do not require a master’s degree for admission?
  • Are there any online EdD programs that do not require the GRE for admission?
  • Are there any online EdS to EdD degree programs?
  • Are there any schools that offer faith-based EdD programs online?
  • How long does it take to complete an online EdD program?
  • What is an embedded dissertation in EdD programs?


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