Doctoral Dissertation decorative

Doctoral dissertation

Completing a dissertation is a significant achievement – and we’re here to help. Starting early in your program, Capella’s online doctoral programs offer resources to focus on your goal, and clear deliverables to stay on track. It’s how we help you build skills, gain early momentum and make steady progress.

What is a doctoral dissertation?

A dissertation is an original contribution to the body of academic literature and theory in your field. It addresses a gap in existing research or theory that will contribute to the knowledge base. At Capella, a PhD dissertation involves a quest for new knowledge that is relevant to the field and solves a real-world problem.

The Capella dissertation experience

Dissertation competencies

As you advance through your program’s research and residency courses, you will strive for mastery in each of these critical areas:

Scholar-practitioner development

Identify and cultivate the skills required to implement your research professionally.

Critical thinking

Apply critical-thinking skills to integrate ideas and concepts from previous research to guide and support your research project.


Develop questions that align with the research problem you’ve identified, study existing literature, propose research methodology, analyze data and apply ethics and academic integrity to your research.

Scholarly communication

Cultivate verbal and written skills necessary to advance scientific research.

Doctoral dissertation requirements

For most PhD programs, you’ll complete three virtual residency courses to help you work on your dissertation early and continuously throughout your program.

Doctoral Project Development – Topic Ideation

Your instructor will lead you through a set of rigorous activities to help you develop and evaluate proposed topic areas and theories for your dissertation.

Doctoral Project Development – Topic Development

You will apply writing, research and critical thinking skills by identifying a problem, developing research questions and finalizing a project topic that is appropriate for your program.

Doctoral Project Development – Framework Development

You will apply advanced research and writing skills through the development of a detailed project framework based on work in prior residencies.

How can I fit doctoral studies into my life?

Set milestones
Break your research down into manageable steps. See what you’ve accomplished, where you are and what’s next in your plan.

Make weekly targets
Set reminders based on your to-do list and receive notifications in your inbox.

Connect with faculty
Stay on the same page. Share your plan. Your faculty will guide you through your checklists, goals and timelines.

Access resources
Our resources can point you in the right direction to meet your goals and keep you on track. 

Ready for the next step?

Learning online doesn’t mean going it alone. Help is here, from faculty, coaches, advisors and more. Plus, a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.