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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

D.Ed.--Additional Specific Requirements

The D.Ed. degree is conferred in recognition of advanced preparation of a high order for work in the profession of education as evidenced by:

  1. Satisfactory completion of a prescribed period of study;
  2. Ability to apply scientific principles to practitioner problems in a variety of education endeavors;
  3. Preparation of dissertation demonstrating ability to undertake an educational problem with originality and independent thought;
  4. Successful performance on major and minor examinations, showing a satisfactory grasp of the field of specialization and its relation to allied education areas.

Residence Requirement--A minimum of 90 credits, of which at least 30 credits must be earned in residence at University Park campus, or Penn State Harrisburg if the degree is offered at that location, is required for the D.Ed. degree. The D.Ed. candidate may meet the requirements by attending summer sessions unless the major department requires a period of registration during the regular academic year. A candidate may register for a maximum of 30 credits of research in absentia, but none of these may count toward the minimum of 30 credits that must be earned at the University Park campus or Penn State Harrisburg if the degree is offered at that location. It is expected that students will register for a minimum of 15 credits of thesis research.

Major Program and Minor Field--The program of study includes a major and either a minor or a group of general studies. A majority of the courses offered in fulfillment of the requirements must be in the major program of study.

A candidate choosing to minor in a major outside the fields of professional education (such as history) shall have a minor consisting of no fewer than 15 graduate credits in professional education, as recommended to the director of Graduate Enrollment Services early in the major program with the approval of a faculty adviser from the major and minor areas.

A candidate choosing a major in one of the approved programs in professional education must also choose either a minor or a group of general studies with the approval of the major program chair. In this case, a minor consists of no fewer than 15 graduate credits in a field considered by the major program committee to provide valuable intellectual and/or professional depth and breadth for the candidate.

There must be at least one faculty member from the minor field on the candidate’s doctoral committee. The minor may include courses taken as part of a previous master’s degree program, if the minor is in an area different from the master’s, and if the courses were not a required part of the program, e.g., used to meet a total credit requirement.

An acceptable general studies group consists of at least 15 graduate credits, including those taken as part of a previous master’s degree (up to 6 credits), considered by the major program committee to provide valuable intellectual breadth for the candidate. (Note that a general studies group is not a minor and is not entered as such on the student’s transcript.)

A candidate entering with a master’s degree in a field that would normally be regarded as appropriate for a minor may petition the major program committee for a waiver of the minor requirement. If the program chair then approves, a request for a waiver may be submitted by the chair to the director of Graduate Enrollment Services. Waiving the minor requirement does not reduce the residence or total credit requirements for the D.Ed. degree.

Comprehensive Examination--In addition to demonstrating a high level of competence in the subject matter in the major program and minor field, each candidate must show, by a comprehensive examination, an understanding of current theories of education and the ability to apply the techniques and findings of educational research so far as they bear upon the teaching of the subject matter. The candidate must also be able to understand and contribute to the technical and professional literature in the field, and to criticize learned procedures in the light of historical trends and practices in this and other countries. Command of the tools for a thorough study of the problems of education is necessary and must include competence in the use of statistical methods. For certain students the requirements may include a reading knowledge of one or more foreign languages.

All candidates are required to have a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 for academic work done at the University at the time the comprehensive examination is given, and may not have deferred or missing grades. The student must be in good academic standing and must be registered as a full-time or part-time student for the semester in which the examination is taken.

Dissertation--Evidence of a high degree of scholarship, competence in scholarly exposition, and ability to select, organize, and apply knowledge must be presented by the candidate in the form of a written dissertation. The candidate must demonstrate a capacity for independent thought, as well as ability and originality in the application of educational principles or in the development of a new generalization under scientific controls. A dissertation may be based upon a product or project of a professional nature, provided scholarly research is involved. For example, it may be based upon the solution of a professional problem concerned with the development of a curriculum, or a product of creative effort related to education. However, in order to be acceptable as a dissertation, professional project must be accompanied by a written discourse demonstrating the nature of the research and including such theories, experiments, and other rational processes as were used in effecting the final result. The topic and outline of the proposed dissertation must have the approval of the doctoral committee.

When a complete draft of the dissertation has been compiled, the student must submit it to the Thesis Office for format review. Submission for format review must be made by the announced deadline for the semester/session in which the degree will be conferred. After a successful defense and after signed approval by the advisers and/or committee members and the department head or graduate program chair, the final archival copy of the dissertation (incorporating any format changes requested by the Thesis Office), must be uploaded as an eTD (electronic dissertation) by the announced deadline for the semester/session in which the degree will be conferred. It is also expected that the student will provide a final archival copy of the disseration to the office of the department or program head.

A Thesis Guide, which gives details concerning format and other requirements, can be accessed at:


Updated: 10/23/12



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