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Adult Learning and Leadership
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Adult Learning and Leadership

In the Department of Organization & Leadership

FAQs > Doctoral Students

Doctoral Students

Prospective StudentsAdmissionsAdult Education Guided Intensive Study (AEGIS)
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What is an Ed.D.?

The Doctor of Education degree is a research or professional doctorate which emphasizes broad preparation for advanced professional responsibilities through a program based upon extensive study in a specialized branch in the field of education or in a related area of instruction.

What is the Office of Doctoral Studies?

The Office of Doctoral Studies (324 Thorndike Hall, 212-678-4058) is a service for doctorate students. The office and website have a number of informational packets for doctoral students, including program plan requirements, certification exam information, proposal and dissertation style manuals and so on. We encourage newly admitted doctorate students to visit the Office of Doctoral Studies and/or website in order to get these informational packets. The website is:

Where is the Office of Doctoral Studies (ODS)?

The Office of Doctoral Studies is located at the following address:

Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 172, 324 Thorndike Hall
525 West 120th Street
New York, N.Y. 10027
(212) 678-4058

How do I find an advisor?

When students are admitted to the program, they are assigned an advisor to assist with program planning. Advisor assignments are made on the basis of the information contained in a student's application. To the extent possible, students will be matched with faculty with whom they share some interests. However, once students are enrolled they are free to change advisors, if they find another faculty member with whom they would like to work. This is not an unusual occurrence. Changing advisors requires agreement from both the current and the proposed faculty advisor and is accomplished by obtaining both their signatures on a form obtained from the Doctoral Program Administrator.

How much can I tailor my program?

There are core courses for each program which are required. However, it is important to stress that these requirements are not intended to be strictly prescriptive, nor are they meant to limit students to one area of professional interest. In conjunction with their advisors, students have considerable latitude in tailoring a course of study that will meet their needs and prepare them to develop and carry out a dissertation.

What is the grading procedure for the certification exams?

The exams are sent back to us (which takes about a week), then circulated to reader 1, and then circulated to reader 2. These two people read them "blind" and sometimes a third person reads them if one person fails a question but the other does not. The speed with which they are read depends on each grader’s schedule. However, once we receive them, we aim to have the first person read through the exams within a week and then pass them to the second reader.  All of this takes approximately a month.

Two people also read the QP (Qualifying Paper). Once we read through them and write up the results for feedback we schedule a meeting with the student. The reading of the QP can take between 1 and 2 months depending on other things going on. We communicate directly with the student in both cases once we have the results.

How many years do I have to complete my dissertation?

Once certified, students normally have between 4 and 6 years to complete their dissertation. This can be dependent on whether students choose to commit to either full-time or part-time status.

How do I take a leave of absence in the middle of my program?

Once certified, if extenuating circumstances force students to take a temporary leave, students are authorized for two semesters of exemptions for personal reasons, or may obtain waivers for documentable reasons out of the student's control. Extensions can be granted only under special circumstances. These must be arranged with student's advisors and with ODS.