GSE Doctoral Procedures

Information for Completing Your Doctoral Program

  • Completing Your Doctoral Program

    You are responsible for making sure you follow the policies and procedures of the GSE. You must meet high standards of academic integrity (i.e., no plagiarism as detailed in the University Code of Conduct, no violation of copyright, no misrepresentation of data, etc.). Violations of these standards subject you to disciplinary action. Information regarding the processes used to resolve allegations of violations of academic integrity is available on Fordham University’s website. You are also expected to behave ethically and professionally throughout your doctoral studies, including in-field placements, practica, and internships. Failure to do so may result in termination from the program.

    Planning with your Advisor

    On admission to a doctoral program, you will be assigned to a program advisor. You and your program advisor must meet to develop a plan for completing prerequisites. You must consult with your advisor at least once each semester to determine coursework and to plan for the Research Apprenticeship/Capstone Project and Dissertation Seminar.

    Credit Requirements and Time-to-Degree Limits

    To earn a doctoral degree at Fordham University, you must complete a minimum of 45 graduate credits beyond the master’s degree (or its equivalent). With the approval of your program advisor, program chair, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, you may include courses taken in other schools of the University. The actual number of credits you need to complete your doctoral degree depends on the requirements of your program and on your previous academic and professional background.

    You must be mindful of the eight-year time period to complete the doctoral degree. The eight-year period begins at the start of the first semester following admission to the program, or on the beginning date of any course or courses that are accepted for transfer credit, whichever is earlier. If you are a part-time student you are encouraged to take a minimum of two courses each semester in order to complete the degree within this time period. Taking fewer than two courses per semester may jeopardize financial aid and meeting the eight-year deadline.

    Credit Transfers, Extensions, and Other Program Changes

    While in the doctoral program, you may need to request a transfer of graduate credits from another institution, an extension of time to complete a requirement, a leave of absence, or other special action that affects your individual program. All special actions and modifications to your program must be requested in writing, using the appropriate form, and must be approved by your program advisor, program director, chairperson of your division, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Forms are available from the secretary of your division or online via the GSE website. It is your responsibility to monitor the approval process including the ultimate notation on your transcript for approved requests. See the current GSE Bulletin for additional information.

    Occasionally, there is a compelling reason for a doctoral student to take a course at another accredited institution. You must request permission, and receive written approval from your advisor, the division chairperson, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, to take the course and must obtain pre-approval to transfer the course credits before you take the course. Approval may be granted for pre-requisite courses to be taken at an appropriate baccalaureate or masters level. If the course will be part of the doctoral-level content, then it must be taken at that level in a doctoral-granting institution. An official transcript from the other institution showing your grade for the course will be needed to complete the transfer. A maximum of six credits may be transferred from another institution. Only courses in which you have earned an A, A-, B+ or B and that were not used to fulfill requirements for another degree are transferable.

    Grievance Procedure

    Please refer to Academic Policies and Procedures.

    Steps in the Doctoral Completion Process

    Although doctoral program experiences and schedules differ, the general framework of activity across programs and students remains fairly consistent. This section provides you with an overview of the process. Your program advisor will work with you to develop your plan of study and a specific timetable that takes you from admission to graduation.

    1. Successful completion of 12-15 credits of required coursework
    2. Permanent Matriculation
    3. Research Apprenticeship (Capstone Project for CLAIR)
    4. Completion of Required Coursework
    5. Comprehensive Exam/Assessment/Portfolio
    6. Dissertation Seminar, Dissertation Proposal, and Dissertation Review
    7. Oral Defense and Dissertation Format Review
    8. Graduation Review

    Provisional and Permanent Matriculation

    Admission to the doctoral program is provisional. As such, during the semester in which you expect to complete 12 to 15 credits of doctoral work, you must apply for permanent matriculation status by enrolling in either ASGE 0900, CLGE 0900, CTGE 0900, or PSGE 0900. You should check division-specific procedures regarding permanent matriculation. Permanent matriculation is granted upon the recommendation of faculty, the chair of your division, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. This may require the submission of a paper or other material for review. Your division chair will notify you of the results of your application for permanent matriculation status and the date of your permanent matriculation will be recorded on your official transcript.

    Maintenance of Matriculation

    To maintain matriculation status you must be registered for at least one course during all Fall and Spring semesters from the time you begin your program until you are awarded your degree. You must register for Maintenance of Matriculation (EDGE 9995) if you are not taking courses.

    If, after your oral defense, you do not meet the standards for dissertation format on time for graduation in that semester, you will need to register for maintenance of matriculation for the following semester. You will also need to re-apply for graduation. To maintain your matriculation each semester, you must register for one of the following:

    • Program coursework
    • Research Apprenticeship (ASGE 8001, CTGE 8001, PSGE 8001) or Capstone Project (CLGE 8001) for CLAIR
    • Leave of Absence (complete form if necessary)
    • Dissertation Seminar (ASGE 8750 [Ed.D.], ASGE 8751 [Ph.D.]; CLGE 8110/8111; CTGE 8110/8111, PSGE 8999)
    • Maintenance of Matriculation (EDGE 9995, if necessary)

    If for some period, you cannot make progress toward your degree because of serious personal circumstances, you must apply for a Leave of Absence. Applications for Leaves of Absence are available from your division office. Leaves of Absence are granted for one semester at a time. Time granted for leave is included in the eight-year time limit for degree completion. Multiple leaves of absence are not permitted.

    If you have not maintained matriculation through registration for a year, you will lose your matriculation status and will have to apply for re-admittance to your program. If you re-apply and are admitted again, the program requirements in effect at the time of your re-admittance will have to be met. You may be required to take additional courses to meet these requirements or to update your knowledge if a significant amount of time has elapsed.

    As a doctoral student, you must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher throughout your program. If your GPA falls below 3.5, your academic progress and matriculation are subject to review and termination.

    Prior to approval for graduation, the University will review your registration record and will charge you fees for maintenance of matriculation for any semester in which you were not registered or were on an approved leave of absence. If this occurs, approval for your graduation will be delayed until you have met your obligations. To avoid extra fees and unnecessary delays, be sure to maintain matriculation throughout your doctoral program.

    Research Apprenticeship

    You must enroll in Research Apprenticeship (ASGE 8001, CTGE 8001, PSGE 8001), or in the Capstone Experience (CLGE 8001). This typically involves one full year beginning in the fall and continuing through spring and summer sessions. Before you enroll you must have been permanently matriculated and must have completed at least 21 credits in your program. There are no course credits associated with Research Apprenticeship. A one-time fee for the three consecutive semesters is charged at the beginning of the fall semester. After that, you must register each semester but without additional fees. Research Apprenticeship requirements (e.g., reports or projects needed to complete and length of the experience) may vary by program; please see your advisor for details.

    Choosing an Area of Research Interest and an Advisor

    It is your responsibility to seek faculty to sponsor your work in this experience. You are advised to consider GSE professors as advisors on the basis of the following criteria:

    Research background and interests. You and your professor should have a mutual interest in areas of research on which you may collaborate. You might take an active part in your advisor’s ongoing research or you may suggest a research theme within your sponsor’s general area of interest and/or expertise.

    Availability. Faculty members who undertake to sponsor a student’s apprenticeship or capstone project make time to consult regularly with the student. The number of students working with an individual professor will depend on the professor’s time, research agenda, and interests.

    Expectations for the Research Apprenticeship Experience

    You will conduct a small-scale research project under the direction of the apprenticeship sponsor. Together you should select and carry out experiences from the following:

    1. Conceptualizing research problems
    2. Identifying questions and problems for investigation
    3. Reviewing related theory and research
    4. Considering appropriate designs, methods, and instrument
    5. Developing or selecting instruments (e.g., interview protocols, standardized tests, discourse coding systems) consistent with the purposes and design of their research
    6. Field testing instruments and procedures for use in research
    7. Collecting, organizing, analyzing, and reporting original or archival data appropriate to selected research problems
    8. Reporting research findings at professional meetings
    9. Drafting research articles and submitting them to professional journals

    You must meet all requirements outlined in the syllabus for the course, which you receive upon registration for Research Apprenticeship in your division. The final paper must demonstrate:

    • appropriate APA style and clarity in writing;
    • understanding of at least one research approach and method;
    • clarity and competence in reporting results or synthesizing previous research; and
    • signs of growth as a scholar and educator.

    Expectations for the CLAIR Capstone Project

    The purpose of the capstone project is to demonstrate the breadth and depth of scholarship, as well as the unique talents and experiences of each student. As such, the project should be tailored to the student’s interests and ideally tied to the dissertation.

    It is up to the student and his or her mentor to decide on the project. The project should:

    1. Demonstrate mastery of theory and research on a topic related to contemporary learning of the student’s choosing
    2. Recognize multiple perspectives (and/or inter-disciplines)
    3. Help the student move toward identifying a dissertation topic (ideally the project should relate directly to the dissertation)
    4. Be limited in scope such that the student can complete the project within one academic year
    5. Help the student develop important research, writing, and technological skills necessary for completing the dissertation
    6. Help the student develop skills that will be useful for future employment opportunities

    Students are encouraged to be innovative and to think outside the box. There are no predefined formats. Projects can be innovative or traditional. For more information see the CLAIR Doctoral Handbook.

    Fordham University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB)

    All research proposals must be reviewed by Fordham’s IRB. This includes research apprenticeship and capstone projects, pilot studies for dissertations, dissertation research, faculty research, and other studies conducted where the intent is public dissemination. The IRB may require changes to the proposed research to assure compliance with ethical standards. Doctoral candidates must successfully defend their dissertation proposals before applying for review by the IRB.

    Fordham requires all faculty and student researchers to complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Training Program as a condition of IRB approval. Note that if you conduct your study with participants in a school district, institution, or agency, you must inquire about those organizations' human participant policies. There may be additional requirements before access to human participants is granted. For example, the New York City Department of Education requires approval for all research done in New York City Schools, which in part entails providing proof of Fordham IRB approval.

    To summarize, before you collect any data for your study, you must have approval from your dissertation committee, division chair, the IRB, and the data collection site. Learn about procedures, application forms, review dates, and other information about the review process from the IRB. The email address is [email protected]. Phone: (212) 636-7946. Fax: (212) 636-6482.

    Comprehensive Examinations/Assessments

    Typically, after you have completed, or are close to completing your required coursework (with the exception of Dissertation Seminar), a comprehensive examination that allows you to demonstrate your integration of knowledge is required; the exact point at which you take the exam is based on your program. Programs have a process for determining eligibility for doctoral comprehensive exams. The comprehensive exam may involve a written examination, a paper, a formal research study, or another activity. The content and format are determined by your division and program faculty. Please see your advisor or program coordinator for information about orientation sessions and for scheduling of the exam. It is important that you attend and become familiar with the specific requirements for your program.

    You may register for comprehensive experiences through, using the appropriate call numbers (CRNs) for your division, course numbers, and sections that you need to take. See the applicable semester schedule for appropriate CRNs. The deadline for registration is listed in the current semester's academic calendar.

    You will receive written notice of the results of your comprehensive examinations or assessments after the faculty evaluate the exams. For details regarding specific programs (e.g., CPY), see the program handbook or consult your advisor. When you have passed the comprehensive examinations, you are considered a candidate for the doctoral degree and are eligible to begin formal work on your dissertation research.

    In some programs, you may be asked to revise sections of your comprehensive exam if your exam response did not fully meet the criteria for a passing grade. If the revision is acceptable, you will receive a passing grade on your comprehensive exam.

    If you are not successful the first time you take comprehensive examinations or assessments, you may have a second examination or assessment during the next administration for your division. If you are not successful on the second attempt, you may be terminated from the program.

    Dissertation Seminar

    After you have completed all required courses, and have passed your comprehensive examinations/assessments/portfolios—or during the semester in which you are registered for these experiences—you may register for dissertation seminar (ASGE 8750 [Ed.D.]; ASGE 8751 [Ph.D.]; CLGE 8110/8111; CTGE 8110/8111; PSGE 8999). Once you register for Dissertation Seminar, you must register for Dissertation Seminar each Fall and Spring semester thereafter, including the semester of your oral defense. You may work on your dissertation, but no official action will be taken with respect to approval of your dissertation work until you have successfully completed your comprehensive exams/assessments. Before you register for dissertation seminar, it is expected that you will have begun to develop a research focus and some potential research questions for your dissertation study. You should acquaint yourself with the research interests and areas of specialization of the faculty before deciding on your research objective. In addition, you should invite and secure a mentor for your study.

    Work collaboratively with your mentor to identify readers for your dissertation committee. Occasionally, due to the topic of the dissertation or other special factors, it is appropriate for someone other than a full-time GSE faculty member to serve as a reader (this includes Fordham faculty from other schools in the University). If you want to propose someone other than GSE faculty, you must submit a recent copy of the person's curriculum vitae to Dissertation Seminar faculty via the chair of the division for approval. No non-GSE faculty may serve on your committee without the written approval of the division chairperson. The only exception to this policy is for full-time faculty from Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education or from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. After your proposal is accepted, you will receive a copy of the review form for your records. Your transcript should serve to document this event.

    The committee’s primary responsibility is to assure the integrity of the research project. Committee members’ expertise and experience enable them to critically follow the development of the candidate's project from the formation of the research question, through the exploration of related literature and data, through the design of the study, to the analyses of the data, and to the development of outcomes. They provide guidance during the development of the research questions, literature review, design of the study, and selection of methods of analysis. Generally, they also critically review the chapters of the dissertation as they are prepared and point out areas requiring additional attention.

    You are encouraged to develop an approved dissertation proposal in one or two semesters of dissertation seminar. Be mindful that you need to obtain permission to use copyrighted material, such as assessment instruments. Letters of permission related to these instruments are included in your final dissertation.

    Dissertation Proposal and Approval

    The proposal approval process differs across programs and divisions. Check with your program coordinator, in the program handbook, and in the division dissertation manual for specific guidelines.

    Note that dissertation proposals follow the same formatting and editing criteria as dissertations with two exceptions; use “DISSERTATION PROPOSAL” in place of “DISSERTATION” on the title page, and do not use PhD or EdD after your name. (See Part II of this handbook for details regarding the formatting of your dissertation.)

    When your dissertation proposal has been approved by your committee, complete an “Approval of Doctoral Dissertation Proposal” form and have your committee members sign it indicating their acceptance of your proposal. Then submit the form, one or two copies of your dissertation proposal (as requested by your division), and evidence of IRB approval to your division chair for review. If your division chair approves, s/he will forward these materials for filing in the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Note that formal approval of the dissertation proposal by the faculty and division chair, and IRB approval, must occur before any data involving human participants are collected.

    Final approval of the dissertation proposal is noted on your transcript as ASGE 0999, CLGE 0999, CTGE 0999, or PSGE 0999.

    Dissertation Research

    Your doctoral dissertation is a capstone to your academic experience at the GSE. Through your critical review of the literature, you will demonstrate your in-depth knowledge and understanding of a select facet of your chosen field. Through your selection of a research problem, you will take that knowledge and understanding to a new level – one that expands or refines recognized definitions, that applies extant knowledge in new settings, or that searches for alternative definitions, causes, or results. Your research design, methods, and analyses will provide evidence of your capacity to function as a contributing colleague in your field.

    Your dissertation represents a substantial investment of your intellectual capital and personal energy. It will stand as a significant professional credential throughout your career. Your dissertation also will reflect upon the GSE’s reputation for academic excellence.

    Each dissertation is the work of an individual doctoral candidate, and as such, you, the doctoral student, have the primary responsibility for conducting research and developing a dissertation document that meets the requirements and standards of the GSE. Your dissertation must present original work and conform to academic and professional ethics codes and procedures. See the most recent APA publication manual for guidelines for attribution of ideas as well as the use of quotes. There are software programs that can assist you in detecting plagiarism (e.g., and and assist you with citations. Individuals who fail to meet the standards for these codes and procedures through plagiarism, violation of copyright, misrepresentation of data, or other violations of academic integrity, are subject to disciplinary action. Information regarding the process used to resolve allegations of violations of academic integrity is available in the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

    While developing your proposal and conducting your research, you are responsible for meeting and working with your mentor and committee members on a regular basis. You must secure committee approval, and potentially IRB approval, in writing for modifications to your study's approved design, procedures, questions, or other elements. You must also have committee approval for data collection procedures and for communication with outside agencies and participants.

    Dissertation mentors provide guidance on the development and refinement of research questions, on the scope and direction of the literature review, and on the suitability of proposed research designs, data analyses, and similar related issues. Generally, mentors and readers critically review the chapters of the dissertation as they are prepared and alert the candidates to areas requiring additional work. During this review process, mentors and readers point out deficiencies in the document's format and in the way the content is expressed. Mentors and committee members are responsible for evaluating the readiness of the draft versions of dissertations for defense and format review. Although this rigorous review will address issues of completeness, content quality, and formatting, mentors are not responsible for copyediting dissertation manuscripts. Spell-checking, copyediting, formatting and the like are your responsibility and your progress can be delayed by lack of attention to format.

    After the mentor and committee members agree that the dissertation is ready for the oral defense, you must submit it to the division chair for review. When the chair has approved the dissertation, then may you work with your committee to schedule the oral defense.

    Dissertation Review by Committee Members

    Consult the GSE academic calendar each semester for relevant deadlines on submitting your manuscript to your mentor, readers, and chair of the division. When you have completed your dissertation manuscript, give one copy to each committee member for review. Your committee will approve your dissertation when it meets all substantive standards established by the professional community and the GSE format requirements. When your committee members have approved the dissertation, each of them will sign the “Approval for Scheduling the Oral Defense of the Doctoral Dissertation” form. You will then need to submit one copy of your dissertation along with the signed form to your division chair for review. The chair will review your dissertation and accept or reject the recommendation of your committee. If the dissertation is approved, the chair will sign the form and you may schedule your oral defense.

    Dissertation Oral Defense

    Your oral defense is scheduled after the dissertation has been reviewed and approved by your dissertation committee and division chairperson. You may then arrange a date and time for the oral defense with your dissertation committee. Check with your mentor regarding the possible requirement of a chairperson for the oral defense. If applicable, you must submit an additional copy of the dissertation to the person who will chair the oral defense. Your oral defense will focus chiefly on your dissertation research and its impact in the field in which the research was conducted. Immediately following your defense, your committee will evaluate your research and performance.

    The outcome of this evaluation will be one of four ratings:

    1. Passed.
    2. Passed, contingent upon minor modifications of the dissertation document.
    3. Passed but with major revisions (e.g., content).
    4. Not acceptable at this time.

    If changes are required, you will be given a specific timeframe in which to make the modifications and submit the revisions to your committee. EDGE 0990 on your transcript indicates that you have passed the Dissertation Oral Defense.

    After you successfully defend your dissertation and make any recommended changes, you submit your dissertation for format review. Submission to the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of a fully approved dissertation provides evidence that a doctoral candidate’s dissertation has been successfully defended in an oral hearing.

    Dissertation Format Review

    After your dissertation has been approved by your committee members and division chair, please consult division-specific policies. Before you can officially graduate and receive your diploma, your dissertation must be approved for format. Format review (EDGE 0999) assures that the document meets all formatting and stylistic requirements of the GSE and is ready for publication. Your program may approve an alternate format for your dissertation (number of chapters, for example). If so, your advisor will provide you with details. In general, however, you should adhere to the formatting guidelines presented in Part II of this document. The Office of the Dean will provide you with the steps to take during the format review process.

    If the dissertation or parts thereof are subsequently published, the preliminary matter of the printed copy must contain a statement that the book or part thereof was part of a dissertation, presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Education in the Graduate School of Education, Fordham University.

    Graduation Application

    Being included on the list of candidates approved for graduation is not automatic, even if you have completed your courses, successfully defended your dissertation, and have had your dissertation manuscript approved by the format review process. You must apply for graduation in order for your transcript to be evaluated. Make sure you apply for graduation on Please check the academic calendar for deadlines.

    Fees related to the dissertation process and for graduation are paid to the University Bursar. Consult a current GSE Bulletin (online) for a complete list of applicable fees. Following the review of your academic record for graduation eligibility, the bursar's office will review your financial records to determine whether all financial obligations have been met. If any problems exist, you will be notified.


    The date of commencement, traditionally a Saturday in mid-to-late May, is listed in the GSE academic calendar each year. Commencement ceremonies take place at the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. If you have applied for graduation, you will receive information in early spring regarding the rental of academic attire, diploma availability, and when to pick up commencement invitations and tickets. The invitations are distributed through the Dean’s Office following their announced availability.

    Students graduating in May whose academic and financial records are completely cleared will receive their diplomas at the end of the ceremony. Alternatively, after graduation day, you may make arrangements to obtain your diploma at the Registrar’s Office at Lincoln Center or have it sent in the mail. Hooding by your mentor occurs at the Graduate School of Education ceremony immediately following the University Commencement. Note: Your diploma will indicate your degree, "Doctor of Philosophy" or "Doctor of Education," as appropriate. It will not indicate your area of specialization. Your specialization is listed on your official transcript.

  • All elements addressed in this handbook are to be handled according to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed., 2020).


    • All pages comply with APA (7th ed.)
    • Running heads are not included in the Fordham GSE dissertation.


    • All text is 12-point Times New Roman.


    • Margins are 1-inch at top, bottom, left, and right.
    • Text is left-justified; right margin is uneven.


    • The dissertation is double spaced, including block quotes.
    • Single space exceptions are used for the following:
      • titles and headings that are longer than one line
      • titles in tables and figures
    • One space after punctuation within a sentence (commas or semi-colons).
    • One space after final punctuation in a sentence (periods or question marks). 


    • Title page is not numbered.
    • The following pages are numbered with Roman numerals (beginning with ii):
      • Notice of Copyright
      • Acknowledgements (if included)
      • Dedication (if included)
      • Table of Contents
      • List of Tables (if tables have been used)
      • List of Figures (if figures have been used)
    • The following pages are numbered with Arabic numerals (beginning with 1):
      • Abstract
      • The Chapters
      • References
      • Appendices
    • Page breaks are inserted as needed. (In Word, use ctrl-enter to insert a page break.)
    • Widows and orphans have been eliminated.

    The Manuscript

    The dissertation elements are ordered as follows:

    • Title Page
    • Notice of Copyright
    • Acknowledgements
    • Dedication
    • Table of Contents
    • List of Tables
    • List of Figures
    • Abstract
    • The Chapters
    • References
    • Appendices


    Headings in the Table of Contents:
    • Chapter headings are left-aligned.
    • APA level 1 headings are indented one (1) time.
    • APA level 2 headings are indented two (2) times.
    • APA level 3 headings are indented three (3) times.
    Corresponding headings in the document:
    • Chapter headings are bold center, and all upper case.
    • APA level 1 are bold, center, and mixed case.
    • APA level 2 headings are bold, left-aligned, and mixed case.
    • APA level 3 headings are bold, end in a period, and are at the start of a new paragraph.


    • Every table in the document appears in the List of Tables.
    • Every table has a title.
    • Every table column has a heading.
    • Every table column has been checked for proper alignment.


    • Every figure in the document appears in the List of Figures.
    • Every figure has a caption.

    The Dissertation Elements

    Title Page

    • Dissertation title is in an inverted pyramid format, all upper case.
    • Title does not exceed 14 words.
    • Title is the same on both the Title page and the Abstract page.
    • Full legal name is used on both the Title page and the Abstract page.
    • The dissertation is dated by year of graduation.


    • Labeled COPYRIGHT (but NOTICE OF COPYRIGHT in the Table of Contents).
    • Centered on the page, top to bottom, left to right.

    Acknowledgements (if included)

    • Centered on the page, top to bottom.
    • Text is left-aligned.

    Dedication (if included)

    • Labeled DEDICATION
    • Centered on the page, top to bottom.
    • Text is left-aligned.

    Table of Contents

    • Headings and page numbers are identical to those in the document.
    • Page numbers are right-aligned and at the end of headings.
    • Headings and indentations correspond with headings in the document.
    • Chapter, APA levels 1, 2, and 3 headings are listed in the Table of Contents.

    List of Tables/List of Figures

    • Titles and page numbers are identical to those in the document.
    • Page numbers are right-aligned and at the end of headings.
    • Tables/figures are numbered in the order in which they appear in the text.
    • Every table/figure in the document appears in the List of Tables/List of Figures.


    • No more than 250 words.
    • Located just before the body of the text.
    • The first page is numbered using an Arabic numeral.
    • Labeled Abstract with an APA level 1 heading.
    • Headings are NOT bold.
    • The first line is NOT indented.


    • All chapters begin on a new page.
    • All chapter headings are centered, bold, and in upper case.
    • All chapter headings run across two lines:
      • the first line is labeled CHAPTER followed by its Roman numeral number
      • the second line is the chapter’s title


    • References list begins at the start of a new page.
    • The work of others, whether direct quote or paraphrase, is correctly cited and referenced.
    • Citations in text and their corresponding reference entries are accurate and complete.
    • Inclusive page numbers are given for all articles or chapters in books.
    • Page numbers are provided for all quotations.
    • Journal titles in the reference list are spelled out, not abbreviated or shortened.
    • Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or full URL are provided when necessary and relevant.
    • References with multiple authors are correctly alphabetized.
    • References are correctly alphabetized, capitalized, underlined, italicized, and punctuated.
    • Only sources in the text are listed in the references.
    • Entries are single or double spaced, but a space separates individual entries.


    • Appendices are in the order in which they are mentioned in the text.
    • Letters for permission granted for copyrighted material are included as appendices.
    • IRB Notification Letter (even if waived) is included as an appendix.
    • A divider page is used with each appendix.


    • Text is organized and divided meaningfully by levels of headings.
    • Text is organized and divided meaningfully by paragraph.
    • One sentence cannot be a paragraph.


    • Active voice is used whenever possible.
    • The use of first-person singular is acceptable.
    • Verb tenses are correct throughout.
    • Verbs are in agreement with nouns.
    • Verbs are in agreement with plural nouns (data, criteria, phenomena, etc.).
    • Errors in spelling, hyphenation, punctuation, and grammar have been corrected.
    • Edits have been made with attention to en (-) and em (–) dashes.
    • Mathematical and statistical symbols and formulas are accurate and in the correct format.
    • Titles of tests or other measurement instruments are neither underlined nor italicized.
    • Units of measurement are properly specified in tables, figures, and they are in the text.
    • The text has been edited to eliminate jargon, clichés, and biased language.
    • Typing, mechanical, and spacing errors have been corrected.
  • The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) 7th edition is your main source of information on format and style. However, the manual was not developed specifically for dissertations and, therefore, may not address specific dissertation elements (e.g., title page, table of contents). This page provides formatting and style for those elements.

    Manuscript Preparation

    All elements addressed in this handbook are to be handled according to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed., 2020).

    Typeface and Font

    The preferred typeface for APA publications is Times New Roman with 12-point font. Bold typeface is limited to headings.


    Use one-inch margins on all four sides. Text is left-aligned with an uneven right margin.


    Spacing Between Lines

    The text of a dissertation is double-spaced. Blockquotes should be double spaced; do not single-space block quotes.

    Single space exceptions are as follows:

    • titles and headings longer than one line
    • titles in tables and figures
    • appendix items

    Reference list items can be double or single-spaced. If single-spaced, double spacing should be used between the individual references.

    Examples of single-spaced and double-spaced tables appear in the APA manual and its companion volume* Presenting Your Findings: A Practical Guide for Creating Tables (Nicol & Pexman, 2010).

    *This companion volume is still the version being sold by APA.  Please make sure all formatting for tables follows the 7th Edition requirements.

    Spacing and Punctuation

    The guidelines of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) for spacing dictates that one space be used for punctuation within a sentence (e.g., after a comma or colon), but two spaces are used after the final punctuation in a sentence (e.g., after a period or a question mark).

    Spacing between Sections

    Major section titles (TABLE OF CONTENTS, CHAPTER I, etc.) are centered at the top of the page. Double-space between the chapter number and the chapter title.

    If an orphan (a heading or first paragraph line that appears alone at the bottom of a page) is created, move the heading or the paragraph to the start of the next page. If a widow (the last paragraph line that appears alone at the top of the next page), is created, reword the paragraph to eliminate the spillover or move the last two lines of the paragraph to the next page.

    (Note: Microsoft Word can be set to control the occurrence of orphans and widows; go to Page Layout/Paragraph/Line and Page Breaks.)


    Place all page numbers at the upper right of the page. Pages that come before the abstract (title page, copyright, acknowledgments, dedication, table of contents, list of tables, and list of figures) are numbered consecutively using lower case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.). Although numbered, page number i is not printed on the title page.

    Beginning with the first page of the abstract, all remaining pages of the dissertation, including references, divider pages, and appendices, are numbered consecutively using Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.).

    (Note: In Microsoft Word, a new page is created by typing ctrl-enter, that is, the control and enter keys are typed simultaneously. Avoid “entering-down” to start a new page which may not have the desired pagination effect.)

    Dissertation Elements and Their Sequence

    The following sequence reflects the order of the dissertation elements. Appendices B-L provide samples for each of the elements. Some dissertations may have additional or fewer chapters, and chapter titles may differ from those listed. Consult with your mentor for advice on chapters and chapter titles.

    • Title Page
    • Notice of Copyright
    • Acknowledgments (optional)
    • Dedication (optional)
    • Table of Contents
    • List of Tables (if tables are used in your dissertation)
    • List of Figures (if figures are used in your dissertation)
    • Abstract
    • Chapter I: The Problem
    • Chapter II: Review of Related Literature
    • Chapter III: Methodology
    • Chapter IV: Findings (or Results)
    • Chapter V: Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations
    • References
    • Appendices (IRB Notification Letter, even if waived, must be included as an appendix)
      • Appendix A: Appendix A Title
      • Appendix B: Appendix B Title (continue as needed)

    The following provides further detail for each of the manuscript elements.

    Title Page

    The title of a dissertation should summarize concisely the topic addressed by your research. A reader should be able to discern – with reasonable accuracy – the essence of your study. Care should be taken to include appropriate keywords in the title to assist in locating your study through digital searches. APA suggests a 12-word limit in titles of articles.

    The title page is the first page of the dissertation and, as such, is numbered Roman numeral i. However, the page number is not printed on the page. Table 1 describes, in order, the elements and formatting of the title page.

    Table 1: Title Page – Elements and Formatting
    Title page elements Formatting requirements
    Dissertation title 2 inches (3 double spaces) from top of page;
    inverted pyramid, centered, double-spaced, upper case;
    12 words maximum across 2-3 lines;
    text should not reach the side margins.
    Candidate’s full legal name 2 double spaces below title; centered, mixed case;
    full name, no initials; must be identical here and in the abstract;
    (Do not use Ph.D. or Ed.D. after your name, unless you currently hold the degree.)
    Candidate’s prior degrees 1 double space below name; centered, mixed case;
    listing of multiple degrees should be single spaced;
    degrees listed in chronological order;
    degree, followed by granting institution and year;
    no diplomas or certificates.
    Mentor’s name 5 single spaces below degrees; centered, mixed case;
    title Mentor in plain text;
    mentor's name and degree directly underneath.
    Readers’ names 3 single spaces below mentor; centered, mixed case;
    title Readers in plain text;
    alphabetical listing of readers' names and their degrees directly underneath.
    Submission statement 4 double spaces below readers; centered, upper case;
    title DISSERTATION in plain text;
    submission statement 1 double space below;
    (See Appendix A for text of submission statement.)
    Location and year NEW YORK 2 single spaces below submission statement;
    year doctorate conferred directly underneath.


    If you plan to file for copyright registration for your dissertation, a notice of copyright must be included following the title page. The notice of copyright is centered (top-to-bottom and left-to-right). It includes the copyright symbol ©, the full legal name of the author, the year in which the material was copyrighted, and the statement, “All Rights Reserved.” 


    It is sometimes appropriate to acknowledge contributions to your study by a person(s) or institution(s) outside of the Graduate School of Education. For example, you may want to acknowledge the assistance you received in the form of workspace, clerical support, or equipment from the agency or school where you conducted your study. Acknowledgments should be brief, simple, and professionally stated. You may acknowledge more than one person or institution, but all acknowledgments should not exceed a single, double-spaced page. The section title Acknowledgments is centered and in bold upper case. The text is centered (top-to-bottom). Do not include information that would disclose the individual identities of participants in the research or that would otherwise violate confidentiality agreements or ethical standards for the treatment of human participants in research.


    You may dedicate your dissertation to one or more persons. The text should be brief, simple, and tasteful. Dedications are generally not longer than a few sentences. The dedication follows the acknowledgments on a separate page. The section title Dedication is centered and in bold upper case. The text is centered (top-to-bottom). 

    Table of Contents

    The Table of Contents enumerates all the sections in the dissertation. The title, Table of Contents, is centered, in bold caps, and at the top of the page. The word Page is flush with the right margin, two lines (one double space) below the title. Page numbers are right-aligned in the Page column, following the heading title. Chapter-level headings are upper-case and bold. APA level 1, 2, and 3 headings are mixed case and indented, in 1/2 inch increments, according to the APA level of the heading. Do not show more than three APA levels of headings in the Table of Contents (i.e., APA levels 1, 2, 3). (The Headings section of this document explains how corresponding heading levels are formatted in the text.) Headings longer than one line are single-spaced and aligned with the first line of the title. Page numbers are at the end of the last line of the title. In instances in which divider pages are used, the entries in the Table of Contents are those of the divider page. 

    List of Tables

    A list of tables enumerates each of the tables in the dissertation (including tables in the appendices), and provides the table’s number, exact name, and the page number. For titles that are longer than one line, additional lines are single-spaced and aligned with the first line of the title. Page numbers are at the end of the last line of the title. The List of Tables follows the Table of Contents on its own page or pages. 

    List of Figures

    As with the List of Tables, which it immediately follows, the List of Figures provides each figure’s number, exact name, and the page number. The formatting is the same as that for the list of tables.  Figures include graphic materials such as "a chart, graph, photograph, drawing, or any other illustration or nontextual depiction" (APA, 2020, p. 195). Please consult the sections in the APA Publication Manual (7th ed.) for details concerning the appropriate content for, and preparation of, figures. 

    The table below provides formatting details for both the List of Tables and the List of Figures.

    Table 2: List of Tables and List of Figures – Elements and Formatting
    List elements Formatting requirements
    Title top of the page, centered, bold, all caps;
    Headings 2 spaces (1 double space) below the title;
    the text “Table” or “Figure” flush left;
    the text “Page” is flush right.
    List of items 2 spaces (1 double space) below the headings;
    item number followed by a period; tab 1/2 inch for the title;
    individual items are separated by 2 spaces (1 double space);
    the page number is flush right.
    Titles longer than 1 line additional lines are left-aligned along title name;
    the page number appears at end of the last line.

    (Use Microsoft Word’s feature for setting left, center, and right tabs in the table of contents, list of tables, and list of figures. Tabbing or spacing over to the right margin may not have the desired effect. The feature should also be used when setting table columns if tables are used in the dissertation.)


    The abstract must be a clear, brief summary of your dissertation. Your abstract should tell what your study is about, what you did in your investigation, what you observed, and what you concluded as a result. In other words, as a summary, it should include the statement of the problem, the procedures and methods used, the results, and your conclusions. Do not include statistical formulas, figures, or other graphics in the abstract. Do not cite references in the abstract.

    Your abstract will be published, without additional editing, in Dissertation Abstracts International. Its length may not exceed 250 words.

    The Abstract is the first page in which Arabic numerals, beginning with 1, are used for page numbering. Table 3 provides formatting requirements for each element of the Abstract. See Doctoral Handbook for an example of an abstract.

    Table 3: Abstract – Elements and Formatting
    Abstract elements Formatting requirements
    Page number the first page in which Arabic numerals are used;
    upper-right corner: 1
    Headings top of the page, centered, mixed case.
    The first line reads Abstract in plain text.
    Dissertation title 2 spaces (1 double space) below Abstract
    inverted pyramid, all caps;
    the text must be identical to that on the Title Page.
    Candidate’s full legal name 2 spaces (1 double space) below title;
    full name, no initials; mixed case;
    name must be identical to that on Title Page.
    (unlike the Title Page, Ph.D. or Ed.D. may be used)
    University, Location, Year 2 spaces (1 double space) below candidate’s name;
    “Fordham University, New York, <year>” with the year in which the degree is conferred in the brackets.
    Mentor’s name 2 spaces (1 double space) below University, Location, Year.
    title Mentor in plain text;
    mentor's name and degree directly (single space) underneath.
    Text 2 spaces (1 double space) below Mentor
    double-spaced, left-aligned, no indentation.

    Dissertation Chapters

    Each dissertation chapter begins at the top of a new page. The titles of your chapters should be discussed with your mentor. Page numbering continues from the Abstract, but the chapter headings are labeled with upper case Roman numerals. Table 4 outlines the formatting for each of the chapter elements. 

    Table 4: Dissertation Chapters – Elements and Formatting
    Chapter elements Formatting requirements
    Chapter heading bold, all caps
    Chapter followed by chapter number in Roman numeral
    Title bold, all caps
    one double space below Chapter
    Chapter double space throughout
    page numbering continues from the Abstract


    Individual chapters serve as sections of the dissertation. In addition, chapters will (in all likelihood) contain sections, and sections will contain sub-sections. Section levels are indicated by using APA-style headings (Levels 1-5) at the start of each section. Most often, dissertations require only three or four of the APA levels. Regardless of level, double spacing is maintained throughout the chapter.

    Be sure to refer to the Table of Contents section of this document to see how the corresponding levels are displayed in the table of contents.

    Tables and Figures

    Tables and figures are valuable means for presenting large amounts of data or complex information to your readers. Consult pp. 195-250 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed., 2020) for instructions on the construction and format of tables and figures.

    In the dissertation tables and figures are usually inserted on a new page, following the page on which the table or figure is discussed. However, a small table or figure may be included on the same page following the text in which it is discussed. Tables and figures may be oriented vertically (portrait) or horizontally (landscape) on the page depending on its size and shape. If oriented horizontally, its title and the top of the table or figure will be on the left binding side of a hard copy document. As with all pages of the dissertation manuscript, the page number is in the upper-right. APA 7th edition (p. 44) states: "All papers should contain the page number, flush right, in the header of every page.  Use the automatic page-numbering function of your word-processing program to insert page numbers in the top right corner; do not type page numbers manually".

    Tables and figures are numbered consecutively within the dissertation. Each is captioned with the word “Table” or “Figure” followed by its number. Titles are left-aligned, italicized, and in mixed cases. Tables and figures that serve as appendices (and are not placed within the chapters) are listed in the list of tables or list of figures and designated with a letter (not a number) corresponding to its appendix number. They are listed following the numbered items in the lists of tables or list of figures.

    The use of the words or ideas of others must be properly noted and the work attributed to its originator. This applies to the verbatim or direct quotation as well as to a paraphrase or indirect quotation of the material. In each instance, the source must be identified in the text and a full reference to the work must be included in the references list. Chapter 8 (Works Credited in the Text) in the APA 7th ed. (pp. 253-278) includes detailed information about providing sources for the information in your text.

    Listings are either single or double-spaced. If single-spaced, a blank space must separate the individual listings.

    Chapter 9 (Reference List; pp. 281-309) and Chapter 10 (Reference Examples; pp. 313-352)  of the APA 7th ed. (2020) provide detailed information about creating the reference list at the end of a paper.  These chapters should be consulted for examples of reference-list style.

    Permission to Use Copyrighted Material

    The use of copyrighted material is governed by the Copyright Act of 1976 and by policies established by publishers and journals. If you need to reprint a significant portion (50 words or more) of a work, or if the inclusion of a portion of a work might in any way infringe upon the letter or spirit of the fair use protections of the Copyright Act, you must request, and receive, permission in writing to use the material before including the material in your dissertation. Requests for permission are generally honored, but they cannot be taken for granted. If you plan to use a published test, questionnaire, or other copyrighted material, seek permission before you gather your data, in the event of a delay or denial of your request.

    To minimize delay, call the publisher of the copyrighted material and request the phone number and address of the person in charge of permissions to reprint. Explain your need and ask for specific instructions on the wording of your letter of request. Generally, such letters must include full identification of the material you wish permission to use (the exact pages, items, forms, etc.), the purpose of your project (dissertation), the estimated number of copies that will be made, and the expected long-term distribution of the material. Sending your request directly to the permissions editor may save considerable amounts of time. See the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) for additional information about permissions.

    Letters of permission for copyrighted material are mentioned in the body of the text and are inserted as an Appendix. Note that an actual letter of permission is needed in your appendix; verbal permission is not sufficient.

    Additionally, dissertations that are aided by or require the availability of reference or support materials (for example, a copy of a questionnaire used in the study), should contain an Appendix for each of those items.

    The “Honesty in the Authorship of this Dissertation” form (available from the GSE Doctoral Procedures website) describes expectations regarding honesty and plagiarism. You will be required to sign and submit the form when you submit your dissertation for format review.


    Appendices are inserted at the end of the dissertation document. If more than one is used, each is preceded by a leader page designated Appendix A, Appendix B, and so on. Directly underneath (double spaced) is a brief, informative title. If only one appendix is included, a leader page is still used but it does not have a letter designation. All of the appendices in this document serve as examples as to how appendices and leader pages are to be formatted.

    The pages of appendices, including the divider pages, are consecutively numbered and continue the pagination following the references list. It is the titles and page numbers of the divider pages (not the appendix items themselves) that are listed in the Table of Contents.

    The IRB Notification Letter, even if waived, must be included as an appendix in the GSE dissertation.


    American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (7th ed.). Washington, DC.

    Capitalization Tool

    Collaborative Institution Training Initiative (CITI)

    Copyright Act of 1976

    Dissertation Abstracts International

    Fordham University – University Code of Conduct

    Fordham University IRB Education and Training

    Fordham University IRB

    Graduate School of Education Academic Policies and Procedures (Grievance Procedures)

    Graduate School of Education Bulletin

    Graduate School of Education Calendar

    Graduate School of Education Doctoral Procedures (checklists, forms, handbook)


    Nicol, Adelheid A. M., & Pexman, P. M. (2010). Presenting Your Findings: A Practical Guide for Creating Tables (6th Ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.