Developing a dissertation is a highly individualized process with the student taking responsibility for defining the problem and research questions, collecting and analyzing data, then writing the final report. During this time, some students continue to participate in the advanced seminar for writing support but attendance is not required. Most dissertation work is done independently, requiring strong self-motivation and good work habits. Students are not required to be present on campus but do need to consider how best to find the time and energy needed to complete what most find a challenging and time-consuming but interesting task. Many students choose to participate in a dissertation support group as a way to provide community support during the writing process as a continuation of the LTEC cohort structure.
It is the student’s responsibility to keep his/her chair informed of progress on a regular basis and maintain contact with committee members. How long the dissertation process will take is highly variable, but the average time from start of the program to finished dissertation is about five years; it can be shorter but that is not typical for students who are not full time in a PhD program.