Walden University offers several Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs that include a capstone project. Their Ed.D. programs include specializations in Educational Leadership, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Reading and Literacy Leadership, and Educational Technology. For the capstone at Walden, students must complete a Doctoral Study that involves researching a specific problem within an education organization. Some key requirements for Walden’s Ed.D. capstone include developing a problem statement, purpose statement, and research questions or hypotheses. Students also must complete a literature review, propose research methods and design, get IRB approval, collect and analyze data, and present their findings. The final Doctoral Study paper for Walden is usually between 75-100 pages.
Grand Canyon University offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in General Psychology program with a capstone project requirement. For the capstone, students in GCU’s Ph.D. in Psychology program must complete a research project on a topic within psychology. They are required to develop a concept paper that identifies the research problem and purpose of their study. Students then conduct a thorough review of academic literature and develop specific research questions or hypotheses. The capstone also involves completing a research proposal where students detail the specific research methodology and procedures they will use such as what instruments or assessments, sampling techniques, and statistical analyses. Upon receiving IRB approval, students collect and analyze data, discuss key findings, and present conclusions and implications in their final written dissertation paper of around 150-250 pages.
The University of Southern California offers a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology entirely online that involves completing a year-long internship and dissertation. For the dissertation capstone, USC Psy.D. students first form a dissertation committee consisting of three faculty members including a committee chair. They work closely with this committee to identify a research topic within clinical, counseling, or school psychology. Students then complete a proposal where they provide an in-depth literature review and state the hypotheses and methodology for their capstone research project. Upon IRB and committee approval, students conduct their research, analyze results, discuss findings and implications, then write and orally defend a final dissertation of around 150 pages. The Psy.D. from USC allows students to focus their research on applied clinical issues.
Northcentral University offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Advanced Studies in Psychology entirely online that includes a Dissertation Research Project as the capstone requirement. For this capstone, students choose from one of five dissertation tracks including Applied and Professional Psychology, Brain and Behavior, Clinical Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, or Educational Psychology. Students work closely with a dissertation chair and committee to develop an achievable research topic, conduct a thorough lit review, propose hypotheses and methodology, collect and analyze data, and write a final dissertation of approximately 125-250 pages. Some unique features of the NCU Ph.D. psychology capstone are the ability for students to incorporate mixed methods and more applied research designs geared towards professionals goals.
These online Doctorate programs from Walden, Grand Canyon, USC, and Northcentral Universities all require completing a substantial research or applied practice-based capstone project as the culminating demonstration of student learning. The capstones involve developing rigorous proposals, obtaining IRB approval, collecting and analyzing project data, and presenting well-documented final papers or dissertations well over 100 pages. Students work closely with faculty dissertation committees throughout to ensure their capstone research addresses important problems, contributes meaningful findings, and meets high scholarly standards. These examples illustrate how online Doctorate programs effectively facilitate extensive student-driven research projects through virtual advising and oversight.