Transfer ABD in Special Ed. to new school?

Discussion in 'Education, Teaching and related degrees' started by Stephanie24, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. Stephanie24

    Stephanie24 New Member

    I'm looking for advice, so I'm hoping you might have some suggestions. I've been in a PhD program for Special Education at a Tier 1 research university in the Midwest. I've completed all of my coursework and exams, and I'm now in an ABD status. This being said, I'm unable to continue in the program due to harassment from my advisor. While I was subject to the harassment throughout the program, I kept my head down an endured it because I just wanted to finish. But it finally became too much and I filed a Title IX complaint. The investigation has been going on for over a year and still no resolution. I'm basically stuck and can't move forward because nobody will take me on as an advisee while the investigation is pending.

    Sorry for the long explanation, but I wanted to set up the background. I spent too much of my time and energy on this degree program to just walk away, so I'm looking for options to complete the dissertation at another institution. I don't want to take a step backwards and take exams/classes all over again. I also don't want to spend a fortune to complete the degree either as I am a working mom.

    If anyone has advice or suggestions I am truly grateful. Thanks in advance!
  2. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Hmmmm . . . This O.P. is sooooooooooooooooo ripe for jokes I won't even touch it. Yet. :rolleyes:
  3. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    There are Ed.D degree completion programs for ABDs, but they all require some coursework. I know one program requires about 24 credits.
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    It probably should be pointed out that you would likely be eligible to enroll in a research based dissertation-only doctoral program such as are offered at British, Australian or South African universities. The advantage is that further coursework would be probably be unnecessary, the disadvantage is that these are not exactly the same sorts of dissertations as at US universities and the term of study is likely to be measured in years, not months. This is not a quick fix and you could reasonably expect to put in a lot of hard work. We have some members who have earned such degrees and they could speak about it far better than I can but it is an option for you, even if it becomes a last resort.
    Stephanie24 likes this.
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Doing a dissertation-only doctorate is just like starting over. In fact, it could be a step backwards from that.

    In the US, students pursuing a PhD are admitted to that degree, either with a bachelor's or a master's. Those with a bachelor's do the coursework equivalent of a master's along the way. (Some schools award the master's for that work; others require a separate master's thesis.) But in either case, you're admitted to the PhD.

    In the "big book" dissertation model, schools will often admit candidates to the MPhil, not the PhD. Then, after a year or so of successful research, the student can apply for his/her admission to be upgraded to the PhD. No master's is awarded, but the student may now proceed to earn the PhD. But, if that student fails to produce a sufficient thesis, one of the options the school has is to award the MPhil instead. So.....

    You might be admitted to the MPhil and not rise out of it to the PhD. Or you might succeed at that, but fail at the end and be awarded the MPhil anyway. (Most students at that advanced point are given the chance to make minor--or even major--revisions to the thesis instead of being failed on it. But if the case is hopeless, the MPhil might be the end of the line.)

    It's also like starting over because you will do a complete PhD in the form of the thesis. It's a big one--not like the American-style "small book." Oh, and minimum enrollment is usually either 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, so it's a loooooong process with, as Kizmet says, a lot of hard (and new) work.

    So, may I recommend one of four approaches (in order of recommendation)?

    1. Go back and finish at your school. Do what you have to do to get through it. This is likely the most straight-forward option, if it can be done.
    2. Negotiate. Perhaps the school can help you arrange something, or you can strike up a relationship with someone from a school who might take an interest in you. Negotiation is a huge part of any graduate student's experience; here, it might be critical.
    3. Try one of the programs others are recommending. Picking up ABDs and helping them finish is a new thing. Five years ago you likely wouldn't have seen this as an option.
    4. Consider the dissertation-only big-book programs, but remember that they're just like starting from scratch. But they're often much less expensive than US alternatives.

    (NB: I'm not one of those people Kizmet is talking about who've done a dissertation-only doctorate. Their opinions might differ from mine.)
  8. Stephanie24

    Stephanie24 New Member

    Thanks Sanantone!
  9. Stephanie24

    Stephanie24 New Member

    Thanks Steve, I'll look into these!
  10. Stephanie24

    Stephanie24 New Member

    Thanks for the insight Rich, much appreciated. I already has 2 masters degrees going into the PhD program. I already spent 4 years of my life on this, finished coursework with a 3.9 and passed all comps, it is hard to scrap all the hard work and start again. By the time I filed a complaint, I already had 50% of the dissertation done. I don't mind redoing this part, but additional courses or comps would be hard to swallow.

    Does anyone know of someone who has reached out to a professor at another university and been successful in transferring? The special ed community isn't very large (at least at Tier 1 schools), so I'm afraid that my harasser would somehow catch wind of this and negatively influence their decision.

    Thanks again everyone for their feedback!
  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I had a professor from Spain who earned her doctorate in the UK. She said that a dissertation in Europe's dissertation-only programs is equal to three U.S. dissertations. I'm not sure you could easily transition into a European-style doctoral program, but it wouldn't hurt to consult with some schools. Taking an extra year of coursework might be faster than writing a longer dissertation.
  12. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I've never even tried to write a dissertation but I'm almost positive that you're right about that.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    It's not the length of the dissertation that makes the "big book" approach unique. It is the complexity.

    Word limits are just that, limits. It is easy to write a long dissertation, but much harder to write a shorter one.

    “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” -- Attributed to Mark Twain

    What makes the big book dissertation different is that it requires more theory building, more theory testing, a bigger research goal and bigger data and results.

    During my program at Leicester, I had planned what would have been several theses. Research into chief learning officers, research into adult development theory, research into executive development and upper management teams. I could have written several hundred thousand words....and spent several more years. It was all relevant and, if time and money were no issue, it would have been really revealing.

    The process made me focus on what was most important, and to drill down to it.

    The comment that the big book is like doing three dissertations is accurate. But again, it's not the size of the document, it's the scope of the research.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  14. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    She was referring to the scope of the research. She really did the equivalent of three American dissertations because she covered three interwoven topics.

    As for length, I'm a pretty concise person, and I get annoyed by all the filler I see in research articles. Economics, math, and science dissertations tend to be shorter than all the junk people put into humanities and other social science dissertations. I have opinions about the usefulness of even doing a humanities dissertation, but I won't go there today.
  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Those disciplines trend towards qualitative research which is, by design, wordy. It has to be.

    Qualitative research is often inductive and theory-building. These activities require a great deal of writing. Quantitative research tends to be deductive; take an extant (or armchair) theory , write hypothesis, test them, then explain the numbers. So yeah, that's shorter.

    Qualitative research goes after rich stories from which knew knowledge can be gleaned. That takes writing and analysis. The disciplines you cited do not and can afford to be much shorter.
    Actually, you did.
  16. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I believe most social science research is quantitative. Most of the published research articles are quantitative, and my dissertation chair said that qualitative research is not a big thing in criminology. He's the only professor in our School of Criminal Justice that regularly does qualitative research, and the overwhelming majority of dissertations that have come out of our program have been quantitative. Qualitative research is an optional class, and there were only two people in mine. From what I've seen coming out of other criminology/criminal justice programs, quantitative research dominating is the norm. I think the reason why social science dissertations end up being longer is because professors train their students to be wordy instead of writing just enough to get your point across. Using filler words and changing sentence structure to meet word count requirements is a running joke.

    I didn't even begin to explain my position on humanities dissertations; I only stated my opinion about filler.
  17. Ree09

    Ree09 New Member

    My take is that the quantitative versus qualitative approach largely depends on the expertise of the faculty at a school. This may not always be true, but will probably give a good indication of the likely approach a research project will follow.
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your opinion and anecdote.
  19. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    The fact that most of the published research is quantitative is neither an opinion nor anecdote.
  20. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Overall, quantitative research methods are seen as the gold standard in the social sciences. Certainly, there will be differences on what faculty members focus on, but quantitative articles get published more often. It might be different for education and the humanities. It's harder to get an autoethnographic dissertation approved in a social science program than in an education or humanities program.

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