@wingshot I recently defended. My experience and impressions are very similar to yours. I vividly remember being in later classes with doctoral students in the criminal justice, leadership, business, and education programs and thinking that the students were amazing. Most of the IT students were cheaters, but they did not make it through the more advanced dissertation classes for the reasons that you mentioned. Some students appeared to contract with ghostwriters to write their dissertations, but UC is not the only university that has this problem. (I know of students who graduated from MS programs at a top 10 public (sadly my alma mater) that did this too.) That is bound to happen when the students are making $$$$$$. At UC, ghostwritten dissertations were crap, and I can't imagine that the students graduated. I know that many were held back in the first two dissertation classes. I found that I could cite as much foundational material as I wanted as long as I had a large number of current references that supported my assertion that my theoretical framework was still relevant (I had >200). Some chairs (I had a new one for every class) do not tell students that it is imperative that they use current theoretical frameworks. I saw many students who had to make major course corrections because they needed to find current frameworks and redo much of their dissertation, even in 930. Agree with your statement about IRB, etc. having you redo things even after they approve... happened to me multiple times. You are not free and clear until you defend. The key to dealing with this is to quickly comply. Arguing gets you nowhere, and there is a really good chance someone will block you later --saw it happen to multiple students in different classes. Persistence without being annoying, asking intelligent questions, building a good rapport with your chair/IRB, taking responsibility for EVERYTHING, and managing the project are key attributes for success. Regarding page count, I found that in later classes, I was constantly adding and removing material. I was over 385 repeatedly and went through a cycle of trimming and adding until I hit my final page count. I must have written over 1200 dissertation pages in total; however, I am sure that I am an extreme outlier. Also, turns out that the page requirements for the ED/Leadership programs are less than the IT program. You find this out in 931. I am absolutely not knocking the other programs. Their students and work were excellent, as you mentioned. If I had to guess why the IT program requires longer dissertations, it might be an attempt to make the cost of hiring a ghostwriter prohibitive. A better approach would be to require students to post their work each week since most ghostwriters do not deliver content weekly; however, I was in one class where a student was doing work for four other students. It was hilarious to see five students log on and post their work within minutes of each other, and post material for the wrong student. The one doing the work passed the first dissertation class but was removed within 1-2 weeks of starting the second class. The others failed and were publicly humiliated; however, I don't think that mattered much since they probably didn't log in to see the comments. I suspect they only became aware of their situation when they could not register for the next class. Give-em rope and squeeze them for $$$. Not sure how often I will check back in. Good luck on your journey and make us all proud!