About Doctoral Programs at GCU

A doctorate is the highest degree in the United States postsecondary education system. It is also the least achieved, due to the requirement of creating new knowledge by completing a dissertation, which is original individual research that is defendable and publishable in the form of a five-chapter book.

Because of the uniqueness of the dissertation process, completely dependent on each doctoral learner, there is no way to predict the total cost or time it will take for each learner to complete their dissertation journey. This information is offered as a guide to help you understand the process, but the path toward your degree and the timeframe to complete it will be determined by your effort and the pace of your work.

For doctoral programs, the university calculates minimum time to completion by first calculating instructional time. This is completed by multiplying the instructional weeks per course, by the number of courses in the base program of study. GCU adds the two weeks for Christmas when the university is on an official break. GCU also adds an additional two weeks for breaks for each year, as a reasonable amount of time learners would be out of class. Research Continuation courses, periods of non-enrollment, and repeating courses will increase time to completion.

No doctoral program at GCU is intended to meet any state requirements for licensure, certification, or as a clinician.

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Important Statistics

  • The time limit is seven (7) years to complete all program requirements, including 1) the minimum 60-65 credits of coursework, depending on the program and 2) an original defendable, approved and publishable dissertation. University policy allows the possibility to extend the seven-year limit (up to a maximum of two additional years) through an appeals process to students demonstrating additional time is warranted. Extensions are not guaranteed and will be decided at the sole discretion of GCU
  • Most students will need to take additional credits beyond the minimum 60-65 credits to complete the dissertation requirement, and will need to take Research Continuation courses, which are three-credit courses charged at the current doctoral per credit tuition rate.
  • Doctoral programs require completion of a minimum of 60-65 credits, depending on the program, which will take a minimum of 39-45 months. Students who have not received final approval of a dissertation at the completion of those credits must enroll in Research Continuation courses until they have completed an approved dissertation. Research Continuation courses are three-credit courses, charged at the same per-credit tuition rate as all other doctoral courses. Research Continuation courses, if necessary, will add to the cost and time to complete this program. Between January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022, 1,943 students graduated from GCU’s doctoral programs. Those students took an average of 5.9 years to complete all program requirements and required on average 10.9 Research Continuation courses to complete their dissertation. These program graduates paid an average of $50,896 in tuition and fees, including continuation courses, over the duration of their program. The maximum number of credits eligible for Title IV funding that a student can take in their initially enrolled program version, assuming they earn passing grades and otherwise remain eligible to receive Title IV funding, is between 90 and 95. As of Jan. 10, 2024, the number of students who did not finish within the maximum number of attempted credits for all GCU doctoral programs is 129, or 0.5% of all students who started in any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program since the college’s inception. See below for specific doctoral program data.
  • The following table provides a breakdown of how long it took the graduates discussed above to complete their doctoral programs.
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Completion Times for GCU Doctoral Candidates

Graduated Timeframe Total Percent
Less than 3 years 8 0.4%
Within year 3 220 11.3%
Within year 4 476 24.5%
Within year 5 417 21.5%
Within year 6 297 15.3%
Within year 7 238 12.2%
Within year 8 124 6.4%
Within year 9 130 6.7%
Year 9+ 33 1.7%
Grand Total 1,943  

 

The following lists specific degree program graduate data:

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

This program requires completion of a minimum of 65 credits, which will take a minimum of 45 months. Students who have not received final approval of a dissertation at the completion of those credits must enroll in Research Continuation courses until they have completed an approved dissertation. Research Continuation courses are three-credit courses, charged at the same per-credit tuition rate as all other doctoral courses. Research Continuation courses, if necessary, will add to the cost and time to complete this program. This program had fewer than 10 graduates over the last five years. Therefore, GCU is providing data for all students who completed any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program between January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022. Over that time, 1,943 doctoral graduates took an average of 5.9 years to complete all program requirements and required on average 10.9 Research Continuation courses to complete their dissertation. These program graduates paid an average of $50,896 in tuition and fees, including continuation courses, over the duration of their program. The maximum number of credits eligible for Title IV funding that a student can take in their initially enrolled program version, assuming they earn passing grades and otherwise remain eligible to receive Title IV funding, is 95. As of Jan. 10, 2024, this program had fewer than 10 students who did not finish within that number of credits. Therefore, GCU is providing data for all students who completed any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program. The number of students who did not finish within the maximum number of attempted credits for all GCU doctoral programs is 129, or 0.5% of all students who started in any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program since the college’s inception.

PhD in General Psychology

This program requires completion of a minimum of 60 credits, which will take a minimum of 39 months. Students who have not received final approval of a dissertation at the completion of those credits must enroll in Research Continuation courses until they have completed an approved dissertation. Research Continuation courses are three-credit courses, charged at the same per-credit tuition rate as all other doctoral courses. Research Continuation courses, if necessary, will add to the cost and time to complete this program. Between January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022, 727 students graduated from this program. Those students took average of 5.7 years to complete all program requirements and required on average 9.7 Research Continuation courses to complete their dissertation. These program graduates paid an average of $49,223 in tuition and fees, including continuation courses, over the duration of their program. The maximum number of credits eligible for Title IV funding that a student can take in their initially enrolled program version, assuming they earn passing grades and otherwise remain eligible to receive Title IV funding, is 90. As of Jan. 10, 2024, the number of students who did not finish within the maximum number of attempted credits is 41, or 0.55% of all students who started the PhD in General Psychology program since the program’s inception.

EdD in Teaching and Learning

This program requires completion of a minimum of 60 credits, which will take a minimum of 39 months. Students who have not received final approval of a dissertation at the completion of those credits must enroll in Research Continuation courses until they have completed an approved dissertation. Research Continuation courses are three-credit courses, charged at the same per-credit tuition rate as all other doctoral courses. Research Continuation courses, if necessary, will add to the cost and time to complete this program. Between January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022, 19 students graduated from this program. Those students took an average of four years to complete all program requirements and required on average 3.5 Research Continuation courses to complete their dissertation. These program graduates paid an average of $46,653 in tuition and fees, including continuation courses, over the duration of their program. The maximum number of credits eligible for Title IV funding that a student can take in their initially enrolled program version, assuming they earn passing grades and otherwise remain eligible to receive Title IV funding, is 90. As of Jan. 10, 2024, this program had fewer than 10 students who did not finish within that number of credits. Therefore, GCU is providing data for all students who completed any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program. The number of students who did not finish within the maximum number of attempted credits for all GCU doctoral programs is 129, or 0.5% of all students who started in any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program since the college’s inception.

EdD in Organizational Leadership

This program requires completion of a minimum of 60 credits, which will take a minimum of 39 months. Students who have not received final approval of a dissertation at the completion of those credits must enroll in Research Continuation courses until they have completed an approved dissertation. Research Continuation courses are three-credit courses, charged at the same per-credit tuition rate as all other doctoral courses. Research Continuation courses, if necessary, will add to the cost and time to complete this program. Between January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022, 1,093 students graduated from this program. Those students took an average of 6.1 years to complete all program requirements and required on average 12 Research Continuation courses to complete their dissertation. These program graduates paid an average of $52,101 in tuition and fees, including continuation courses, over the duration of their program. The maximum number of credits eligible for Title IV funding that a student can take in their initially enrolled program version, assuming they earn passing grades and otherwise remain eligible to receive Title IV funding, is 90. As of Jan. 10, 2024, the number of students who did not finish within the maximum number of attempted credits is 81, or 0.5% of all students who started the EdD in Organizational Leadership program since the program’s inception.

Doctor of Business Administration

This program requires completion of a minimum of 60 credits, which will take a minimum of 39 months. Students who have not received final approval of a dissertation at the completion of those credits must enroll in Research Continuation courses until they have completed an approved dissertation. Research Continuation courses are three-credit courses, charged at the same per-credit tuition rate as all other doctoral courses. Research Continuation courses, if necessary, will add to the cost and time to complete this program. Between January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022, 103 students graduated from this program. Those students took an average of 5.7 years to complete all program requirements and required on average 9.5 Research Continuation courses to complete their dissertation. These program graduates paid an average of $50,784 in tuition and fees, including continuation courses, over the duration of their program. The maximum number of credits eligible for Title IV funding that a student can take in their initially enrolled program version, assuming they earn passing grades and otherwise remain eligible to receive Title IV funding, is 90. As of Jan. 10, 2024, this program had fewer than 10 students who did not finish within that number of credits. Therefore, GCU is providing data for all students who completed any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program. The number of students who did not finish within the maximum number of attempted credits for all GCU doctoral programs is 129, or 0.5% of all students who started in any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program since the college’s inception.

Doctor of Health Administration

This program requires completion of a minimum of 60 credits, which will take a minimum of 39 months. Students who have not received final approval of a dissertation at the completion of those credits must enroll in Research Continuation courses until they have completed an approved dissertation. Research Continuation courses are three-credit courses, charged at the same per-credit tuition rate as all other doctoral courses. Research Continuation courses, if necessary, will add to the cost and time to complete this program. This program had fewer than 10 graduates over the last five years. Therefore, GCU is providing data for all students who completed any dissertation-based doctoral programs between January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022. Over that time, 1,943 doctoral graduates took an average of 5.9 years to complete all program requirements and required on average 10.9 Research Continuation courses to complete their dissertation. These program graduates paid an average of $50,896 in tuition and fees, including continuation courses, over the duration of their program. The maximum number of credits eligible for Title IV funding that a student can take in their initially enrolled program version, assuming they earn passing grades and otherwise remain eligible to receive Title IV funding, is 90. As of Jan. 10, 2024, this program had fewer than 10 students who did not finish within that number of credits. Therefore, GCU is providing data for all students who completed any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program. The number of students who did not finish within the maximum number of attempted credits for all GCU doctoral programs is 129, or 0.5% of all students who started in any GCU dissertation-based doctoral program since the college’s inception.

Dissertations

  • The College of Doctoral Studies sections of the Academic Catalog and the University Policy Handbook contain dissertation and program information. Both can be found at https://www.gcu.edu/academics/academic-policies.php. Scholarly standards for dissertation research require a rigorous, iterative peer-review process. Learners can expect multiple revisions of dissertation documents, including integrating edits and revisions, driven by committee members or the College of Doctoral Studies throughout the doctoral program.
  • Each Dissertation and Research Continuation course has a minimum progression milestone that must be reached to earn a passing grade. Learners who do not meet the requirements will repeat the course. Each course may be attempted only three times.
  • Learners should be committed to quantitative or qualitative research by the 24th credit, in order to prevent loss of time. Learners should use their 10 Strategic Points as guidance for methodology choice.
  • Student Services Counselors (SSCs) direct learners to resources and assist learners with scheduling courses, including content, dissertation and continuation.

The Dissertation Committee

  • Learners should familiarize themselves with the Doctoral Dispositions located in the University Policy Handbook, specifically in communication with faculty, dissertation committee, administrative staff, academic advisors and fellow learners. These will be upheld through graduation.
  • GCU will assign a chair and methodologist in the Dissertation I course in their program.
  • Learners are responsible for selecting a qualified content expert to serve as their third committee member. Learners must work with their student services counselors (SSC) to add the content expert to their dissertation committees.
  • The chair and committee provide academic guidance to doctoral candidates, but it is not their role to co-author a dissertation or determine how to conduct or interpret research.
  • Changes to the dissertation committee may be needed due to faculty personal, work or health-related reasons. The longer a learner is in the program, or out of enrollment, the more likely the committee will require changes.
  • Learners must convince their doctoral chair and committee that they are an expert in their field through the proposal, dissertation and defense. Please see the Milestone Guide in the University Policy Handbook Appendix A.
  • Learners must submit dissertation topics that are aligned to their degree major. If the dissertation committee and corresponding program chair determine a study is not aligned with the major of the learner’s degree, the learner must adjust the dissertation topic to align with their major degree. This will add additional time to the learner’s dissertation journey. Below are the broad topics for the major degrees:
    • General Psychology in the PhD program
    • Leadership in the EdD Organizational Leadership program
    • Adult Instruction in the EdD Teaching and Learning program
    • Management in the DBA program
    • Health Administration in the Doctor of Health Administration program
    • Counseling Practice, Counselor Education, Clinical Supervision or Advocacy/Leadership within the counseling field in the Counselor Education PhD program
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Residency Requirements

  • All doctoral programs require two (2) residencies. An optional third is available. Residency availability can be seen on GCU.edu.
    • The residency fee is $1,315, which includes hotel accommodations, course materials and meals1 from Sunday through Friday of residency week. Learners will attend residency from Monday 8 am through Friday at noon. Learners should plan to be in Arizona the day prior to the residency start date. Learners are responsible for their own travel expense to and from Phoenix at least sixty (60) days in advance and should book refundable tickets as GCU is not responsible for airline changes. Learners are responsible for personal transportation to and from the airport.
    • Learners seeking accommodations are required to complete the Accommodation Request Form and provide supporting documentation to Student Disability Services (this includes dietary requirements). Please contact Student Disability Services at (602) 639-6342 or disabilityoffice@gcu.edu at least thirty (30) days prior to arrival for residency.

Learners who complete all the coursework and not the dissertation, also known as All But Dissertation (ABD), may be offered a chance to transfer many of their courses into a master’s degree in substitution, dependent on their previous earned degrees.

1 A dinner voucher is provided to the learner for a Sunday meal. Three (3) meals per day with two (2) snacks are provided to the learner from Monday – Thursday. Breakfast is provided on Friday.

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