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The Graduate School at University of the Cumberlands provides resources to lead students from diverse educational backgrounds through ethical and practical processes with the goal of student success within graduate research.

Find out more about the research processes and services provided by the Graduate School and Cumberlands by visiting the resources below. 

Graduates are ready for commencement to begin.
The Dissertation Process

With the Graduate School, students enrolled in all Doctoral programs at Cumberlands will be guided through the research and writing process for their dissertations. The doctoral dissertation is designed to evaluate the candidate’s capabilities as a scholar and is the final academic requirement of all doctoral programs. 

The Graduate School Dissertation Handbook serves as a resource for students on the dissertation procedures, requirements, and expectations for activities completed through the 

Dissertation Research Handbook

Below you can explore the process and resources that guide students through your writing for the dissertation process. Please note that some academic programs may have additional parameters or requirements; those are outlined either in the Graduate Catalog or by the academic department to students during their enrollment. 

All courses are prerequisite for the next course:

CourseStudent Tasks for ProgressionFormat
DSRT734 - Inferential Statistics in Decision MakingApplication of statistical methods to research design, as well as the investigation of real-world applications of these methods8-week bi-term online, or 16-week executive format
DSRT837 - Professional Writing and Decision MakingIntroduction to writing and organizational skills needed for dissertation8-week bi-term online, or 16-week executive format
DSRT736 – Dissertation SeminarTopic Approval
Chapter Two Draft
*Prerequisites: DSRT 734 and DSRT 837
16-week online or 16-week executive format
DSRT839 – Advanced Research MethodsComprehensive Exam
Chapter 1 & 3 Drafted
16-week online or 16-week executive format
DSRT930 – Dissertation

Dissertation Committee Approval
Chapter 4 Drafted

16-week online or 16-week executive format
DSRT931 – DissertationChapter 5 Drafted
Dissertation Review by Academic Department
Dissertation Defense
16-week online or 16-week executive format

Need More Help? Review our Frequently Asked Questions or  contact us at graduateschool [at] (graduateschool[at]ucumberlands[dot]edu)

Check out informational sessions hosted for Doctoral Students on our events calendar.

The Graduate School: Virtual Research Symposium

Virtual Research Symposium is held each year to allow alumni from the doctoral programs present the results of their research.

Graduate School FAQ

Not sure of where to start. Our student-focused FAQ should help. 

Students take their comprehensive exams when they are in their final semester of coursework, before the final two stand-alone dissertation courses. 

Review all of your core and specialty/concentration notes, and papers.  Review recent literature on your specialty/concentration so you will have recent content knowledge.  Contact your academic department for a link or access to any current study guide resources for your degree program. 

Approximately 4 hours

You formally submit your committee member names during DRST930.   

Be prepared to orally defend your dissertation.  You will discuss your findings, implications, and methodology.  Be prepared to answer your committee’s questions related to their feedback and guidance through the process. Dissertation Defenses are completed virtually, students will need to have a microphone and camera-enabled access. 

No. Dissertation Defenses are hosted virtually, so you can attend from anywhere.

This is the Institutional Review Board.  In iLearn, you can access the IRB and Research organization for forms, documentation, and guidance on the IRB process. 

Resources like Grammarly are great! You can find access to Grammarly and other writing resources through the Writing Center – they can help you too! 

The Learning Commons

Though different academic areas have different types of research focus the overall format is the same. The Graduate School is staffed with dissertation professionals who will lead you through the process regardless of the research path you take.   

Once a dissertation has been approved by committee members and the academic department a doctoral candidate will be contacted by the Graduate School to schedule the time and date for your defense. 

Each dissertation course is a prerequisite for the next course. 

Institutional Review Board

The primary purpose of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects in all research, class projects and related activities. IRB ensures institutional compliance with all federal and state regulations regarding human subjects’ research.
No research involving human subjects at UC may be conducted by faculty, staff, students or external investigators without IRB approval. IRB approval is also required for research conducted at locations external to the university. 
The Institutional Review Board is guided by the standards of U.S. government agencies (Code of Federal Regulations Title 45, Part 46).

Institutional Review Board FAQ

All projects that involve human research subjects are subject to review by the IRB prior to the initiation of the study.  The following definitions are used to determine whether a study is subject to IRB review.
According to the Office for Human Research Protections (, a human subject is a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research: (i) Obtains information or biospecimens through intervention or interaction with the individual, and uses, studies, or analyzes the information or biospecimens; or (ii) Obtains, uses, studies, analyzes, or generates identifiable private information or identifiable biospecimens.

Research is defined as “a systematic investigation, including research, development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.”  A systematic investigation is an activity that involves a prospective plan incorporating data collection (quantitative or qualitative) and data analysis to answer a question. Investigations designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge are those that are designed to draw general conclusions, inform policy, or facilitate change in practice. 

Projects that are part of a class learning experience if there is no intention of using the results for any purpose other than a class assignment. The sole purpose of the activity is to serve as a learning experience to help students understand the process of conducting research, and the focus is not on producing meaningful results.  In these cases, only the student and instructor have access to the results, and the project’s purpose ends when a grade is assigned.  However, some class assignments have a larger purpose which may make them subject to IRB review. For example, IRB approval should be obtained prior to data collection if the data collected in the class assignment becomes used for a thesis project or plans to share the results with an outside audience. Thesis or dissertation projects conducted to meet degree requirements are subject to IRB review and approval any time human subjects are involved. 

For questions about IRB, please contact the Director of Ethics and Research at IRB [at] (IRB[at]ucumberlands[dot]edu)

To protect everyone in the process of research, all students and faculty involved in research at the University of the Cumberlands must complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)  Basic course in the Social and Behavioral module. Students will be required to provide a certificate of completion along with their IRB application and materials as a course assignment during their enrollment in the Advanced Research Methods course.

The basic course is completed the first time and then the refresher course every three years thereafter. 

It takes approximately 3 hours to complete the training and users can log in and complete the modules as they have time.  Upon completion of the modules, a certificate will be awarded. 

CITI Training Instructions

Ready to submit your IRB application or looking for more resources? Students should enroll in the IRB and Research organization find within iLearn.

IRB and Research Organization Enrollment Instructions (OneDrive LINK)