Doctoral Research Guide, Step 2

Generally, a candidacy paper is a critical review of literature in the areas that relate to your anticipated dissertation focus. The purpose of the candidacy paper is to show your committee that you

  • are knowledgeable about pertinent areas of scholarship (you have a knowledge base),
  • can think conceptually about research (you can analyze and critique the existing scholarship), and
  • can write appropriately for a doctoral student (you are ready to write a proposal and dissertation).

You will defend your candidacy paper at a meeting with your committee members. They will ask questions and raise theoretical and technical problems, and you will be required to respond to both. Following the discussion, you will be asked to step out of the room while the committee discusses whether or not you passed candidacy. The committee will call you back into the meeting and discuss their decision, explaining why it was reached.

It is possible to defend your candidacy paper before all coursework is complete. Specifically, students may apply for candidacy after completing a minimum of 48 quarter hours and at least three research courses (SCG 775, 785, and either 735 or 745).

Previous Step: Coursework
Next Step: Dissertation Proposal

Best Practices

Ask for help with writing and research. The EdD program coordinator and the University Center for Writing-Based Learning (UCWbL) can help you develop your writing skills. DePaul University’s librarians, provide assistance with research to College of Education students.

Consult with your dissertation chair on a process for your candidacy paper. Together you should decide the format your paper will follow (usually APA or Chicago Manual of Style) and set deadlines for submitting drafts.

Use the literature review course, SCG 785, as the basis for your candidacy paper. In this course you will conduct a literature review that will involve interpretation, evaluation, and synthesis of literature on a topic of your choice. Be sure to select a topic that will be relevant to your candidacy paper for it.

Review other candidacy papers or literature reviews. Scan them for ideas about length, flow and headings.

Learn as much as possible about your committee members. Know what each one will be particular about and thoroughly address content areas that relate to their expertise.

Take a copy of the Approval of Candidacy Standing form to your defense meeting. You will need to obtain signatures from all committee members if they approve you for candidacy.


Schedule your candidacy defense meeting. When your chair has decided that your candidacy paper is ready for defense, determine a time that all of your committee members can meet for your defense, and ask the EdD program assistant to reserve a room for it.

Distribute your candidacy paper to your committee members for their review. You should send the copies at least two weeks in advance.

Be prepared to make revisions on your candidacy paper. Your committee members might require you to make changes to your candidacy paper after your defense meeting. Try to complete all revisions within 60 days. Submit an Approval of Candidacy form to the EdD program’s academic advisor at least two weeks before the start of the quarter in which you plan to defend your dissertation proposal.

Register for A&S/CS/ECE 706 after you have been approved for candidacy standing. Submit a Candidacy Course Request form the quarter in which you plan to defend. This course needs to be created specifically for you under the name of your dissertation chair, so you will not find it listed in Campus Connect. Instead, once the form has been submitted, the academic advisor will create the course and enroll you in it.

Related Form

A&S/CS/ECE 706 Candidacy Course Request Form

Approval of Candidacy