In the third year, students are required to demonstrate the knowledge and proficiency gained from their theoretical framework and research methodology modules (and other coursework) by completing a research paper under the guidance of two faculty members.


  • In consultation with the faculty advisor, the doctoral student will be responsible for completing coursework in one research methods module and one theoretical frameworks module.
  • In consultation with the faculty advisor, the doctoral student will identify at least one additional faculty member to approve the topic and evaluate the paper.
  • Faculty advisors/evaluators must be chosen to reflect expertise in selected modules.
  • At least one evaluator must be a Wagner faculty member.  
  • The paper must employ the methods and theoretical frameworks that correspond with the coursework modules the student completed.


  • October 1: Topic, proposed data sources, 2 faculty signatures due to Doctoral Program Assistant Director.
  • January: Faculty advisors/evaluators will give a progress report to the Doctoral Program Director.
  • Early April: Student presents at a conference which may include their advisors, the doctoral board, and other students in their cohort.
  • Early May: Paper is due to faculty for evaluation.
  • Students who do not receive a passing mark on their paper in May will resubmit their paper for a second (and final) assessment before fall classes resume.


  • The paper will be graded on the same scale as comp exams: high pass, pass, conditional pass, fail.
  • If the two faculty evaluators are not in agreement on the outcome, a third reader chosen by the Doctoral Program Director will weigh in.