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HOW TO AVOID THE ALL BUT DISSERTATION (ABD) TRAP
Education

HOW TO AVOID THE ALL BUT DISSERTATION (ABD) TRAP

Summary

A number of students start the PhD process and fail to continue after the completion of the course work. The Statistic stands around 20 percent at the moment.

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here are a variety of reasons why students opt out of PhD programs. However, this book aims to address the most common reasons students drop out and try to provide a realistic approach to dealing with these obstacles.

In simple terms, an ABD describes a candidate seeking a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) who has completed all needed and required preparatory coursework and passed all necessary preliminary and comprehensive examinations. However, this student has not yet completed the research requirements of his or her PhD program, which involves the writing, studying, and defense of a dissertation (also commonly referred to as a thesis). In layman’s terms, a student becomes an ABD when he has completed all the necessary steps needed for graduation, or awarding of a PhD degree, but is put on hold due to his inability or unwillingness to complete a dissertation or final research project. In this book the All But Dissertation candidate will be referred to as an ABD.


In some universities, the ABD has attained a formal status; students who haven't completed or yet begun their dissertations are awarded a Candidate in Philosophy degree. Some other universities (e.g., Yale University) may award a formal Master of Philosophy degree to students who are ABD. Once they have successfully defended their dissertations, these students are conferred the complete PhD degree. Similar to the ABD is the PhD(c) (i.e., PhD candidate), which indicates that a student has completed and passed all coursework and evaluations except the submission or undertaking of a thesis or dissertation.

The aim of this book is to help students avoid the detrimental pitfalls of being labeled an ABD. This label has the potential to confuse many employers and the general public as well. Nabil El-Ghoroury, Ph.D., of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students, points out that using ABD at the end of one’s name can be confused for other degrees (reference for this material?). For example, it is not uncommon to mistake ABD for a Doctorate in Business Administration. Furthermore, as described by Mark Leach, a counseling Psychology Professor at the University of Louisville, students should not use Ph.D.(c) to designate ABD status because it can mislead the public and isn't officially recognized.