More than half of all graduate students drop out before graduation. Doctoral students often become mired in the “all but dissertation” (ABD) phase of the process. This grounded theory study focused on the perceptions and experiences of doctoral students in an educational leadership program, who were ABD, regarding their participation in a dissertation-focused intensive writing course called the Dissertation Boot Camp (DBC). Findings revealed participants had particular challenges with time, writing, and advisement. The DBC attended to many of these challenges by providing time, structure, encouragement, and support. Results of the study led to the development of a conceptual framework, which helps to better understand the complexities involved in a student’s pathway to ABD status.


Graduate Students, Dissertation, Graduate Attrition, All But Dissertation, ABD

Author Bio(s)

Leslie Ann Locke is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Iowa. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: leslie-locke@uiowa.edu.

Melanie Boyle, Ph.D. is the Assistant Coordinator for Franklin County Early Childhood Programs, Swanton, VT. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: melanieboyle07@yahoo.com.


The authors would like to thank Dr. Juan Carlos Cervantes for his critiques and assistance with early versions of this manuscript.

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