Online ABD (All But Dissertation) Doctoral Degree Completion Program

Are you an experienced educator who is ABD (All But Dissertion) in an EdD or PhD program in any academic discipline?

If so, you have the experience. You’ve completed the coursework in a doctoral program. But, you haven’t completed your dissertation. Now, you have a path to leave your ABD (All But Dissertation) status behind with Gwynedd Mercy University.

Our innovative Accelerated Executive Doctorate of Education degree completion program for ABDs offers qualified candidates with significant educational experience the opportunity to finish developing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to earn your EdD. The program is helmed by Raymond Bandlow, PhD, who received this prestigious award for innovation in higher education from the American Association of University Administrators.

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Online ABD Doctoral Degree Completion

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Complete the form below and an admissions counselor will contact you to answer any questions and help as you assemble all the components of your admissions file.

Program Details

Prepare for an advanced career in teaching at the college level, school administration, research, or policy analysis. Our Online Accelerated Doctorate Completion Program for ABDs will strengthen your skills in instruction and leadership in:

  • U.S. and international schools
  • School districts
  • Colleges and universities
  • Educational policy organizations
  • Government and nonprofit organizations that support education

In 18 months, our rigorous course of studies will honor your previous experience with the global outlook, research skills, policy analysis capabilities, instructional expertise, and practical executive leadership abilities you need to lead and transform educational institutions to meet the needs of all learners. 

Continue developing your dissertation in one of four areas of interest:
  • Leadership in PreK-12 Schools and School Districts (superintendent letter of eligibility courses may be included)
  • Leadership in Higher Education
  • Leadership in Special Education (special education supervisory certification courses may be included)
  • Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

ABDs in Education may elect any of the above areas of interest. ABDs in any discipline other than education may apply for the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education program.

All of your coursework for the ABD degree completion program, except residencies, will take place online. Those in the degree completion program are only required to take one weekend residency at our Gwynedd Valley campus, just north of Philadelphia.

From the very beginning, you’ll be matched with a faculty advisor who will meet with you in regular dissertation advisement sessions. With GMercyU, there’s no reason to wait any longer — trade up from ABD to EdD and take your place among the next generation of education leaders.

As a GMercyU ABD doctorate graduate, you will be able to:

  • Provide leadership in teaching and learning at the K-12 and college levels
  • Articulate an educational organization’s mission, goals, and guiding principles that distinguish the organization from others
  • Understand the foundational base of organizational theory and demonstrate the ability to bridge theory and practice
  • Given scenarios of conflict, choose ethical courses of action, consistent with Gospel values
  • Synthesize and analyze data to reveal relations and causality and convert raw data into actionable information
  • View problems and challenges through the lens of a scientist, seeking evidence-based conclusions
  • Practice and model steward leadership in transforming organizations to better serve all constituents
  • Demonstrate facility in the application of technology to solve problems, analyze and synthesize data, and manage information

GMercyU faculty members understand the challenges of ABD completion programs. That’s why they’ve helped us develop a program specifically for ABD students like you. Right away, you’ll join a small cohort of classmates and be matched with a faculty advisor. You’ll take supervised dissertation courses early in the program to keep your research and writing on track. Day in and day out, you’ll have the support you need to pursue research that improves education for students and the educators who serve them.

After graduation, you’ll join our extensive national and world-wide network of alumni. The colleagues, contacts, and friends you meet will inspire you.

To qualify for admission to our EdD in Education Degree Completion program, you must provide:

  • Proof of A.B.D. or Advanced to Doctoral Candidacy or equivalent status from a regionally accredited institution
  • A portfolio of coursework, scholarship, and career evidence for the Prior Learning Assessment
  • Official graduate transcripts
  • A Graduate Record Examination score of 155 or higher or a Miller Analogy Test score of 385 or higher (waived if you had a graduate GPA of 3.5 or greater)
  • A resume showing professional experience and academic scholarship
  • Three letters of reference from persons in leadership roles in your chosen area of concentration attesting that you have the ability to engage in studies at the doctoral level and to conduct research
  • A personal interview with a member of the graduate faculty representing the applicant’s preferred area of concentration (in person or via electronic means, if the distance is a factor) 
  • Evidence that you have received a minimum score of 550 (written), 213 (computer), or 79 (internet) on the TOEFL examination if English is not your first language.

Applicants who cannot meet one or more of the above requirements are encouraged to contact the Program Director for a review of qualifications. After enrollment, you will also need to obtain a Child Abuse Clearance, Criminal Background Check, and Federal Criminal History.

Learn more about GMercyU's online and accelerated financial aid and tuition. 

You must complete at least 27 credit hours of coursework and practicum experience at Gwynedd Mercy University while completing your EdD with us. We will carry out a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) before your program begins and develop tailored coursework and practicum experiences that respect your previous experiences.

The credit value of your practicum may vary between 3-6 credits depending upon the breadth and depth of your prior learning. In all, your program will take no more than 18 months to complete.
Required courses for all ABD completion students include:

EDU 805 The Ethics of Educational Leadership and Policy
EDU 803 Foundations of Educational Research
EDU 811, 812, 813, 814 Dissertation Advisement I, II, III and IV

In addition, you must take three courses in your concentration area:

Leadership in PreK-12 Schools and School Districts

EDU 821 The Superintendency
EDU 824 Transformational Leadership, Supervision, and School Turn-Around
EDU 828 Practicum I 
EDU 829 Practicum II

If you wish to become eligible for a Superintendent Letter of Eligibility, the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires 360 hours of district office practicum.

You may also need to take the following prerequisites:

EDU 571 The Principalship
EDU 574 School Law and Policy Issues
EDU 576 Human Resources and Staff Development

Doctorate in Education: Leadership in Special Education

EDU 841 Designing Interventions and Assessing Outcomes
EDU 845 Supervision / Administration of Special Education
EDU 848 Practicum I 
EDU 849 Practicum II

If you wish to obtain Certification as a Supervisor of Special Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires 360 hours of central office practicum experience.

Doctorate in Education: Leadership in Higher Education

EDU 831 Leadership and Administration of Higher Education
EDU 835 Future-Focused Trends and Innovation in Higher Education
EDU 838 Practicum in Higher Education Leadership may substitute for some required coursework

Doctorate in Education: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

EDU 860 Foundations of Teaching and Learning 
EDU 861 College Student Development Theory
EDU 862 Critical Perspectives for Underserved Student Populations 
EDU 863 Learning Models and Instructional Design

To review course descriptions, please refer to the graduate catalog.

Raymond Bandlow, PhD
Ray Bandlow, PhD
Professor of Education Policy and Director, Doctoral Studies in Education
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Carol Etlen, PhD
Associate Professor and Director, Masters in Educational Administration Program
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Looking for a full doctorate in education program? Gwynedd Mercy University's innovative Online Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Education: Leadership or Teaching and Learning is a 54-credit program, which can be completed in less than three years. 

Learn more about how you can complete your accelerated doctorate in education with our innovative online ABD completion program.
Call 844-707-9064 or send an e-mail to to contact an admissions counselor. You also can request information today!  

MSCHE accreditation

Gwynedd Mercy University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Learn more about GMercyU's accreditation. You can also view our current accreditation status