Doctoral Program Orientation Seminar

SEM/700R is a two-week course designed to promote doctoral-level inquiry and reinforce the School of Advanced Studies’ integrated scholarship, practice and leadership approach. Upon completion of SEM/700R learners are prepared to continue to their first core course with a vision for successfully completing their individual doctoral program.

Course Competencies

  • Review the doctoral program mission, structure, and resources.
  • Self-assess doctoral program readiness, including collaborative and community-building skills.
  • Identify critical aspects of doctoral-level thinking and research.
  • Develop strategies for successfully engaging in doctoral learning.
  • Review the dissertation criteria and rating scale appropriate to your degree.


Initially the biggest challenge for me was either the facilitator’s apparent obsessive, compulsive disorder, or my peer’s inability to follow instructions. The facilitator insisted that all responses to the discussion questions begin by quoting his question and then including your response in a different color. I got tired of seeing his comment to have learners redo their posts using a different color as indicated in his initial instructions. I wanted to see some substantive posts from him but failed to do so. I eventually learned to disregard these comments and by the end of the first week most learners were successfully following instructions.


In this short course I learned how to identify scholarly sources from trade publications, popular press, and Internet sources. I learned the difference between low-rigor thinking and high-rigor thinking. These will certainly be helpful in future courses. The biggest thing I learned in SEM/700R came from the Dissertation Criteria & Rating Scale. The School of Advanced Studies (SAS) at UOPX developed this tool as a way to assess the quality of dissertation using various benchmarks. It was derived from the Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in American Educational Research Associations Publications (American Educational Research Association, 2006). There are ten domains and some include subdomains within the domain. For each domain there is a place for an evaluator to rate the learner’s performance. The scale includes “Not at all,” “Somewhat,” “Well,” and “Very Well.” I see this as a kind of rubric for my writing. Using this tool, the writing can be accomplished in manageable pieces.

The course was a Pass/Fail course. I passed.


American Educational Research Association. (2006). Standards for reporting on empirical social science research in AERA publications. Educational Researcher, 35(6), 33-40.

School of Advanced Studies, University of Phoenix. (2010). Minilecture for SEM/700R: Dissertation Criteria & Rating Scale. IN SEM/700R Doctoral Program Orientation and Seminar.