Time Management Tips for New Doctoral Students

Cynthia Hickman, a Walden Alumni Ambassador, will be awarded her Ph.D. in Health Services, in January 2017.  She is our guest blogger for this post.


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) journey is a gratifying experience that will mold your life and career. You must assume personal accountability to achieve a successful outcome. Commonly asked questions are, “What is the first step in the dissertation or Capstone process?”  “What steps do I take from there?”  Addressing these issues early can support your timely completion of your doctoral degree.

Here are three tips that supported my success in my Ph.D. journey.

1)    You must be proactive.

Controlling your Ph.D. journey begins with personal accountability, information, and the required tools associated with your academic program. As a new scholar-practitioner, you must act in anticipation of future program expectations and needs.

2)    Know the necessary documents for your program.

Every program has required documents, which are tools needed along your doctoral journey to be successful.  I advise you to read these documents early in your program. For Ph.D. programs, click here. For professional doctorates, click here.

At the start of my program, I printed:

  • the writing template,
  • the rubric,
  • the checklist for the research design under consideration,
  • the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application,
  • the Committee Member Nomination Form.

3)    Select Your Committee Early (6-month window). 

If you know your research interest, starting the selection process for committee members is a valuable and proactive step. Your prospectus course positions you to enter the dissertation shell with a firm blueprint for your study. Committee members are excited when scholars take this initiative.  It helps you decide how to develop the chapters that make up your dissertation.

I hope you find these tips helpful as you advance along your doctoral journey!

Written by Cynthia Hickman, Walden University Ambassador, Ph.D. in Health Sciences expected January 2017; M.S. Nursing completed December 2009 

For Writing Center resources and tips, please visit these links:

Doctoral Capstone Kits from the Writing Center

“Top 5 Things to Know Before Writing Your Dissertation“ Blog Post