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Inside Programs

Starting the Ph.D. Journey: The Milestone 1 Residency


May 2008

Click here to see students and faculty sharing their residency experiences across all of the milestones.


The first day of school can conjure up memories of uncertainty and apprehension for many of us who still remember walking into a classroom full of strange faces. Yet for the nearly 400 new Ph.D. students from every discipline who attended Walden University’s Milestone 1 residency in Los Angeles last September, any first-day jitters were quickly dispelled as students were introduced to the many resources they could turn to for support and encouragement.


“It’s nice to know you’re not alone,” said Lisa Baza, a human services student based in Guam. Added management student Pamela Robinson, “It’s a great opportunity to meet with students from other programs. It makes you feel like you’re part of the university.”



Ph.D. Residency Milestones
At a Glance


Milestone 1: Orientation
Socialization into the Walden Community
Within 90 days of completing the Foundations course
Focus: Orientation, team-building, critical thinking, library skills, and scholarly writing


Milestone 2: Beginning Research
Skills for Doctoral Research
Within 18 months of start date and more than 60 days after attending Milestone 1
Focus: Forming research questions, developing research skills, networking, and professional development


Milestone 3: Dissertation Work
Scholarship at a Doctoral Level
By the end of the third year or when needed to support prospectus or proposal writing
Focus: Dissertation conceptualization and writing


Milestone 4: Scholar-Practitioner
Social Change through Research
Third year or when needed to support dissertation writing
Focus: Dissertation writing, research presentation, and publishing


Ph.D. students participate in four academic residencies (Ed.D. students take one) during the course of their program. Typically, residencies span four or six days in locations across the United States and abroad to provide knowledge and inspiration at key points in a student’s learning experience. Milestone 1, the first of the residencies, serves as an intensive orientation to Walden University, its resources and the academic process. Subsequent milestones focus on research, the dissertation, and creating positive social change.


“I want students to leave Milestone 1 with the knowledge that there is help out there,” said Dr. Peter Hoffman-Kipp, program director in the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership and co-presenter of one of the residency’s first seminars, “Demystifying the KAM [Knowledge Area Module] Process.”


At Walden, help can come in many forms, as Milestone 1 participants soon learned. Residency seminars range from enhancing scholarly writing abilities, honing computer skills, and developing stronger library and research strategies to individual advising sessions with Walden faculty and staff to aid students in charting their academic paths and discussing how best to balance professional and personal commitments with their academic work.


Of particular interest to residency participants was the Knowledge Area Module (KAM), a tool unique to the Walden learning experience. Under the guidance of Walden faculty, students draft a series of research papers that focus on topics that can form the foundation of their dissertation. Through KAMs, students explore a topic by its breadth, gaining a general overview of the subject, choose a specific issue of that topic to pursue in-depth, and then apply their newfound knowledge to a practical solution for that issue.


Alongside co-presenter Dr. Marlene Coach, a faculty member in the School of Counseling and Social Service, Hoffman-Kipp helped bring the KAM process into focus for the L.A. residency students by reminding them why they began the program.


“The basis of research begins with a passion or curiosity to know something,” said Hoffman-Kipp, illustrating his point by asking students to go around the room and share their particular passion. As individuals declared their interests and goals—such as creating school partnerships, developing curricula for autistic children, and supporting social and economic development in Third World countries—a growing excitement and a feeling of a common cause filled the room. 


“All of you are talking about different ways to change the world,” Hoffman-Kipp said. In the process, these emerging doctoral students had explored potential dissertation themes and had taken the first important steps on their journey to earning a Ph.D. degree.



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