I began tutoring an Executive Doctorate student last fall in a class that he was taking. After that class ended, he was able to begin working on his dissertation and wanted my help for it as well.

Here arises the problem and the question. He has been asking me for increasing "help" on his dissertation to the point of asking me to read articles and find citations and to rewrite sections of his dissertation to address concerns from his committee.

My initial thought is that this is something I should not do, but as he is not a typical PhD student, I am unfamiliar with the expectations. So, what exactly is the difference between an Executive Doctorate (also called an Executive PhD.) program, and a typical PhD program, and does that difference allow for him to receive this much assistance on his dissertation?

More information: Looking a little more, the program he is enrolled in is listed under the Doctoral Programs section of the page listing all of the programs offered by the department.

  • 2
    Is "executive doctorate" a post-masters degree? If so, the student is asking way too much.
    – Regel
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 16:08
  • @Regel Looking a little more, I found (and added to the original post) that it is considered a Doctoral Program, and is listed on the department webpage with all of the other typical PhD programs.
    – Aggie Kidd
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 17:01
  • 1
    I edited the question title to highlight the specific difference you are asking about, as it was very broad otherwise. Please check and make sure I haven't misrepresented your question.
    – ff524
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 17:13
  • 3
    "read articles and find citations and to rewrite sections of his dissertation" - frankly, this is even beyond the degree of assistance I would provide to a Bachelor student. Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


Based on this article, I would guess the answer is: officially, no. It seems quite unlikely to me that there is some other standard of intellectual honesty specifically set up for "Executive Doctoral" student, since it is such a new category.

It certainly sounds to me like this person is asking you do an inappropriate amount of work toward their doctorate; doctoral students aren't expected to be completely isolated (much of my thesis was based on joint work), but asking you to rewrite seems like crossing a line. It's up to you to decide what you want to do, and whether you feel comfortable with the work. You could always contact the person's advisor, but you should be prepared for that to burn your bridge with this person.

  • 2
    Maybe ask for a joint meeting with the student and the advisor to get guidance for both the OP and the student on what sorts of help the OP should be providing? Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:33
  • @PatriciaShanahan I would count requesting such a meeting as being in "burning bridge" territory. Maybe one could float the idea to the student and see how they react; my guess would be they do not want their advisor to know that the OP exists at all, let alone having a detailed discussion of which parts of their dissertation they aren't doing themselves. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 20:13
  • If the student is hiding the level of help from the advisor, it is definitely not appropriate, and the student knows it. Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 21:29

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