Michelle McGriff

I appreciated how responsive and reliable Capella’s faculty members are. My instructors were always available to talk and answer my questions, and they also strictly adhered to student rights and privacy laws.


Capella University


Master of Business Administration, University of Phoenix (2005)


PhD in Business




Why did you decide to attend Capella University to get your doctorate degree in business in technology?

I chose Capella University for my business in technology doctoral degree because I am able to study independently rather than study in groups. I had to do group work for my masters degree in business administration at the University of Phoenix and conflicts often arose that were distracting. To be honest, I did not enjoy the education that I received at Phoenix. When I decided to get my PhD, I knew that I wanted something different.

What were your school’s biggest strengths?

Capella University's biggest strengths were the format of the curriculum and the faculty. Since my business in technology PhD program did not use group projects, I feel that my degree belongs to me and no one else.

In addition to the curriculum, I appreciated how responsive and reliable Capella’s faculty members are. My instructors were always available to talk and answer my questions, and they also strictly adhered to student rights and privacy laws.

One weakness of Capella, however, has been the difficulty of finding jobs within the university after I received my degree. I completed my degree recently and am now directly most of my energy to a job search. Capella does have job boards, but I wish that they would provide more avenues for finding teaching internships.

Did you view Capella University as a community?

Yes, I think of Capella University as a community. For example, when I attended Capella for my PhD in business in technology degree, the school offered their graduate students the chance to participate in weekend residencies and writing retreats. The residencies and retreats allowed students to escape the classroom mentality and socialize with classmates and instructors. The school even set up computers so that students can keep up with schoolwork.

Capella University also had an active social networking community, including Facebook and LinkedIn pages. The longer that I was in my program, the more that I recognized and became good friends with my classmates through these networking sites.

I would definitely recommend Capella University to friends and acquaintances. Although I am a little too old for school pride, I have Capella gear all over my house and even a class ring.

Does Capella University have brick-and-mortar campuses?

No, Capella University does not have any physical campus locations. The school rents space for their graduations, retreats and residencies. They set up the entire school during these events, including registration and admissions, counseling and writing lab booths.


How did you pay for college?

I paid for my PhD in business in technology with student loans. The tuition at Capella cost me several thousand dollars. Books, residencies and writing retreats were also extra. Books are expensive regardless of the seller, in my opinion, but Capella did offer its own online bookstore.

How helpful was your school in assisting your financial aid process?

Capella was tremendously helpful in assisting my financial aid process. The school offers several scholarships and unpaid internships every quarter. I did not look into these opportunities very much, but financial aid did give me plenty of resources for funding my education. I also spoke directly to my financial aid advisor, who held my hand through the entire process and helped me stay on top of the paperwork.

Do you feel like your overall cost of education was more or less than the cost of a degree at a traditional institution?

I feel that I paid much less for my PhD than I would have paid at a traditional school because I lived at home and did not have to commute. Staying at home also meant that I have more flexibility to work while attending school.

Admissions Requirements

Can you describe the admissions process from start to finish?

Yes, the admissions process took just 3 or 4 days from start to finish. My application included an application fee, proof of my employment for the past 5 years and records of my grade point average. I also had to provide a goal statement. Once I submitted my application, I was given access to a demonstration class and I received my acceptance notice within a few days.

What did you write about in your personal statement?

In my personal statement, I discussed my desire to teach writing, business and business management. My passion is to help people understand their careers better, which I feel this business degree will allow me to do.

How many letters of recommendation did you submit in your application?

I submitted several letters of recommendation, but these were written mostly by my peers rather than past professors. I did not cultivate strong relationships with my professors at University of Phoenix and I didn’t think that they would be able to speak to my skills and abilities.

Did you have an admissions interview?

Yes, I had an interview. My interviewer asked about my reasons for wanting to attend Capella, as well as my past experience with online education. I was also asked to discuss my future life plans, which I found difficult. At the time, I was not even sure what specialization I would choose, so summing up my life plans in a few sentences seemed nearly impossible.

Do you have any insight on how Capella University weighs the different parts of an admissions application?

Yes, I do have an idea of how Capella reviews applications. I think that they look at the goal statement to see if applicants have goals that the school can actually help them to meet. They value critical thinkers and people with aspirations over those who just want a title attached to their names. The independent learning structure at Capella also requires that students are motivated, so I think that the admissions boards look for self-starters.

During the admissions process, did you interact with an admissions advisor?

Yes, I had very frequent interaction with my admissions advisor over the phone to make sure that I stayed on track. The advisor taught me to navigate Capella’s online system, which is not very user friendly, and to find the resources that I needed.

Classroom Experience

How was class material presented?

The class structure allowed students to learn independently through written, video and colloquia lectures. I was able to choose to watch the video lectures or print the lecture transcripts to read on the bus in the mornings.

What were the benefits and drawbacks of this style of presentation?

This style of presentation had 1 major benefit, which is flexibility. If I wanted to sit down and hear a lecture, I could. I could also choose to read the lectures when it was most convenient for me. A classmate of mine often finished reading or listening to 10 weeks of written lectures in just 2 weeks because that best fit her schedule and ability.

The only drawback to this presentation style was the self-discipline that it required from students. I think that future students who cannot keep themselves on task without someone present to motivate them may find the online format difficult.

Did your professors encourage class participation?

Yes, professors encouraged class participation by holding conference calls with everyone within the first few weeks of the quarter and by requiring participation in class message boards. I think that Capella wants students to feel like they are learning with other people, not just with computers.

What method of communication did you use to keep in touch with your professors?

I used e-mail, phone and even video chat to stay in contact with my professors during their posted office hours, although I did not use the video chat until I began my dissertation.

Please rate your faculty in terms of the following criteria:

GradingAverageProfessors met expectations for consistent grading.

Criteria Rating Reasons
Overall Excellent Professors equipped students with a competitive education.
Qualifications Excellent Professors held PhDs.
Knowledgeable Excellent Professors were true educators with considerable experience in their fields.
Lectures 1) Content: Average
2) Clarity: Good
Professors provided excellent material but occasionally failed to provide clarification.
Assignments 1)Relevance: Average
2)Reasonable: Excellent
3)Clarity: Excellent
4)Assistance Provided: Average 
5)Feedback Given: Average
Professors assigned challenging coursework, but some were not as approachable for assistance.
Grading Average Professors met expectations for consistent grading.
Responsiveness Excellent Professors responded promptly to students.
Reliability Excellent Professors maintained consistently excellent standards.
Interest taken in class as a whole Excellent Professors seemed genuinely interested in class success.
Interest taken in student as an individual Average Professors seemed eager to respond to the individuals who reach out to them.

What resources did Capella University provide to help you succeed in the classroom?

When I attended Capella, the school provided its students with abundant resources, including optional online reading materials and meet-up groups. The school also had an online writing center and affordable writing retreats.

What advice would you give to students to help them succeed in an online classroom?

I advise students to read and write well and socialize. If students are struggling with writing their papers or comprehending the course material, I recommend that they take advantage of Capella's online writing resources. Students who struggle should never resort to plagiarism. It is easy to catch, especially at an online university. Instead, they should ask for help and cite their sources whenever possible.

In addition to taking written coursework seriously, students should try to interact with their classmates. Those social experiences will only enrich their education.


Why did you choose to enroll in your business in technology program?

I chose to enroll in my business in technology PhD program because the flexibility of the learning was key for me, as was the honesty of the university. They told me exactly how long the program would take me to complete and they helped me to focus and meet that expectation.

Did your program include a dissertation or practicum component?

Yes, my business in technology PhD program required both a dissertation and a practicum. Every step of the dissertation is subject to approval by various committees and a review board. I had to pass a difficult, 50-page competency exam on 3 questions related to my dissertation topic before I was approved to begin. Students who fail this exam have to retake it within 8 weeks. If they do not, they will need to return to school to qualify for it again, which is what happened to me.

After passing the competency exam, I was able to use all of that research for my dissertation. The committee required me to obtain consent forms, participant approvals and necessary software before I began my work, however. This process took me 1 year, at the end of which I began to do the actual writing.

The practicum component of my program is student teaching. Not only does the practicum provide me with an assessment of my ability, but it also allows me to put teaching experience on my resume.

Were you given an advisor to assist you through the dissertation process?

Yes, I had an advisor who provided support throughout my dissertation process. The advisor helped me choose the 3 questions for my competency exam and to clearly articulate my proposed topic for the dissertation.

The advisor also worked closely with the review board, whose members I was able to select. From what I have heard, the review boards can be potential obstacles for students who do not choose their members carefully.

Did your program have a residency requirement?

Yes, my program required a minimum of 3 colloquia, each of which lasted for 1 week. The benefit of the colloquia was the one-on-one time I received with my professors and classmates. I could hear lectures in person and ask questions directly. Many people even use colloquia as excuses to take their families on vacation for 1 week out of the year.

However, the disadvantage of colloquia for many students was fitting these residency periods into their schedules. It was hard for some students to take that time off from work or away from their families. I am self-employed, however, and I did not have that problem.

What were your program's biggest strengths and weaknesses?

The value and practicality of the curriculum were the biggest strengths of my PhD program in business in technology. My education has been worth every penny to me. Likewise, the practical skills that this program teaches translate to the real world. Rather than focus simply on theories, I think that the program has emphasized applicability, too.

However, 1 weakness of the program was its standardized student assessment system, because in the real world, not all strong learners fit that standard as neatly as the program assumes.

If you were to do it again, would you sign up for Capella University's PhD in business in technology?

Yes, I would do the business in technology program again. I started school late in life, so the ability to fast-track my education while getting to work independently has meant a great deal to me.


What general advice would you give to a student who is considering a PhD in business in technology at Capella University?

I have 2 suggestions for students considering a doctorate in business in technology at Capella University. First, students should prepare to read and write a great deal. I was told that I would write my way to my degree and that has been true. Students should also obtain a masters degree before applying for a PhD so that they can learn the critical thinking skills necessary for reading and writing at the doctoral level.