Why should I get an online doctoral degree?
The reasons to enroll in an online PhD program are numerous. With our busy lives, it has never been a better time to pursue an online education. Some of the best reasons to pursue an online PhD include:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spend over 200 hours a year commuting. Online PhD programs typically require minimal on-campus visits. Instead of wasting hours on the commute, you can spend more hours working on your degree.
Carving out time in your schedule to attend class can be a challenge. PhD distance learning programs allow students to login from almost anywhere in the world to attend class. Some classes are offered in an asynchronous format, meaning no specific log-in times are required. Other classes may be synchronous, and while those have set log-in times, students still have the flexibility to participate wherever there is an internet connection.
Work while earning your degree
One of the greatest barriers to returning to school for a PhD is financial. Earning your online PhD allows you to continue working while earning your degree. You will be able to schedule class time around your work schedule without taking the financial hit that attending a full-time brick and mortar program might require. As a bonus, the skills and knowledge you acquire from your PhD distance learning program can be immediately applied to workplace!
Advance in or change your career
Earning a PhD online can open doors for exciting career opportunities. Whether you want to advance your current career path or pursue a different path, completing a 100% online doctoral program can help you achieve your goals.
Increased earning potential
While not all online PhDs are created equal, the expected lifetime earning of someone with a PhD is $3.3 million while those with a master’s degree is just $2.7 million according to a study by the Georgetown Center on Education. Unemployment rates are typically lower for individuals with advanced degrees and employment options are more prevalent.
What’s the difference between a PhD and a professional doctoral degree?
There are two main types of doctorate degrees in the United States. The PhD is a research degree that is usually earned after completing significant original research for review. This is most achieved through advanced coursework and a thesis or dissertation which is reviewed by a committee and defended by the candidate seeking their degree. Common PhD programs include accounting and finance, clinical psychology, and engineering. Students who earn their PhD usually have a career goal to ultimately teach at a university or conduct research but may also go on to become leaders in their chosen field.
By contrast, a professional doctoral degree is a terminal degree for students interested in the practical application of knowledge to their field. Students will build upon their knowledge to solve existing problems in their field, advance their career, and expand their professional network. Some programs do require a thesis or dissertation, but the focus is on developing solutions to complex problems within the field. Popular professional doctoral degrees include the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and the Doctor of Education (EdD).
What are some of the most popular online PhD programs?
Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)- The online DNP is a popular program sought out by nurses who want to work in leadership and administration or focus on advanced practice nursing. DNPs are found in roles like Nurse Midwife, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Anesthetist.
Online Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)- The online DBA is an advanced business degree that often includes specializations. Students will study quantitative and qualitative business research methods and complete a dissertation project. Specializations include international business, entrepreneurship, and health care management.
Online Doctor of Education (EdD)- The EdD degree is a specialized program for students planning to advance their career in education administration or leadership. Students can select different specializations in areas like curriculum and instruction or higher education administration.
What types of classes can I expect for an online PhD?
PhD distance learning programs include subject matter and research coursework. Students will typically take courses meant to expand their knowledge of their specific industry. Online PhD programs also include courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods. Many programs also require a thesis or dissertation. With these courses, students work closely with their advisor to stay on track, review their work, and navigate the process. If your program or field of study requires exams, you may take courses that prepare you to sit for the exam. Courses in theory are also common in doctoral programs. Students will learn prominent theories in their field and study theoretical approaches for application.
Online courses are offered as either synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous courses have set meeting times and allow students to interact with their instructor and each other. Asynchronous courses provide students with a bit more flexibility. Students can attend class whenever its most convenient.
How long does it take to complete an online PhD program?
There are many factors that contribute to the length of time you can expect to work on earning your PhD online. Online PhD programs usually take less time to complete than a traditional on-campus doctorate program. Students can typically complete their degree in three to six years of study. Some things to consider when and whether you plan to attend school part-time or full-time. Working professionals usually attend part-time for the added flexibility, but that can add to the time it takes to complete the program. Programs that require a dissertation will also take additional time to complete. In many cases, online doctorate programs in areas like IT or business administration do not require a dissertation. These programs, along with many EdD programs, may require students to complete a capstone project at the end of their program that is less rigorous and time consuming. For students who want to earn their doctorate degree as fast as possible, there are accelerated programs available in many fields that can be completed in just three years.
How much does an online doctoral degree cost?
Online and campus-based doctoral degrees can differ in terms of cost. Many students in traditional programs earn a stipend and tuition waiver for teaching and doing research and most of their costs of living expenses. The full-time schedule of a traditional PhD student often leaves little time for outside employment. Online students can take advantage of added flexibility that allows them to work while earning their degree, but they may not be eligible for tuition waivers or stipends due to the structure of the program. Financial aid is available for both types of programs. Loans, scholarships, assistantships, and grants are available to PhD students. The cost savings for earning your PhD online can be significant, especially without the added expense of relocation.
Is it better to apply for an online PhD that is geographically close to me?
While most of the coursework and program components are offered in an online format, some PhD programs have in-person requirements. Some include short summer residencies for students to gather for professional development or hands-on training. Travel can be a significant expense, so you should choose a program close to home if travel is outside your budget.
How much money can I expect to make after getting my online PhD?
According to PayScale.com, the average salary of an individual with a doctorate degree is $98,314/year. Roles like an assistant professor or research scientist have a lower average pay while roles like data scientist are above average. In comparison, the average salary of a worker with a master’s degree is $75,085/year. We recommend checking the average salary for your specific field when considering earning your PhD.
What are the pros and cons of doing an online PhD?
As with any major life decision, it is best to weigh the pros and cons of returning to school for an online doctorate degree. We have highlighted a few important things to consider when choosing whether an online doctorate program is a good fit.
Online programs are going have more flexibility than traditional brick and mortar programs. Students who need to work while earning their degree and those with families will appreciate the flexibility of evening courses and asynchronous/synchronous format options. Family time is easier to balance without scheduled courses.
Shorter time to degree completion
This pro depends on the program, but usually online programs take less time to complete than traditional programs. Online programs are designed to be completed with few, if any, visits to campus so requirements like teaching and research in a college lab are eliminated. Schools have streamlined their programs as much as possible so students know the expectations and processes they should follow to earn their degree. This focused approach allows students to spend more time on the specific requirements needed to earn their degree, saving time and money.
The last thing you want to do when you are establishing yourself in your career or with your employer is to relocate for a few years and take time away to complete your degree. For many mid-level career professionals, this is just not feasible. Students can save money by earning their degree from the comfort of their home.
Missing out on the college experience
If spending time on a college campus and working closely with faculty and peers is your ideal experience, earning an online doctorate degree may not be your best choice. While online programs give students access to most college resources and students can access faculty and each other in an online format, it is not the same as sitting in a classroom or working in a research facility.
Not everyone is cut out for online learning
Online programs are not easier than traditional programs. Successful students are highly motivated and organized, with great time management skills. It takes a great degree of self-discipline to complete assignments and benchmarks in a flexible online learning environment. Procrastination can raise the cost of the degree and cause added stress. Before deciding on a PhD distance learning program, honestly evaluate your ability to complete your degree online.
You need to be able to use technology
Online doctorate programs use an online learning management system to deliver content and interact with students. Students may be expected to engage with their instructors and peers in a virtual environment through video conferencing, online classrooms, email, and social media. You will need to be comfortable using a computer and basic software packages to be successful.
How do I apply for an online doctoral program?
You have decided an online doctoral program is the right choice, now what? Finding the perfect program and being accepted are the next steps. You can research PhD or professional doctorate programs online to find requirements, cost, and expectations. Most programs will have clearly stated steps to follow when you are ready to apply. You may be asked to submit test scores like the GRE or LSAT for consideration. If you have not taken the required exams, you will need to prepare for and schedule those at your earliest convenience. You will also need to provide schools with your transcripts from previous schools attended to make sure you have met all the academic requirements to be admitted into the program. Once you have all your documentation submitted, you may be contacted for an interview. It is also important to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible to determine your financial aid eligibility.
How do I find the best affordable online PhD program that interests me?
Earning a PhD can be one of the most important steps in your career advancement. Below we have ranked some of the most popular PhD degree programs available online.
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- 15 Most Affordable Ph.D in Computer & Information Systems Security Online
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- 16 Online Doctorate in Business Administration Degree Programs
- 20 Most Affordable Ph.D in Early Childhood Education Online
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- 25 Most Affordable Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction Online
- 30 Most Affordable Ph.D in Organizational Leadership Online
- 35 Most Affordable Ph.D in Psychology Online
- 5 Most Affordable Ph.D in Sports Management Online
- 20 Most Affordable PhD in Online Teaching Online