The doctoral degree, the highest graduate degree awarded, is earned after an advanced course of study that usually consists of original research, a dissertation, and extended written work. The traditional on-campus doctoral student takes four to ten years to complete the degree, but many online doctoral programs are structured to streamline the process.
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the most common doctoral degree, which is awarded in fields that range from philosophy to geology. Other frequently awarded doctoral degrees include the Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Engineering (EngD), and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD).
How it Works Online
Online doctorate degrees are set up about the same as traditional departments. Students are expected to do concentrated independent research and critical thinking, as well as work independently on a scholarly dissertation. Some courses are designed to be completely online, while others require a specific residency.
At the University of Phoenix Online, for example, candidates work with a mentor, chair, and committee members. In the third year, students must complete a collaborative case study that looks at real-world issues and scenarios with compounding problems. Teams switch between followers and leaders. Students must be in the online classroom five out of seven days and 15 to 20 hours a week, and they must attend three residencies in Phoenix.
The Spread of Online Doctorate Programs
Not too long ago, if students had wanted to enroll in online doctoral programs, they would have had a tough time finding one. There were far fewer online doctorate programs than online master’s degree programs. However, online doctorate programs are increasingly cropping-up.
“It has spread like a good virus throughout education,” says Michael P. Lambert, the executive director of the Distance Education and Training Council. Lambert points out that it’s not a stretch to earn any online degree, even a doctorate online, since doctoral students are already independent learners involved in independent research. He predicts that online doctoral students will become much more common in the next ten years.
Henry T. Radda, PhD and director of the School for Advanced Studies at the University of Phoenix Online, comments that as perceptions about online education degrees change, more potential doctoral candidates will consider getting their degrees online. One of the advantages of online doctorate programs is that students are not just learning with and from people in their department, but with people from all over the world.
Convenience of Online Doctoral Programs
Dawn Iwamoto, EdD and of the School for Advanced Studies at the University of Phoenix Online, remarks on the benefits of online doctoral programs, “People are reluctant to earn doctoral degrees by the time they get to that point. They go to a university and are told they have to quit their jobs or work part-time. I had to do twenty weeks of residency and move my kids 90 miles from home. An online doctorate is not any easier, but it does allow the flexibility to have a life while earning the degree.”
Although still as much work as on-campus programs, online doctoral programs afford you the convenience of earning your degrees without having to deal with a commute to class and the accompanying scheduling conflicts. If you are a considering a doctoral program, but want to minimize the interruption to your career, an online university degree may be a strong option for you to consider.
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