Online Doctorate Degrees 101

by Calyn Ehid

If you have started to consider pursuing a doctorate degree, then you have probably run across the idea of earning that degree online. You may have initially discounted the idea for various reasons. Perhaps you think that online degrees are not as valuable as on-campus degrees, or you have heard of someone paying tens of thousands of dollars only to end up with a bogus diploma. There are many valid reasons to be apprehensive about an online education, but with the right information and enough research, you should be able to find the ideal program for you.

Online PhD Programs & Distant Learning

Begin by deciding which Ph.D. is right for you. There are many sites that list numbers online of Ph.D. programs for you to peruse. Whether it is psychology, education, or computer science, every doctorate serves a different purpose. What might be an extremely valuable education in one field might be utterly useless in another. Look for online universities that offer degree programs that most closely align with your professional goals. For instance, a doctorate in Library Science that concentrates in medical librarianship would be less functional to a public librarian. Thoroughly examine the classes offered by that degree program and where that school focuses the majority of their research. Line up three to five of your best options and begin the fact-checking process.

First, know that there are plenty of “degree mills” out there that are only too happy to sell you a worthless education. However, it is easy to fact check these schools by discovering their accreditation. Start shopping around for schools that appeal to your interests and offer degree programs that would be useful to your in your professional field. Then navigate to the U.S. Department of Education that has a database for postsecondary institutions and their accreditations. If your school is legitimately accredited it will be listed.

For-profit schools can either be nationally or regionally accredited, and non-profit schools are regionally accredited. Double check with the accreditation agency’s site to be extra sure that the accreditation has not lapsed or changed recently. Repeat this process with your top three to five choices. Once you are certain of your school’s legitimate accreditation you can move on to the next part of the process.

Accredited Online Doctoral Programs

Hopefully at least three of your top choices remain after your thorough research is complete. At this point, it is time to begin the application process. Much of the application should resemble your graduate application and will, therefore, be familiar. As you wait for your acceptance letters to start rolling in, you may start to wonder what an online Ph.D. program is like. It is entirely different from the face-to-face time of an on-campus degree. Your lectures, readings, syllabi, and more will all be posted online. You will commune with your fellow classmates via discussion board posts and may even see them in group video chats hosted by the professor.

All of your assignments will be submitted electronically and you may even be asked to defend your dissertation or thesis through a live video conference. You can expect the doctoral program to take at least as much time and effort as any on-campus degree would. The unique difficulty is maintaining motivation. Without lectures to attend regularly and classmates to meet up with, it can be difficult to stay on track and easy to fall behind. For more information on online doctorate degrees check out this page published by Franklin University. An online Ph.D. program requires a great deal of determination, focus, and effort. But if you stick with it and work hard, then you have a chance to one day call yourself “Doctor ______.”