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For most liberal arts disciplines, the highest degree attainable is a PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy. Holders of a PhD are typically eligible for a wide array of well-paying professions, such as a professor at the university level, or a high-level executive.

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A prospective student can enroll in this type of degree program anytime following the successful completion of a Master’s degree program. Generally, it requires four years of post-Bachelor studies in order to complete a doctoral program. The coursework that comes with earning a doctorate is extensive, and requires astute dedication to such course components as executing research projects, understanding expert-level material, and ultimately, producing a formal thesis in your specific field of expertise.

Distance learning programs for earning a PhD are offered by a variety of online schools and universities. This article has been created to help those looking to earn their PhD by providing in-depth information on preparing for their academic journey, and offering further insight into the importance of choosing an esteemed and accredited institution.

Earnings Boost with PhDs

It is no secret that people prefer to seek help or advice from a person who is an expert at what they do. For this reason, a PhD can help you become a highly valued asset in your profession of choice. In addition, those who have a Doctorate’s degree have been known to have the lowest rate of unemployment among professionals. They also tend to maintain the highest job security, as seen with tenured university professors, etc.

An Intro to Doctorates

Professions involving a doctoral degree include a pool of diverse career options. Some popular ones are criminal justice, education, business, law, healthcare, and nursing. This level of training is extremely expansive, covering in-depth, comprehensive knowledge of an entire field or specialty.

  • Examples of popular doctoral degree options include:
  • Acupuncture (D.Ac.)
  • Advanced Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)
  • Architecture (D.Arch.)
  • Business Administration (D.B.A.)
  • Chiropractic (D.C.)
  • Computer Science (D.C.S.)
  • Education (Ed.D.)
  • Engineering (D.Eng.)
  • Health Administration (D.H.A.)
  • Law and Policy (L.P.D., D.L.P.)
  • Medicine (M.D.)
  • Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)
  • Psychology (Psy.D)
  • Science (D.Sc., Sc. D.)
  • Theology (D.Th., Th.D)
  • Social Work (D.S.W.)
  • Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.)

The below information provides an idea of the type of advanced-learning required for obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy:

Course Name Description
Public School Funding and Budget Deals with funding for public schools, including topics on tax impacts, federal and state regulations, forecasting and strategic planning, and resources.
Nursing Science This will count for a handful of credit hours to complete a project about nursing science.
Management and Accounting Workshop Assessments on current and related financial points of accounting and management studies. Must submit final paper to complete.
Social Welfare Policies A look into the world of social services from theoretical, political, and economic stand points.
Pastoral Leadership An examination of church settings and how they are operating and performing, as far as pastoral planning, leadership quality, communication, and proficiency.

When Does a PhD Make Sense?

Often, having a PhD is required to have work in higher education fields, as well as many healthcare fields. A person looking to earn their doctorate may also have interest in a career outside of health and academia, such as top-level executive positions for a business or corporation focusing on technology, financing, engineering, or law.

In 2012, the best performing, best paying, and fastest growing occupations included doctors, veterinarians, teachers, psychiatrists, anesthesiologists, among others. These all require a PhD, an unparalleled level of education both culturally and professionally. (Economic Modeling Specialists International)

Online And Campus Doctoral Degree Programs

Online degree programs were created to help students who have difficulty commuting to on-site schools but who want to further their education. This method of continued learning shares many of the same advantages as on-campus learning, but with the added perk of a more flexible schedule to accommodate the student’s other obligations and responsibilities.

Lectures, seminars, fieldwork, comprehensive research, peer communication, forming a thesis, these are all parts of learning that can be accomplished by doing so online. For access to exams, attendance, mentoring, and more, the student simply logs into their account using an ID and password and can then begin completing and turning in coursework, creating presentations, posting on bulletin boards, sharing ideas and thoughts via chat rooms, and keeping up-to-date with deadlines and communication. Self-discipline is a must when considering the option of distant learning. While the curriculum is quite flexible, due dates remain in place, so students should always be aware of emails and threads, and create a study schedule that is conducive for their success.

Distance Learning Q&A

Are online PhD programs or on campus PhD programs easier to complete?

Completing a PhD whether it be online or on campus is a very demanding thing. The requirements for both online and on campus PhD programs have very similar requirements. Online students save the time of being in class but will need to be disciplined to stay on track with timelines and deadlines.

How do I evaluate potential online PhD faculty for your program?

It is important to look at the faculty of the online program of your choice to see if they fall in line with what you are looking to achieve in a PhD program. It can be very helpful to have faculty that works in the same field you will want to work in.

How can I submit my application to an online PhD program?

Requirements to enter a PhD degree program will vary depending on the school you go to. Once you narrow down your choice of school be sure to check online to see what you can submit online and what you will need to do to complete your application.

Do online universities offer financial aid or scholarships to online PhD students?

The U.S. Department of Education offers qualified students at accredited institutions either federal, Perkins, and Ford loans. There are other federal programs offered for some specific industries. Depending on the school, some schools offer their own scholarships.

Can doctoral course credits be transferable?

This will depend on the school that you are transferring credits to. It would be in your best interest to inquire with the school you intend on transferring credits to.

Doctoral Program Accreditation

There are two types of accreditation to consider when determining whether a school or program is right for you. Colleges and universities seeking accreditation for the entire institution often aim to grasp the attention of agencies specializing in this form of accreditation granting. However, some schools that include special programs may prefer to seek accreditation for only particular areas of specialized study. For instance, if a program offers a specific PhD in education, their is special accreditation for this.

The process of accreditation begins with the school self-analyzing its performance in comparison to regulation standards for receiving the credentials. Next, the school is evaluated by an agency trained in determining whether or not accreditation should be granted. Reviews are conducted regularly to ensure that the school is maintaining the proper levels of quality instruction and academic performance necessary to sustain their accreditation status.

As many employers will not recognize a degree earned from a school that lacks appropriate credentials, it is incredibly important to ensure that you consider accreditation when selecting a PhD program. If seeking financial assistance, students should also be advised that colleges and universities that are accredited are more likely to offer aid and funding options.

It is extremely important and valuable to attend an accredited school. Degrees earned at a non-accredited school may not be honored by potential employers. For financial aid purposes, a school will not be allowed by the Department of Education to award financial aid if not accredited.