Doctoral Programs | Accredited Online Phd Programs
Considering a doctorate or Ph.D. program? The GradSchools.com directory contains over 18,000 campus and online graduate doctorate programs worldwide.
For some people, earning a PhD online is a wonderful option. Online programs may offer students a degree of flexibility untypical of brick and mortar programs. Because they can “attend” classes online and avoid having to schedule and attend classes during specific dates and times, online PhD students may be able to more easily work around the demands and needs of their careers and families.
Read More About Earning Your Doctorate Degree Online
Online PhD programs can also be a great option for people whose studies benefit from not having to be in the same location as their program. Students earning a PhD in international affairs, for example, can travel the world while completing their programs online. Similarly, students who want to live and work in one area (for any reason: personal, professional, or academic) but attend a program in another area might benefit from an online PhD program.
If you are considering an online PhD program, it is important to consider the following:
Given your discipline and field of study, is it appropriate and possible to get your PhD online?
Many disciplines require students to engage in discourse and practicums on campus. Other programs (psychology, for example) may only offer certification to students who complete a traditional bricks and mortar program. It is important to determine whether or not a PhD in your particular discipline should be (and can be) completed online.
Are the school and the PhD program you plan to enroll in accredited?
Accreditation is important at the PhD level because many professional associations and employers don’t recognize PhDs from unaccredited schools or programs. This can negatively affect your certification and employability. Because many people earn their PhDs to earn a certification or to advance their careers, it is incredibly important to confirm your school and program’s accreditation status.
Do you have the discipline and organizations skills necessary to complete a challenging program without the benefit of structural support?
If you’re considering earning a PhD, the chances are that you are already somewhat disciplined and organized. However, earning a PhD online requires a more extensive degree of discipline and organization. Due to the nature of online programs, you will have to take the initiative to learn (without the benefit of a teacher standing in front of you lecturing), conduct research (without the benefit of face-to-face interaction and guidance), contribute to class discussions (online, on time, and with the consideration that expressing your thoughts through writing might be more difficult than doing so through spoken words), and otherwise keep yourself organized, connected to the materials, and on track to complete the program.
Pros and Cons of Earning a PhD Online
There may be many benefits to earning a PhD online. First, online programs of any variety may allow students to have more flexible schedules. In an online PhD program, for example, you might be able to determine when to do your work, when to “attend” class, and when to participate in class discussions. In some programs, you can even decide when to start and finish each course, moving through the program in your own time.
Second, online PhD programs provide a more convenient option for students who are also working professionals. Having a flexible schedule and being able to attend school without having to move and leave an established career can make earning your PhD online an appealing option. Finally, as mentioned above, online PhD programs can give you the option to live where you want live and still “attend” the college or university of your choice. Whether you want to earn your PhD from a college in your state or across the country, you might be able to do so through an online program.
Verify Online Accreditation
While the benefits of earning a PhD online may be appealing, there may also be a significant downside to deciding to pursue this academic path. Many online PhD programs are unaccredited; attending an unaccredited PhD program might limit your certification and employment possibilities. You can verify that a program is accredited through the United States Department of Education and by contacting a regional accreditation agency through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Some online PhD programs may be accredited, but not recognized by certain professional associations or employers. Therefore, it is important to verify the legitimacy, credibility, and reputation of your online PhD program prior to enrolling. To do this, contact potential employers and professional associations to discuss your program and verify that it will indeed be recognized.
Financial assistance and funding in the forms of grants, loans, scholarships, assistantships, and work study programs may be less available (or completely unavailable) to students in online PhD programs than they are to students in traditional bricks and mortar programs. Prior to registering for an online PhD program, make sure you have the money to pay for it because funding might be difficult to find. Prior to registering for a PhD program, determine the exact cost of the program and compare it to other options.
How to Survive an Online PhD Program
There are three primary components of a PhD program: coursework, an oral or general exam, and the writing and defense of a dissertation or similar project. Each component requires discipline, devotion, and hard work.
In order to survive your online PhD program you will need to establish a schedule for completing online course requirements. Stick to your schedule as much as possible, and be sure to meet all necessary deadlines. Avoid falling behind in your work or procrastinating. If you’re in an online program, you’ll need to push yourself to stay on top of your work.
Oral and General Exams
As you prepare for your oral and general exams, make sure you save all of your coursework; carefully organize your notes, assignments, and other study materials. When you are ready to prepare for your exams, take the time to connect with your committee members. Schedule phone and Skype conversations and get to know their personalities and expectations of you as a student. Work with your committee to determine how to best approach your exams and, as soon as you know what to do, organize your materials and schedule time to study.
It is important while you’re preparing for your exams to fully synthesize your materials by closely reviewing them, writing about them, talking about them, and reading other materials that connect to your studies; doing so will help you retain your knowledge about your subject and also prepare you to speak eloquently about it.
Preparing Your Dissertation
Completing work on your dissertation may be one of the most significant accomplishments you experience during your time as an online PhD student. This task may also be one of the most challenging because a dissertation usually requires a great deal of communication with advisors and committee members.
For online PhD students, communication with advisors and dissertation committee member may be more difficult than it is for PhD students attending classes at a traditional ground school. Work closely with your dissertation committee to develop your dissertation or final project; schedule Skype and phone conversations and establish firm deadlines by when you’ll give your committee members drafts and materials for feedback.
Set a strict schedule for yourself and budget enough time and money to conduct research and travel (if necessary) for your project. Most importantly, commit to completing your dissertation. Many students do not complete their dissertations, and, as an online student, it may be more difficult for you to complete yours. You’ll need to depend upon your own discipline and will to get your dissertation done.