Online Doctoral and PhD Programs

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Online doctoral degree

Earning an online doctoral degree or PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is a major achievement. The average time to earn a doctoral degree in the U.S. is 8.2 years, however, depending on the doctorate area of study, it can take anywhere from 2-10 years to successfully complete an online doctoral degree.

From a financial standpoint, the time and sacrifice may be well worth the time as those with a doctorate average higher salaries than those with master’s or bachelor’s degrees. In fact, it has been estimated that those with a doctoral degree earn over $14,000 more each year than those with a master’s and $26,000 more than their colleagues with bachelor’s degrees.

Online Doctoral Program Outline

Online doctoral students are required to select a specialty to study. It takes about 2 years, or 4 semesters, to complete courses in their specialized field. After this is done, students are then required to pass a test, which is used to determine whether or not they are ready to move on to the research and thesis phase of their PhD program.

Research and Thesis

In addition to their coursework, doctoral students are required to conduct original research and report their conclusions in a multi-page dissertation. PhD students are also required to defend their conclusions in front of a panel composed of professors. Once this is successfully completed, a student is awarded a doctorate degree; a PhD or equivalent degree.

Earning a doctorate through an online doctorate program will require the same time commitment and effort it takes to complete a traditional campus-program. All PhD students are required to conduct original research and write a thesis or complete a residency lasting a year.

Popular Fields for Online Doctoral Study

  • Psychology (PhD, PsyD)
    Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) and PhD programs in psychology can be completed online. Those earning PsyDs usually enter clinical practice, while graduates of PhD programs in psychology often work at universities as researchers and professors. Students enrolled in these programs can opt to specialize in organizational, educational, counseling, or clinical psychology.
  • Education (PhD, EdD)
    PhD students specializing in education often pursue careers as professors or school administrators. Those completing EdD programs often become principals at secondary and elementary schools.
  • Engineering (PhD, DCS)
    Online PhD programs are available in most engineering fields. Many people earn doctor of computer science degrees (DCS). Popular doctor of engineering (DEng) programs include mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering.
  • Public Health (PhD, DPH)
    Many doctorate programs in public health can be completed online. Programs are available in community health, social health, and epidemiology. One of the most popular programs is the Doctor of Public Health (DPH) program.
  • Business (PhD, DBA)
    Earning a doctorate degree is difficult, but it’s a major life achievement that will open up many doors. PhD students get the unique opportunity to contribute to the intellectual debate in their chosen field. The research conducted by PhD students has contributed, and continues to contribute, to the advancement of science and civilization.

Online Doctoral and PhD Degrees

The following is a selection of the top doctoral and PhD programs. To learn more about a specific program select a degree below.

Best Jobs For Online Doctorate and PhD Degree Holders

All occupations listed below have a salary of at least $55,000 and have positive job growth rates. It is noted whether or not there is any required on-the-job training.

Occupation2016 Median PayNumber of New JobsGrowth RateOn-the-job Training
Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
Community and social service specialists, all other$35,000 to $54,9995,000 to 9,9990 to 9 percentNone
Counselors, all other$35,000 to $54,9991,000 to 4,99910 to 19 percentNone
Curators$35,000 to $54,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
Economists$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
Education administrators, elementary and secondary school$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
Education administrators, postsecondary$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
Farm and home management advisors$35,000 to $54,9991,000 to 4,99910 to 19 percentNone
Health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other$55,000 to $74,9995,000 to 9,99910 to 19 percentNone
Healthcare social workers$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
Instructional coordinators$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
Librarians$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
Marriage and family therapists$35,000 to $54,9995,000 to 9,99910 to 19 percentInternship/residency
Mental health counselors$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentInternship/residency
Nurse anesthetists$75,000 or more5,000 to 9,99910 to 19 percentNone
Nurse midwives$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,99920 to 29 percentNone
Nurse practitioners$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
Occupational therapists$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentNone
Orthotists and prosthetists$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,99920 to 29 percentInternship/residency
Physician assistants$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
Psychologists, all other$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,99910 to 19 percentInternship/residency
Speech-language pathologists$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentNone
Statisticians$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
Survey researchers$35,000 to $54,9991,000 to 4,99910 to 19 percentNone
Urban and regional planners$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone

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