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.
- Applied Management
- Business & Management
- Health Administration & Medical
- Human Services
- Psychology & Counseling
- Public Health
- Public Policy
- More »
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.
|Occupation||2016 Median Pay||Number of New Jobs||Growth Rate||On-the-job Training|
|Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary||$55,000 to $74,999||10,000 to 49,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Community and social service specialists, all other||$35,000 to $54,999||5,000 to 9,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Counselors, all other||$35,000 to $54,999||1,000 to 4,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Curators||$35,000 to $54,999||1,000 to 4,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Economists||$75,000 or more||1,000 to 4,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Education administrators, elementary and secondary school||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Education administrators, postsecondary||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors||$35,000 to $54,999||10,000 to 49,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Farm and home management advisors||$35,000 to $54,999||1,000 to 4,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other||$55,000 to $74,999||5,000 to 9,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Healthcare social workers||$35,000 to $54,999||10,000 to 49,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Instructional coordinators||$55,000 to $74,999||10,000 to 49,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Librarians||$55,000 to $74,999||1,000 to 4,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Marriage and family therapists||$35,000 to $54,999||5,000 to 9,999||10 to 19 percent||Internship/residency|
|Mental health counselors||$35,000 to $54,999||10,000 to 49,999||20 to 29 percent||Internship/residency|
|Nurse anesthetists||$75,000 or more||5,000 to 9,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Nurse midwives||$75,000 or more||1,000 to 4,999||20 to 29 percent||None|
|Nurse practitioners||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||30 percent or faster||None|
|Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary||$55,000 to $74,999||10,000 to 49,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Occupational therapists||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||20 to 29 percent||None|
|Orthotists and prosthetists||$55,000 to $74,999||1,000 to 4,999||20 to 29 percent||Internship/residency|
|Physician assistants||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||30 percent or faster||None|
|Psychologists, all other||$75,000 or more||1,000 to 4,999||10 to 19 percent||Internship/residency|
|Speech-language pathologists||$55,000 to $74,999||10,000 to 49,999||20 to 29 percent||None|
|Statisticians||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||30 percent or faster||None|
|Survey researchers||$35,000 to $54,999||1,000 to 4,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Urban and regional planners||$55,000 to $74,999||1,000 to 4,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
Featured Online Ph.D Programs
|Northcentral University Northcentral University (NCU) was founded to provide accessible, high-quality, online graduate degrees to working professionals. As a regionally accredited, online university, NCU serves students worldwide, focusing on Doctoral and Master's degree programs in the Schools of Business and Technology Management, Education, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Sciences. Learn More >|
|University of the Rockies University of the Rockies provides high-quality, accessible learning opportunities globally for diverse groups of individuals seeking preparation for life goals, professional practice, service, and distinguished leadership. Learn More >|
|Grand Canyon University (GCU) With a spotlight on intellectual creativity and innovation for the 21stcentury, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU provides a job focused education. It blends the study of traditional humanities in a modern context. Through academic inquiry and beyond the box thinking, the college advances our society and its accomplishments. Learn More >|
|The Chicago School of Professional Psychology The Chicago School is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is an active member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psycholog which has recognized The Chicago School for its distinguished service and outstanding contributions to cultural diversity and advocacy. Learn More >|