Once you have completed an online bachelors or masters program, you may be looking for ways to help advance your standing to even higher levels. There are many different paths you can take to achieve your goals in research, leadership, and even instruction.

Some students choose to pursue post-masters training within an area that interests them while others make the decision to move forward to online doctorate programs. These programs can be a great way to transition into diverse fields and exhibit skills that can modify your field for the better. The online doctorate can be presented to students in different formats.

You may notice throughout your search that programs are listed in either Ph.D. or Doctorate format. These 2 different paths can both lead you into higher learning in your field, but may prepare you for slightly different career options as a result of achieving them. As you read through this guide, you should consider the differences between these 2 paths and consider what you would like to accomplish as a result of your education prior to ever choosing a program.

The online Ph.D. is an advanced degree program that can help you exercise skills in research and education. Careers at universities or community colleges that involved teaching students about subjects in your field may require that you hold a minimum of a Ph.D. within your field. During a Ph.D. program, you may be expected to engage in a research project that involves a new perspective into a certain area within your field. Introductory classes can help sharpen your skills of valid research, so that you can complete a project successfully and present it to your school.

The online Doctorate can take on a different perspective in terms of what you can learn throughout. Doctorate programs in many subject areas may focus on management or leadership techniques relevant to your field, as well as some of the applied skills that may be required in these positions. If you have aspirations of moving up in your current career or are interested in applying your knowledge in a professional setting, this could be the right path for you to choose.

Online Doctorate Programs from a Learners Standpoint

The path you take with your online doctorate program can set the stage for your experience within. Both Ph.D. and Doctorate programs online can provide you with the freedom to engage in course work and complete assignments online, but the actual course work may vary. Our team of educational experts has broken down some standard expectations of these online doctorate programs in order to allow you to have a better grasp on what is to come in your future.

Discussions

One of the major components of online degree programs may be the discussion requirements. These types of assignments can be found at nearly all degree levels and require students to engage in conversations about assigned topics. You may be challenged to consider different perspectives during your experience with discussions, as well as to provide meaningful feedback to other students in the class. A lot of online doctorate programs will have a weekly discussion requirement for students to take part in.

Research

Whether you are in research or applied degree program, you may have the opportunity to start and finish an in depth research project on a topic of your choice. Online doctorate degree programs typically consist of introductory courses on research within your discipline, so that you can be aware of different methods to learn more about your field. Some research projects are spread out over the course of an entire class, so that your instructor can provide you with feedback along the way. These courses can help you build up to dissertation expectations or in-person experiences in the field.

Residencies

Depending on the school that you choose, you may be required to take part in 1 or more residency requirements as part of your program. One university in particular requires that students meet on campus for 4 weekends during the program in order to meet this requirement. During these visits, students can learn about how to apply their skills in a real-world setting before graduation.

Dissertations

Specific to Ph.D. programs, dissertations are a requirement of students interested in graduating from these programs. The dissertation phase of a degree program includes choosing a topic for research that adds to or changes ideas within your current field, gathering previous research on the subject, and developing a written report that is publishable in scholarly journals. This requirement is typically near the end of a degree program and can take 1-2 years to complete for most students.

Online Vs. Traditional Programs

There are many reasons why you may or may not choose to pursue your degree online. People interested in higher education in today’s society may be looking for a quick way to satisfy their need for higher pay, or simply just need the added convenience of online education.

Traditional learning environments can be a great way to establish a routine in education, especially for people that have part-time jobs or plenty of free time to indulge in in-person learning. However, if you are 1 of the many students that are working full-time positions or have a family to care for, online doctorate programs may be the better option for you.

If you were to review the requirements of traditional doctorate programs, you might notice that the quickest way to complete it is through a full-time schedule. A university that offers a traditional doctorate program states that students can expect to attend class up to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week to complete their program within 3 years from masters level. This type of rigorous schedule can provide you with regular access to instructors and peers within your area of interest, but leave little time for you to maintain full-time employment.

Online doctorate programs can be found that accept students at the part-time and full-time rate. These programs may allow students to take 1-4 classes at a time, depending on the amount of time and effort you have available for your classes. Depending on the rate that you can take courses, your completion time can be as short as 2-3 years from the masters level or drawn out to up to 5 years from start to finish. This type of versatility may be part of what makes this program so attractive for upcoming students.

Regardless of which type of doctorate program you choose, you can have access to high quality curricula to help you obtain the career of your dreams. As you look for a program to suit your needs, you should consider what percentage of your free time you would like to donate to your education, so that you can choose a program that is closely associated with those requirements. Read more below about how you can apply to a program once you have located one.

The Doctoral Application Process

Application and Documentation

The application phase of your degree program may include accessing the online application via your school’s website. In this step, you may need to provide historical information regarding your education, choose your program, and provide information about where you live and other personal details. From this point, your school may recommend that you send in all necessary documents before a final decision is made on your acceptance.

Statements of Purpose/Letters of Recommendation

At the doctorate level, some programs may require that your provide documentation that supports your purpose in the degree program, as well as letters from employers or educational instructors recommending you for the program. This requirement can help universities sort through large numbers of applicants in order to choose the most qualified. While not all schools require this step, it may be beneficial to prepare for it just in case.

Proof of Degree Acquisition

Some online doctorate programs may require that you hold at minimum a masters degree within your specific field. Some students can move straight from a bachelors program into a doctorate degree depending on the university. You should first check the educational requirements of your program, then provide a copy of your diploma to the school for consideration. The university may also require an official copy of your college transcripts in order to ensure that you meet the GPA and curriculum requirements of the program.

Test Scores

Like online masters programs, the online doctorate may also require that you submit scores from graduate level tests such as the GRE or GMAT. The school that you are considering should list whether or not these tests are required for admission. This is one of the reasons why early research into a degree program can benefit you the most. If you are required to complete these tests and have not, this can extend the amount of time it can take you to become enrolled in the program. If you would like to bypass this requirement altogether, you should research online doctorate programs with no GRE or GMAT requirement.

Time Spent Earning Your Online Doctorate Degree

An important question that upcoming students tend to ask regarding the online doctorate program is related to the time it takes to complete from start to finish. One of the more attractive features of online doctorate programs is that you can essentially choose the time frames in which you want to complete your program, based on the amount of classes that you can take per semester.

One university that offers an online doctorate program allows students to take 1-4 classes at a time over a 10-week term. Students that choose to engage in a full-time load of 4 classes could complete their program in as little as 2-3 years. If you are coming from an online bachelors program, you can likely expect to spend around 4-5 years within your online doctoral program. This is likely due to the fact that your program can encompass information that would typically be indulged in an online masters program alongside information from the doctoral curriculum. Considering an online masters can take 1-3 years and then a following doctorate program can take an additional 2-4 years, the time frames can line up regardless of which path you choose.

Students like you may choose to pursue their masters degree first in order to get their feet into the door within their professional field. This can be an economically smart way to continue earning money while finishing a degree program and may be the preferred route for upcoming students. If you enter into an online doctorate program after completion of your masters degree, you could complete your program in 2-4 years depending on the amount of classes you can manage each semester.

The Price of the Online Doctorate

Now that you have read about what is involved in these programs and what type of time investment you can expect, you might want to learn more about the financial investment required to complete these programs. In terms of financing your education at this level, you might look into federal loans that can be obtained through filing your yearly FAFSA or scholarship opportunities available through universities and your local area. Universities offering online doctorate programs may also have funding or payment options available to students enrolled.

Read more about the costs of these online doctorate programs below.

  • Southern New Hampshire University: $627 per credit hour for full-time students
  • Central Washington University: $9,214 per semester for full-time, in-state students
  • California Baptist University: $897 to $950 per credit hour for full-time students

Important Points to Consider

The decision to pursue an online doctorate program can be a great thing for your future. Some students may be completely satisfied with a degree at the bachelors or masters level, but some feel drawn to terminal degree programs at this level. If you are considering a transition into one of these incredible programs, you should consider the amount of time you have available for learning. Online doctorate programs may require you to engage in deep research and exploration within your field. Taking 1 or 2 classes at a time throughout your program can extend the amount of time it takes you to complete your degree, but can also contribute to more quality within you work. Another factor to consider before deciding to enroll is the in-person requirements.

If your program requires that you participate in a residency as part of your program, you should start planning for this early on. Different schools can have different requirements surrounding the amount of time you spend in these residencies, as well as how many residency experiences may be required during the length of the program. It is best to know and understand these requirements at the forefront so that you can make all necessary plans to attend.

Example Schools and Doctorate Programs Available

As you move forward along your journey to academic and career success, you should consider enrolling in online doctorate programs that can help you obtain the job you are looking for. With the wide availability of online doctorate programs in the U.S., you can potentially find one that meets all of your quality standards while still allow you the flexibility that you need in your personal life.

Our team of experts has decades of experience in researching educational programs in various fields. Through their review of available online doctorate programs, they discovered that many schools offer online doctorate programs actually provided programs in very diverse specialty areas.

Check out a few examples of schools offering online programs below.

  • Johns Hopkins University: Online Doctorate in Applied Health Science Informatics, Civil Engineering, Business, and Education
  • Grand Canyon University: Online Doctorate in Business, Teaching, Nursing, and Counseling
  • Colorado Tech University: Online Doctorate in Computer Science, Management, and Nursing