Online Doctoral Degrees

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Article Sources

Sources:

  1. Education Pays 2016, The College Board, Accessed October 2017, https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/education-pays-2016-full-report.pdf
  2. Education Still Pays, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed October 2017, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/data-on-display/education-still-pays.htm
  3. Number of doctoral and first professional degree recipients in the United States from 1869/70 to 2026/27, Statista.com, Accessed October 2017, https://www.statista.com/statistics/238243/doctoral-and-professional-degree-recipients-in-the-us/
  4. Online Doctoral Degrees, Walden University, Accessed October 2017, http://info.waldenu.edu/walden-programs/doctoral
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Intro to Doctoral Degrees

Experienced students who are interested in advanced research may want to consider taking the plunge and pursuing that most esteemed of qualifications: a doctoral degree. Doctoral degrees are the highest-level degrees available and cover an assortment of degree types, such as a PhD or a DNP, depending on the discipline. Fortunately, many doctoral degree programs are available online, making this degree level more accessible than ever before.

Typically, doctoral degrees:

  • Take from two to seven years to complete
  • Involve research, particularly in the case of a Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD
  • May require a dissertation, which is publishable research
  • Are available through colleges, universities and online institutions

Earning a doctoral degree opens many doors that might otherwise be closed. Here are a few examples of the opportunities a doctoral degree can make accessible.

  • Job opportunities: Some of the most skillful careers available — particularly careers in medicine or science — are accessible only to those who have put in the time and effort to earn their PhD. If you are intent on joining the ranks of one of these celebrated fields, a doctorate may be the best — or only — way to realize your dream.
  • Research and project opportunities: Many PhD programs allow students the opportunity to carry out unique research in the form of case studies, long-term projects or collaborative work. After graduation, the holder of a PhD is likely able to continue conducting research in their field if they so desire, especially if they choose to become a college professor.
  • Teaching college courses: If you are interested in becoming a college professor, particularly one teaching graduate courses yourself, a doctoral program can be an excellent springboard for the position. Ultimately, a college professor can become tenured, leading to more employment security and academic liberty.

Benefits of Earning an Online Doctoral Degree

Online doctoral degrees are available in many fields, ranging from education to criminal justice, information technology to psychology and the health sciences. Some programs may require on-campus attendance while others may be available entirely online. The benefits to earning a doctoral degree include:

  • Minimum unemployment: On average, people with doctoral degrees have the lowest level of unemployment, when unemployment is measured by educational attainment (BLS.gov). The knowledge acquired in a doctoral program, as well as the ways you learn to apply that knowledge, make these graduates some of the most sought-after in their industries.
  • Higher potential salary: Doctoral degree holders make more per week, on average, than those with other types of degrees. Overall, those with a doctoral degree make nearly $1,000 per week more than those with only a high school diploma. The College Board also reports that doctoral degree holders had after-tax earnings that were 59 percent higher than those with bachelor's degrees in 2016, when considering full-time year-round employment.
  • Time and concentration: A doctoral program is not easy to complete — it can be long, complex and demanding. As such, anything that can be done to reduce your stress and maximize your ability to focus on your program can be essential to succeed. An online program minimizes your time spent commuting and allows you to review your lectures and notes at whatever location and time of day helps you be the most productive.
  • Advancement opportunities: Out of literally millions of college students, the number that earns a PhD is only a tiny fraction. Approximately 180,000 students received doctoral degrees in the U.S. in 2014-15 (Statista.com). Earning a doctoral degree can give graduates the chance to distinguish themselves from others in a place of business or an academic setting.

Rankings

Curious about the highest-quality colleges at which you can earn your doctoral degree online, or perhaps the most affordable options instead? Here are rankings of both, to help make your decision about the best place to earn your PhD. If you'd like to see a ranking determined by other factors that you can choose, head over to our Top Colleges Tool.

Best 4-Year Colleges with Online Doctoral Degree Programs

These five colleges offering online PhD programs are the five we deem to have the overall best quality, based on our personal methodology, which utilizes factors from graduation rate to tuition costs.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
Overall Score
University of Florida$6,38158.66%61100
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus$17,90033.39%8099.88969
Liberty University$21,29289.45%9299.834526
Regis University$34,45065.18%7799.77937
Northern Arizona University$10,76442.51%7799.72421

Most Affordable 4-Year Colleges with Online Doctoral Degree Programs

The five colleges that offer the lowest tuition costs for their online PhD programs are listed here.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
Overall Score
University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras$2,0780.03%135.576393
University of North Georgia$4,39718.80%769.55323
Florida Atlantic University$4,83140.74%1593.10535
Fort Hays State University$4,88480.13%3794.53944
Inter American University of Puerto Rico-San German$4,96256.52%227.082184
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