What Is an Online Ph.d Program?

A Doctor of Philosophy degree, abbreviated Ph.D., is an advanced degree requiring study beyond that of a master's degree. Several online programs are available to provide alternative paths to earn this advanced credential. The following article discusses these programs in further detail.

What Is an Online Ph.D. Program?

A number of institutions offer online Ph.D. programs in various fields. Program lengths vary, but generally they last 4-6 years or longer. Often, the online Ph.D. program is intended for professionals with experience in a given field who are seeking additional education for career advancement. Ph.D. programs require a great deal of independent research, in addition to traditional coursework. While courses may be completed online, many programs require a residency, fieldwork, clinical experience or an oral presentation of the dissertation.

Important Facts About Doctor of Philosophy Programs

Degree Fields Humanities, Sciences, Medicine and others
Prerequisites Master's degree and minimum GPA
Continuing Education Only professional development courses after terminal Ph.D.
Possible Careers University Administrators, College Professors, Medical Scientists and more

Types of Programs Offered

Students can choose to pursue Ph.D.s in a variety of areas, such as psychology, classical studies, health sciences and other fields. Education majors can focus their study in educational leadership or higher education administration. Engineering students can pursue an online Ph.D. in order to study fields like civil engineering, systems management and computer science. Online programs also cover business administration, nursing or other areas.

Program Components

Much like a traditional Ph.D. program, an online Ph.D. program requires two major components: coursework and a dissertation. Lectures can be delivered online through video presentations, interactive media or streaming audio. Students complete assignments online. They might have interaction with instructors and other students via chat rooms, discussions boards or email. Upon completion of the coursework, students must pass qualifying exams, and many programs require a dissertation, which is the student's presentation of his or her original research related to the field of study. The student may be required to defend the dissertation before a faculty committee in order to graduate with a doctorate degree.

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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