Online Doctoral Degrees

Learn whether online doctoral degree programs are available for your field of study. Get info about how online and hybrid programs work, and explore the potential residency requirements for hybrid programs. Check the prerequisites for enrolling in an online doctoral degree program.

What Are The Most Common Online Doctoral Degrees?

Online doctoral degrees aren't available in all fields. This is due to numerous factors that vary depending upon the field of study. For example, some fields require you to perform scientific lab work or to complete student teaching requirements, neither of which can typically be completed outside of a campus setting.

However, a number of fields are more conducive to distance learning. Though online doctoral programs can often be found at for-profit schools, many public and not-for-profit colleges and universities do offer some options. Among the most common fields in which you can earn an online doctoral degree are the following:

  • Nursing
  • Education
  • Physical Therapy

Degree TypesWhile online doctoral degrees are available in a wide variety of topics, degrees in nursing, education and physical therapy are commonly found online
Online ComponentsLectures, discussion groups, and assignment submission takes place online
In-Person ComponentsSome programs may require in-person residency periods, depending on the field
Admission RequirementsBachelor's degree and/or master's degree may be required, work experience, resume, professional references

How Are Online Degrees Delivered?

Online doctoral degrees are typically delivered using an Internet-based classroom platform, such as Blackboard or Moodle. Using this system, you'll watch lectures, communicate with faculty members and participate in discussion groups with your fellow students. You can also submit assignments entirely online. Many colleges and universities will offer you online access to their libraries, allowing you to conduct research from your home or office.

Online programs offer flexibility with regards to timing and pacing. You'll typically be able to complete your courses on your own time, working around personal obligations. You may also be able to work through your requirements as quickly or slowly as you choose. These programs do, however, require significant personal discipline and self-motivation.

Are There Typically In-Person Requirements?

Some programs require limited residency periods, during which you'll take intensive courses or attend seminars. These residencies are typically short, lasting anywhere from a few days to two weeks. You may also need to take proctored exams at a testing facility, such as a community college, near you. These exams can often be taken locally, though this will vary by program; many programs have entirely online exam requirements. Finally, in programs that culminate with the writing of a dissertation, you may need to attend the campus to defend your work.

What Are Common Admissions Requirements?

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree in order to enter a doctoral program, regardless of whether it's online or on campus. Some programs require that you also possess a master's degree. In many cases, you'll need a degree in a field related to that of your intended doctoral program. It's also common for doctoral programs to have requirements regarding your work experience. You'll need to demonstrate your professional interest and readiness for your field, which can often be shown through your resume, professional references and other documentation of your career.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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