What Are the Basics of an Online Ph.D. Program?

The basics of an online Ph.D. program include specialization courses, residencies and a dissertation. Students earning their Doctor of Philosophy degree online can further their education while continuing to work full-time and care for their families.

Ph.D. Overview

An online Doctor of Philosophy degree enables students to study and take classes when it's convenient for them. However, students must still meet deadlines and dedicate several hours a week to studying. Students must complete approximately 48 credit hours to earn a Ph.D. online, usually in about 4-5 years.

Important Facts About Online Ph.D. Programs

Degree Fields of Study Criminal justice, public health, management, industrial and organizational psychology
Possible Careers Research scientist, psychologist, assistant professor
Programs Fellowship programs are available over a wide range of fields, such as journalism, engineering, architecture, and business.
Prerequisites Statement of purpose, personal history statement, letters of recommendation, minimum GRE/GMAT scores, resume/CV, and transcript submission

Specialization Courses

Most online Ph.D. programs require students to complete several research courses and specialization courses, according to Texas Tech University. A student's area of specialization is similar to a minor in an undergraduate course of study and enables students to become an expert in a specific area. Students explore course material through e-mail, discussion boards and online videos. Some instructors also require students to participate in online chat sessions with other students or individually with the instructor.

Residency Days

Many universities that offer online Ph.D. programs require students to participate in several residency periods throughout their doctoral program. During residency periods, students spend approximately five days on campus conducting research, meeting other students and interacting with faculty. The first set of residency days that students must attend occurs during orientation before the doctoral program starts. Then, students return to campus about once a year while they're completing their doctoral programs.

Dissertation

Students must also write a dissertation to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree online. Some schools allow students to earn approximately nine credits for writing their dissertation, according to Syracuse University. Students usually begin the dissertation process after completing the majority of their credit hours. A student's dissertation should contribute something original and valuable to their field. Once students have written their dissertation, they must defend it to a panel of faculty members.

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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