What Are the Prerequisites for an Online Ph.D. Degree Program?

Most universities require prospective doctoral students to fulfill common prerequisites prior to enrolling in an online doctoral program, even if the specific requirements vary. Individuals who want to apply for admission to an online PhD degree program must hold certain degrees, take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and understand technologies used to deliver online courses.


Individuals who want to enroll in an online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program must complete an application for admission. Most universities require applicants to submit a curriculum vitae or resume, references and a writing sample. Some universities also require you to have professional work experience prior to applying for admission.

Important Facts About Online PhD Degree Programs

Degree Field Liberal arts and sciences, humanities, nursing; many others
Work Environment Colleges and universities, laboratories, clinics, various office settings
Key Skills Critical thinking, problem solving, analytical reading and writing
Possible Careers Postsecondary teacher, research scientist, psychologist; many others

Undergraduate Degrees

You must have a bachelor's degree in order to pursue a PhD online, and many programs also require a master's degree. Typically, a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 is required to apply for many online PhD programs.

Prior Coursework

Some universities also require you to complete specific courses prior to beginning an online doctoral degree program. For instance, an online doctoral nursing program may require nursing-specific undergraduate transcripts to be considered for admission.

Graduate Record Examination

Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are a common prerequisite for admission to a PhD program. Usually, students much achieve a minimum score to be considered for a program. According to the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the GRE measures a candidate's analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning abilities.

Technical Knowledge

Completing an online PhD degree program involves working independently with a variety of technologies; therefore, strong computer skills are necessary. You must have a solid understanding of word processing, graphics, spreadsheets and videoconferencing.

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