How to Select an Online PhD Degree Program

Given the extended study and intensive work required to earn a doctoral degree, only 1% of Americans attain this prestigious credential. Online PhD degree programs are becoming a popular option for professionals who wish to earn a doctorate while maintaining a full-time job. Achieving a doctoral degree can have a tremendous impact on your career; however, it’s important to do your research before choosing among the PhD degree programs available online.

What Is an Online PhD Degree Program?
In these advanced program, students lean in a virtual classroom via the Web instead of meeting face-to-face in a campus-based classroom. Many of those pursuing online PhD’s currently work in their field of study to meet the requirement for hands-on experience. Pursuing a PhD Online allow for greater flexibility in scheduling class time around work and personal obligations.

Earning a PhD degree online may take between four to six years to complete, depending on your course of study and dissertation topic, and whether you are enrolled full-time or part-time. In most PhD programs, a panel of three to five professors oversee your academic progress and evaluate your dissertation.

What to Look for in a Web Based PhD Program
As with any degree program, your focus should be on the quality of your education. Following are key considerations in choosing a school for an online Doctorate level degree program:

1. Accreditation: Look for colleges and universities that have been accredited by one of the agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). These accrediting bodies have a strict evaluation process in place to ensure that schools incorporate sound teaching methods and exceptional faculty to deliver a high-quality education. Accreditation is important, as many employers will only consider candidates that have completed online degree programs from an accredited institution. Verify that the schools you are considering are approved by one of the recognized agencies listed on the DOE website.

2. Beware of Fraudulent Claims: Watch out for “diploma mills” that claim you can earn a PhD online in weeks or months, using work or life experience in lieu of coursework. All legitimate, accredited, degree programs will require you to complete relevant courses and a dissertation. If a company demands full payment for the total cost of the program upfront and provides a P.O. box instead of a physical address, it is likely to be a scam.

3. Recognized Faculty: Take the time to review the credentials of the faculty for the PhD degree programs you’re considering. Do they have doctoral degrees and industry experience? Are they recognized as leaders in their field? Have they published important works in well-known journals? You’ll want to make sure you’re learning from the best, and that you’ll have ongoing communication with them. It’s important to establish a rapport with the faculty on your advisory committee. Also, you should look to see if mentoring programs are available.

4. Professional Affiliations: Check with the licensing agencies or professional groups associated with your field of study to see if they endorse your school and its online PhD or Doctorate degree program.

5. Program and Course Availability: Review the academic calendar for the degree programs you’re considering. How many terms are offered each year? How long is each session? Are your required courses available every term, or only at certain times of the year? These are important questions to answer when determining how long it will take to complete your PhD degree online program.

6. Financial Assistance: Of course, financing is a major consideration in any educational decision. In addition to the cost of tuition, you may also need to pay for books, supplies, lab fees, travel (if necessary) and other expenses. The schools you’re considering should have financial aid information listed on their website. Do they offer scholarships, fellowships or grants? If your PhD program is offered by a regionally accredited university, you may be eligible for federal grants or loans. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online to determine your eligibility.

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