Since selecting the right online or traditional doctoral program is critical to career success, one of the highest priorities is finding an online doctoral program that best suits your individual educational and professional needs while maximizing the efficiency of your time and monetary investments. Selecting a program accredited by proper governing bodies is one of the best ways to do just that since ensures that the degree will be valid in the eyes of the academic world and future employers. Though the reasons why doctoral students pursue an advanced degree vary, most are seeking the degree to work in academia – a field which candidates job prospects hinge on having a degree from an accredited source.

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Online learning has become more widely accepted over the recent years due to the increasing demand by students for alternatives to the time and financial investments required to complete traditional degrees. Earning a degree online can open up lots of different doors, including career advancement opportunities, employment in a new career, and so much more. Knowing exactly what an online associate degree is and in which ways it is different from a traditional degree can help you as you select the best school to meet your personal, financial, educational, and professional needs.

What an Online Doctoral Degree is

A doctoral degree, also known as a doctorate or PhD, is the highest professional degree that is granted by academic institutions in a variety of fields. Doctoral online degrees allow students to complete this same advanced level degree conveniently in an online format over the Internet. Doctoral degrees are among the most rapid growing sectors of online programs being offered today, mostly because they provide the flexibility to complete coursework and work fill-time. Online doctoral degrees are offered through programs that are exclusively online, as well as through hybrid extensions with conventional school programs.

Some of the most popular doctoral degrees are in education, law, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychology, criminal justice, and engineering. Depending on the subject area of study, an online doctoral degree can require anywhere from four to seven years to fully complete. Most require years of coursework and materials, before completing a research dissertation individually. Degrees in science fields generally take the longest, while those in the arts and humanities may only take four or five years. Once a student completes the doctoral degree online, they have the widest selection of job opportunities in the academic world, either as a professor or faculty researcher.

The Difference Between Online Doctoral Degrees and Traditional Degrees

An online doctoral program is only different from its traditional counterpart for about the first two years, since this is when the majority of the course materials are completed. Of course, this is traditionally completed in the classroom, but in online programs it is conducted through the Internet from anywhere in the world. Therefore, students have the ability to complete the assignments at their own pace and on their own time. Online classes still follow a syllabus that designates when assignments are due and when exams need to be taken. During the second part of the online doctoral program, it does not differ much from the traditional program because the student still works independently on a dissertation.

Professors usually are available to consult with students one-on-one via email, phone, or live chat on messengers. If it is an extensive of a program taught at a brick and mortar program or the student’s location allows, there may also be established office hours where professors will meet with students in person. Students also engage with other students in the class, through interactive message boards, discussions, and virtual classroom chat rooms. Most students decide to work full-time while going to school part-time because online courses provide the convenience of completing the work at any hour of the day. However, it is important to note that online doctoral degree programs are just as rigorous as conventional programs. The only major difference is that students are gifted with the flexibility of carrying on other commitments and completing the courses in their own time.

As when choosing any degree program, it is tremendously important for doctoral students to make sure the program has existed for at least three years. Doing so will be increase the likelihood that the instructors are experienced and knowledgeable about the online learning format. Beyond this, students need to find a program that fits their schedule, provides resources that suit individual goals, and offers the refined skills necessary to advance to employment as a highly qualified professional.