Studying for a PhD degree online is often more accessible to students who have family or work commitments and would find it difficult to attend a doctorate program on campus.
The admissions criteria and level of work required for an online PhD are usually similar to those for a conventional doctorate. If you have the educational achievements to qualify for your preferred program, you may be able to complete most of your study, dissertation research, and coursework remotely.
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Most employers and academics regard the achievement of earning a PhD online as credible as earning a PhD on campus. Many respected colleges and universities offer flexible and accredited online programs.
One popular educational goal is getting an online PhD in psychology, but there are many other online PhD programs in a variety of fields available.
How Do Online PhD Programs Differ from Traditional Doctorate Programs?
The primary contrast between an online PhD and traditional on-campus PhD programs is that most of the work is completed remotely, with some universities offering the flexibility to decide how quickly you progress.
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Research is a large component of PhD programs, and typically much of this research is self-led and can be conducted from any location. Many doctorates are well-suited to virtual study. Online courses may be beneficial if:
- You cannot commit to regular lectures or discussion groups on campus
- Your research project and chosen field of expertise require you to access resources based away from a university site
- You have ongoing work commitments or are gaining practical experience while completing your PhD
As many students find with the easiest associate’s degrees to get online, many distance PhDs provide ongoing supervision and support from leading academics while giving full access to university resources.
Do Online Doctorates Hold the Same Value as Traditional PhDs?
One of the main indicators of a respected doctorate program of quality is that it is offered by a college or university that is accredited. Other factors you may wish to look for when selecting an online doctorate include:
- Accomplished faculty members who are considered experts and thought leaders in their academic fields
- In-depth admissions processes where candidates are assessed on a variety of educational, personal, and professional achievements
- Accredited tuition providers recognized by relevant bodies or organizations within your chosen area of study
- Good graduation rates and positive reviews from previous students
- Intuitive and accessible PhD materials and sufficient support for students to complete the program remotely
Online PhDs with very selective admissions processes may be more difficult to enroll in but may be considered more distinguished PhDs for professionals working within a specific sector or area of expertise.
What Are the Admissions Criteria for an Online Doctorate?
Most universities providing virtual PhDs will apply similar admissions requirements as other doctorate programs.
Depending on the institution, admission requirements may include:
- An advanced degree with a required GPA score
- GPA score in specific courses related to the PhD
- Evidence of an equivalent qualification for international students
- In-person interviews to discuss your application
If you select a PhD program that provides funding assistance, you may also be asked to submit a personal statement demonstrating your eligibility and proposing a potential research topic.