Online Doctorate Degrees
For many students, earning a doctorate degree is the pinnacle of their higher education journey. With the experience and skillset gained by completing a doctorate level program, students can move on to top-paying positions within their field and pursue long-term career goals. While these degree programs are rigorous and challenging by nature, many top accredited universities are now offering online options that give working professionals the flexibility they need to balance completing their education with their already busy lives.
When choosing an online doctorate program, it is essential that you select an accredited university with a strong reputation in your field. Additionally, there are several other factors to consider before taking the leap into a doctorate degree, and we’ve put together everything you need to know to get started in the information below.
Highest Paying Doctorate Degree Careers
There’s no doubt that those with a doctorate degree have the potential to earn lucrative annual salaries. In the table below, we’ve highlighted five of the top paying doctorate level careers to give you an idea of what to expect after graduating from your degree program:
|Doctorate Degree||Career Summary||Mid-Career Salary|
|Chemical Engineering||Applies knowledge of chemical properties to the development or improvement of chemical substances.||$146,000|
|Computer Science||Responsible for developing software, hardware, and networks to aid organizations in implementing effective computer systems.||$145,000|
|Electrical Engineering||Implements and designs components for electrical devices and oversees electrical engineering projects.||$144,000|
|Pharmacology||Works within the pharmaceutical industry to study, improve, and test medicines to ensure their safety and effectiveness.||$141,000|
|Physical Chemistry||Works in a variety of industries to research, test, and report upon chemistry-related aspects of products.||$138,000|
*Degree data provided by Payscale.com
As you can see, each of the doctorate level careers listed offers more than a six-figure annual salary after working 10 years in the professional field. While you may make more or less based upon your unique circumstances, a doctorate degree can be an excellent step towards securing lucrative, challenging, and rewarding career opportunities.
What is an Online Doctorate Degree?
Most doctorate level students are adults who have already put extensive time into building a career within their industry. In today’s competitive job market, many industries require advanced degrees in order to move to top positions within the company. For those who want to continue working while pursuing their doctorate level degree, an online degree program may be the right fit.
There are several advantages to pursuing a doctorate degree online, including:
- Ability to specialize within your degree program
- Potential for lower tuition costs and expenses
- Highly flexible class scheduling
- Opportunities for flexible in-person required training
- Technological resources to maximize your study program
- Potential to work at a faster pace than traditional students
Today more than ever, accredited universities across the country are offering high-quality doctorate degrees through online learning. For motivated self-starters that need flexibility in their school schedule, this type of degree program could be the ticket to completing a doctorate level degree in a timeframe that works with their busy lives.
Types of Online Doctorate Degrees
The type of doctorate degree that you choose is highly dependent on your educational and career goals. There are several types of degree programs available at this level, and in the sections below we will cover two of the most common online doctorate degrees.
In addition to the degrees listed, students may also be able to pursue doctorate level degrees specializing in a specific field of study. Examples of these degrees include Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Online Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) Degree
For students who have studied psychology and social services in their prior degree programs, a Doctor of Philosophy degree may be the logical next step. This specific degree program prepares students to become licensed as a clinical psychologist – giving them the opportunity to provide counseling services directly to clients on a professional level.
While a PhD program focuses more on research and scholarly publication, a PsyD education provides clinically focused curriculum and is considered an applied degree. Typical topics covered over the course of this program include:
- Advanced psychology and ethics courses
- Cultural diversity
- Psychological assessment
- Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy
In order to complete your PsyD degree program, you will have to pass comprehensive examinations and present a doctoral project or dissertation. In some cases, you may also be required to complete in-person educational components, so be sure to check with your school about their requirements when enrolling in an online PsyD program.
Online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree
Regardless of your field of study, a PhD program is a research-based educational path that cumulates with a doctoral dissertation. This thesis is designed to present an original contribution to knowledge within your field, and it is the end result of several years of professional academic research and development.
In many industries, such as education, having a PhD is an essential tool to reaching the top of the career ladder. While this not considered an “applied degree” like a PsyD, a PhD gives you valuable skills and knowledge to help you contribute to your field and pursue a higher level career opportunity.
The typical PhD program takes around three years to complete and involves several steps that include:
- Survey and review of scholarly research within your field
- Conducting and interpreting original research
- Developing a thesis that supports your original research
- Submitting a dissertation to your school’s doctoral committee
- Defending your dissertation in an oral examination
When considering a PhD degree, it is important to have a clear understanding of your future career goals. Many professionals can benefit from having a PhD label after their name, but being able to translate this skillset to the workforce is a critical step to gaining the most value from your doctorate level program.
Online Doctorate Degree Admissions and Transfer
Class sizes for doctorate level degree programs are typically small, and entrance into the program can be competitive. There are several steps to apply for a doctorate program or to transfer credits to a new university in order to continue your degree. We always recommend checking with your academic advisor about the best options for your unique circumstances to have the smoothest transition to your doctorate degree program.
There are several steps to apply for enrollment in a doctorate degree program – even when you are planning on taking your classes online! Typically, the first step is to submit an application form and the required fee to your prospective university. In addition to the application, several other documents may be required for review by the school, including:
- Statement of Purpose – Written statement that demonstrates why you are interested in enrolling in a doctorate degree program.
- Resume – As most doctorate level students are professionals within their field, this can help the committee to see your dedication and experience.
- Letters of Recommendation – Typically, schools like to see at least three letters of recommendation written by your previous academic instructors or an employer.
- Official Transcripts – You will be required to submit all college and university transcripts to your prospective college with your application.
With a typical doctorate degree program lasting from three to five years with full-time study, tuition can be a major concern for students. Financial aid may be available to help you with the expenses, and some schools also offer guaranteed rates for the length of your degree program after you are accepted for admission.
Transferring Credits with an Online Doctorate Degree
Whether or not you are able to transfer your credits in a doctorate level degree program comes down to your school’s specific transfer policies. While some schools allow students to transfer a certain number of credits into an equivalent doctorate degree program, others do not allow the transfer of graduate-level credits. The first step in finding out if your credits will transfer is to submit a transcript to your new university and go over your completed course list with an academic advisor.
If your school allows credits to transfer at the doctorate-level, there are typically several requirements that must be met. You will need to have passed your courses with a high grade (generally a C or better). Additionally, the course description for your completed credits will need to match up to the existing courses in your new program. There are generally certain classes that cannot be transferred between schools, and these often include practicums, internships, or orientation-type classes.
How do I know if an Online Doctorate Degree is Right for Me?
Earning your doctorate degree is a major academic accomplishment that only a small percentage of college students achieve. With the advancements in technology and online learning platforms, more doctorate degrees are now available through virtual learning – making them a more accessible option for working professionals.
The course of study for any doctorate level degree requires a great deal of commitment and dedication, and this includes online degree programs. The most successful students in this type of degree program are self-motivated individuals who are comfortable with independent research and learning. For those that succeed in earning their online doctorate degree, the sky is the limit on the ways they can utilize their skills in creating a life-long rewarding career!