Can You Get a Ph.D Online?

Online Ph.D programWith an online Ph.D program, you can no longer use time as an excuse for not furthering your education. Designed for those who have limited time available, these programs are also great for those who live a significant distance away from a college campus. You can use the Internet to research projects, get in touch with your professors and form relationships with other students in the program. Nearly every topic in the world now has an online doctorate program available, but there are a few things you need to consider before enrolling.

Is There a Residency Requirement?

One thing you need to look at when considering an online Ph.D program is whether the program has a residency requirement. Many of the more intensive programs require that you spend at least one week living on campus and working with your professors before starting the program. Other schools ask that you spend seven days or longer on campus two or more times throughout the year, and some schools even ask you to spend a weekend on campus every semester. There are also some programs that let you complete all requirements online.

Classroom Component

Students tend to think that Ph.D programs involve more research and less time in the classroom. Though you will need to do a lot of research and writing, you’ll still need to take some classes. Many schools use Blackboard and other computer programs that let you read discussion questions, respond to answers posted by other students, write and post your own responses and take quizzes and do other assignments through an online system. Most professors require that you complete certain tasks by a specific day to receive course credit and that you read articles and books offline.

Writing a Dissertation

The dissertation is the most important part of any Ph.D program. As a graduate student, you write a thesis paper or complete a thesis project, and a dissertation is similar in nature. The primary difference between the two is that a dissertation requires more work on your part. Instead of compiling data and information from others, you have the chance to put your own unique spin on a topic. You might create a hypothesis about a specific topic in your field and present research that backs up your claims. Some schools will even keep a copy of your dissertation on hand in the library for other students to read.

Finding an Accredited School

The problem with earning an online PhD is that not all programs have the right accreditation. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that you look at the accrediting body of a college and compare that organization to those listed with the United States Department of Education. Those schools with the highest level of education have accreditation from some of the top organizations. The FTC also suggests that you look for schools that charge various fees for each course you take and those that let you earn a degree in the same amount of time it would take to earn one at a traditional college.

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The popularity of online colleges led to some of the best schools in the nation launching their own online programs. These programs let you earn an online PhD that requires classroom work and a dissertation and is equivalent to an offline or traditional degree.