Best Online PhD Programs

Types of Online PhD Programs

Students who wish to take their field of study to the next level, whether to gain prestige and respect in their field or to advance their career path, can find many options in online PhD and doctorate degree programs. Both research doctorate degrees and professional doctorates can be pursued through distance education options. In some cases, the studies can be completed fully online; others require some classroom time or field work to complete the program.

Both online PhDs and doctorate degrees can take anywhere from three to 10 years to complete, depending on the field of study and the amount of time the student has to commit to studies each semester. Many combine online work, classroom time and field experience, making the online degree a comprehensive “blended” experience that fully prepares students for work in their chosen field. When classroom time is required, class size is often smaller than undergraduate programs, with no more than 20 students to a class. Final examinations and a dissertation are typically required to complete a doctorate or PhD program.

Methodology of the Best Online PhD Programs Rankings

The programs on this list are 30 of the top online PhD programs available today. They are not ranked in order, since each PhD and doctorate program is unique in its own right, just as traditional graduate programs are distinct from one another. Comparing the departments to one another would be similar to comparing apples to oranges, and would not give prospective students a fair assessment of which program might best fit their needs. Instead, these online PhD programs were chosen based on their quality, as well as their unique offerings, so students have a diverse selection of online doctorate and PhD programs to learn about.

Schools were chosen based on rating scales for important factors like the quality of the program, accreditation for the school and unique features that make a specific program stand out from the rest. Reputation of the school, qualifications of professors and the school’s history were also taken into consideration. This list of online PhD programs includes a wide range of disciplines as well, giving prospective students a broad spectrum of the online graduate programs currently available today.

We are working hard to improve our website to help students consider the authenticity of an online PhD or doctorate program, including statistics from government reports, comparison of similar programs and ratings of the school offering the program. These factors can be useful in comparing online PhD programs, even when the programs themselves may be dramatically different in terms of curriculum and features. Students must weigh their options carefully, through lists like this one, to find a program that meets their unique academic and professional needs.

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The Need for an Online PhD

We hope you’ve joined the thousands of others we have helped and found this list of online PhD programs useful. While earning your online PhD from an accredited program you will become the master of your field, and upon completing the degree you’ll find that a broad spectrum of career paths are open to you.

Whether you want your future to be focused on research, teaching, consulting, or helping your community, an online PhD program will help those dreams be realized. An advanced education not only shows employers that you can work hard toward a goal, but it speaks to the expertise of knowledge that you’ve acquired in the process. When employers look at the candidates for a position they not only look for dedication, but also for a master in the field. An online PhD program will give you that background and credentials.

If you’re worried about the expense of a program then take comfort in the fact that there are a lot of options at your disposal. Depending on where you work and how relevant the PhD program is for your background and experience employers will sometimes offer financial assistance. Your education will benefit their institution. If this isn’t an option then most people qualify for student loans after they fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). There are also Pell Grants, scholarships, fellowships, teaching assistantships, and other college programs that help relieve some of the burden of tuition.

Before you choose an online PhD program check all the information to be sure that the degree and institution is exactly what you are looking for. Look into the professors you’ll be working with, the courses that are offered, course structure, and determine if this is the program that will help advance your future. We know how big of a commitment getting a PhD is, but not only will you be able to advance your career in the direction of your choosing, but you’ll also have a better chance at making more money over the course of your career with this advanced degree.

Determine the Quality of Your Online PhD Program

You want to choose a program that helps you advance your career, so make sure it is a good one. The Distance Education and Training Council is the accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) for evaluating the quality of online and distance education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and for granting accreditation status to programs that meet their criteria. Use their database of accredited online institutions to search for online PhD programs by subject. In addition, you can browse the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs to see if the one you are considering is accredited. Be aware that the USDE list may not include newly accredited programs, and may contain programs that have recently lost accreditation, so it is always worth checking several sources.

In addition to accreditation, one of the best ways to determine the quality of an online program is to get the opinions of students who are enrolled or have graduated from the program you are considering. Get Educated is a website that features student reviews of a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as the website’s own rankings of online schools. A similar website is StudentReviews, which features thousands of traditional and online schools, programs, and individual classes, all reviewed by students.

Finally, the U.S. News and World Report provides rankings of online schools and programs on their website. Graduate programs are divided by subject matter, so if you are considering an online PhD in education, for example, you can view their rankings of online graduate education programs.

Study Tips for Online PhD Students

After you’ve found a reputable, accredited online PhD program with good rankings and reviews, it’s time to prepare for class. Unlike traditional students, online students need to adjust to the challenges of distance learning as well as those all doctoral students face, such as returning to student life after a break from academia or choosing a dissertation topic. This is especially true if you earned your previous degrees exclusively on campus, as online study often requires higher levels of motivation and discipline in addition to the study skills developed in traditional education. While your motivation should come from within, these tips can ease the process of adjusting to studying online and make it easier for you to succeed:

Know yourself.

If you have been a lifelong procrastinator, turning in assignments the minute they are due or later, and have always responded best to professors who regularly looked over your shoulder to make sure you were doing your work, you should not expect to magically change your habits the second you enroll in an online PhD program. Online study is not for everyone, and you will save yourself a lot of time and money if you know beforehand you would be more successful in a traditional program.

Keep track of important deadlines.

It’s much harder to remember the date when an assignment is due or an exam will take place when there’s not a professor reminding you at every lecture. This is why it is important to keep a calendar of due dates and check it often. Additionally, many instructors will send e-mail reminders of such dates, so remember to check your school e-mail account regularly.

Get the Right Technology to Succeed When Studying Online

Because online courses are conducted exclusively over the web, the most important tool you will need is a fast, reliable Internet connection. While speed is less important than reliability, if your courses require you to view large numbers of online lecture videos, you should at least consider a broadband connection. Of course, you will also need a computer to connect to the Internet and software that is capable of viewing whatever video format your lectures are in. Less important, but often helpful, is a printer, both for lecture notes and online reading material, though an e-book reader will also work. Many students also prefer to have tablets or smartphones to watch lectures or read notes while on the go, but these are not absolutely essential.