Today, more than six million students in the US are pursuing an education online. You may be wondering why they have chosen this form of study. Often, it is because online degree programs are cheaper. A major complaint regarding higher education programs, specifically doctoral programs, is that they are very expensive. If you are pursuing your PhD and looking for the best value for money, online PhD programs are your best bet.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of online PhD programs and reveal the best online doctorate programs on offer and how to enroll in them.
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The Benefits of Online Learning
There are several reasons why students are switching to online learning. One of the primary reasons is the flexibility offered by an online degree when compared with in-person classes. Most online programs are asynchronous, or self-paced. This means that students can choose to complete their studies whenever and wherever they want.
For most professionals, balancing personal and financial obligations with a traditional education can be tedious. The ability to work through the course material at your own pace while juggling a full-time job is invaluable.
According to a LinkedIn survey, 58 percent of employees prefer self-paced learning over instructor-led learning. Many online college programs possess regional accreditation and are held to very high standards of curriculums and resources.
These courses offer video lessons, personal interaction with instructors, and helpful resources that are exclusively available online. Many working professionals who have completed doctoral degrees online testify that their earning potential was not hindered by their studies.
The Best Online PhD Programs
Universities offer many types of online degree programs, and though they may be cheap, they may not be very flexible or effective in helping you learn. The list below features only the top schools offering some of the best-value doctoral programs.
University of South Dakota
Cost: $466/credit hour
Credit Requirements: 75 credits
USD’s online PhD program focuses on health. The excellent and affordable curriculum is a great option for students who want to become health or education specialists. Students can choose from a variety of programs in health sciences along with a post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy. The university also offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice, which will prepare students to pursue leadership roles in health care organizations.
USD’s online PhD program is a great choice particularly due to its extensive student services. These services include a writing center and the university’s free library databases. Moreover, the Academic and Career Planning Center (ACPC) is also helpful, offering career planning guides and several job fairs over the course of the school year. Students approaching graduation often request the ACPC’s expert advice on how to ace an interview and follow up with a potential employer.
The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. USD’s School of Education also boasts an education specialist in educational administration degree. The admission requirements for the health sciences program can be found here.
An added plus is that students pay the same tuition, regardless of whether they are in-state or out-of-state. The university also offers ample financial aid packages, such as the Perkins Loan.
University of the Cumberlands (Williamsburg, KY)
Cost: $500-$700/credit hour
Credit Requirements: 66 credits
UC online offers a plethora of doctoral programs that span areas such as business, counseling, information technology, and executive fields. Students can choose to complete their degree at their own pace over a period of three to five years, learning in an asynchronous format. Some of UC’s online doctorates also allow students to choose an area of concentration.
The Cumberlands’ helpful Career Services (CS) website allows students to access Handshake and Big Interview software. They can also ask for a career assessment and review CS’s many articles on job-hunting best practices. UC is another institution that does not charge out-of-state students higher tuition than their in-state counterparts and the university’s financial aid program offers a flexible monthly tuition payment plan.
The University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Admission requirements vary slightly depending on the program. Applicants should prepare official transcripts and recommendation letters, and some programs may require an interview or writing sample.
Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX)
Cost: $717/credit hour
Credit Requirements: 60-90 credits
TTU is a popular online education institution for several reasons. The university offers online doctoral degrees in the form of five hybrid programs and six entirely online options. The hybrid programs are in systems engineering and technical communication and require you to be present at the university’s Lubbock campus. The fully online programs focus on educational leadership, curriculum, and instruction.
The University Career Center provides resources that help students attain a high-paying job upon graduation. Learners can take advantage of salary negotiation guidance, resume and cover letter critiques, and mock interviews. Those who enter a hybrid program can also apply for a doctoral fellowship to receive a tuition reduction by working as a teaching assistant.
Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Information regarding the application process for PhD programs can be found here.
Liberty University (Lynchberg, VA)
Cost: $565 (full time); $615 (part time)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Liberty University (LU) is a great choice to pursue your doctorate online for several reasons. For a long time, LU has offered high-quality online programs that are flexible and affordable. The institution offers online PhDs in 13 areas, from strategic leadership and government to divinity and worship studies, with specialization options available.
LU offers a plethora of helpful Career Services (CS) platform, which provides students with interview preparation guides and hosts career fairs. Using the platform, doctoral students can develop an academic portfolio, which is vital for those who plan to work in academia. All of Liberty’s online students benefit from the university’s tuition freeze, which means administrators can’t increase the tuition.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The admissions process varies by program and can be found on this website. Online students can also sign up for a convenient monthly tuition payment plan.
University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND)
Cost: $541/credit hour
Credit Requirements: 36-124 credits
UND’s unique online PhD programs are offered in 12 areas, including nursing, teaching and leadership, and petroleum engineering. Additionally, many of its programs boast a hybrid learning option that may interest students who live near the university’s Grand Forks campus. Another bonus is that students pay the same per-credit tuition rate at this public university regardless of their location.
UND also offers excellent Career Services, such as Interview Stream and Focus2Career. These meticulously designed tools assist students in preparing for interviews and exploring career opportunities. Other resources include guides on how to write a resume and develop a personal statement. Students may take anywhere from two to seven years to complete their program.
The University of North Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Admission requirements for all programs include a bachelor’s degree, three recommendation letters, and standardized test scores. Incoming students can research and apply for institutional scholarships on the UND Scholarship Opportunities website.
Conclusion: Don’t Sacrifice PhD Quality Over Cost
In summary, it is worth considering an online program if you want to get your PhD as they are convenient and cost-effective. However, you should make sure you aren’t sacrificing education quality for the sake of saving money.
As seen above, many colleges offer first-rate online PhD degree programs that can help you find employment in many fields. We hope you found this information helpful, and wish you the best of luck in your higher education.
Online PhD Programs FAQs
Which PhD programs have the highest earning potential post-graduation?
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) PhDs tend to pay the most, according to research conducted by Payscale. Careers in chemical engineering, computer science, and pharmacology are also particularly high-paying options.
For instance, electrical and computer engineering is one of the most lucrative PhD options, with possible salaries ranging from $102,000 to $142,000 by the mid-point in a professional’s career.
However, certain non-STEM professions also offer high salaries. A PhD in economics, for example, nets around $134,000 per year.
Is a PhD better than an EdD? What are the differences?
Though one is not necessarily better than the other, there are several differences between a PhD and EdD.
A PhD focuses on career paths regarding education and research. The coursework often involves research and one-on-one collaboration with faculty. PhD programs take about four to six years to complete, though online programs such as those mentioned above may be completed faster. A PhD will allow you to pursue a career as a university professor, an education director, or a policy researcher.
An EdD focuses on professional leadership. The coursework often involves more practical work in order to find solutions to real-world problems. EdD programs take around three years to complete. With this degree, you can pursue a career in a managerial or executive position in an educational institution or business.
Can I pursue a PhD without having a master’s degree?
Typically, the path to a PhD involves having a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. However, it is possible to skip a master’s and pursue a PhD after obtaining your bachelor’s degree. People often believe that a PhD is more difficult to obtain than a master’s degree, possibly because a PhD degree focuses almost exclusively on rigorous study and research.
A master’s degree has some definite benefits in that it requires less time and money to obtain than a doctoral degree. A master’s degree can also help an individual specialize in their field, and is a good way to stand apart from graduates who only have a bachelor’s degree. The degree is particularly useful for those who want to expand their career prospects in their chosen profession.
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