For the way we live today, it’s become quite common for students to pursue an online education to fit their busy lives. Getting a Ph.D too, believe it or not, is something that can be delivered in an online format, and still have the same educational and academic value as any traditional Ph.D program.
Generally speaking, selecting a Ph.D program can be quite a challenge. Choosing an online, distance learning Ph.D can be even more difficult, given the fact that you’re looking for both the educational demands of a Ph.D, along with the convenience of distance learning. Lots of people want to receive the strong academic credential of a Ph.D; but many of us have job demands and a family life that prevent us from being able to attend classes in a traditional, on-campus way. So, if we want to go on to do a Ph.D, we need to find the right Ph.D program that fits our needs.
Below we’ll run through four good questions to ask yourself before selecting an online Ph.D program that fits your schedule. When you’re looking and searching for a great Ph.D program, make sure to ask yourself these questions before going forward. If the program not only answers these questions, but answers them in a way that satisfies you, then this might be the right Ph.D for you.
Will I be required to teach during my Ph.D?
Depending on the subject that you’re studying, students who go on to do a Ph.D will often have to act as instructors or teaching assistants within the department that they are studying in. For some programs, this offers you some teaching experience to prepare for an academic career (if that’s what you’re going for), and some extra funding outside of your fellowships. Sometimes teaching is also part of the requirement for receiving a Ph.D.
However, ideally, an online program would not require such a thing. Online programs are designed for convenience and for flexibility; and if you have to teach during the course of your Ph.D program, then you would have a difficult time working it around your schedule. So, if you’re eager to pursue an online Ph.D, make sure before you find out whether it has a teaching requirement. This would be quite rare for an online program; but just in case, be sure to look for it. You don’t want to find out later that you’ll have to teach on top of your already busy job and life.
Are there online Ph.Ds that offer funding or support?
Countries around the world have different ways of organizing their Ph.D programs. And, if the Ph.D you selected is hosted in Europe, the U.K., or the U.S., the funding structure may be differ dramatically. They may either offer you a monthly salary, as part of the faculty; you may get a stipend and tuition fellowship; or, you may have to procure external scholarships in order to support your research.
When you’re searching for a Ph.D program, you’ll want to know what funding they offer for a Ph.D. You’ll want to know for sure whether offer funding for all of their Ph.D students, or whether you’ll be required to pay your tuition by yourself, or whether you’ll have to find external scholarships. If you’re not sure what support they offer their Ph.D students, make sure to ask the program director or coordinator for the program you’re considering. This can be a major factor in whether that program may or may not be the right one for you.
How long does this Ph.D program take?
Decades ago, getting a Ph.D was something that automatically took 10 years (or more) for anyone who wanted to receive one. These days, thanks to the capacity for online research and education, a Ph.D can be as short as 5 years for most students.
For online education, however, the timeline may be different depending on how you divide your research time. Especially if you’re doing your Ph.D part-time, alongside your full-time job, the Ph.D could take you a bit longer.
So, if you’re hoping to finish your Ph.D within a certain number of years, or to go on to your next job fairly soon, you’ll want to make sure that the program you’re selecting fits within that schedule. The timeline will sometimes change depending on your own needs and schedule; but oftentimes, universities and programs will want you to spend an extra year doing research, teaching, or preparing a dissertation.
What are the formal requirements for the Ph.D? (e.g. dissertation, defense, oral exam).
Finishing a Ph.D isn’t just taking advanced courses and writing a dissertation. Often, depending on the program, department, subject, university, or, country, Ph.D candidates will have other requirements that they need to meet before they receive their doctorate. Even though the programs you are looking for are online, distance learning Ph.D programs, you’ll still want to know what they may require, especially toward the end.
Will you have to prepare a defense? Will there be oral exams? Will there be seminars that you’ll have to attend? If the Ph.D program requires these things, they may require that you go to the university for a day (or a few days) to complete them. Nearly all programs may require some kind formal requirements, but you’ll want to speak with your supervisor to see how to work them within your schedule.
An online Ph.D program can be quite a challenge; and those who go on to do one have a lot of ambition and dedication to research and education. Finding an online program that fits your goals and needs can also be difficult. But, as long as you’ve discovered the right subject, the right university, and the right supervisor, you’ll be able to easily pursue your doctoral education without a problem. Just be sure you’re able to answer the above questions in a way that suits you; then, you’ll surely be ready to select the best online Ph.D program for you.