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Online PHD Programs: An Overview of Common PHD Programs Offered Online

Research online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

A doctoral degree represents the highest possible degree level, and as such it is the most difficult program to complete. Programs are highly specialized, normally offering instruction in courses directly related to the major. As such, students looking to enter these programs should have an excellent idea of their academic and professional goals. Admissions requirements include either a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, depending on the program, and work experience is a common requirement as well.

Many students in Ph.D. programs are also working professionals, and those who lack the time to attend traditional on-campus courses can instead opt to earn a doctoral degree online. These programs allow students to complete learning at their own pace. Students taking courses online will need an up-to-date computer, with internet access, current operating system and internet browser and email, as well as speakers, a microphone, headset and access to software such as Word or Photoshop.

Common Ph.D. study programs include business, psychology, public health, and education. Some programs may require a completion of a residency.

Business Degrees

Designed primarily for those interested in academia, a business doctoral degree can also be utilized by professionals interested in working as consultants or pursuing high-level business positions in corporations. Doctoral programs in business emphasize the following subjects:

  • Leadership theories
  • Ethical business practices
  • Business strategies

Some programs offer specialization options and most require a research project or dissertation. While online degrees are available, students can expect to participate in residential colloquia a few times throughout their programs.

Psychology Degrees

Students who plan to pursue psychological research or are interested in teaching psychology at the postsecondary level can earn a PhD in Psychology. PhD programs in this field usually offer concentrations in areas such as:

  • Clinical psychology
  • Learning and behavior
  • Cognitive psychology

Similar to on-campus programs, these online options require students to write dissertations or participate in doctoral projects. Most field experiences or research activities can be completed at locations near a student's home.

Public Health Degrees

Students in PhD in Public Health programs learn the skills needed to do research in such topics as disease prevention, public health programs or health issues. Specialization options are common in this field, and students can choose from concentrations in areas such as:

  • Health leadership
  • Epidemiology
  • Community health education

Some programs require students to attend immersion weekends or other activities on campus.

Education Degrees

PhD in Education programs are designed for students who want to pursue educational research. Students can learn about educational theory and policies, comparative education and instructional methods. Doctoral programs in education generally offer students opportunities to specialize in areas like:

  • Educational leadership
  • Curriculum and teaching
  • Higher education leadership

Online Ph.D. programs often include a combination of online coursework and on-site residency or research requirements. Students seeking leadership opportunities in business, public health, education or psychology may consider these terminal degrees to advance their careers.

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