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Doctor of Philosophy Degree by Distance Learning: Program Overview

Learn about online Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Get an overview of the program fields, admissions requirements and technical requirements for these programs.

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Essential Information

Distance learning programs that lead to Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees are available at many public and private universities in numerous fields such as business, technology management, psychology. Students looking for online doctoral degree programs should make sure their choices have been accredited by the U.S. Department of Education.

Ph.D. programs are offered on a full-time or part-time basis and use various forms of media and information technology to disperse materials, allowing faculty and students to communicate and facilitate lectures or group discussions. Students may require specific technologies, like speakers, microphones, and headsets, in addition to access to software such as Word or Photoshop.

Some schools offer programs that are 100% online, while other programs require students to attend some classes on campus or at a pre-determined time each semester. Additionally, some programs follow a class or lecture schedule, while others allow students to set their own pace. Other programs may require students to complete an in-person residency.

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Online Doctor of Philosophy

Most distance learning Ph.D. programs award doctoral degrees in fields like business, technology management, psychology, health care administration and education. Other majors available online include history and classical civilizations. Many of these programs require yearly residency periods. Almost all distance learning doctoral degree programs lead to a final dissertation and research project in the student's field of study.

Information and Requirements

Admission requirements for online Ph.D. programs vary from school to school, but generally include holding at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Students often also have to provide letters of recommendation and a writing sample. Some schools may require graduate standardized test scores.

Distance learning programs use a variety of technologies to deliver course content. In addition to websites and content management systems, schools utilize Power Point lectures, real time video lectures and electronic library databases. Students can communicate with faculty and classmates via e-mail, live chat rooms, instant messaging software and discussion boards.

Technology requirements include a high-speed Internet connection, speakers, a microphone and headset. Commonly-used software programs like Word and Adobe Photoshop may also be required, depending on the school and subject studied.


Career Information for Graduates

As a doctoral degree is the highest level possible, graduates from these programs will have the opportunity to apply to a number of senior positions that are not available to students with lesser degrees. Due to the highly specialized nature of most doctoral degree programs, possible career paths will be limited to specific occupations or fields of interest. Common careers include physician, surgeon, astronomer, and chiropractor.

One potential option for all graduates, regardless of major, is that of a postsecondary teacher. This profession is expected to experience faster-than-average growth, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities will grow by 13% from 2014-2024. These professionals earn a median salary of $72,470 per year, as of 2015.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs are available online in fields such as business, psychology and education. These programs all require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field and often provide the opportunity for graduates to pursue a career in teaching at the post-secondary level.

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