Colleges and universities offering reputable online distance learning Ph.D. degree programs in education hold accreditation from a regional agency authorized by the U.S. Department of Education. However, there are no Doctor of Philosophy degrees in education or Doctor of Education degrees offered entirely online.
Students might want to consider a hybrid program that incorporates elements of distance learning with on-campus courses. Online doctoral degrees are also available in specialized areas of education, such as adult education.
However, there are fully online programs available which result in the awarding of a Master of Education degree. These programs teach the skills necessary to enhance student performance through curriculum development, classroom management and educational leadership.
Hybrid Ph.D. in Education
The online portions of a hybrid doctoral program in education give students control over class times and scheduling. However, students are still expected to attend a number of classes on campus. Classes leading to a hybrid doctorate in education include school administration, classroom instruction and education law.
Courses offered online in hybrid education doctoral programs tend to focus on curriculum development and student assessment. They can include the following topics:
- Literacy development
- Technology in the classroom
- Teaching methodologies
- Children's literature
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Online Ph.D. in Career and Adult Education
Doctorates in career and adult education are available to students that want an entirely online distance learning Ph.D. degree, with the exception of campus visits that may be required for the dissertation component. Students earning online doctoral degrees in adult and career education might take courses in statistical analysis, designing curricula for adults and workforce training.
A few common courses in these programs include:
- Career training program designs
- Current issues in adult education
- Adult learning
- History of education
- Higher education policies
Like traditional doctoral degree students, candidates in online and hybrid doctorate programs must complete a research dissertation. Research related to a student's dissertation is generally performed under the guidance of a faculty member. In both hybrid and online programs, students may visit the campus to meet with advisors regarding their dissertation project.
Instructors leading online education classes create video lectures for students, which they then post to a virtual instructional platform like Blackboard. Graduate courses conducted online often include group forums discussing topics relevant to course material. Students may also use distance learning tools like podcasts, instant messaging and online chat programs.
The amount of coursework performed online by doctoral candidates varies among hybrid education programs, with some exams taking place at approved test centers. An advantage of online classes is that students can participate in study abroad opportunities or concentrate on their research.
There are no fully online Ph.D. programs in education, since dissertations and on-campus seminars are often required. Master of Education programs that are fully online focus on teaching methodology, educational research methodology and student development.