Ph.D. by Distance Education: College and University Options

Distance education, or distance learning, has become more prevalent because of advances in computer and Internet technologies. Distance learning Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs are offered by many universities, most commonly in the fields of nursing, business, and education.

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Distance Learning Ph.D. Programs

Students who are interested in a Ph.D. through a distance-learning program can benefit from information about curriculums, requirements, and formats. Online Ph.D. programs can be found at Nova Southeastern University, the University of Florida, the University of Colorado at Denver, and Indiana State University.

The curriculum of a distance education Ph.D. program is usually identical to its on-campus counterpart. Students are generally required to complete advanced coursework, conduct high-level research, and submit and defend a doctoral dissertation prior to graduation. However, there are key differences in format between distance and on-site Ph.D. programs. For instance, instead of taking courses on campus, distance learners may complete courses entirely in online formats. They may also be required to travel to regional meeting points or university campuses for occasional residencies.

Most distance learning programs use the Internet to deliver course materials and conduct classes, so students need to meet specific technological requirements before enrolling. These requirements ensure that a student will be able to download necessary documents, participate in web seminars, and utilize other technology included within the courses, such as informational CDs and DVDs. Some technological requirements may include:

  • Windows or Mac operating system
  • Hard drive of a certain size
  • Monitor with a certain resolution
  • Microphone and speakers
  • CD or DVD drive
  • Particular Internet browser
  • Office and/or document viewing software

The following schools offer online Ph.D. programs.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University (NSU), founded in 1964, is the ninth largest private, not-for-profit university in the U.S. and enrolls more than 23,000 students. NSU offers many online programs in both asynchronous and synchronous formats. The Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus has certified six doctoral degrees at NSU.

  • Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution
  • Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems
  • Ph.D. in Computing Technology in Education
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science
  • Ph.D. in Information Systems
  • Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy

University of Florida

The University of Florida (UF), established in 1853, enrolls around 50,000 students each year, which makes it one of the largest universities in the nation. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered online through the University of Florida, and all require formal admission to the university. Some programs also require separate admissions. UF provides the following online Ph.D. degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Classical Studies - Classical Civilization
  • Ph.D. in Classical Studies - Latin and Roman Studies

University of Colorado at Denver

The University of Colorado offers several hundred courses and over a dozen degree programs completely online through CU Online. All online courses are taught by the same professors that teach on-campus courses. The University of Colorado at Denver was one of the first universities in the U.S. to offer fully accredited online degree programs. Programs have been available since 1996 and are accredited through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Exams may be taken online at home or at a physical testing center. The school currently offers a Ph.D. in Nursing program.

Indiana State University

Indiana State University, established in 1865, offers courses, degree programs, and professional development programs in distance learning formats. Other programs are offered as distance friendly, meaning they require minimal campus visits. The three online Ph.D. programs offered at the school are:

  • Ph.D. in Technology Management
  • Ph.D. in Educational Administration - Higher Education Leadership
  • Ph.D. in Educational Administration - School Administration

For individuals who are interested in doctoral studies in distance-learning formats, there are private and public universities that offer online Ph.D. programs in multiple subjects.

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