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Is It Worth Doing a PhD Online?

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These days, you can get all kinds of degrees online. You can get a bachelor’s in just about anything online, and you can even get master’s and doctoral degrees online, too. Studying online can give you the flexibility you need to fit coursework into a life that is already full to the brim with activities and responsibilities. But is earning a PhD online worth it?

There are lots of myths and misconceptions about online PhDs swirling around out there. The days when online PhDs only came from diploma mills are over. Many reputable schools offer online PhDs now, but there may still be some degree fields that require in-person work. You may save some money by earning your PhD online, but you may miss the opportunity to take a Graduate Assistant position if you’re not on campus, says Lumify Work AU. All things considered, though, it may be worth earning a PhD online as long as you’re in a field that permits it and you have clear career goals that can be furthered by earning the degree.

Don’t believe the myths about online PhD programmes

There was definitely a time when most, if not all, PhD programmes offered online or through the mail were offered by diploma mills that gave degrees out to anyone willing to pay. That’s no longer the case. As more and more reputable institutions started offering online classes and degree programmes, reputable online doctoral programs have flourished. Now, reputable PhD programmes are in the majority. 

Just make sure the school you choose has regional accreditation – that means it’s being held to a high academic standard by a regulating body.An online PhD from a regionally accredited institution is just as reputable as a PhD earned in person from a similarly accredited university. Most employers aren’t going to know that you earned your degree online anyway, unless you tell them, so you needn’t worry about whether an online doctorate will look bad on your resume.

Of course, some PhDs won’t be available online. Many fields in science and medicine, among others, still require in-person learning. But you can earn a PhD in one of the soft sciences, like psychology, online. When you’re considering an online PhD program, think about whether you need to do hands-on work in a clinical or other professional setting to complete the degree. If you want to study in a field that requires hands-on learning, you may be able to find a hybrid program that only requires you to spend a few weeks a year on campus.

You may save some money by earning your PhD online

If you plan to pay your PhD tuition and fees out of your pocket, then going to school online could save you money. You won’t have to pay for the costs of moving to be near your new university, nor will you need to pay to commute to campus every day, or for other incidentals like lunches out or new clothes to wear to class. 

However, many PhD programs offer students graduate or research assistantships along with admission, and you may miss out on the opportunity to work one of these jobs if you’re not on campus. Some programs simply won’t consider you as a candidate if you’re not open to taking the graduate assistantship that comes along with a place in the program. In addition to work experience in your field, a graduate assistantship typically comes with a small stipend, a tuition waiver, and health insurance.

The right online PhD programme is just as rigorous as a traditional one

Some people believe that earning your doctorate online is the easy way to a degree. That couldn’t be less true. If anything, earning your doctorate online is harder than earning it in a traditional, face-to-face program. When you’re going to school online, you don’t have the external motivation provided by a class schedule, regular in-person class meetings, and a professor who is supervising you in person, even if not terribly closely. 

You have to reach deep within yourself and discover the motivation to continue attending your courses and completing the coursework without that extrinsic source of motivation. Finding the self-discipline and building the time management skills needed to succeed in an online doctoral program can be just as challenging as any in-person doctoral work.

Making your online PhD worth it

To make sure your online PhD is worth it, choose a program from a regionally accredited institution. Look for a program taught by professors whose work you admire. Throw yourself into wringing the most value from your online PhD – make the effort to get to know your classmates and professors. Don’t just strive to get a passing grade; strive to build the skills and competencies taught by your degree. Anyone can coast through a degree program without learning anything – that’s not going to do you any favors on the job market. 

Taking classes toward your PhD online can make it so much easier to earn this credential, especially when you already have a busy schedule. Just make sure your online degree is worth the time you spent earning it.

David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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