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Can you Earn a Doctorate Degree Online?

Can you Earn a Doctorate Degree Online?

College programs for adults often offer online-only learning, even at the doctorate level. You might be wondering if an online degree can meet these standards, and the answer is a resounding yes — especially if you choose an accredited school with brick-and-mortar learning options, like SNU. Most employers now happily accept online degrees, and when you attend a traditional school online, your employer may not even know you earned your degree remotely. 

How can you tell if an online doctorate program is right for you? And how can you assess the quality of the program you are considering? Here’s what you need to know. 

Reasons to Consider an Online Doctorate 

Convenience and Flexibility

If you’ve been planning a return to graduate school but can’t seem to find the time or motivation, you already know one of the main reasons to consider learning online: it’s more convenient. If you already work a demanding job or are raising children, an online degree might be the only option for going back to school. 

So what are some other benefits of pursuing an online doctorate? 

  • You may have more flexible dissertation options. With SNU’s Doctor of Education in Administration and Leadership (Ed.D), the dissertation is embedded into the curriculum, which means your chances of becoming an all-but- dissertation student (ABD) are much lower. 
  • You can learn in your own time and at your own pace, in the way that is most convenient to you. 
  • You’ll spend less time at school, because you won’t have to fight traffic, find parking, walk to class, or even change out of your pajamas to attend class. 
  • If you feel anxious in large spaces or are very shy, you may feel more comfortable in an online learning space. 
  • You’ll spend less time away from your kids and your job. In some cases, you might not need to change your schedule at all. 
  • You can make your own cozy learning space in your home. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack, but instead of doom-scrolling on your phone, spend the time pursuing your doctorate online. 

Personal Satisfaction and Career Benefits

As with any doctoral program, there are many potential career benefits to pursuing an online degree, including: 

  • More job security: People with doctoral degrees had unemployment rates of just 1.1% in 2019. 
  • The chance to educate others: A Doctor of Education in Administration and Leadership is the highest degree in k-12 administration and will open roles as an educator. You might pick up part-time work as a college instructor, or even pursue a job as a full-time professor. 
  • A chance to break through career ceilings: In some fields, a doctorate is a necessary prerequisite to advancing to higher levels. Even if it's not in your field, a doctoral degree lends significant credibility to your words and work. 
  • Higher earnings: Doctorate holders had median weekly earnings of $1,883 in 2019. That equates to $33,020 more per year than those who hold a bachelor’s degree. 
  • A high return on your investment: No one is eager to shell out a lot of money or go into debt for school. But the difference in earnings over the first few years may be enough to pay off your student debt. 

Yearning to go back to school, but don’t think you have the time? Read our  guide, What to Expect from an Online Degree Program, to see if it’s the right  fit.

Myths About Earning a Doctorate Degree Online

If you’re convinced that you need to get a doctorate, you might still be skeptical about whether you can really do it from the convenience of your own home. Here are the five most prevalent myths about earning online doctorate degrees. 

Online doctorates are less rigorous. 

The path to a doctorate at a good school is the same whether you pursue your degree online or in person. You’ll complete your coursework, as well as a dissertation, then defend that dissertation to a group of colleague-experts. As long as you choose a high-quality, regionally accredited school, you’ll get a challenging education that proves your mettle. 

Employers won’t take my online degree seriously. 

Depending on where you go to school, your employer might not even know your degree comes from an online program — especially if you select a school with a brick-and-mortar component and a strong reputation. Employers understand that online learning can and does work, especially now that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted so many schools to online learning. They also understand that adult learners need flexibility. You may be surprised by how far your online degree can take you in your employer’s eyes. 

I won’t get enough attention from my teachers. 

Well-designed online programs design options for students to connect with their teachers — and even to meet with them during office hours. At SNU, a dissertation chair is paired with you from the beginning of the program to ensure your success as a student and a researcher.

From the first class, you will be paired with a dissertation chair who will serve as your mentor through the program, which most students complete in less than 32 months.

I won’t be able to make friends or connect to the academic community. 

It’s true that you won’t see classmates in person every day, which might prove difficult if you’re a social butterfly who thrives on lots of contact. That doesn’t mean you can’t make friends, though. At SNU, an innovative cohort model groups students with similar learners who become your support network and friends. 

Signs It’s Time to Consider Graduate School 

Not sure whether a college program for adults is right for you? Here are some signs that going back to graduate school might be a great choice: 

  • You’ve hit a career ceiling that you can only remove with more education. 
  • You want to switch fields, become a consultant, or transition to teaching. 
  • You’ve been working part-time or raising kids, and you need to jumpstart your career. 
  • You’re not making enough money, and in your industry, more education usually means more income. 
  • You want to learn more so you can contribute more at work or in your community. 

Choose the Right Online Doctorate Degree 

It’s not enough to sign up for the first online doctorate degree program you find. You need to select the right path for your needs. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself — and the school — as your compare options: 

  • Is this school accredited, and by whom? What is the school’s reputation? 
  • How long has this school been around? Does it offer in-person education? Does it have a strong reputation for its online program? 
  • What is the post-graduation employment rate? 
  • What does the school do to support students to thrive after graduation? 
  • What is the total cost of the degree? 
  • How long will it take to complete the degree? 
  • Will this degree program help me in my career? What is the average income after graduation? What jobs in this field are available in my area? 
  • Who teaches classes? Are they experts in the field? 
  • What do graduates of the program have to say? 
  • What is the graduation rate, and what does the school do to help students graduate? 
  • How does the school foster meaningful connections between students and their professors? 

SNU is a leader in online learning, with innovative programs that help you meet your career goals and excel at whatever you do. To learn more about what sets us apart and get help choosing the ideal degree program for your needs, check out our free guide, What to Expect from an Online Degree Program.

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