Online PhD vs. Online Doctorate — What’s The Difference?

 

As we’ve discussed in other posts, online education is here to stay. With the continuously evolving landscape in higher education, potential graduate school applicants now face myraid choices not just in the programs to which they can apply, but even in the format they want to pursue. The possibility of getting a degree from an institution across the country without having to move there and disrupt your family life (and even keep your job while studying!) is a big selling point for online degrees. And an increasing number of traditional elite bricks-and-mortar colleges and universities are offering their own online programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and –yes– doctoral level. With this in mind, it’s important to consider what type of degree you want to get to best achieve the career goals you’ve set for yourself.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. When deciding between an online doctorate and an online PhD, it’s important to note that there are significant differences between the two. And while not everybody will appreciate them, your future dream employer might. Pursuing a doctoral-level degree constitutes an immense time and financial commitment (whether from paying tuition or foregoing an industry salary for a graduate stipend), so it’s important to figure out what differences exist between an online PhD and an online doctorate.

A doctorate in the most specific sense as relates to online programs, is a professional degree. It is intended to help your career advancement by providing you with advanced coursework and practical experience on the subject matter. It builds on your existing knowledge and practice of the subject. It has less to do with addressing the theory of the subject as it has to do with proper application of the subject. Subjects commonly found offering online doctorate programs include Business Administration, Nursing, and Education. By comparison, a PhD is a research degree. The title PhD is the translated latin abbreviation of “Philosophiae doctor,” or Doctor of Philosophy*. It is a degree that deals with the theory of the subject, which is why you will always hear professors stress that the goal of a PhD is to “make a significant new contribution to the knowledge in the field.”

Now, this is not to say that an online doctorate will not have a research component. It generally does, but it is in almost all cases of a more limited scope, and with an emphasis on clinical application to develop the student’s practical skills. The length of the research component is much shorter than that of an online PhD, and can be as long as 1-2 term-equivalents or may consist of smaller projects spread throughout the program. An online PhD will be more akin to a bricks-and-mortar PhD program, with a dissertation or thesis that will be examined by a committee of PhD-holding academics and will need to be defended. In the case of the online PhD, like with a traditional one, the target students are those seeking an academic career teaching or researching new theory within the field.

*And yes, in case you were wondering, it is not lost on us that someone seeking a PhD in philosophy upon graduation will, in fact, be a Doctor of Philosophy of Philosophy 🙂

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Online PhD vs. Online Doctorate — What’s The Difference?

March 17th, 2018
 

As we’ve discussed in other posts, online education is here to stay. With the continuously evolving landscape in higher education, potential graduate school applicants now face myraid choices not just in the programs to which they can apply, but even in the format they want to pursue. The possibility of getting a degree from an institution across the country without having to move there and disrupt your family life (and even keep your job while studying!) is a big selling point for online degrees. And an increasing number of traditional elite bricks-and-mortar colleges and universities are offering their own online programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and –yes– doctoral level. With this in mind, it’s important to consider what type of degree you want to get to best achieve the career goals you’ve set for yourself.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. When deciding between an online doctorate and an online PhD, it’s important to note that there are significant differences between the two. And while not everybody will appreciate them, your future dream employer might. Pursuing a doctoral-level degree constitutes an immense time and financial commitment (whether from paying tuition or foregoing an industry salary for a graduate stipend), so it’s important to figure out what differences exist between an online PhD and an online doctorate.

A doctorate in the most specific sense as relates to online programs, is a professional degree. It is intended to help your career advancement by providing you with advanced coursework and practical experience on the subject matter. It builds on your existing knowledge and practice of the subject. It has less to do with addressing the theory of the subject as it has to do with proper application of the subject. Subjects commonly found offering online doctorate programs include Business Administration, Nursing, and Education. By comparison, a PhD is a research degree. The title PhD is the translated latin abbreviation of “Philosophiae doctor,” or Doctor of Philosophy*. It is a degree that deals with the theory of the subject, which is why you will always hear professors stress that the goal of a PhD is to “make a significant new contribution to the knowledge in the field.”

Now, this is not to say that an online doctorate will not have a research component. It generally does, but it is in almost all cases of a more limited scope, and with an emphasis on clinical application to develop the student’s practical skills. The length of the research component is much shorter than that of an online PhD, and can be as long as 1-2 term-equivalents or may consist of smaller projects spread throughout the program. An online PhD will be more akin to a bricks-and-mortar PhD program, with a dissertation or thesis that will be examined by a committee of PhD-holding academics and will need to be defended. In the case of the online PhD, like with a traditional one, the target students are those seeking an academic career teaching or researching new theory within the field.

*And yes, in case you were wondering, it is not lost on us that someone seeking a PhD in philosophy upon graduation will, in fact, be a Doctor of Philosophy of Philosophy 🙂

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