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Online Doctoral Degrees

Welcome to, a comprehensive resource for those who would like to pursue a doctorate degree online.

Online doctorate degrees are increasingly popular as they allow professionals to continue working their current jobs while pursuing higher education and increasing their career prospects and potential earnings. For example, did you know that, according to the United States Census Bureau, the average difference in lifetime earnings between those with bachelor’s degrees and those with doctorate degrees is around $2 million?

Completing a doctorate degree takes, on average, about five years, but it can take anywhere from three to 10 years or more; by choosing online graduation education, though, you have even more control over how long earning your degree will take.

Some other advantages of online doctorate programs include:


  • The convenience of pursuing a doctorate degree on your own schedule and at your own pace.
  • The chance to earn a doctorate degree without having to go to campus or even live anywhere near campus.
  • The cost savings on money on tuition, fees, books, and transportation.

Aside from attaining the highest academic credential possible, the prestige and increased salaries that comes along with it, earning a doctorate degree online is also a great personal achievement as well.

If you’re ready to learn more about available doctorate degrees online, read on.

Types of Doctoral Degrees Online

You will find two types of doctoral degrees online: the research doctorate degree and the professional doctorate degree. What follows is a short description of each kind along with some examples.


  • Research Doctorate Degrees

The research doctorate degree is generally a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in a specific area of study; other research doctorate degrees include:


  • Doctor of Architecture: D.Arch.
  • Doctor of Arts: D.A.
  • Doctor of Business Administration: D.B.A.
  • Doctor of Computer Science: D.C.S.
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice: D.C.J.
  • Doctor of Education: Ed.D.
  • Doctor of Engineering: D.Eng.
  • Doctor of Information Technology: D.I.T.
  • Doctor of Juridical Science: S.J.D.
  • Doctor of Public Administration: D.P.A.
  • Doctor of Science in Veterinary Medicine: D.Sc.V.M.
  • Doctor of Public Health: Dr.P.H.

Some of these degrees may not be available entirely or even partially online, so read listings carefully.

These are called “research doctorate degrees” because, in addition to a course of study, candidates must also perform and present an exceptional amount of research in a doctorate thesis or dissertation, which must be of publishable quality.


Applicants to research doctoral degree programs often need to have both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the same or a related field; some programs, however, do offer combined master’s and Ph.D. options.


The course of study for a research doctorate degree often includes independent study projects and seminars with 20 or fewer students per class; this lasts for several semesters, usually three or four, and then the doctoral candidate is faced with exams (written and/or oral) in front of a panel of professors in the field to prove that she is qualified and has a sufficient knowledge base to continue into the research and writing of the dissertation.

The dissertation, which must be of publishable quality and book-length, must be successfully defended in front of a panel, upon which the candidate can receive the doctorate degree.


  • Professional Doctorate Degrees

Professional doctorate degrees are also called “first professional degrees” or “first professional doctorate degrees” because they are the first degrees that may be attained in their fields. Candidates for professional doctorate degree programs must already hold bachelor’s degrees.

Some of the most commonly pursued professional doctorate degrees include:


  • Doctor of Chiropractic: D.C.
  • Doctor of Dental Medicine: D.M.D.
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery: D.D.S.
  • Doctor of Law: J.D.
  • Doctor of Medicine: M.D.
  • Doctor of Optometry: O.D.
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine: D.O.
  • Doctor of Pharmacy: Pharm.D.
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy: D.P.T.
  • Doctor of Podiatric Medicine: D.P.M.
  • Doctor of Psychology: Psy.D.
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine: D.V.M.

Note that not all of these may be available online, and many may require some time on campus.


Professional doctorate degree programs take three to four years to complete, which is often less time than a research doctorate takes; moreover, candidates in professional doctorate degree programs usually do not have to write a thesis or dissertation, although there may be other research and writing components to the program.

Those who hold professional doctorate degrees usually have to then go through an independent organization for licensure in order to work in their chosen field.

What to Consider When Choosing an Online Doctorate Program

1. Accreditation. You certainly don’t want to waste your money on a fly by night operation or diploma mill; doctorate degrees online offer great opportunities, but only for those who select accredited, well-respected, legitimate institutions, so choose wisely. If you have any doubts about online doctorate programs, check with the U.S. Department of Education.

2. Professional Licensure. Particularly if you are pursuing a professional doctorate degree, make sure you know about licensure requirements before starting any program and that your institution meets the standards of the licensing organization.

3. Professors. When researching doctoral degrees online, pay special attention to the faculty at the institutions you’re considering; these will be your advisors and mentors for the next several years (and will also speak on your behalf when it comes time to get a job), so make sure they are reputable and well-respected in their fields.