Online Doctorate Degrees

It sure does sound hokey; doctorate degrees are supposed to be the highest degree available from an institution of liberal education.  Up until now, online degrees have been treated like an inferior version of the real thing…which is to say a ‘real’ degree.  So let’s take a closer look at how getting a doctorate degree happens so that we can understand why online degrees aren’t as hokey as we thought they must be.

Getting a doctorate degree does not actually involve completing any coursework…at least not at the vast majority of institutions offering doctoral degrees, including institutions offering the possibility of online doctorate degrees.  While some PhD programs still require coursework of their PhD candidates, it is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  For those of you who have been outside the walls of higher education institutions for longer than you’d care to admit, this may seem like an odd idea.  After all, they are students at the highest level, right?!  So why aren’t they taking classes?!  You’re right, they are students on the highest level, which means that they should be teaching, not being taught.  This is one reality contributing to the evolution of online doctorate degrees.

PhD students are no longer called PhD students; they’re called PhD candidates, which is a fancy way of saying that they’re no longer students, but rather working toward receiving the PhD degree.  In a way, this makes a lot of sense; in the old system a PhD student could obtain a PhD in May and begin working as a professor in August of the same year.  Under the new system, PhD candidates are treated more like junior colleagues than like students of the department.

The internet is shrinking the world, and everything is becoming available online.  Doctorate degrees are no exception.  If you think about the degree of specialization required for doctoral programs, it actually makes perfect sense to offer online doctorate degrees, eliminating the need for doctoral candidates to pick up their entire lives and move to another state or to another country in order to study within a particular university’s department.  It’s one more possibility that the internet age is offering us.