Even though a doctoral degree may be the furthest thing from your mind at this point, it is possible to achieve the highest level of formal education online. Although you may be a busy parent or a working professional, online Ph.D. programs are convenient and flexible and make it possible for anybody to get their doctorate all while juggling a family or career. The possibilities available to people interested in attaining an online Ph.D. are almost limitless and there are guaranteed to be courses offered for almost every doctorate available.

Nearly every major area of study provides an opportunity to take online doctoral courses, if not full degree programs. Some of the more popular doctoral programs that are found online include nursing, psychology, education, and even business. There are also more than 20 research doctorate degrees that are equivalent to a Ph.D. in content and level. All 20 of them are recognized by the US Department of education as being equivalent to Ph.D.'s.


There are many other doctoral degrees that you can earn online in addition to the Ph.D. like the doctor of business administration, the doctor of education, the doctor of psychology, or the doctor of public administration degree. Each of these degrees is highly regarded in their respective fields and is fully attainable online.

I know it may sound cliché, but obtaining an education online has come of age. Just three years ago in 2007, most of the large universities in the United States were offering courses online. Most of these institutions' chief academic officers also thought that online learning was critical to the survival of the school and their doctoral programs for the future. There are now more than 4 million Americans attending classes online and the demand for online education continues to increase. As a result, America's foremost institutions are forced to create better and better learning experiences through their online services.


You don't have to worry about the quality of your education online either; in 2009 it was found that students studying online, on average, did as well or better than students studying in traditional classrooms. There have also been numerous studies about the relationship the students formed with their professors through e-mails and chat rooms that yielded results more desirable than those from traditional schools.

Obviously, getting your education up to this point has been quite a costly endeavor and the prospect of continuing to achieve your Ph.D. might seem unattainable. The federal government treats online and distance learning exactly the same way that it treats traditional methods of learning when it comes to a student's eligibility for financial aid. If you plan on attending an accredited college or university you are automatically eligible for loans like the low interest Perkins, subsidized Stafford, as well as lots of other grants, fellowships and scholarships.


You will also want to ask your employer, should you have one, if they offer assistance with tuition. A lot of the time, employers really do like to invest in their employees and won't mind helping out with tuition. If you are willing to work and maintain good grades, finances will be the very last things that stop you from getting your Ph.D. online.

Now, you are probably going to wonder how much these online PhD programs cost. As a matter of fact, online in Ph.D. programs are the same if not less than on campus educations. This seems to be the case with all online education but you should be able to subsidize the cost further if you can find somebody who believes in your ability to attain a Ph.D. Keep in mind that you will also be spending less money by attending school online due to things like transportation, childcare, and other costs that tend to spring up out of nowhere.


To complete an online Ph.D. you will need to spend literally years studying. Doctoral programs were created in the late 1800's and since then, to achieve one you have had to spend anywhere between four and ten years studying, writing and learning to finally get the piece of paper with the Dr. in front of your name. Most of the programs are designed to last somewhere around four or five years but because online students tend to lead busier lifestyles than the traditional student, the degree often takes longer to complete. That being said, if you feel up to it, you can finish the program in as little as three years. There is a doctoral program from Boston University in their transitional doctor of physical therapy program that can be attained in less than two years. How much time you spend earning your Ph.D. depends very much on how much time you are willing or able to put into it.

A lot of today's online study takes place entirely online and no visit to campus ever needs to happen. On the other hand, a lot of institutions require students to show up to campus to write tests or go through the orientation process. You also have to consider things like an internship or a residency program that you might need to take. If your program involves either of these you will definitely need to be making trips either to a campus, hospital, or other place of business. There are also programs that are a blend of online and traditional methods. You might have to show up to be few of these classes but for the most part they will be online. Graduation is another thing that can't really take place online and students can to show up to campus for graduation ceremonies.


Because accredited online institutions have had such success in getting students to study online, there is also a great deal of competition from low quality institutions that quite simply cannot offer what the top-tier universities to. These so called schools are more businesses than they are places of education. What they care most about is the tuition check and not the information that they are instilling. Employers scoff at diplomas or degrees achieved from these institutions and real educational facilities won't even accept their credits as transfer. There is a database of legitimate and accredited schools put together by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and it includes thousands of schools that meet and exceed standards that make from accredited institutions.

So, if you have decided to attend an online institution to get your Ph.D. you need to know what to look for in one of their programs. Remember that when considering graduate programs you are going to treat them much differently than you did when you were considering undergraduate programs. People normally look at prestigious universities when they are looking for an undergraduate program. When you are researching the programs you wish to attend the postgraduate studies, you will want to look past the institution and at the faculty members who teach there.


If you are studying to become a doctor, odds are that you idolize somebody in your field and would like to study under them. This should completely influence your first choice for an online Ph.D. program but there might be many other people who idolize this faculty member. They may have better scores than you be sure to find some other programs with professors that you respect. You will find that during the course of your graduate degree at program you will create a relationship with some of the professors and that they can be very helpful in creating a nice cushy lifestyle for you when you have finished your studies.

Another thing you want to take a look at when considering graduate programs is the amount of personalized attention you'll get. Make sure that you aren't just going to fall in with the crowd, and if you can, get into a program that doesn't accept just anybody. At this level of study you will not only be required to grasp already accepted knowledge but you'll also be expected to produce some new information in the world has ever known.


Your dissertation can be that which defines you as a student and intellectual for the rest of your life so make sure that the people you surround yourself with are people that will help you. Research is your friend and the more you do into your prospective schools the more you will get out of them. Try contacting current students and professors to get first-hand accounts of what learning at the institution will be like and base your decision on real information.

Much like your degree, the more work you put into finding an online institution that properly suits you, the more you will get out of it. This is not something that should be taken lightly so be aware that you are going to lose some serious hours to research but it will pay off. Whatever it is you want to get your doctorate in, make sure that you work hard and pick the right school for you because it would be such a shame to waste such an impressive education.