PhD and Doctorate Degrees
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is the most advanced degree students in North American universities can acquire. It usually requires about 5 years to complete a typical PhD program. The United States' Census Bureau has reported that individuals with PhDs make roughly $30,000 more annually than individuals with only bachelor's degree.
There are a large variety of doctoral programs. Before graduating from a doctoral program, students must conduct research and prepare and publish a dissertation. Only about 1% of people in the United States have completed a doctoral program – compared to 6% who have a master's degree and 30% with a bachelor's degree.
The PhD in a Nutshell
Students enrolled in doctoral programs often complete independent study courses at their convenience in specific subjects. These courses often require students to dedicate a full-time effort in order to complete each course within three or four semesters. After students have completed all course requirement, the are then required to pass a test before they can progress with their doctoral program.
Exams are administered by a committee comprised of university professors. In addition to course completion, PhD students are required to conduct research and present their findings via an in-depth dissertation. After they have completed their dissertation, students must defend their research in front of a committee of professors and peers. Once they have successfully completed this step, students are ready to graduate from their program and receive the title of "doctor."
Students pursuing a PhD should seek an accredited program. Many universities claim they have accredited programs when in fact they do not; such schools are known as "diploma mills." Diploma mills essentially sell degrees and provide little or no actual coursework, often promising an easy or quick graduation. Students should carefully evaluate a program before they make the time and financial commitment to complete it. Make sure your PhD program is offered by a regionally accredited program from a reputable school.
Since most companies, professional organizations, or state licensing boards will only accept candidates with PhDs from accredited universities, it is imperative for students to enroll in programs offered by these schools. Accredited schools are vetted by the Department of Education and are held to the highest educational and industry standards.
Professional Affiliation and Licensure
In addition to holding a PhD, certain careers require workers to join professional organizations. Students should check with professional organizations within their industry to make sure the organization recognizes the PhD degree program being pursued. In some fields, individuals with PhDs are required to acquire extra licenses before they can legally practice. This is particularly true for anyone planning on practicing as a psychologist or licensed counselor. Before enrolling in a PhD program, make sure it is accredited by licensing agencies for the state where you plan on practicing after graduation.
Types of Doctoral Degrees
There are a variety of doctorate programs students can pursue, some the most popular being law and medical programs. Students who complete online and/or campus-based doctoral programs are often required to complete a supervised residency or clinical work program before they can become licensed.
The following are popular PhD programs that can be completed online or on campus:
- Psychology (Ph.D.; PsyD)
Many PhD psychology programs can be completed online. Students interested in offering counseling services should complete a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) program, while those wanting to teach and conduct research should complete a traditional PhD psychology program. Students can develop expertise in a variety of specialties, such as organizational, clinical, or counseling psychology.
- Education (Ph.D.; EdD)
Educational PhD programs are designed for people interested in college or university administrative positions, while people interested in secondary school administrative careers should complete EdD programs.
- Engineering (PhD; DCS)
There are various engineering PhD programs that can be completed online. Upon completion of these programs, graduates receive a Doctor of Engineering (D. Eng) title. Examples of online engineering PhD programs include mechanical, civil, electrical, or computer engineering.
- Public Health(Ph.D.; DPH)
Those who are interested in community health administrative positions should consider completing an online PhD public health program. Individuals who complete Doctor of Public Health (DPH) programs study a wide range of subjects, including healthcare policy.
- Business (Ph.D; DBA)
Those interested in teaching or conducting business research should consider enrolling in a Doctor of Business Administration program.
While PhD programs can vary dramatically from school to school, whichever PhD program a student selects, it's cer certain to be time onsuming and challenging. Only the bravest students need apply.
PhD and Doctoral Programs by Field
Below you can explore PhD and doctoral programs organized by area of student and specialization.
Featured Doctoral Programs