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Many professionals pursue doctorate degrees because of their fairly strong employment prospects! About 70% of the 2020 new PhD holders reported “definite commitments” from prospective employers from academia and industries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, doctorate holders earned the highest median weekly pay ($1,885) and the lowest unemployment rate (2.5%) among bachelor’s and master’s degree holders.
But we all know that the path to higher education isn’t all roses! Candidates in PhD and doctorate programs take between four and eight years to earn their degrees, and spend $114,300 on average. With the cost of attendance comes student loan debts that can reach $108,400 on average, and it can be as high as $159,625 for PhD holders.
No wonder individuals interested in enjoying the benefits of a doctorate look for the fastest programs and fields of study!
Quick audio summary:
FASTEST ONLINE PH.D. AND DOCTORATE DEGREES
Doctor of Audiology
Hearing issues have adverse effects on an individual’s quality of life and, thus, preventing and addressing these issues is crucial. This is where audiologists come in through their expertise in diagnosing, preventing, and treating hearing issues. Note that hearing issues also affect balance and, thus, audiologists empower their patients to enjoy daily activities better.
Aside from prescribing medical devices, audiologists also provide counseling services for their patients in dealing with their hearing and balance issues. Their job also includes providing reliable and relevant information to family members, caregivers, and the community.
Audiologists must possess a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree and a state license. The AuD degree can be earned in four years, but accelerated three-year programs are the fastest. The shortened curriculum in accelerated programs doesn’t mean lower academic quality – it just means the courses have been compressed aside from being fast-paced. Students must be 100% committed to earning the degree within the three-year timetable.
Students progress through the foundational courses in:
- and Physics before moving to career-specific courses. These include:
- Normal and Abnormal Communication Development,
- Pharmacology in Audiology,
- and Diagnosis and Treatment of Hearing and Balance Issues.
The curriculum also includes internships in hospitals, clinics and outpatient facilities where students develop their clinical skills in healthcare settings. Students observe licensed audiologists in action and have direct patient interactions through patient consultations. The hands-on experience strengthens the theories learned in the virtual or blended classroom.
Audiologists find gainful employment in healthcare settings and other industries. Industrial audiologists, for example, prevent hearing issues by developing safety protocols while educational audiologists work with children with hearing issues.
Median Pay: $81,030 per year
Job Outlook: 16%
Job Opportunities: Audiologists
Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering
The typical time-to-completion among PhD in Biomedical Engineering is 5-6 years, but accelerated programs decrease it to 3-4 years. Of course, your time-to-completion will be determined by your commitment, enrolment status and compliance with the scheduled milestones. The third-year mark, for example, is typically dedicated to the completion of the dissertation, fulfillment of teaching and a research assistantship, and compliance with remaining academic requirements.
Accelerated programs are hands-on learning experiences for candidates who must be 100% committed to their post-graduate studies, including their research and teaching assistantships. Candidates progress through the fast-paced, rigorous programs of study that integrate didactic coursework with world-class independent research. Close collaborations with faculty members in faculty-led research projects are also typical, and these allow candidates to develop their interdisciplinary skills and establish professional networks.
Admission requirements vary, but most accelerated programs require applicants to possess a master’s degree in biomedical engineering or other related fields. Minimum GRE/GMAT scores and cumulative graduate GPA are also common requirements:
- a personal statement,
- letters of reference,
- and statement of purpose.
Admission is competitive in accelerated PhD in Biomedical Engineering programs due to their above-average rigorousness, not to mention that universities benefit from a track record of high year-to-year completion rates.
Candidates usually undergo several stages in their PhD journey, from acceptance into the program to pass the qualifying exams, making their dissertation proposals and passing the approval stage. Teaching and research assistantships are required, too, which pays for part of their tuition cost and develops their teaching and research skills.
Holders of the PhD in Biomedical Engineering degree work in the healthcare, industrial and commercial manufacturing, engineering sectors, and academia.
Median Pay: $106,919 per year
Job Outlook: 6%
Job Opportunities: Biomedical engineering director, biomedical engineering educators and researchers, and biomedical research scientists
Doctor of Business Administration
The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a professional doctorate and terminal degree in business administration that enables its holders to become business professors, researchers and professionals. Many programs offer it as a standalone degree, while others offer it with technology-related fields of study. Holders of the DBA degree may represent themselves with the academic title doctor and attach the post-nominal DBA letters, too.
Like its equivalent PhD in Business Administration, the DBA degree is also considered a research degree by the National Science Foundation (NSF). As such, its holders are qualified to perform research projects related to business topics and perform management roles in government agencies, corporations and nonprofit organizations. Many occupy senior-level positions, such as organizational development directors and chief executive officers.
Candidates in non-accelerated DBA programs earn 54-60 credits in 3-5 years. Accelerated programs with compressed coursework enable candidates to earn the degree in three years, but it’s crucial to hit the milestones as scheduled. Many, if not most, students don’t have external employment but work as teaching and/or research assistants.
Accelerated programs may offer human resources, international business, and global supply chain management concentrations. Choosing a concentration may involve taking three additional courses and the core coursework. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of business administration, the DBA coursework includes:
- business research,
- international business
- and accounting.
On-site residences or internships may be required in addition to the culminating project. The latter requirement can be a dissertation or a special project highlighting the candidate’s DBA-related insights and interests.
Median Pay: $146,600 per year
Job Outlook: 12%
Job Opportunities: Business researchers/fellows and university professors
Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership
Community colleges are crucial to the American education system because of their inclusive approach resulting in diverse student bodies, among other roles. But there are unique challenges, too, in their management that demands appropriate formal education and training in addition to work experience. The EdD in Community College Leadership degree is the best for the education and training part!
Candidates in accelerated EdD in Community College Leadership programs learn essential competencies identified by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC):
- organizational strategy,
- institutional finance,
- community college advocacy,
- and resource management.
Candidates become qualified for leadership positions at two-year colleges upon graduation with their knowledge and skills. Their future roles and responsibilities include overseeing the academic curriculum, student support services, business operations, and human resources of community colleges.
Many EdD in Community College Leadership programs is standalone programs, while many are specializations within the EdD generalist programs. Both, nonetheless, are excellent educational preparations for roles as presidents, provosts and deans at community colleges.
Between 50-66 post-master’s credits are required in accelerated programs, meaning a three-year time-to-completion. The curriculum consists of core and concentration courses, electives and dissertations; the first two years may be spent on the academic aspect, while the third year is for the dissertation. The core courses include:
- qualitative and quantitative research methods,
- advanced learning theory,
- leadership and ethics,
- and program development and evaluation.
Fiscal responsibility, student and faculty relations, and workforce training are common courses.
Median Pay: $241,727
Job Outlook: 8%
Job Opportunities: Community college presidents, academic deans, and admissions directors
Doctor of Computer Science
Individuals interested in gainful employment in the fast-growing computer and information technology field may want to consider the Doctor of Computer Science (DCS) degree! With a projected growth rate of 13% (2020-2030) and the highest median pay at $126,830 per year, it’s a degree that’s well worth the time, energy and money. With public and private organizations recognizing the need to use digital technologies in data management, DCS degree holders will have plenty of work waiting for them.
Non-accelerated online programs have a six- to seven-year time-to-completion, but accelerated programs cut the time in half! Candidates can complete an accelerated program in three years but must be fully committed to achieving the milestones as recommended.
Many programs have a minimum of 60 post-master’s credits to complete before the DCS degree is awarded. The first two years focus on the didactic coursework, while the last year is spent on completing the dissertation. The fast-paced coursework is rivaled only by the fast-paced progress through the dissertation, which usually takes 2-3 years for completion. But fast-paced doesn’t mean rushed and reduced quality – candidates must still meet high academic standards!
Note that the DCS degree isn’t equivalent to the Doctor of Science in Computer Science (DSc) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Computer Science! The DCS degree is suitable for professionals whose main career goals include making meaningful contributions to the existing body of theories, principles and practices of computing. The DSc and PhD degrees are more suitable for professionals who want to teach in academia as professors and researchers.
Median Pay: $126,830 per year
Job Outlook: 22%
Job Opportunities: Computer scientists, computer and information systems managers, and computer network architects
Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor in Grief Counseling
Licensed psychologists pursue either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a Doctor in Grief Counseling for career advancement and personal fulfillment. With the degree, their public or private practice can be expanded in terms of types of patients and professional scope resulting in more impact. Indeed, a doctorate in grief counseling degree holders has numerous paths possible, from becoming well-recognized published researchers to well-respected grief counselors with pioneering therapy techniques.
Many also pursue successful careers in academia, such as university professors training future psychologists and grief counselors. The opportunity for scholarly activities is also a come-on for candidates in doctorate programs. There’s also the possible increase of their median annual salary by as much as 50%!
A doctorate in Grief Counseling can be earned in 1-5 years. But a 3-year time-to-completion is more realistic if you want a good work-life-studies balance. In accelerated programs, students tackle a compressed curriculum that includes:
- research methodologies,
- and psychotherapy techniques.
Candidates also gain a professional understanding of grief and bereavement in several situations, from job loss to divorce and death. Psychological first aid is an essential topic, too, along with loss and trauma. Since an entire community can also grieve, candidates also learn about community grief and crisis counseling, emphasizing multiculturalism and group counseling.
Grief counselors work in a wide variety of settings, including the public and private sectors. Many are in private practice, while others are in hospitals, mental health facilities, and retirement communities, as well as the military. As professors and guidance counselors, being in academia is also a lucrative career path.
Median Pay: $51,340 per year
Job Outlook: 15%
Job Opportunities: Grief counselors, family and marriage therapists, and mental health counselors
Doctor of Health Sciences
The Doctor of Health Science (DHS) is an academic terminal degree for professionals interested in leadership positions in health sciences, including healthcare delivery systems. The leadership positions cover:
- clinical practice,
- applied research,
- and administration, which demand high-level:
- critical thinking
- and analytical thinking skills.
The ideal candidates for DHS programs are allied health professionals, who must be either duly licensed or certified in their respective professions and want to advance their careers. Healthcare managers, practice clinicians, health science teachers and professors are common in accelerated DHS online programs.
Candidates develop the knowledge and skills vital in finding solutions to issues based on evidence, applying the principles and best practices in healthcare management, and building their positive impact on healthcare systems. The DHS coursework then includes courses on:
- advocacy and ethics;
- strategies for improving healthcare services;
- organizational strategies for healthcare leadership;
- and equity, inclusivity and diversity in healthcare systems.
Internships, research and teaching assistantships, and even community immersions are part of the graduation requirements in DHS programs. These hands-on experiences strengthen the candidates’ professional proficiency and dissertation, the typical culminating requirement. The dissertation is undoubtedly the most challenging aspect of accelerated DHS programs, which have a three-year time-to-completion due to the extensive research necessary.
Upon graduation, DHS degree holders can pursue leadership positions that allow them to initiate positive changes in their workplaces and the healthcare industry. The opportunities to shape or influence public healthcare policy, support best practices in clinical settings, and conduct breakthrough research are also in their future. Many also become top-level healthcare managers, consultants, and community advocates.
Median Pay: $104,280 per year
Job Outlook: 32%
Job Opportunities: Healthcare administrator, health sciences researcher, university professor
Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies
Both PhD and EdD in Leadership Studies degrees emphasize the interdisciplinary characteristic of effective leadership in public and private organizations. These degrees are also versatile in the career paths that these can be applied in, from academia to business and industry, including healthcare, engineering and social work. Many holders, particularly the PhD in Leadership Studies degree, also become prolific researchers-scholars whose leadership studies advance its theories, principles and practices.
The coursework is divided into:
- core and major courses,
- concentration courses,
- dissertation-related courses,
- research/teaching assistantships,
- and community activities.
The typical curriculum has a specific sequence, particularly for cohort-based accelerated programs, meaning candidates should ideally hit their milestones based on the recommended timeline. Completing the degree in three years is, thus, possible.
The courses usually include leadership-centric topics like leadership theories and intra- and inter-organizational leadership; applied leadership courses like communication, management, law and ethics; and policy development and implementation. As doctorate degrees, there’s an emphasis on generating original, perhaps thought-provoking, research with the dissertation as the culmination project. Leadership research courses, such as intermediate and advanced research methods, statistics, and experimental design, are part of the curriculum for this reason.
Graduates can write, present and defend their research projects in a scholarly manner; demonstrate a proficient understanding of leadership studies in the personal, organizational and international perspectives; and foster positive relationships as part of their leadership.
Median Pay: $97,500 per year
Job Outlook: 8%
Job Opportunities: School administrators, university professors, executive coaches and leaders
Doctor of Nursing Practice
Candidates in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are planning on pursuing advanced leadership roles in nursing, but with less focus on research. The DNP degree has a more clinical focus, while the PhD in Nursing degree has a strong research emphasis. Thus, DNP degree holders have more hands-on, direct patient interactions that enable them to make an observable impact on their patients.
Between the DNP degree and the PhD in Nursing degree, the former has a shorter time-to-completion, too. DNP degree programs have 1-4 years time-to-completion, while PhD programs typically require 3-5 years of full-time commitment. Accelerated DNP programs have three years time-to-completion with the assumption of full-time studies, no failing grades, and hitting the milestones on time.
The DNP degree opens opportunities for jobs as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), among other leadership positions. The DNP degree is currently considered the minimum educational requirement for entry-level APRNs in many healthcare institutions. Since it’s also a terminal degree, there’s no higher educational level available for aspiring APRNs, too.
Accredited online DNP programs must cover eight essentials identified by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, namely:
- Scientific foundation for practice
- Organizational and systems leadership concerning systems thinking and quality improvement
- Essentials for evidence-based practice including analytical methods and clinical scholarship
- Information technology and systems for the improvement of quality of services and transformation of the healthcare system
- Healthcare policy and advocacy
- Improvement of patient and population health outcomes through interprofessional collaborations
- Population health and clinical prevention concerning improvement in national health
- Advanced nursing practice
These essentials are covered through didactic courses, internships, clinical experiences, and a culminating project. Direct care and indirect care concentrations are also offered.
Median Pay: $117,670 per year
Job Outlook: 45%
Job Opportunities: Nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives
Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists perform vital roles in improving the quality of life among patients with illnesses, injuries, and disabilities that prevent them from enjoying everyday activities in a normal manner. Their expert assistance enables patients to recover, improve, develop and maintain occupational skills necessary for daily working and living. Their patients include people with cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome, and patients who have physical disabilities caused by illness and injury, such as stroke.
The minimum educational requirement for occupational therapists is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree in addition to their license. The OTD degree is a post-professional degree, meaning candidates usually have a master’s degree, a license in occupational therapy, and sufficient work experience. The standard OTD doctorate programs take 3.5 years to complete, but accelerated online programs cut the time to completion in half! For example, Boston University’s OTD program can be completed in 18 months.
The coursework for post-professional OTD programs includes:
- clinical kinesiology,
- and therapeutic techniques in contemporary practice.
Concentrations are available in some programs, with prime examples being mental health and productive aging.
There are also PhD in Occupational Therapy or Occupational Science programs, which are research-centric in contrast with the practice-based approach of OTD programs. The PhD programs are more suitable for professionals who want careers in research and academia, which may take up to six years.
Occupational therapists must also possess soft skills to provide excellent patient care and work well with others. Adaptability, effective communication and interpersonal skills, and patience and compassion are desirable traits.
Median Pay: $86,280 per year
Job Outlook: 17%
Job Opportunities: Occupational therapists, rehabilitation counselors, and university professors and researchers in occupational therapy
Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership
While there are differences in the curriculum requirements among PhD in Organizational Leadership programs, their candidates develop the right knowledge, skills and mindset vital in their success as leaders. The combination is the result of core, major and elective coursework on the one hand and significant internship, research, and teaching experiences. These experiences are considered among the culminating projects that include an approved, publication-worthy dissertation.
Most online doctorate programs have 3-5 years time-to-completion depending on the candidate’s enrolment status. But accelerated programs enable students to earn the degree in three years, tops, with the first two years for coursework and the last year for the dissertation. There are even shorter programs, but these can be extremely challenging in course load and other demands.
A master’s degree in organizational leadership or related discipline, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation are common admission requirements. Many programs also require applicants to present relevant work experience, even research experience, because of the research focus. In-person and virtual interviews are also used to determine an applicant’s suitability for the program of study and its learning outcomes.
Once accepted, candidates in PhD programs tackle interdisciplinary coursework that covers:
- organizational design and leadership,
- law and finance in education,
- and ethics in leadership.
Learners also gain the theoretical framework and practical foundation for organizational leadership in government agencies and for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
Concentrations are offered in many programs, too, including missional leadership, educational leadership, and healthcare leadership. International consulting and entrepreneurial leadership are popular among business-focused candidates.
Median Pay: $121,220 per year
Job Outlook: 9%
Job Opportunities: Human resource managers, organizational development consultants, organizational development directors, and
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Online Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs have a three-year time-to-completion, on average, but full-time students can earn the degree in less time. Accelerated programs can compress the coursework and internship components even more! But students must be aware of the increased demands on their minds and bodies in accelerated programs, starting with full-time engagement.
DPT curriculum varies between programs, but just the same, students learn the essential knowledge and skills vital for their professional success. Said success starts with passing the licensure exam for physical therapists, but there’s no end to it either, as licensed physical therapists must have a passion for lifelong learning. Physical therapists with sufficient work experience may also pursue board certification in their desired clinical specialty, such as geriatrics, sports or orthopedics.
Diagnostic imaging, pharmacology, and motor control are among the career-specific courses in DPT programs. Research methods, including statistical analysis, are also discussed in-depth in preparation for a culminating research project, if necessary. Students apply their learning in life sciences and promote research in physical therapy.
Residency programs are typical experiences among physical therapists after they graduate from DPT programs. These are typically one-year programs that provide residents with additional hands-on training, which comes in handy for specialization.
During their practice, licensed physical therapists assist people with illnesses or injuries that affect their movement and pain management capacity. Preventive care, treatment and management, and recovery and rehabilitation among patients form a significant part of their healthcare services. Their job also includes interprofessional collaborations with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses and the family members and caregivers of patients.
Median Pay: $91,010 per year
Job Outlook: 21%
Job Opportunities: Physical therapists, sports clinical specialists, and geriatric specialists
Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Social Work
Candidates in Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programs prepared for clinical careers with direct client interactions and clinical research (i.e., practice-based). For candidates in PhD in Social Work programs, their training emphasizes teaching and theory, meaning their focus is on original, if not innovative, multidisciplinary research.
Both DSW and PhD in Social Work candidates can choose a concentration if their respective programs offer specializations, such as:
- advanced clinical practice,
- social work education,
- and mental health.
However, note that DSW candidates usually undergo more advanced internships than their PhD counterparts, mainly because of their practice-based focus.
Candidates can take 4-6 years to complete a standard online program, but there are programs with an accelerated format, meaning candidates earn the degree in three years. The compressed coursework is complemented by the shorter periods between milestones, particularly in the dissertation phase. Both standard and accelerated programs have 45-60 post-master’s credits for candidates to complete.
Regardless of their differences, both programs enable candidates to further develop their knowledge and skills in making a positive difference in others. Along with deeper insights into social work and its corresponding theories and principles, candidates also learn leadership and advanced research methodologies. The typical courses include:
- leadership and ethics,
- public policy issues,
- financial management in social work,
- and psychopathology.
Holders of a doctorate in social work degree may also choose to pursue continuing education for career advancement and personal fulfillment. Possible paths include an MBA that will enable effective leadership in nonprofit settings, a doctorate in psychology, and advanced certifications related to social work. Pursuing a license, such as a licensed master of social work, is also popular.
Median Pay: $69,600 per year
Job Outlook: 15%
Job Opportunities: Community service administration managers, clinical social workers, and university professors or researchers
Doctor of Philosophy in Sports Management
The typical candidates in PhD in Sports Management programs have a keen interest in the business aspects of sports and recreation and relevant educational attainment and work experience. Their extensive training includes principles and practices in sports organizations and teams’ day-to-day operations and overall direction.
- overall administration,
- finance and accounting,
- human resources,
- law and ethics,
- and consumer behavior.
The coursework may include:
- sports facility and event management,
- sports communication,
- and public policy concerning the sports and recreation industry.
While a master’s degree in sports management may be an advantage, it isn’t a must-have requirement in most online accelerated programs. But it pays to possess relevant work experience in sports management since it will add a deeper dimension to your rigorous doctorate training!
Concentrations may be offered by colleges and universities, thus, allowing candidates to gain specialist skills that can be used in niche aspects in sports and recreation. Examples of specializations are marketing, finance and facilities and events management.
While PhD programs have a research-centric approach, some PhD in Sports Management programs may have other culminating projects instead of a dissertation. These include practical capstone projects identifying issues and offering viable solutions to current sports concerns.
Candidates also develop the important qualities that will contribute to their success as sports coaches, researchers and directors. Effective communication, analytical and problem-solving skills are prioritized, followed by decision-making, organizational and motivational skills. Add creativity and thinking out of the box, particularly for marketing purposes, and you’re on your way to success!
Median Pay: $141,490 per year
Job Outlook: 10%
Job Opportunities: Sports promoters or sports agents, marketing directors, and university professors
Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management
The field of technology management is concerned with the design, development and applications of technological products and services to numerous organizations. These products and services are intended to deliver excellent value, increase effectiveness and efficiency, and promote the organizations’ respective goals. These technological products and services include software programs, hardware devices, and communication and network systems specific to the organization’s needs.
Candidates in PhD in Technology Management programs must have an interdisciplinary perspective since technology management draws from diverse fields. These include:
- computer science and information technology,
- business intelligence and analysis,
- strategic and innovation management,
- and user experience design.
More often than not, organizational issues can be resolved by combining several disciplines and using them in creative ways.
The extensive PhD training is more practice-based, but it also has a strong research component. Candidates prepare for leadership positions in for-profit and nonprofit organizations, government agencies, community institutions, and academia. Their doctorate-level skills include research methodologies and instructional processes, thus, their professional value in these sectors.
Concentrations are offered in some programs, too, with popular ones including:
- digital communication systems,
- construction management systems,
- and manufacturing and quality systems.
Regardless of concentration, candidates are usually required to submit an approved dissertation and undergo an intensive residency/internship. Candidates gain hands-on experience while also strengthening their professional network, a crucial aspect of landing viable jobs.
Median Pay: $151,150 per year
Job Outlook: 11%
Job Opportunities: Business information manager, network administrator, and e-business developer
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What Does It Mean to Be An Online PhD and Doctorate Program?
One-year doctorate programs are rare because very few fields of study lend themselves well to such a short-term period. The more common time-to-completion for the fastest doctorate degrees is 2-3 years, significantly shorter than the 4-8 years average. These programs will demand more of your time, effort, and energy and demand more in terms of academic background, thesis exposure, and work experience than the typical programs. The common formats are:
- Accelerated programs usually have fast-paced coursework with courses spanning 6-8 weeks and multiple start dates and required full-time enrollment for all terms, including summers. Candidates must meet the scheduled milestones to meet the time-to-completion.
- Practical doctorate programs don’t have a dissertation requirement but require candidates to engage in “dissertation in practice.” Since there’s no dissertation, candidates can complete the graduation requirements in less time; the typical dissertation can take at least a year to complete.
- Programs that allow master’s degree credits to be transferred to the doctorate program in the same or similar field mean faster completion time, too.
But these programs don’t have much wiggle room for error – candidates shouldn’t fail their classes, or they won’t meet the scheduled milestones on time.
Are these fastest online doctorate programs as good as the standard programs?
Yes, these accelerated online doctorate programs provide world-class post-graduate education and training! Accelerated and standard programs have valid accreditation, credentialed faculty members, and a contemporary curriculum that meets educational standards. When they earn their degrees, candidates in these programs reap the rewards of their labors, particularly improved employability and quality of life.
Of course, candidates must also make deliberate decisions and actions that will maximize the potential of their doctorate degrees! These include immersing themselves in the didactic coursework, applying the lessons learned in their workplaces, and ensuring that their dissertations, or other culminating projects, have a unique value.
What factors must affect a student’s choice of the fastest online doctorate programs?
- The accreditation must be from one of the regional accreditation agencies that, in turn, should be recognized by the US Department of Education. These include the Higher Learning Commissions, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and WASC Senior College and University Commission. This must be the first thing to look for when considering online programs!
- The program must have applied coursework, meaning that candidates have opportunities to apply their doctoral-level knowledge and skills in real-world situations. The applied coursework is of particular importance to working professionals, most candidates in post-graduate programs.
- There must be a wide range of satisfactory academic resources and support available to the candidates. Pursuing a doctorate isn’t a walk in the park, and there’s no sense in doing it alone! Ask about the quality of academic resources available, such as faculty advisors, library systems and access, and assistantships and financial aid.
- The curriculum should comply with the current standards and reflect the current needs of the industry where the doctorate will be applied. Take a look at the courses and their descriptions to determine their suitability for your career goals.
- The faculty members must possess top credentials in their field of expertise. Look at the program’s website where faculty members are featured, perhaps going the extra mile to research the faculty members’ professional profiles.
Read students’ actual experiences in the program and reach out to the faculty members. The latter is strongly recommended for future doctorate students, too, since it’s vital to their success to choose a faculty advisor as early as possible. Most programs require candidates to choose and connect with their respective faculty advisor on the first term.
Even if you’re planning on an online program, you may want to make an on-campus visit, if only once, before you submit your application for admission. The on-campus visit will open your eyes to the universities’ unique academic environment, including its research resources and facilities.
What factors affect the time to completion in these accelerated programs?
The primary factors are:
- The approach and methodology used for the dissertation is significant factor in the time-to-completion since it’s the culminating requirement. Most programs allot 1-3 years for the dissertation phase due to the complex and conscientious nature of writing a post-graduate research project. Accelerated programs, however, typically set a one-year timeline for the dissertation.
- The credits that can be transferred into the doctorate program from a master’s degree and life and work experiences. Look for MS-to-PhD programs that allow overlapping of credits between the degrees.
- The number of credits taken every term with candidates classified either part-time or full-time. Candidates who want to earn their degree in 2-3 years take on a full-time course load every term, including summers.
- The delivery mode of the courses, which can be in-person, online or hybrid, is also a significant factor as it influences the pace of study. Online programs are popular because they provide flexible scheduling for working professionals, including accelerating the courses. But accelerated programs demand diligence, drive and determination among candidates so that they can stay on track.
In the end, your commitment to earning a doctorate from an online accelerated program is the biggest influence in your time-to-completion.
What traits make for a successful doctorate candidate in an online accelerated program?
Remember that a doctorate is neither about rote memorization nor about rehashing existing knowledge! Instead, it’s about your ability to create new knowledge via your dissertation, research project, or special project in your field of study. Your academic coursework, seminars and assistantships culminate in your dissertation or its equivalent, and your newly acquired knowledge and skillsets are highlighted in it.
With that being said, you must be strongly passionate about the field of study and its specialized area that you’ve chosen to pursue as a doctorate student. The dissertation process is extremely challenging, and without your strong personal passion and professional commitment, you won’t be able to complete it.
Other traits that effective doctorate candidates possess are:
- Openness to new knowledge and skills combined with a strong sense of curiosity, creativity and flexibility
- The ability for independent work while also being able to work with a team, such as in research projects
- Skill in designing your work plan from start to finish and being able to carry it out as planned
- Personal accountability both to yourself and others
- Willingness to ask for assistance, including when, how and from whom, as well as the willingness to provide assistance
What’s the value of a doctorate?
The best one: A doctorate can open doors of opportunities! A terminal degree is a must for leadership positions in many fields of study since it demonstrates expertise in relevant knowledge and skills. This is particularly true for leadership positions in academia, such as university presidents, provosts and deans, and university professors.
For certain industries, a doctorate is a strong competitive edge. The pharmaceutical and medical industries are prime examples because of their emphasis on research and new products and processes. There are also occupations where a doctorate is a must for licensure and career advancements, such as physical therapy and audiology.
Indeed, the shorter the time spent on their doctorate studies, the lower the cost of attendance and the faster you can compete in the job marketplace. But, of course, you don’t want to earn a doctorate only to discover later on that it doesn’t meet the standards of potential employers – no accreditation, prestige and usefulness in the contemporary workplace, among other reasons. The best among the fastest PhD and doctorate programs must have valid accreditation and be recognized by academia and industries due to their useful functions.