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Online PhD & Doctorate Degrees

A Higher Level of Learning.

What is a Doctorate?

It is a terminal degree—the highest class of degree you can hold in a particular subject. Earning one can take several years—sometimes as much as eight or ten–but the payoff can be worth it.

What are the types of Doctorates?

There are two basic types including:

Research doctorates: Most commonly referred to as a PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, and it’s granted in recognition of academic research that is publishable in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

The criteria for earning a research doctorate usually involves conducting a large body of original research that contributes to the field. This often is submitted as a single thesis or dissertation, although it can also be a portfolio of shorter report.
They are usually required to teach at the collegiate level, and can be required for some non-academic research positions, particularly in the sciences. While they are not usually required, a they are helpful in securing some business, government and nonprofit leadership positions.

Professional doctorates: These are granted in fields where graduates aren’t planning to conduct scholarly research, but to engage in a profession. The most commonly known professional with this degree include the MD (Medicinae Doctor) and JD (Juris Doctor) degrees earned by practicing doctors and lawyers.

Other professions that require this degree type include veterinarian, dentist, pharmacist, and psychologist.

How long does it take to earn a doctoral degree?

The length of the program varies tremendously depending on the school and area of study. Some  programs take as few as three years, while others can take as much as ten. The median length for the programs in the United States is seven years.

What is required to get into a doctoral program?

Programs are extremely competitive. Good grades are more or less universally required no matter what program you’re applying for, as well as high scores on postgraduate-level standardized tests such as the MCAT (for medical students), the LSAT (for law students), or the GRE’s (for PhD candidates). 

Some programs require a Master’s degree, but many others accept students directly from undergraduate programs. Many students who don’t earn admission to doctoral programs will earn a Master’s degree to improve their chances of admission.

How much does a Doctorate program cost?

Some programs can be very expensive. It isn’t unusual, for example, to find medical school tuitions at over $100,000 per year, and many students take out massive student loans to cover the costs.

For students in research PhD programs, it’s more common to find tuition subsidies, in the form of research grants and work-study programs. Some graduate students can get their entire tuition load subsidized by the school in exchange for work as research and teaching assistants.

How much can you earn with a Doctorate degree?

The average research holder earns $1.3 million dollars more than a person with a Bachelor’s and $900,000 more than a Masters holder.

Professional degree holders earn even more: Those with an MD or JD can earn as much as $2.3 million dollars more than those with a Bachelors degree, and $1.9 million dollars more than someone with a Masters.

However, these numbers don’t tell the whole story. While some careers—particularly those in medicine, law and the sciences—can pay off well, others don’t.

Law tends to be hit or miss. If you work in a corporate law firm, you’ll earn a lot—but if you choose to go into public service or open your own law practice, you may not earn much at all. 

With a research doctorate, odds for high earnings are better with a degree in the sciences or business. In the humanities, lucrative tenure-track teaching positions at universities are few and far betwee—low-paying adjunct teaching positions are more common—and there’s not as much demand in the private sector.

The amount you earn depends on the field and career you choose. However, PhD and professional degree holders earn significantly more on average than those with less prestigious degrees.

With a doctoral degree, you can become a doctor or lawyer, a leading researcher, or an instructor at a top university. PhD degree programs open up many different opportunities—for traditional and online students alike.