Studying a Doctorate Online: The Pros and Cons

Distance learning via online courses has become a popular way to learn new skills and gain extra qualifications. The range of courses and subjects is bigger than ever. But, is it really possible to earn a doctorate online? If so, is it the best option for you? Here are some of the pros and cons of working on doctoral programs online.

Studying a Doctorate Online: The Pros and Cons

Can You Get A Doctorate Online?

Yes, but there are limitations. Some areas of specific study may not allow for an online course because of the amount of lab work or other skilled practical work involved. Medical and scientific doctorates may be better in a university with hands-on learning. If you do see the program you want, make sure it’s accredited.

The Pros and Cons of Online Doctorate Studies

Before you dive into an online prospectus at a local university to see what’s on offer. You need to be aware there are some serious pros and cons involved when committing to a full doctorate course. You need to weigh these up and discuss your plans with loved ones before making a final decision. If you have the right support around you and a plan to make this work, you could make this a success. However, you must be realistic.

The Benefits of Studying for a Doctorate Online

Let’s start with the advantages of taking the online route when choosing a doctorate. There are many students, especially mature students returning to education, who find the online distance learning route the most effective. The courses and lifestyle can suit students in a way that traditional learning doesn’t. Here are some examples.

1) Studying around your current schedule and lifestyle

Online learning helps when you have a young family to support or are earning a doctorate to advance your career. You can continue earning in your current position and gain the money and experience there but still focus on your progression. At the end of the program, you will have the qualifications to move on up to bigger and better things, without a break in your professional career.

2) Flexibility in when you study.

As long as you complete the modules and submit the work and assignments to the right people, the precise times of studying aren’t important. You could pledge to put in a set number of hours a week but spread those out to suit your schedule. You might have a strict pattern of nighttime study when the kids have gone to bed, or spend a large chunk of time working during the day when they are at school and you aren’t at work.

This is also great for those with other commitments who just want to study at a more convenient time. Not everyone is a morning person, which is why many university students struggle to focus during 9am lectures. If your brain is at its most responsive and creative at 1am, so be it.

3) High-quality courses from esteemed institutions

Studying doctoral programs online doesn’t mean a drop in quality. You can easily find accredited and well-structured online courses. These programs provide the same quality material and learning opportunities from the comfort of your home. You then get a legitimate certificate at the end that you can use to progress in your field of work.

4) Lower tuition costs

You can save money this way because you aren’t enrolling in a traditional school and paying thousands of dollars each year to attend the different classes and lectures. Working from home also means lower costs. You aren’t spending anything on accommodation and you won’t have to travel as much.

The Downsides of Getting a Doctorate Online

While there are some definite benefits to this online approach, and many students find they get the balance they need, it isn’t for everyone. There are some major drawbacks that you have to be prepared for before signing up.

1) You have to be disciplined and able to handle the work alone.

There will be tutors and other people available to give you all the support you need as you work through your assignments, but they will be miles away on the other end of a telephone or email. It’s not the same as having a department head in a college who can sit you down face-to-face or discuss ideas whenever you need them.

You also need the discipline to pick up the assignments and study in your own time. If other commitments get in the way, such as family emergencies or issues with your current job, will you still be able to put the same amount of effort into your work? It is a big commitment, and many students will call it quits part way because it gets too overwhelming.

2) It could take a lot longer to complete a doctorate online

The part-time work and less structured approach to your online studies means you might spend twice as long working on your projects and final thesis. If you have the determination and game plan to see it through, it will get done. However, it could be eight years between starting the course and getting your certificate. Is that too long? Where will you be in 8 years? There are short doctoral programs online, but they have to cover everything you need.

3) Working alone, without other students.

Sometimes, it helps to have other students beside you in classes to lean on when the material becomes challenging. You can work on projects together, make each other accountable for study goals, and reward each other for achievements. There is also the social side to studying at a university. Even a high-end doctorate program needs some leisure time where the students can unwind at a local bar and deal with any stress caused by the material and upcoming exams.

Is This Right For You?

Take your time to go over the points mentioned here and discuss them with your family. If you think you can handle the schedule and workload in this more flexible manner, see what courses are out there. You could soon be on your way to an exciting new opportunity to boost your career.