Online Doctorate Degree: Should You Get One?

Imagine holding the highest academic achievement within your field, bearing the esteemed title of “Doctor,” all while enjoying the convenience of online learning. The idea of pursuing an online doctorate degree might sound like a dream come true, but before you dive into this educational journey, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons.

 So, should you get an online doctorate degree? Let’s explore the realm of virtual doctoral studies and uncover the factors that can guide your decision.

What is an Online Doctorate Degree?

An online doctorate degree is the highest level of academic achievement that can be earned through virtual education platforms. It is equivalent in rigor and recognition to traditional, on-campus doctorate programs. Online doctorate programs cover a wide range of disciplines, including business, healthcare, education, and more.

How Does an Online Doctorate Program Work?

Unlike with the other types of doctorate degrees, in an online doctorate program, students complete coursework, research, and a dissertation entirely through online platforms. Lectures, readings, assignments, and interactions with professors and peers are conducted virtually. This approach offers the flexibility needed for working professionals to balance their studies with their existing commitments.

Requirements in an Online Doctorate Degree

Obtaining an online doctorate degree demands a series of rigorous qualifications and prerequisites. Here are the core requirements typically expected from candidates seeking enrollment in an online doctoral program:

Academic Credentials

Applicants must hold a master’s degree from an accredited institution in a related field to the doctoral program they intend to pursue.

Relevant Experience

Many programs require relevant professional or research experience in the field to demonstrate a deep understanding and commitment.

Letters of Recommendation

Usually, two to three recommendation letters from academic or professional references that attest to the candidate’s abilities and potential.


Official transcripts of previous academic records, showcasing the applicant’s educational history and performance.

Standardized Tests

Some programs may require GRE, GMAT, or other standardized test scores, although some institutions are moving towards test-optional admissions.

Research Proposal

For research-focused doctorate programs, a comprehensive research proposal outlining the intended focus and methodology is often mandatory.

Resume or CV

A summary of the candidate’s academic and professional accomplishments, highlighting their expertise and achievements.

Writing Samples

Submission of writing samples, such as academic papers or publications, to assess the applicant’s writing and analytical skills.


An interview, either in person or via video conferencing, may be required to evaluate the candidate’s suitability for the program.

Application Fee

A non-refundable application fee to cover administrative expenses associated with processing applications.

How Long Do Online Doctorate Degrees Last?

The duration of an online doctorate degree program can vary significantly based on various factors, including the field of study, the specific program, and the student’s pace. Here’s an overview of the typical timeframes for completing an online doctorate degree:

Time Commitment

Online doctorate programs often require a significant time commitment. Candidates should be prepared to dedicate a substantial amount of time each week to coursework, research, and other program-related activities.

Program Length

On average, an online doctorate degree can take around 3 to 7 years to complete. However, this can vary widely depending on the nature of the program.

Full-time vs. Part-time

Some online doctoral students opt for part-time enrollment to balance their studies with other commitments. Part-time students might take longer to complete their degree, often extending the timeline to 5 to 7 years.

Accelerated Options

Some institutions offer accelerated online doctorate programs that allow students to complete their degrees more quickly. These programs may take around 2 to 3 years to finish.

Research Requirements

Doctoral programs with a heavy research focus, such as PhDs, often require additional time for conducting in-depth research, data analysis, and dissertation writing. These programs can take longer to complete, typically around 4 to 7 years.

Personal Pace

Online doctoral programs offer the advantage of allowing students to progress at their own pace. Some students may complete coursework more quickly, while others may take longer due to their individual circumstances.

Top Online Doctorate Degrees

Pursuing a doctorate degree can offer substantial benefits across various fields, enhancing career prospects and personal growth. Here are some degree fields that often provide amazing benefits when pursuing a doctorate degree:

Medicine (MD or DO)

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree offers excellent job stability, high earning potential, and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on patients’ lives. Medical professionals are in high demand, and a doctorate in medicine can lead to diverse specializations and leadership roles.

Law (JD)

A Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) degree opens doors to a prestigious legal career. Lawyers command competitive salaries and have the chance to influence policy, advocate for justice, and serve their communities.

Psychology (PhD or PsyD)

Doctoral degrees in psychology (PhD or PsyD) provide the qualifications to become licensed psychologists. This field offers opportunities for clinical practice, research, teaching, and contributing to mental health and well-being.

Education (EdD or PhD)

A Doctor of Education (EdD) or PhD in Education can lead to leadership roles in education administration, curriculum development, and educational policy. It’s ideal for educators seeking to drive positive changes in education systems.

Engineering (PhD)

A PhD in Engineering offers advanced expertise and research skills, leading to groundbreaking contributions in various engineering disciplines. This degree can open doors to cutting-edge research, innovation, and leadership roles in the industry.

Business (DBA or PhD)

A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or PhD in Business can unlock top executive positions, consulting roles, and academic careers. This degree emphasizes research, strategic thinking, and advanced business knowledge.

Computer Science (PhD)

With the rapid advancement of technology, a PhD in Computer Science can lead to groundbreaking research in artificial intelligence, data science, and software development. Graduates often secure high-paying roles in academia, research institutions, and industry.

Nursing (DNP or PhD)

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD in Nursing can elevate nursing professionals to advanced practice roles, leadership positions, and academia. This degree is crucial for shaping healthcare policies and improving patient outcomes.

Science (PhD)

Pursuing a PhD in various scientific fields, such as biology, chemistry, or physics, can lead to groundbreaking research, academic roles, and opportunities to contribute to scientific advancements.

Social Work (DSW or PhD)

Doctoral degrees in social work (DSW or PhD) can lead to clinical practice, research, policy development, and advocacy. Social workers with doctorate degrees often have the opportunity to drive systemic changes and address societal challenges.

In these fields and beyond, a doctorate degree signifies expertise, dedication, and the potential to make a substantial impact. It’s important to research each field’s requirements, career paths, and your own aspirations before embarking on a doctoral journey.

Here is a video about the top 10 doctorate degrees. If you want to pursue them, check out with the university of your choice if they offer an online program for it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Doctorate Degree

Why should I get a doctorate degree?

Obtaining a doctorate degree can offer significant benefits for individuals seeking advanced expertise in their field. A doctorate signifies the highest level of academic achievement and demonstrates your commitment to in-depth research, critical thinking, and specialized knowledge. Doctoral programs often allow you to contribute original research to your field, making meaningful contributions to knowledge. 

This level of expertise can open doors to high-level career opportunities, including academic positions, research roles, and leadership positions in industries requiring specialized knowledge. Moreover, a doctorate degree can enhance your professional credibility and earning potential.

Is a doctorate better than a bachelor’s degree?

Comparing a doctorate to a bachelor’s degree involves considering their distinct purposes and outcomes. A doctorate represents the highest level of academic achievement, requiring extensive research and specialization in a specific field. It’s ideal for those aiming for advanced research, academia, or specialized roles in industries demanding in-depth expertise. A bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, offers a broad foundation in a chosen subject and is suitable for entry-level positions in various fields.

The decision between a doctorate and a bachelor’s degree depends on your career goals and commitment. A doctorate demands a more substantial time investment, often 4-8 years, compared to a bachelor’s typically completed in 3-4 years. Earning a doctorate can lead to higher earning potential, specialized career opportunities, and significant contributions to your chosen field. However, a bachelor’s degree is an important starting point, enabling you to enter the job market sooner and potentially pursue further education later. Ultimately, the choice hinges on your aspirations, desired career trajectory, and willingness to engage in advanced research and specialization.

Here’s a doctoral degree tier list that I prepared for you:

What is the difference between a doctorate and a PhD?

A doctorate and a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) are often used interchangeably, but there’s a distinction worth noting. A doctorate is an umbrella term encompassing various advanced degrees, including the PhD. A PhD is a specific type of doctorate focused on original research and scholarly contributions to a particular field. PhD programs emphasize rigorous research methodologies, culminating in a dissertation that contributes new insights to the discipline.

Other doctorate degrees, like EdD (Doctor of Education), DBA (Doctor of Business Administration), or MD (Doctor of Medicine), have distinct emphases and goals. EdD focuses on educational leadership, DBA on advanced business practices, and MD on medical practice. While PhD programs emphasize theoretical and academic contributions, other doctorate degrees often prioritize practical application and professional expertise.

When choosing between a doctorate and a PhD, consider your career objectives and whether you’re inclined toward research-oriented academia or specialized professional practice. Each path has its merits, so it’s essential to align your choice with your long-term goals and aspirations.

What is the objective of doctoral degree?

The objective of a doctoral degree is to provide individuals with the highest level of expertise and specialization in a specific field of study. Doctoral programs are designed to cultivate advanced research, critical thinking, and analytical skills. 

The primary goal is to contribute original knowledge to the chosen field through rigorous research, culminating in a dissertation or thesis. Doctoral degrees are particularly suited for those aspiring to careers in academia, research, leadership, or specialized professions that demand a deep understanding of complex subjects. Attaining a doctoral degree signifies the mastery of a subject and the ability to contribute significantly to its advancement, making it an esteemed qualification with far-reaching career implications.

What’s better than a doctorate?

Beyond a doctorate degree, further specialization can be pursued through post-doctoral research or fellowship programs, contributing to cutting-edge research in your field. Alternatively, academic roles like becoming a professor or researcher can provide influential platforms for sharing expertise. 

High-level leadership positions in organizations or industries related to your field can offer substantial impact and recognition. It’s crucial to recognize that “better” depends on your goals—whether it’s advancing research, leading in your industry, or imparting knowledge. Each path offers unique opportunities for growth, impact, and contribution to your chosen domain.

If you’re just starting out on your college journey, here’s an article about the 4 major types of college degrees.

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