Introduction to online PhD programs

The PhD degree is the highest academic degree conferred by American universities. The Ph.D., which stands for Doctor of Philosophy, is the best known and most common type of doctorate degree, but other types exist, including PhDs, Doctor of Social Work, Doctor of Business Administration, Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Management, and more. Often PhDs have areas of concentration that a student will focus on while obtaining the degree, allowing the student to specialize in this area.

Northcentral University
Doctor of Business Admin
Doctor of Education
PhD in Public Admin
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Northcentral University — The mission of Northcentral University is to provide the world with a dynamic education offering accredited graduate and undergraduate programs through a proven, online, unique faculty mentored approach to learning. Graduates of Northcentral have proven themselves as contributors to societies around the globe.
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Grand Canyon University
Doctor of Education
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Grand Canyon University — The Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership degree program at Grand Canyon University prepares graduates to become leaders in the field of education. The curriculum includes literature in leadership, existing theory, and the study of statistics and research methodology.
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Walden University
PhD in Public Policy
PhD in Education
PhD in Public Health
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Walden University — The Walden University PhD programs offer prospective students a wide range of doctoral study, including Counseling, Education, Human Services, Management, Psychology, Public Health, Business Administration, and much more. Graduates not only teach in universities across the country, but serve in the highest levels of organizations.
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Capella University
PhD in Education Admin
PhD in IT Management
Doctor of Social Work
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Capella University — The Capella University doctoral programs in Education, IT Management, Nursing, Social Work, Business, and Leadership provides graduates advanced theoretical and practical knowledge in their field of choice. Culminating with a dissertation, the award-winning faculty mentor your journey towards contributing a significant peer-reviewed paper to the world of academia.
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Liberty University
Doctor of Ministry
Doctor of Education
Liberty University — The Doctor of Education program at Liberty University prepares graduates for exciting careers in the field of education. The degree requires 60 credit hours and includes a dissertation. Graduates are successful as teachers, superintendents, principals, curriculum directors, instructional supervisors, or university administrators.
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University of Liverpool
Doctorate of Business Admin
University of Liverpool — The Doctorate of Business Administration program at the University of Liverpool begins with a core curriculum of change and crisis management, innovative approaches to leadership, managerial decision making, ethics, sustainability, and social impact. It concludes with a original thesis that is practical rather than technical.
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University of the Rockies
Educational Psychology
Organizational Development
Sports Psychology
University of the Rockies — University of the Rockies is a postgraduate school that has several accredited online doctorates programs, great for students who must balance school with busy or inconsistent schedules. Most of these programs focus on various specializations in psychology including criminology, educational psychology, organizational development, and sports psychology.
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AT Still
Health Education
Physical Therapy
Health Sciences
AT Still — AT Still is one of the country's most trusted and longest-standing leaders in education that mostly specializes in health science and other related subjects. AT Still is also a postgraduate school, offering master's degrees and doctorate programs for students looking to advance their career goals. AT Still offers four doctoral degrees online, including Health Education, Physical Therapy, Health Sciences, and Audiology.
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Colorado Technical University
Doctor of Management
Doctor of Computer Science
Colorado Technical University — The Doctor of Management program at Colorado Technical University is geared to develop the next generations leaders in the business world. The first year of this exciting program focuses on research and studying management literature. The final year instructs students on the art of leadership and management.
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Boston University
PhD in Physical Therapy
Boston University — Boston University has added an online program for its Physical Therapy transitional doctoral degree in response to changing trends and growing interest in distance education. This program is designed to be completed in less than two years and connects the space between a BS/MS and doctorate degree. Boston University is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
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Argosy University
Doctor of Business Admin
Doctor of K-12 Education
Doctor of Higher Education
Argosy University — The College of Business at Argosy University includes a Doctor of Business Administration as well as two doctoral programs in Education: K-12 and higher education. The curriculum is designed to train educators in the art of transformational leadership required to lead complex institutions. Coursework includes globalization, economics, societal shifts, and relationships between individuals and organizations.
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South University
Doctor of Business Admin
South University — South University has a Phd in Business Administration available through online courses that provides greater convenience and flexibility compared to the campus program. Students are able to work on and turn in assignments from home, school, or even when they are on the go. Moreover, assignments can be submitted at any time before or on the deadline, great for students with busy or inconsistent work schedules.
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Keiser University
PhD in Edu. Leadership
Keiser University — The PhD program in Educational Leadership at Keiser University provides graduates with the tools required to become leaders in education. The curriculum is designed around leadership principles ethical and informed decision-making, diversity, assessment, program evaluation, effective communication, and technology.
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What Does PhD Mean?

A PhD is a Doctor of Philosophy. A PhD has many abbreviations and is sometimes labeled as a Ph.D or D.PHIL. The most common abbreviation is PhD, and this is what will be most useful when conducting an online search and finding an online PhD program that is right for you. Though the word “philosophy” is used, it does not necessarily mean the student has a doctoral degree in that field. When the term PhD originated in Europe, subjects such as law and medicine fell under the umbrella of “philosophy.” In the United States, the PhD covers all areas of study that have a doctoral degree.

A PhD Defined

A PhD is the highest level degree for a given field, although there are not PhDs for every subject or concentration. A PhD in Architectural Sciences may have a concentration in lighting, and a PhD in Sociology with a concentration in the sociology of aging. It should be noted that different schools offer different areas of concentration for PhD students, so it is important to do your research to find a program that offers a concentration you are interested in and see utilizing for work in the future. Some of the subjects that have PhDs are:

  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Public Health
  • Social Work
  • Music
  • Management

What Are the Steps to Enrolling in a PhD?

There are many steps to enroll in a PhD program; it can be a long process. When you begin thinking a PhD is your goal, you should start the research process of looking into what schools and programs will be a good fit for you. This is especially the case with online schools and PhD programs since those that are offered by a school are often limited. You may find yourself going through research for five or six schools before finding a doctoral program that suits your needs. You will have to apply for a PhD program, and the decision process can sometimes take months depending on how many other applicants there are and how in demand that particular PhD degree is. There are several steps to getting into a PhD program which may include:

  • Taking the GRE and scoring well
  • Obtaining recommendations from professors
  • Accumulating volunteer hours and work experience in your chosen field

What Are the Prerequisites for a PhD?

Prerequisites for a doctoral program can vary greatly from school to school. Many schools require a master degree for enrollment while some even require the master degree is in the same field as the PhD program you are seeking. In some cases, you must also take the GRE. It always advisable to contact a school you are interested in for exact requirements.

Information on the GRE for PhD Students

The GRE is an exam that lasts nearly four hours and is conducted on a computer. It is considered a computer-adaptive test or CAT. There are three sections of the GRE, which include an analytical writing assessment, a quantitative section, and a verbal section. The test is broken up in a very specific manner that gives the student a certain amount of time to work on each section. You must register to take the GRE in advance, as exams are conducted on a limited basis and can fill up quickly. You must present a government-issued ID to check in for and take the test. For more information, visit the GRE site at

What is Taking the GRE Like?

Taking the GRE can be stressful; proper planning is essential. You want to take the test in advance, giving you time to retest if you need to obtain a higher score. This is common for students, so you should never feel limited because your initial score is lower than expected.

What is the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE Like?

In the analytical writing section of the GRE, you have two essays which must be written in a total of 60 minutes. These essays are divided into two parts called the issue essay and the argument essay. This portion of the test is showing that you are effective in conveying complicated ideas in a concise, short format. It shows you can support ideas with valid arguments, site examples, and can utilize the English language to make a case for your argument.

What is the Quantitative Section of the GRE About?

This section of the GRE focuses on problem solving, numeric entry, and quantitative comparison. For some students, this is the most difficult part of the GRE. Things such as arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and data interpretation fall under the category of numeric entry. There are two sections to the quantitative section of the GRE. Each section is made up of 20 questions and students are given 35 minutes to complete each part.

Information on the Verbal Section of the GRE

There are two sections to the verbal portion of the GRE. Each section has 20 questions and you have 30 minutes per section to complete the exam. This verbal portion of the GRE focuses on reading comprehension, sentence equivalence, and text completion.

Are There Resources Online for GRE Prep?

There are many resources on the web for preparing to take the GRE. Some are paid services such as webinars or interactive tutorial sessions for how the test will run, but there are many free blogs and websites devoted to information and prep work for the GRE. Because prepping and taking the GRE can be a long process, it is essential you are working on other aspects of your PhD application while this is going on. Take this time to obtain any letters of recommendation you need from professors and participate in volunteer programs that can increase your chances of being accepted into your desired program.

What Experience Do I Need to Get Into a PhD Program?

Ideally, you should have substantial work experience and volunteer hours for your prospective PhD program. The more concentrated these areas are, the more the panel will see you as a good fit for their program and area of concentration. If you are looking to obtain a PhD in Social Work with a concentration in global affairs, you can work with a non-profit agency that conducts projects in third world countries. You can also go on volunteer retreats to learn more about the culture and what the area is lacking in terms of government, infrastructure, food, water, and education. These experiences show that you are educating yourself and would be a great asset for a doctoral program preparing students to work in this area.

Because many graduate and PhD students do not have real world work experience, volunteer hours are a way to increase your visibility on a PhD application, while learning the environment of the subject you hope to receive your doctoral degree in. Internships are also a great way to learn more about the industry or position you want to work in. Internships at the doctoral level usually do not count toward degree hours, so this is something to keep in mind from a time management prospective.

Be Prepared to Apply to Many PhD Programs

It is common for students to apply to five to 10 PhD programs; many programs have limited seating, even if they are online PhD programs. Because PhD programs are so specific with the students they admit, you are increasing your chances of acceptance if you apply to many schools. The process for these schools may be the same for the most part, but it is essential to take the time to send in a quality application.

Can I Get a PhD Online?

Online PhD programs are becoming accepted in many fields. What matters most is that the school you are obtaining the PhD from is an accredited university, whether it is a school that has a traditional campus or one that conducts business solely online. Accreditation is of the utmost importance of academia circles for those who have a PhD. Do careful research to see how long the school has been accredited in your desired program and ask many questions throughout the application process. Because a traditional PhD is such an individual experience, obtaining a PhD online is not much different other than you are not visiting the classroom daily. For those who are working full time jobs in their desired field, an online PhD may be an ideal fit and can assist in taking a career to the next level.

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