Resources › For Students and Parents How to Earn a Doctorate Degree Online Share Flipboard Email Print Meshaphoto / E+ / Getty Images For Students and Parents Distance Learning Online College Online High School Online Public Schools Free Courses Homework Help Private School Test Prep College Admissions College Life Graduate School Business School Law School View More By Jamie Littlefield Education Expert M.A., Education, Claremont Graduate University B.A., English, Brigham Young University Jamie Littlefield is a writer, instructional designer, and teacher of high school and college distance education courses. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and more. our editorial process Jamie Littlefield Updated August 05, 2019 Earning a doctorate degree online can improve your earning potential and qualify you for a variety of prestigious career options, all while learning from the comfort of your own home. As the highest degree attainable in the United States, a doctorate degree can prepare you to work in leadership positions, university-level professorships, or other highly skilled professions. But, how do you choose a doctorate degree online program? How much work does an online Ph.D. require? And, what payment options are available for online doctorate students? Read on. Who Should Earn a Doctorate Degree Online? Earning a doctorate degree online requires a significant commitment of time and money. The best students are those who are able to set aside study time each day and balance their studies with family and work responsibilities. Because most online doctorate degree programs are reading and writing focused, doctorate students should be highly literate. They should have advanced research skills, be articulate, and have the ability to comprehend complex texts. Additionally, students should be self-motivated and able to work independently. Keep in mind that earning a doctorate degree online may not automatically improve your salary. Most jobs requiring a doctorate degree offer a decent salary and a certain amount of prestige. However, many academic jobs such as professorships may pay less than jobs in the non-academic sector. When contemplating earning a doctorate degree online, research your future employment options to determine whether a new degree in your field will be worth it. Online Doctorate Degree Program Accreditation Many diploma mill schools offer the promise of “quick and easy” online doctorate degrees. Don’t fall for their tricks. Earning a doctorate degree online from an unaccredited school will be worthless. Many former diploma mill “students” have lost their jobs and their reputations by listing a diploma mill school on their resumes. Because the doctorate is a culminating degree, proper accreditation is especially important. When selecting an online doctorate degree program, your best bet is to choose a school accredited by one of the six regional accreditation organizations. These are the same organizations that accredit reputable brick-and-motor schools. If your school is accredited by one of the regional organizations, your degree should be accepted by most employers and your credits should be transferable to most other schools. What Else to Look for in an Online Doctorate Degree In addition to selecting an accredited program, study potential online doctorate programs to determine which suit your needs. How are classes held? Are there multimedia components? Must the degree be completed in a certain amount of time? Will you be assigned a mentor to help you through the difficult years ahead? Create a list of questions and interview a representative from each online doctorate program. In addition to completing courses, doctorate programs generally require students to pass in-depth subject-matter exams, write a dissertation, and defend their dissertation in a meeting with university faculty. Before enrolling in an online doctorate program, ask for a list detailing the college’s specific graduation requirements. Types of Doctorate Degrees Online Not all doctorate degrees can be earned through the internet. Some training, such as that received by medical doctors, must be highly supervised. However, many other doctorate degrees can be earned virtually. Some of the most popular online doctoral degrees include Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Public Health (DPH), Doctor of Psychology (Ph.D.), and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Online Doctorate Degree Residency Requirements Most online doctorate degree programs require students to spend time taking classes or attending lectures on an actual campus. Some online programs require only a limited residency, asking students to attend a few weekend lectures or meetings. Other programs, however, may require a year or more of on-campus residency. Residency requirements are generally non-negotiable, so be sure that the online Ph.D. program you select has requirements that fit your schedule. Paying for a Doctorate Degree Online Earning a doctorate degree online can cost tens of thousands. While many brick-and-mortar schools offer doctorate students paid teaching fellowships, online students are not afforded this luxury. If your new doctorate degree will help you be a better employee, you may ask your employer to pay for a portion of your doctorate degree costs. Many graduate students qualify to take out government-subsidized student loans with lower-than-average interest rates. Additionally, private student loans are available from banks and lending institutions. Your online school’s financial aid advisor can help you determine which options are right for you. Don’t Give Up Earning a doctorate degree online can be a challenge. But, for the right student, the rewards are definitely worth it.