Gunning for a PhD? Here’s why you should consider an online PhD

SOURCE: Robyn Beck/AFP
Online PhDs might offer busy professionals some respite.

By U2B Staff 

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“Should I get a PhD?” 

That may be a question on the minds of many as they question the value and investment made for enrolling in a PhD programme. A 2017 survey from the Survey of Earned Doctorates said the median amount of time it took individuals in the US who received their doctorates in 2017 to complete their programme was 5.8 years. The average cost of a PhD can vary between US$28,000 to US$40,000 per year, depending on the programme and institution, as well as your funding options.

While getting a PhD can be a time-consuming and pricey endeavour, the results may well be worth the effort. 

For instance, 2019 data from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics notes that those with doctoral and professional degrees earn more than those with only a Master’s or Bachelor’s. 


They also discovered that in 2017, the average annual salary for an individual with a doctorate degree was US$103,820, compared to US$68,090 for a master’s degree holder.

In addition to improving one’s earning power, researchers note that doctoral study can play a pivotal role in research, education, leadership, policy and professional practice, which means graduates can go on to enjoy lucrative careers across a range of industries.

Studies said: “Recipients of doctoral degrees have traditionally occupied prestigious positions in research and education, where they have been called upon and funded to produce new knowledge.”

It also notes that doctoral education “provides the labour force not only for top positions within the professoriate, but also in educational administration, scientific laboratories and research facilities, and business and industry”.

Online PhDs offer a convenient solution during a pandemic

While it’s clear that PhDs have rewarding ROIs, one lesser explored option for aspiring PhD candidates is online PhDs, which provides students a flexible way to become an expert in a field to meet their personal and/or professional objectives. Online PhDs are typically available for options that do not require lab work or professional practice.

An online PhD is also useful during the current stay at home order brought upon the current COVID-19 outbreak.

As universities shift learning online during the pandemic, there has generally been a growing acceptance about online education, which may have previously been seen as an inferior option to on-campus learning. 

Numerous universities across the world currently offer online PhD programmes, including those in the US. The Community for Accredited Online Schools has created a list of the top online doctorate programmes in the US for the 2020-2021 academic year. 


Some of the universities include the University of the Cumberlands, which offers online doctoral programmes in educational leadership, counselor education and supervision, information technology, executive business, and leadership studies. Meanwhile, Concordia University-Chicago offers online doctoral programmes in business administration, special education, gerontology and organisational leadership.

The University of Selinus in Italy offers online PhD study programmes across various faculties, from the arts and humanities to computer science. Its website notes that unlike other traditional campus based doctorates, their PhD by research is not divided into semesters, but consists in the development, autonomous and independent, of a theoretical research on a specific academic discipline for the evaluation of the university. 

This research is implemented in a final thesis, for which the student has up to 24 months to complete it. 

It’s clear from the wide availability of online programmes that the world is your oyster, giving professionals or graduates ample of choices to carve themselves a speciality in their area of interest.