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Online doctorate degrees

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Why a doctoral degree?

Expert curriculum

Learn from some of the best in the industry with an online doctoral program that’s led by award-winning faculty and industry giants.

Flexible online learning

Study online, in your own time. Many of the doctorate programs have two learning tracks: accelerated or standard.

Networking opportunities

Collaborate online with like-minded peers and faculty. On-campus immersions may be available for those interested.

Explore online doctoral programs

Earn your doctorate degree online from leading universities

Pursuing a doctoral degree may seem like a daunting task if you’re working full time or have family obligations, but it doesn’t have to be. The edX platform has a variety of doctorate programs from some of the best schools in the country — and they’re all online. With an online doctoral program, you can choose when and how you study, from anywhere in the world. Many of our programs offer a choice of two learning tracks — take your time with the standard track, or speed through the program content with the accelerated option. Online learners receive much of the same support as on-campus doctorate learners: guidance from admissions counselors, academic advisors, and career services.

Frequently asked questions

A doctorate degree is a type of doctoral degree. The other type of doctoral degree is a PhD. Both doctorate and PhD degrees represent the pinnacle of the academic experience — a culmination of one’s academic lifejourney. A doctorate degree can either be a research degree or an applied degree. A doctorate typically requires several years of advanced coursework, independent research, and the completion of a dissertation. Doctorate degrees are generally pursued by individuals seeking to become experts and leaders in their professional field or industry.

Although both types of degrees fall under the umbrella of doctoral degrees, there is a subtle difference between a doctorate and a PhD. A doctorate degree can either be academic or professional. Candidates in doctorate degrees may want to advance, through research, their professional practice within a given industry. A PhD, on the other hand — and which stands for “Doctor of Philosophy” — is an academic research degree. Unlike a professional doctorate degree, a PhD tends to be heavily theory-based and aims to advance academic knowledge within a field of study.

The length of time it takes to complete a doctorate degree varies depending on the field of study and the individual program. A doctorate degree takes anywhere from three to seven years to complete, with some taking even longer. The length of time may also depend on whether the student is studying full time or part time, as well as on any breaks or interruptions in their studies. The number of credit hours required may also affect the duration of the doctorate degree.

You typically need to complete several years of advanced study in a particular field to obtain a doctorate degree. The specific requirements for earning a doctorate degree vary depending on the program and the field of study, but typically involve a combination of coursework, independent research, and the completion of a dissertation. The process may also involve taking comprehensive exams and defending your research in front of a panel of experts in your field. A bachelor's or master's degree in a related field is usually needed to apply, among other requirements.

There are several types of doctoral degrees, each tailored to a specific field of study or profession. The most common type of doctoral degree is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is awarded in a wide range of disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Other types of doctoral degrees include the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Juris Doctor (JD), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and Doctor of Social Work (DSW), among others.

The cost of a doctoral degree varies depending on the program, the institution, and the field of study. On average, a doctorate will cost you $103,700, with the average loan debt for a doctorate degree at $126,800.Footnote 1 However, some programs may cost significantly more, particularly in fields like medicine or law. Several factors can influence the total cost of a doctorate degree, including the type of institution, the specific program pursued, the duration of the program, and the availability of financial aid.

Whether a doctorate degree is worth it depends on various factors, including your career goals and personal aspirations, as well as the field of study and the job market in that field. Pursuing a doctorate degree can open up opportunities for high-level positions in academia, research, and industry. But it may also require a significant investment of time, money, and effort.

An honorary doctorate degree is an academic degree that is awarded by a university or college to an individual who has made significant contributions to a particular field, society, or institution, but who may have not completed the usual academic requirements for a doctorate degree. Honorary doctorate degrees are typically given to prominent public figures as a way of recognizing their contributions to society or their field of work.

The job opportunities available to individuals with a doctorate degree depend on the area of study and expertise. Generally, doctoral degree holders are qualified for leadership careers in academia, research, and other specialized fields. Some common career paths for these degree holders include university professors, researchers, scientists, medical doctors, lawyers, and top-level executives. Additionally, some individuals with doctorate degrees may pursue careers in government, nonprofit organizations, or as independent consultants or entrepreneurs. The job opportunities available to someone with a doctorate are varied and depend on individual interests and qualifications.

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