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Online Doctoral Degree Completion Programs

written by: KLeeBanks•edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi•updated: 12/23/2010

Individual courses and degree programs ranging from associate to doctoral are available through online learning. Students pursuing the highest echelon of degrees, the doctorate, can find online doctoral completion programs. Most of these require a residency component, while others are fully online.

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    Yes, it’s true; even many doctoral degree programs are available through online education at numerous colleges and universities. Depending on the subject matter of the degree program and the individual institution’s stipulations, you may even be able to complete a doctorate degree program fully online, with no residency requirement. In most cases, however, you have to be present on campus for a designated number of days per semester to complete the residency component of the program.

    This is an important consideration during your initial research into online doctoral completion programs, if location and expense preclude making trips to a particular college or university. That’s why this writer was thrilled to find a fully online doctoral degree program with no residency requirement at Northcentral University.

    Online doctoral degree student working on assignment. 

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    Doctoral Degree Completion Programs

    Upon completion of a master’s degree, students may consider pursuing a doctoral degree. Depending on the area of study, an online doctoral completion program may take between two to four years of full time study, which includes writing and defending a dissertation in a specialized area pertinent to the degree. In some cases, doctoral students may finish their studies, leaving only their dissertations to complete. In this case, they are doctoral candidates with the designation ABD, which means “All But Dissertation."

    In the U.S.A., the doctoral degree is the highest level a student can attain, and is therefore a terminal degree. Doctoral degrees may be either research or professional degrees, and grant the recipients the designation of being experts in their respective fields. Among the doctoral degrees a student may earn are the following[1]:

    • Ph.D.: the most common, this is the Doctor of Philosophy degree, awarded in various areas of specialization.
    • Ed.D. : Doctor of Education degree.
    • Psy.D.: Doctor of Psychology degree.
    • D.B.A.: Doctor of Business Administration degree.
    • J.D.: Executive Juris Doctor.
    • D.NSc.: Doctor of Nursing Science.

    Five of the top accredited colleges for online doctoral completion programs are as follows[3]:

    1. Capella University: offers about four dozen doctoral degrees in specialized areas under the designations of Ph.D., Ed.D., Psy.D., D.B.A., and others.

    2. University of Phoenix: offers about a dozen doctoral degrees in various fields under the designations of Ph.D., Ed.D., D.B.A., and others.

    3. Walden University: offers over five dozen doctoral degree specializations in a wide variety of fields primarily under the designation of Ph.D., as well as several post-graduate certificates.

    4. Northcentral University: offers over five dozen doctoral degrees in various fields under the designations of Ph.D., Ed.D., and D.B.A. *NO residency requirements.*

    5. University of the Rockies Online: offers over a dozen doctoral degrees in specialized areas of psychology under the designation of Psy.D.

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    Busy adult learners interested in pursuing online doctoral completion programs for their degrees will find a wide variety available through e-learning departments of many schools. Most Ph.D., Ed.D., and Psy.D. online programs require a residency component of several days per semester, which is an important consideration when making a decision about what school to choose. On the other hand, a few doctoral degree programs are fully online, making it much more convenient to attain that goal of earning a doctorate degree.

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    References, Resources, & Image Permission

    Please check out the relevant references for this article, as well as helpful resources to expand your knowledge on this topic. The article's image permission is also below.


    [1][3] Doctorate Degrees Online and Colleges. Retrieved from

    [2]About E-Learning. Doctorate Degree Online Programs. Retrieved from

    Resources Doctoral Degree Programs Online. Retrieved from

    Capella University. Doctoral Degree Programs. Retrieved from

    University of Phoenix. Doctoral Degrees. Retrieved from

    Walden University. Online Doctoral Programs. Retrieved from

    Northcentral University. Doctoral Degrees. Retrieved from

    University of the Rockies Online. Doctor of Psychology Degree Online. Retrieved from

    Image Permission

    Student with laptop: Image: graur razvan ionut /