Say the word “doctor,” and the majority of people will picture a white coat and stethoscope (and possibly cold hands), but nearly every field offers some form of doctoral-level education. For a lot of reasons, doctoral programs have soared in recent years – a competitive job market, need for advanced skills, and increased specialization in all professionals occupations. Online doctoral programs have become both common, and entirely acceptable, meaning that people who never expected to be called “doctor” have the opportunity to add some very valuable letters to the end of their title. For working professionals considering online doctorate programs, College Consensus would like to offer this guide to the Fastest Online Doctorate Degrees.
Benefits of Accelerated Doctoral Degrees
A Ph.D. program typically requires a long term commitment for career advancement. A traditional doctoral program takes anywhere from five to eight years. An accelerated doctoral program from an accredited institution can take much less time to complete. Some of the shortest doctoral program online are able to be completed in just 12 to 18 months. For individuals who want to stand out in their career field, doctoral degrees are the way to go. Not only are accelerated programs available to shorten the amount of time it takes to earn the degree, but students have the option of classes that are in person, online, or a hybrid of the two.
Accelerated online degree programs are a great way to obtain a PhD due to the nature of a doctoral degree. These types of degrees typically require a lot of individual research by the student, which is perfect for an online environment. Often these programs do not require meeting in person as all contact can be online, email, or phone. Learning in an online environment can be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous learning online allows for meeting times to be set up, just as they would be in a classroom, but the students meet online. Asynchronous learning online allows for students working through their own work on their own schedule. The instructor sets due dates for assignments and tests, but there is no set meeting date or time.
Online programs are usually geared towards adult learners because it allows for flexible scheduling. Most often, students working towards a PhD are in their thirties, forties, or even older, and have careers and multiple other commitments. The flexibility of an online environment works well for these individuals.
What are Some In-Demand Occupations You Can Get With an Online Doctoral Degree?
Online doctorate programs are challenging and require a lot of the student’s time. A potential candidate for a doctoral program should be sure such a program is appropriate. There are many career paths that are in high demand for those with a doctoral degree.
Doctor of Business Administration
While business doctorates are not very well known, there are many benefits to a doctorate of business administration degree – a professional doctorate designed to maximize executive skills and leadership. Many business positions do not require doctorate degrees, but it can help individuals secure better positions within their career path.
A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is one of three business degree classifications. The other two are a Doctor of Management and a PhD in some other type of business classification. Many executives choose to earn a DBA later in their career in order to teach in university business schools, but in recent years, as competition has increased for the top slots, other working professionals are turning to the DBA as a way to stand out on the marketplace. A dedicated student can receive a DBA in less than two years with some accelerated online degree programs. A program with eight week courses allows the student to focus on one course at a time.
A student can expect to gain a stronger foundation and be considered an expert in business administration from a DBA program. Students learn to use critical thinking and innovative ideas to resolve problems within the organization to help them grow and find success. Doctorate students conduct research and design studies around it.
Doctor of Public Health
The Doctor of Public Health (DPH) is the highest degree one can obtain in public health. Some universities refer to it as a PhD in Public Health (for degrees that are more research focused, as opposed to the administrative and leadership-focused DPH. This doctorate degree has various specializations such as leadership, environmental health, biostatistics, and health promotion and disease prevention. This type of program requires a certain number of years of professional experience. The number of years varies based on the institution. Students attaining their degree online are able to maintain flexibility in their studies. They may have to go to on campus visits for advisor meetings, or other development. Typically, classes will be through a recorded video or live stream.
To receive this degree, the student is required to complete a dissertation to prove their understanding of the complexity of and ability to solve the constant issues in public health. Students will learn how to review, create, and implement a public health strategy, analyze the history of public health policy and its impact on today’s public healthcare. Upon completion of the program and receipt of the degree, students can expect to find employment as a community health director, a healthy policy officer, a biostatistician, or a epidemiologist.
Educational Leadership EdD
For those interested in an online Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree program typically have two paths from which to choose. There is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program and Doctor of Education (EdD) program, the major difference being that the PhD program is a more theoretical approach to education and an EdD program has a primarily hands-on approach to education. In general, an educator who wants to teach education at the university level will choose the PhD, while administrators like superintendents and principals will choose the EdD.
Either program typically demands students participate in an internship or dissertation. Some online programs require a residency. It can take students anywhere from three to five years to complete this program in a conventional format, but an accelerated online degree program can take only one year.
In this program, students gain a foundation in the legal, cultural, and curriculum issues that impact leaders in educational professions. Students will gain a deeper understanding of educational policy, organizational behavior, policy analysis, and organizational theory. EdD candidates typically select a specialization in one of the following areas: educational administration, educational psychology, educational technology, or educational policy. They may also select areas such as: counseling, linguistics, innovative instruction, or human resource development.
There are three nursing doctoral degrees available to those who hold a Master’s of Nursing and wish to pursue a higher degree. Those degrees are Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc), and the Ph.D. in Nursing. A Doctor of Nursing Practice is a professional degree. A Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Doctor of Nursing Science are only offered by a school of nursing at a university. The Doctor of Nursing Science and a Ph.D. in Nursing are thought of as research doctorates.
A doctorate in Nursing is usually an interdisciplinary program drawing on expertise from many areas of a university, including business and social science. This degree program takes a student about four to six years for completion. However, there are accelerated online programs available which allows student to finish their programs faster sometimes in just a year. These fast-track programs require dedication, motivation, and discipline from the student. For an individual to be eligible to apply for 12 month online DNP programs, that individual must currently have a master’s in nursing (MSN). Some schools offer a MSN/PhD, which is a program that allows a student to combine a master’s and doctorate together in an accelerated program. These programs require a lot of time on the part of the student.
In their 12 month online DNP programs, students will gain a strong foundation in learning how to analyze data and statistics and using that data for research. Students understand the history of nursing science and the philosophy behind it. Students strengthen their leadership skills and benefit from hands on experience and practice. Students in this program want to make a positive impact on improving the lives of patients and changing the health care system to offer quality healthcare to all, including the underprivileged. Upon receiving a DNP, students could find employment as a nursing executive, a nurse anesthetist, midwifery, or in nursing education.
Is There Financial Aid for Online Accelerated Doctoral Degrees?
Paying for online doctorate programs can be difficult, but there are many scholarship, grants and financial aid options available for students enrolled in, or considering enrolling in an online accelerated doctoral degree program. The US Department of Education is the primary benefactor of financial aid to students that are, or wish to be, enrolled in full time, and even part time, programs, including online programs that are accelerated. They key is that the program in which the student is enrolled is an accredited program. From the perspective of granting financial aid, the Department of Education sees no true difference between an online program and one where a student attends classes on campus.
Students will need to fill out the form that the federal government uses to handle all financial aid: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). On the Department of Education’s website, they provide search options to give students the opportunity to search for institutions that are online and accept the FAFSA. Their website also gives a list of institutions that offer programming and courses in an online degree format, such as 12 month online DNP programs.
The Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office captures and maintains the information from the FAFSA that pertains to the student and family finances. This helps the student determine if he or she is eligible for any one of the nine federal programs that offer financial aid. These programs also include grants, work study programs, and federal loans for students. The FSA also assists students in finding out if there are local and state financial assistance programs in which they might qualify. This information is provided to all schools that the students wished to apply. Many schools will require the student to fill out their own financial aid forms to see if he or she may qualify for financial aid through the school.
For those who do not qualify for financial aid, and don’t get lucky with scholarship programs, there are federal loan programs in which students qualify. The federal direct graduate plus program offers unsubsidized loans to those students enrolled in graduate programs. The federal direct stafford loan program is for students that have not met the loan limit for the year and have financial needs and also have not met their cost of attendance.
Job Market Prospects with an Accelerated Online Doctoral Degree
The United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published a handbook annually that gives the potential job market and growth for each field, position, and degree type. Employers are interested that prospective employees have a doctoral degree from an accredited school. They are not concerned as much if it was an online degree, as long as it was an accredited institution.
Online doctorate programs tend to be designed for the executive level, so graduates with an online doctorate an typically anticipate a high-paying, high-responsibility career. For instance, top executives – the C-suite-level of management, such as CFO, COO, and CEO – make an average of $104,000 per year. And of course we know that chief executives can make much, much more.
Executive administrators in areas like public health and educational leadership have very similar salary expectations as well. A DPH holder will typically be in an upper management position in a government agency, private healthcare company, or healthcare facility, and can expect an annual salary around $98,000, and often breaking six figures. High-level educational administrators – school superintendents, colleges deans and provosts, and similar occupations – make an average of $92,000, but again, administrators at top universities make well over $100,000.
The BLS shows that jobs are continuing to steadily increase for those individuals with doctoral degrees. Those in the nursing field have an increasing number of job opportunities after obtaining a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree or a Ph.D. in nursing. Nurse executives make an average of $110,000 annually, and the BLS predicts a growth of 31% between 2014 and 2024.
Employers in health care are looking for nurses with doctoral degrees because they know how to use data to make critical decisions. Nurses with a doctorate also can take research information and put it into practice to make better healthcare choices for their patients. Research has found that nurses with hands on experience combined with the ability to conduct and understand research in a clinical environment are able to make more effective and efficient decisions about beneficial treatments for patients. In short, nurses with a Doctor of Nursing Practice are able to positively change the impact of health care in the community because of their higher level of training and research.
One year PhD programs in USA may not be that easy to find because of the rigorous class and research schedule a student would have to maintain in order to complete a PhD in one year. There are some available for students that want to search for them. There are Master’s to PhD programs out there for students that want to accelerate the time in which it takes to obtain a PhD. However, those programs are not 1 year PhD programs online. They will take longer than that. For those that are interested in obtaining the highest degree in their chosen field, an online degree is a great path to choose. It allows students to have flexibility in when they are able to handle the course work and the research required by their program.