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Are Online Doctorate Degrees as Respected as Traditional Ones?

As time progresses and technology advances, the question, “Are online Doctorate degrees as respected as traditional ones?” becomes moot. Students pursuing a Doctorate in any subject find that online programs are available and are as intense as any found in a traditional setting. There is still some hesitation within the academic community to accept an online Doctorate for its importance. In other words, academia, where liberalism is said to thrive, is conservative when it comes to accepting any changes in its own backyard.

Related resource: 20 Best Online Schools for Doctorate Degrees

The Difference Between Traditional and Online Doctorates?

The typical traditional brick-and-mortar Doctorate requires an additional four years of study and performance beyond the four years of Bachelors and two years of Master’s degree curriculums. During the first year of study, a doctoral candidate should expect total immersion into the completion of the preliminary exam. Passing the preliminary exam allows the candidate to enter the second year of study where they enter graduate seminars and learn and practice various research disciplines. The third year the candidate focuses on research projects and builds a prospectus for a dissertation. The fourth-year concentrates on the development and defense of a dissertation. During the entire four years, each candidate is expected to complete extra hours of curriculum pertinent to their Doctoral program and area of expertise. The online Doctoral degree programs demand the same curriculum and hours or study completion toward graduation. Altogether, the significant difference between a traditional Doctorate and an online Doctorate is the ability of the student pursuing an online Doctorate to work while pursuing the degree from home.

How Do Employers View Online Doctorate Degrees?

For those employers who know the difficulties of attaining the elite status given to recipients of Doctorate degrees, the matter of how they were attained makes little difference. As pointed out by U.S. News, prospective employers are impressed by either method as long as the degree is completed at an accredited school. Those who attend a brick-and-mortar school to get their Doctorate, win kudos for setting the four years aside to pursue their dream. Those who work and pursue their Doctorate online are praised for their time-management skills. The only current area of employment where the choice of traditional or online Doctoral schools is viewed as important is in the academic community. If a student is seeking a Doctorate for tenure purposes, they should seek the advice of their prospective employer before choosing an online or traditional path.

The Evolution

During the late 90s and early 2000s, academic institutions scoffed at the idea of presenting or pursuing a Doctoral online degree. Accredited universities advanced the perception that online Doctoral degrees were a scam and should be avoided. Later, after the damaging image of impropriety was established, these same universities realized the advantages to the students pursuing studies online far outweighed the perceived prestige of restricting education to a brick-and-mortar experience. Since 2008 when many non-profit schools returned to the concept that education was for the student, the image of an online Doctorate at an accredited school has reached the level of a traditional approach and in some minds reached beyond.

The Results

After fighting off the perception of online Doctorates being a scam, the effective result is that the online and traditional Doctoral degree status has reached a near equilibrium in most employment arenas. The growth of online Doctorate programs allows candidates greater freedom to work while pursuing a Doctorate. Soon, the question, “Are online Doctorate degrees as respected as traditional ones?” will die as more educators who earned their degree online enter the higher ranks of academia.