Online Doctoral Degree Program Hallmarks
- Accredited by a Recognized Body
- Exceptional Core Faculty
- Same Level of Student Services
- Active Alumni Association
- Selective and Rigorous
If you’re thinking of enrolling in an online doctoral degree program, you might be wondering if the program you’re considering would be worthwhile. How do you judge the quality of an online graduate degree, anyway? Let’s discuss five hallmarks of a quality online doctoral degree program.
1. The Doctoral Degree Program Is Accredited by a Recognized External Accrediting Body
Kelsey Sheehey at US News and World Report warns prospective distance learners that it would be a mistake to not verify an online degree program’s accreditation. Whether you’re attending class online or face to face, it’s important to seek out a regionally accredited school with an excellent reputation. Check with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and avoid attending a school that is known as being a “degree mill.”
2. The Core Faculty Involved in the Program Are All Exceptional
Doctoral degree programs typically employ faculty to not only teach coursework, but also to participate in dissertation committees and mentor their students. You’ll want to pay attention to the achievements of the faculty members who will be teaching you.
If you’ll be attending a doctoral program that emphasizes research, you’ll want to verify that faculty members are actively publishing in respected publications in your field of specialization. If you’re pursuing a doctoral degree in the performing arts, you’ll want to learn more about the juried performances faculty members are involved with.
3. Online Students Enjoy the Same Level of Student Services Their Traditional Counterparts Do
Find out whether your online degree program will offer you opportunities for services such as tutoring, academic advising, library access and career counseling services. If any of these services are available and important to you, be sure to also verify that they’ll be made available to you on a schedule that meets your needs.
4. The Institution Has an Active Alumni Association Offering Networking Opportunities for Online Students
If career advancement is your primary objective for getting a doctoral degree, one of the most important benefits your education will provide is new professional contacts. This is an area of critical importance for prospective online students to investigate, because online degree programs vary greatly in the number and quality of networking opportunities they offer their students. Some online programs do require face-to-face class meetings or group activities at specified intervals, which can provide valuable networking opportunities. Others offer alumni networking events and mixers that you’ll be able to take advantage of as a graduate of the school.
5. The Online Degree Program Is Both Selective and Rigorous
Many online programs require students to participate in discussions and group projects online. The discussions and projects are essential facets of the learning experience. If this is the case with the degree program you select, you have the opportunity to learn from your fellow students in addition to learning from your instructors. In this type of setting, the quality of your fellow student’s contributions to the discussion become almost as important as the instructors’.
You obviously want to avoid a situation where you’re wasting time by participating in discussions of little value. This can happen when a school is not particularly discriminating in choosing who they admit to the program. If you enroll in a degree program that is both selective and rigorous, you’re likelier to participate in rewarding and worthwhile discussions that bring you new insights and increase your understanding of the topic at hand.
These are five hallmarks of a high-quality doctoral degree program that’s offered via the Internet. If you’re excited about the idea of distance learning, you’ll want to ensure your institution of choice can deliver an online doctoral degree program that meets all five of these characteristics.