Distance learning is the electronic delivery of courses and degree programs to off-campus students. It is also a relatively new discipline that teaches current and prospective teachers how to teach web-based courses. Those who work in this specialized area of higher education generally have some teaching experience or expertise in their field. The online distance learning PhD is a rigorous program that involves years of advanced courses and independent research.
Why a Doctorate Degree?
A Ph.D. is one of the highest attainable degrees in the field of distance learning. This challenging yet rewarding program is designed for former or current instructors and school officials who want to instruct or manage online education classes or departments. During this program, students will build on their understanding of online learning environments and adult education, while emphasizing program development and management of online instructions. If you want a practical and research-intensive program that goes beyond the traditional classroom, it’s time to consider this doctorate degree.
Getting Into a Doctorate Degree Program
The admissions requirements for PhD programs vary from school to school. Before you can enroll in this advanced degree program, you need to first make sure you have the following criteria:
- Bachelor’s and master’s degree from an accredited institution
- Desired score on the GRE, GMAT, and/or comprehensive examination
- Minimum required GPA
- Completion of prerequisites and relevant work experience
Inside a Distance Learning Doctorate Degree Program
The estimated completion time for the online distance learning PhD degree is two to three years. While enrolled in the program, students will take classes in educational statistics, advanced human learning and motivational development, effective communication and conflict resolution, foundations for distance education, instructional design for distance education, and research design and analysis. In addition to the core classes, doctoral students will also complete dissertation course work toward the end of the program.
Most PhD programs require students to complete some kind of residency requirement to expand their research and acquire new skills. Students will also work closely with fellow scholars and network within their field. Residency length depends on the individual school and program, but most online programs hold these gatherings on weekends a couple times each year.
What’s Next for Distance Learning Doctorate Degree Holders?
Graduates of the distance learning doctorate degree will be qualified to do a variety of jobs in academia, research, and other specialized fields. Some popular career paths include postsecondary teacher and postsecondary education administrator, such as a provost or dean. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to grow 17%, and employment of postsecondary education administrators is expected to grow 19% by 2020 because of increasing college enrollments. In addition to having optimistic job outlooks, both professions have favorable salaries. According to the May 2012 Occupational Employment Statistics, postsecondary teachers made an average annual salary of $77,500, and postsecondary education administrators earned an average annual salary of $99,370.
Doctorate degree holders generally have good job prospects and are considered strong candidates within their field of expertise. Those who want to expand their distance learning knowledge and skills can do so by earning the next highest credential, a post-doctoral certificate in distance learning. Earning this prestigious certificate can open the door for more exciting career and research opportunities as well as higher earnings.