How Long Do Online Doctorate Programs Take?

A doctorate degree is of considerable practical value for anyone seeking to excel in today's labor market. The increasing prevalence of online doctorate programs makes the doctoral process more flexible and more accessible than ever before. Anyone considering the pursuit of an online doctorate program should be informed of the time requirements at the outset so that he or she can be realistic about scheduling and plan accordingly.

The typical doctorate degree takes between five and six years to complete, although depending on the type of degree, some can be completed in a significantly shorter amount of time.

The Schedule of Your Doctorate - Classes

Those pursuing an online doctorate program generally take advanced classes for their first two to three years in the program.1 Course credit requirements vary greatly depending upon the specific program and the university's quarter or semester schedule. For instance, one program may require 60 quarter-hour credits while another necessitates 36 semester-hour credits.

Those pursuing online doctorate programs may sometimes take elective classes- ones which fall outside of one's discipline, although such electives will be connected to their discipline. Some programs will require the student to fluently speak another language, which is proven via a spoken exam. Students can be classified as either part-time or full-time, with part-time status naturally requiring a longer time span to completion.

Many classes will have rigorous research requirements, making them more time intensive.3 Some institutions have a 'residency' as part of their online doctorate programs, in which students gather at the school's physical campus for several days in order to orient and meet each other and faculty. For Creighton University's online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Interdisciplinary Leadership, students meet for three days at the outset, with a second on-campus residency at the conclusion of the student's program, at which he or she defends their dissertation. With Creighton's program, there are also optional on-campus writing workshops three times a year, each lasting three days. 

The Schedule of Your Doctorate - Comprehensive Exams & Candidacy

Towards the end of the coursework phase, most doctoral candidates must study extensively for a lengthy and comprehensive examination, which enables the faculty to ensure that the student has gained full expertise in his or her specialization and meets all academic criteria. This process can take up to several months. Students that pass exams are said to have “achieved candidacy” and thus can move on to the next stage of their degrees.  

The Schedule of Your Doctorate – Research & Dissertation

After candidacy is achieved, students start the research and dissertation stage. In some fields of study, the dissertation, which is a book-like work offering new research to a field, takes one year to 18 months of work. Dissertations in other fields, however, can take three years or more, due to the research and contextual requirements of particular disciplines and other demands. Doctoral students are also often expected to aid in the publication of journal papers as a research assistant. Typically, students in the dissertation phase are working exclusively on their dissertations and are not taking other classes.

During the dissertation phase, most programs require students to develop a proposal – or a general plan for a dissertation. This proposal is then presented to a committee of scholars. If successfully defended, the student then moves on to actually complete the research and ultimately defends his or her final dissertation.

The dissertation process in Creighton’s program is similar, and includes coursework focused on research tools, the dissertation proposal, as well as the final defense.

Creighton's Online Doctoral Program – Value in Action

With Creighton University's online Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Leadership, the majority of students who work full time take one online class during each eight-week session, spending approximately 15-20 hours per week on classwork. Creighton’s schedule features five such terms per year. Students following such a schedule can conclude the program in three and a half years.  

As compared to the myriad online doctorate programs available, Creighton University's online Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Leadership has been shown to deliver high value and positive recognition in the marketplace, while taking less time than most to complete.

Sources:

1http://study.com/how_long_does_it_take_to_get_a_phd.html
2http://learn.org/articles/How_Long_Do_Doctoral_Programs_Take_to_Complete.html
3http://www.gradschoolhub.com/faqs/what-is-the-average-time-to-obtain-a-ph-d/