Choosing Between an Online Masters Degree and Online PHD

Online Degrees-Master's and PhD

Before you consider pursing an online graduate program, make sure that the degree will be useful for your specific field. A graduate degree is not necessary for all professions.

What is a doctoral degree (PhD)?
A doctoral degree is also an advanced degree that requires a bachelor’s. The length of the program ranges from 4-8 years. A PhD is the highest degree offered in the United States. Students will typically take classes for the first two to three years.  Many programs require students take a preliminary exam that focuses on breadth and a series of exams on that focus on details in their specialization. Oral exams may also be administered. The remaining years are spent conducting research with the eventual goal of writing a dissertation.  The PhD candidates then defend the thesis before a panel prior to receiving a degree.

Points to Consider

A PhD can take up to seven years more than a master’s degree. Are you willing to invest that much time into your education? The coursework for graduate degrees is significantly more grueling than in undergrad. How much energy are you willing to expend on your education? Will you be able to exert a significant amount of your time and energy on your coursework for up to eight years?

Because a master’s degree takes relatively few years to complete, it is difficult to receive financial aid. PhD students can receive funding through grants and tuition assistance by becoming research and/or teaching assistants.  However, without grants and assistance, PhDs will cost more as the programs are many years longer than master’s programs. Depending on the career, a PhD may offer a better salary.

Your Goals
Once again, the value of both graduate degrees is highly dependent upon the field you are in and your own goals.  Jobs in academia and research generally require PhDs. However, getting a PhD in social work, for example, may not be as beneficial. A PhD requires a love of the subject and learning. A master’s degree is better for people who would like to advance in their current careers or who want to switch careers as many programs do not even require relevant undergraduate work.  Research the difference in salary of between people with PhDs and Masters in your respective field to see if there is a major difference.
If you still are not sure about which degree to consider, apply for a PhD. Some PhD programs allow students to earn a master’s degree “in passing” of a PhD.


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