Is an online doctorate worth the effort anymore?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by SurfDoctor, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    (please forgive my sloppy terms "online doctors" and "online doctorate")

    I've been pondering the efficacy of a doctorate earned online. I used to think that earning one was a worthwhile endeavor because many have done well with online doctorates in the past. But it seems like things are changing. There are more and more doctorate holders in the work force every year yet the number of academic jobs for online doctors (online adjunct, Etc) seems to be leveling off or even dropping. Many of the profit schools that regularly hired online doctors appear to be past their peak, according to recent articles.

    Is it just me, or does it seem like earning a doctorate online is becoming less and less of a good idea as time passes? Some say it was never a good consideration for earning a good ROI on your tuition. It also seems like this phenomenon extends beyond the online world, so the idea of earning any kind of a doctorate is losing some of its sparkle.

    EDIT: It just occurred to me that this could be interpreted as an insult on those that already hold a non-traditional doctorate. If it seems that way, I sincerely apologize, this is not what I meant. I highly respect those that have parleyed online doctorates into successful careers. I'm just wondering if that kind of success can be duplicated in the current environment.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2012
  2. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    It all depends on what you want to do with a doctorate. Is this online doctorate vs. traditional or is it doctorate vs no doctorate? There are more then online schools that hire online doctorates.

    One more thing - with so many options (more then there were 5 years ago), I would probably pick a doctorate from a school with a physical campus. Maybe your just getting cold feet :sasmokin:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2012
  3. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Even taking money aside, the opportunity cost of doing a doctorate of any sort is immense and is not something most people should even bother considering. Even though online doctorates have become increasingly popular, I'm also certain that there are plenty of others who did at one point make the consideration but ultimately decided to spend the next few years of their lives in the light rather than in the dark, with a smile rather than a wince, surfing rather than dissertating :wink:

    Personally, I'd learn another language, read some of the great works of literature that I haven't yet, and work on finally getting those six pack abs I've been wanting since middle school :banana:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2012
  4. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    I like that "surfing rather than dissertating"
  5. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    But doesn't is seem that the opportunities are drying up to some extent for online doctorates? Not for you because of your experience, but for others?
  6. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    That is what I have heard but not experienced. Maybe it is the fact that I have some good experience and matching credentials (graduate credits) in IT, Management, and Marketing. Maybe other fields are not as lucky. I really do not know. I do know people report that enrollment has dropped but my salary from online teaching has only taken a little dip...but I have turned down classes also. Everyone's experience will be different but if I were you I would only listen to the advice of people that actually teach as opposed to the conspiracy theory people.
  7. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    good point...
  8. TonyM

    TonyM Member

    Online doctorates are probably still useful to people with a strong background in the same field. They are not likely to carry one through a traditional academic path to tenure at a classy school. Still, I bet if someone with an online PhD did big things, like write a good book, with it they might land a traditional professorship somewhere.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    By what measure? What evidence is there to support this notion?
    Has this been demonstrated somehow? I'd love to read the study that establishes the ROI on earning an online doctorate.
    Again, has this been measured somehow? I doubt it, but I'd like to see it.

    Theories are made from well-supported hypotheses.
    Hypotheses come from well-informed propositions.
    Unsupported conjecture, however, comes from nothing--and can be refuted with nothing. So here goes:

    1. Getting a doctorate through online learning is a fantastic idea.
    2. The ROI on getting a doctorate online is amazingly good.
    3. Getting a doctorate these days is very sparkley. Almost glittery, even.

    There. See how easy that was? Unfortunately, neither of us has advanced the thinking on this subject. But if there is evidence one way or another, it would be highly valuable to readers on this board, for sure.
  10. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    It depends on your goals. I have attended two conferences this year for online faculty at universities and most adjuncts with masters seem to be doing doctorates from places like Capella, Nova, Walden, etc.

    There are many people that become online educators. They make money not just by teaching but also by being lead faculty, faculty managers, dissertation advisors, etc. Most people that I know doing this report salaries between 80K to 100K.

    There are also others that report doing doctorates to differentiate themselves for senior positions such as CTO, CFO, etc.

    If your goal is to become an online educator, the online doctorate is the way to go. However, the ROI is not that high as people with bachelors make as much but some people ejoy the freedom from working from home.

    I am sure that opportunities are becoming less available but the same can be said about any other profession. The reality is that the economy is shrinking and competition is fierce.

    As Randell said, the best is to do your doctorate from a solid school that use hybrid formats with short residencies rather than pure for profit online schools. The market is becoming more competitive and a doctorate from an online school might work now but not work in the future as more schools are getting into the online market.
  11. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for the great thoughts. I'll ignore the condescension.
  12. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member


    The info is actually available. An online adjunct can teach (based on personal experience and co workers experience) between 4-7 classes per 8 weeks term. Lets assume that there are 6 terms at 5 classes on average. An average class from an online school pays about 2K to 3K so lets say 2.5K on average. This is about 5x6x2.5 = 75K.

    Some senior online faculty make more if they take senior roles.

    I have attended several faculty conferences and this conversation comes all the time. We can conduct a formal study if you want but I am confident that the range would be between 70 to 100K.

    This is a realistic salary expectation for a holder of an online doctorate. Very few online doctorate holders make it to full time faculty positions so the online adjunct teaching seems to be the realistic career path for holders of this type of credentials.

    Of course, there are people working in industry and work as online adjuncts on the side but we could use the 70 to 100K as a reference for a ROI calculation.
  13. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    Good stuff, thanks so much.
  14. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    That's good information but I'm not sure it would apply to someone just starting out. I have no data, but I would assume it is so. What I'm talking about is someone such as myself, who has a great deal of K-12 teaching experience attempting to find a gig online teaching new educators. Again, I have no data, but my gut is telling me that things are going downhill.
  15. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I can tell you that one school that I work for has not hired any adjunct in IT or IS in the last 4 years. It might not be a general situation but my experience has been that less positions are available and not the doctorate seems to be the norm for adjuncts.
  16. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Education courses are in great demand, my guess that if you were to do a doctorate of education you could expect a similar income. However, I must say that might take time to build a practice with enough courses to make a living.
  17. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    That's food for thought. Even though the K-12 education is in a shambles in many US states, I suppose there are many who will still try to be teachers and many teachers who would like to continue their education beyond the basic credential.
  18. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    My feet are very cold, but that's because I just got in from surfing. :smile:
  19. ryoder

    ryoder New Member

    Learning another language is a waste of time, IMHO.
    Lets say you learn some obscure dialect in India. There are hundreds of them. So you can speak with a small population of India. How does that help you to become more successful? I think in the future we will have one main language and thats it. Once we gain common ground, we can all communicate freely and we will have fewer barriers separating each other. This is a utopian idea but I think its possible some day.
    So learn something specific and marketable, not merely another alternate way to communicate the same ideas.
  20. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    Well forget about surfing if you try to get a PhD!

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