Looking for a legitimate online IT PhD programs

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by Petter, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. Petter

    Petter New Member


    I’m Swedish and work as a university lecturer in IT since 2011. I am trying to get a PhD degree and for several reasons, I have been looking at the online degrees in US (Capella, Walden, Cumberlands, NorthCentral, Liberty, Colorado State, Dakota State, etc). I particularly liked the web site of the Univ of the Cumberlands, with their heritage, foundation on ethical values, and not being so market-y as, say, Walden.

    At first, my reactions were very positive. Since I have a working background in IT and today teach these subjects, I appreciated that one can do a PhD degree in, say, three years. …but then I read the thread on the University of the Cumberlands, and noticed how people drop out from classes because they are too easy (I think; other universities were mentioned in the same thread so I might have confused things).

    So are all these universities “diploma mills”? Besides people saying that it’s fine working full-time while being enrolled at the university – something which would be impossible in the EU – I am concerned when seeing the course literature for the Univ of Cumberlands. The books mentioned in the thread were all introductory books.

    I not only teach (undergraduate) classes using such books from Pearson, Wiley, and O’Reilly – I also work for Pearson and O'Reilly as tech editor for such titles. Having them on PhD courses seems very "undergraduately" to me. What I really would expect are (among other things) courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods.

    So my question is: are there really any legitimate PhD studies online in the US that don’t cost a fortune?

    Or am I worrying unnecessarily? Could someone please suggest a suitable online university to me? I have already published work in UX design for e-commerce, and would like to explore my ideas further. The university must allow for flexibility and be low-cost, since I would probably need to pay the fees myself. (Of course, if I could just prove my skills in these courses and skip a few courses, it would be hard to complain; I just worry about the quality of the studies and the reputation of these universities.)


    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
  2. nyvrem

    nyvrem Active Member

    Hi Peter,

    Must the PhD be in IT ?

    University of Leicester offers PhD via distance learning in some fields. 1 of them is a Phd in Management (Technology, Innovation and Operations)

    Here's a list of research areas that can be done. I see quite abit of Information systems research areas.


    the fees are listed below as -

    I think that's about the same price as some of the PhD in IT from a US university.
  3. Petter

    Petter New Member

    Hi nyvrem,

    Thanks for the suggestion! I am actually very new to the idea of online PhD programs so I didn't know of this opportunity. There are many things speaking for the UK. For one, it seems to be less expensive. 19,000 pounds is less than 30,000 dollars (Univ of Cumberlands; the cheapest I've found), it's roughly 80 percent of the US price.

    Another thing is that it might be easier for me to use a European degree in Europe (even though I know the US universities I mentioned are accredited).

    Third, while I personally don't believe the UK is particularly strong in IT when compared to the US and Scandinavia, the UK universities and companies are highly proficient when it comes to design - UX or otherwise. Thus, it would make sense to me to find PhD studies linking UX design to, say, management or education. (I run IT classes online and have a strong background in e-commerce so I am connected to both fields. I also have a professional and academic background in music and arts, so if anyone knows of a liberal arts + IT multidisciplinary program, then I'd really appreciate a heads up. The same goes for environmental sciences - I'm kind of a living undergrad mini-university. :) .)

    I also followed a link from another thread to another UK university: https://www.salford.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/fees-and-funding/research-degree-fees-and-funding

    They too seem to be well-priced.

    All in all, I'd much appreciate more links to inexpensive but good online PhD studies in IT, possibly linked to liberal arts, management, or environmental sciences/marine energy.

    Thanks again!
  4. Petter

    Petter New Member

    Update: I read the info about what each of the supervisors are skilled in and the matching seems highly promising really, and the overall website info seems really promising as well! :) Do you have any personal insight in the Univ of Leicester?

    BTW, in case some travel is necessary (for defense of the thesis for example), the UK is obviously closer to me as I live in Scandinavia. Also, since I'm European I might be able to move to the UK and actually teach at the university I end up at. For the US, this is (sadly) much more difficult.
  5. nyvrem

    nyvrem Active Member

    I don't have first hand experience with the University of Leicester. (it's actually my first choice to do a PhD at this point of time, I'm starting a 1 year gradate program in Info Sys next week, so I'm short listing places that offer a PhD via distance that's not too expensive.) Other things I found out while doing my own research.

    1) There's quite afew Universities in UK that offer distance learning PhD via research, you can check out University of Birmingham, University of York, University of Sterling, Open U, there's many more.

    2) Cost wise, I do believe Leicester is one of the lowest out there

    3) Random but Oxford University has a PhD via distance learning (it's really expensive imo)


    4) You can also check universities in Australia for PhD programs, places like University of Southern Queensland, University of New England offer online PhD programs. - I'm not sure about the cost.

    5) Some Unis in UK offer a PhD by publications - I'm not sure if you can qualify but do check it out



  6. nyvrem

    nyvrem Active Member

  7. Petter

    Petter New Member

    Thank you so much for the links!

    In the spirit of sharing: For anyone in my situation (working as a university lecturer but lacking a PhD degree), I created a spreadsheet for various scenarios, looking at income for the next twenty years (I'm 45).

    Scenario 1: continuing as today: 7,000,000 euros in total after taxes
    Scenario 2: getting a fully funded Swedish PhD degree and then work as a senior lecturer (plus a bit longer on the ladder): 7,400,000 euros
    Scenario 3: as Scenario 2, but paying for a UK degree, meaning a serious lack of income but a a bit shorter time and 30 % part-time work while studying: 6,650,000 euros.

    I attach the spreadsheet, in the hope it's of worth to someone. :) (It's pdf only, as xlsx was not an allowed format.)

    I also read on the Leicester website that their PhD theses are 80.000 words in length (say 250 pages). That is quite much, and in line with what we have in Sweden. I am wondering about these requirements in the US: Some people in the University of Cumberlands thread who have enrolled in the online PhD programs ask for more hands-on courses (such as: "I'd really hoped to learn how to program in Python"). This is quite a far step from writing a 250-page-long academic thesis. I further have a feeling that transferring master course credits to a UK PhD program is a no-no (as it would be in Sweden). At the same time, US universities have a high reputation to the best of my knowledge. So are there major differences in the academic contexts? I ask since I feel I have already got somewhere on the road to a PhD degree, and for me personally, I'd like to be done with it as quickly as possible, but still perform true academic studies and not just receive a questionable diploma.

    Attached Files:

  8. Petter

    Petter New Member


    Yes, I am now looking into studies in the UK and hope to commence my studies this spring! In fact, seven universities were interested in my research proposal so I am very happy at the moment.
    Good luck!

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

  10. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    Hi Petter -

    Sticking to your original questions and giving my personal opinion. Stress on opinion.

    1. None of the schools you mention are diploma mills. I prefer Dakota State and UCumberlands because they're non-profit with solid histories in their respective states.
    2. In most Ph.D programs you're going to have some concentration work that are simply masters'-level classes and research work. Don't be surprised to find your textbooks used in the concentration work. Be surprised if you're still using them for your inferential statistics work or after comprehensive exams.
    3. Legitimate yes. But that status changes based on what the student wants. Personally, I want to teach at state schools or at for prof online schools and consult on the side, maybe join a couple of non-profit boards. For that UC works. But if I wanted to do research at Harvard, I better start working on my social networks and present some really ground breaking stuff at conferences or I've got zero shot.

    Hope this helps.

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