Most doctoral students are concerned with the Ph.D. cost, for earning the prestigious degree may not be worth it if you are left with a mound of debt. It’s a legitimate concern.
Even though we often hear that technological progress makes our society lazy, the facts seem to prove otherwise. If we look at the data regarding the educational level of Americans, we will discover that the number of degree holders has been steadily increasing.
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In 2000, 10.4 million Americans had a master’s degree, whereas, in 2018, this figure climbed to 21 million. The situation is similar regarding doctorate degrees. It is estimated that in 2000, 2 million Americans had a doctorate degree, whereas, in 2018, this number rose to 4,5 million. It means that in a matter of not even two full decades, the number of new Ph.D. holders has more than doubled.
American universities are considered to be among the best in the world. There’s a reason why people from all over the world come to the United States to study. Holders of degrees from the best American universities have an easier time getting into top jobs in the world’s most-known companies.
However, due to the increase in the costs of pursuing higher education, many younger people choose to enroll in online university courses.
The Ph.D. Cost of College Education
The figures we mentioned are true even though college tuition has been dramatically rising recently. In the United States, the situation of Ph.D. students isn’t as dramatic as that of those pursuing Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees.
Although if you combine the fees, tuition, and living expenses, the cost of a Ph.D. that you’ll end up with will be a significant one, most Ph.D. students receive either a stipend or a partial or even full fee waiver. That’s because universities often employ them quarter-time or half-time as teaching assistants or research assistants.
However, the financial help that the students can expect to receive largely depends on the university and their discipline of interest. In the United States, there are more than 4,000 universities, and about one-third award doctoral degrees.
Some of those are public universities, where the cost of a doctorate degree is typically lower, but there are also private universities that do not receive state funding.
Because of that, the cost of a Ph.D. varies depending on what university you choose. Although the average cost of a Ph.D. in private universities is higher, Ph.D. students typically have access to more funding.
The cost of studying at prestigious universities, such as Harvard, Stanford, or Yale, is high, but most places put much effort into supporting students who enroll in Ph.D. programs. On the website of Stanford University, you can find a claim that students who pursue a doctorate degree “receive a five-year funding guarantee which provides tuition aid, fellowship stipend, and assistantship salary.”
However, not all universities are this generous. Oftentimes the help is given by the university as long as the students maintain a GPA above a certain level.
The Growing Popularity of Online Ph.D. and Doctoral Programs
The Internet is a great equalizer, as it allows large swaths of the population to access information in a blink of an eye. Similarly, online Ph.D. courses allow individuals to receive higher education without facing the cost of courses in brick-and-mortar universities.
A study by Babson Survey Research Group found that in 2012, about 50% of students who enrolled in online courses chose universities in their state of residence. In 2016, this number rose to 56%. It means that the primary reason for choosing online courses is their cost.
Getting a good education can open many doors for you. In fact, it has become a barometer for career advancement. A doctorate degree is an investment, as it allows you to find an interesting and great-paying job.
The online Ph.D. degree will have you spending a considerable amount, but it will boost your chances of landing an outstanding, thriving career. However, many young people wonder whether online Ph.D. programs are worth their cost.
In 2020, universities in the United States awarded nearly 56,000 doctorate degrees. This number has been on a steady rise in recent years. With the influx of distance learning opportunities for doctorate programs, statistical projections point to even more Ph.D. students and graduates.
Online Ph.D. programs mean accessibility and convenience. They are offered by at least 200 accredited schools all over the United States in various disciplines. Cost-wise, online Ph.D. programs are significantly less expensive than conventional on-campus programs.
Typically, a program is estimated to cost a minimum of $4,000 to up to $20,000 a year, which includes tuition, book expenses, online registration, and coaching. Attending an online school also saves you transportation costs. This contrasts with doctorate degrees offered in universities that cost almost twice as much, ranging from $30,000 to $40,000 annually.
That said, the cost of an online doctorate degree varies depending on your program of choice and the number of years required for completion. A Ph.D. in Business Management is one of the most sought-after online degree programs. This may be so because it is available in more than 400 accredited online schools with annual tuition ranging from $11,000 to $20,000.
As online degrees have become a rising trend, you will find several opportunities that are rather affordable. Do your research and ask for accredited online doctorate programs that are offered for less. Registering in online schools is an effective cost-saving approach that will keep you from amassing more student loans than you can handle.
Regardless of the discipline or field of study you choose, your capacity to pay for tuition and other costs (or the lack of it) is an important consideration for pursuing a Ph.D. degree. It is important that you at least have your estimates to make informed decisions as you prepare yourself financially for it.
The cost of a Ph.D. program can vary greatly depending on numerous factors, such as the topic and school you choose.
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Why You Should Consider Online Education
If you still aren’t convinced, we have prepared a list of the most popular reasons why people enroll in online courses:
- The number one factor why people choose online education is simple: it’s cheaper. The average cost of online courses is around twice as cheap, so even individuals from impoverished families or those who simply wouldn’t want to get into debt can attend them.
We shouldn’t forget that the cost of pursuing a doctorate degree, or any online degree isn’t cheaper just because the tuition and fees are lower. Most people fondly remember the years that they had spent in a dorm. It is no surprise – it’s a place where young people can meet their peers who share their interests.
Apart from the education that they have received, new friendships are an invaluable element of university life. Unfortunately, living in dorms isn’t cheap. Though it depends on the location and the university, a student has to be prepared to pay around $10,000 per year.Considering how many years you’ll spend there, the cost quickly becomes intimidating, even if we assume that it takes four years to become a Ph.D. – and it often takes more – the average cost of a stay in a dorm is estimated at $40,000.
That’s why even if the cost of an online course is similar to those conducted in traditional universities (which is rarely the case), just by not having to pay for the dorm, students save a lot of money.
Some attend traditional universities by commuting every day to classes. Although it’s a cheaper alternative to living in a dorm, the costs of this daily commute are also not insignificant.
Apart from the cost of gas, there is also yet another price that such students have to pay: lost time. By spending their precious time commuting, they have less time to learn, which places them at a disadvantage. Because of that, their GPA might suffer, and as a result, they might not be eligible for a scholarship.
With online learning, there is no problem of spending a lot of time commuting – students are free to attend online classes from wherever they want. All that is required is a stable internet connection.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses had to adjust to the new regulations. As a result, it is increasingly more common to work remotely without the need to be physically in your company’s office.
Even when COVID-19 is dealt with, those policy changes are unlikely to be reversed. However, it is mostly in white-collar jobs where the employees are permitted to work from home. In the case of most blue-collar jobs, it is simply not possible.
As a result, many young people in low-paying jobs cannot combine work and education, not because it would be too expensive, but because they can’t be in both places at once. As a result, getting a higher education that would lift them out of poverty becomes impossible. Thankfully, online courses allow students to be far more flexible. Even if they have a job that cannot be done remotely, they can attend university classes online.
- For people with disabilities that make it extremely difficult to move around the university campus and those with disorders that affect their immune systems, online classes might be the only viable choice.
In theory, such places are designed with students with disabilities in mind. Still, despite the money and effort dedicated by the universities to make the lives of such individuals easier, it often ends up being too much anyway. Online education presents a unique opportunity for people who wouldn’t attend traditional classes because of health problems.
- Another reason why people choose online education over traditional learning is that they want to develop their skills without having to leave their current jobs. It is especially true in the case of students who are pursuing a master’s degree and a doctorate degree.
They might already have a job in a field that fascinates them and would like to broaden their horizons by attending university courses. As we have previously mentioned, each year, the percentage of Americans with academic degrees increases. Because of that, the competition for the best jobs becomes even fiercer. In some fields, an academic degree is considered to be a requirement to get a job.
Unfortunately, traditional university courses take too much time, and it’s not only about the classes – you should also consider the commute. Even more lenient employers aren’t likely to agree for the employees to work in between classes, or just in the evenings.
When faced with such a dilemma, most students decide to stay in a current position and postpone their pursuit of higher education. Unfortunately, usually it doesn’t come to that. With online learning, students don’t have to resign from jobs that they enjoy, thus putting their career advancement on hold.
- In the case of online universities, it is much easier to change the curriculum so that the knowledge presented to students is updated according to the newest technological advancements. Although online learning has its share of problems, such as the necessity to have an internet connection, it is much easier to deal with certain problems.
Even when it comes to most prestigious universities, the textbooks used are rarely updated each year. Is it really an issue? It really depends on the field of study. The progress in IT moves at breakneck speed, and textbooks that are even just several years old might present a lot of obsolete facts.
- Last but not least, students enrolled in online courses often report that it is much easier to concentrate on learning. That’s because of two reasons. During the classes, students’ attention is solely devoted to the lecturer’s words, as there aren’t any distractions. Some of the students who take part in traditional lectures talk with each other, which makes it harder for their peers to focus on the subject presented in class.
This problem is non-existent in the case of online learning. On top of that, students in traditional universities who live in dorms might find it more difficult to focus as well. American dorms are famous for their lively atmosphere. A lot of students later admit that the time that they’ve spent in a dorm was a high point of their life.
However, although it might lead to many cherished memories later on, it might not be a perfect place to focus on learning difficult concepts. That’s why before an exam session, many students who live in the dorms spend most of their waking hours in the library – there’s peace and quiet.
It’s not true that all dorms are similar, but we recommend conducting your own research before you make any decisions. With online learning, the situation is often better. Students enrolled in online courses usually live with their families, and it’s easier to focus in the home environment.
Even though pursuing a doctorate degree in an online university would be a great opportunity for many people, there is a perception that potential employers don’t regard online courses highly.
Although it is certainly true that many online universities don’t offer education of high quality, the solution to this problem is simple. Before enrolling in any online classes, you should conduct thorough research.
Attending online classes is more convenient, but it doesn’t mean the classes have to be less demanding.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that online education is not only a possibility but that younger generations of students have increasingly more positive opinions about online learning.
Most of us have access to devices that make it possible to connect with others, no matter how far they are. The previously mentioned statistics indicate that currently, most students who enroll in online courses do so out of necessity – it’s cheaper rather than because of mere preference for online learning.
However, in the upcoming years, the percentage of students enrolled in online courses will increase. Already, a significant number of brick-and-mortar universities offer online classes. It seems likely that shortly, the most prestigious universities will place even greater focus on online learning.
Do not get stuck paying for student loans for your lifetime. Find affordable but reputable online doctorate degree programs and figure out ways to become financially capable of pursuing your dreams.
Additional Resource: How to Get Ph.D. Funding