Pros and Cons of Getting a Doctorate Online

A business professional working on their online doctorate degree during their lunch break
A business professional working on their online doctorate degree during their lunch break

From heightened career advancement opportunities to increased salary potential, there are many reasons why people are choosing to earn doctorate degrees in 2024. Thanks to the proliferation of online doctorate programs, working professionals no longer have to press pause on their jobs to attend classes or complete coursework. Instead, tens of thousands of American professionals each year are rising to meet the growth in doctoral and professional-level occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), such occupations are projected to grow by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the 7-percent average projection for all occupations.  

If you are interested in earning a doctoral degree, you may have questions such as “Are online doctoral degrees respected?” or “Do I need to earn my degree from an accredited institution?” Discovering the answers to those questions can help you determine whether an online doctorate is a good fit for helping them achieve their professional and personal goals.  


Pros of Online Doctorate Programs  

Online doctoral programs provide students with a long list of benefits. While some may come to mind immediately — the ability to complete coursework from your home office or a breakroom at work, for example — others are less obvious but equally meaningful. Consider several positive elements of both the experience and impact of earning an online doctoral degree. 



For the average working professional, spare time is a precious commodity. Between personal and professional obligations, an in-personal doctoral program with a rigid class schedule is often a non-starter. The university administrators designing the best online doctoral degree programs understand the time constraints for aspiring students and intentionally offer creative solutions that enhance the lives of professionals rather than burden them. 

The flexibility of an online doctoral program empowers professionals to continue building their careers as they earn their degrees. This flexibility helps the calendar stay manageable and allows students to integrate what they are learning into their jobs in real time. 


Saving Time 

Gone are the days when pursuing a doctorate necessarily meant relocation, residency, or refraining from full-time work. While some individuals will find that a cross-country move for in-person coursework or an all-in approach to academic life best fits their doctoral pursuit, most working professionals are looking for a different path. An online doctoral program offers such individuals a time-savvy approach to further education. There’s no time spent commuting, walking to class, or learning the nuances of a new city and campus. Instead, the online delivery model brings education into the professional’s existing home, workplace and routine.  

Instead of a rush hour drive from the office to an evening lecture, the out-of-class time commitment is simply the opening of a laptop. Frantically looking for parking to make it to a professor’s office hours on time is replaced with a virtual meeting link. Through an online program, students are empowered to make the most of their hours and can devote time and energy to their work, personal life and school.  

There are long-term time savings for online doctoral degree earners as well. Students enrolled in online programs often earn their degrees more quickly than their peers enrolled in in-person programs. The efficient approach to time in online doctoral programs not only allows students to leverage their schedules during the program but after as well, as they graduate ready to make the most of their time in the workplace.  


Personalized Learning 

One of the most beloved features of online doctoral programs is the personalized learning approach. Through both live and asynchronous instruction, students have access to multiple educational modes. Individuals who learn best through reading, for example, can access transcripts for online courses, while those who benefit from writing out their thoughts may find discussion forums especially useful.  

Additionally, the best online doctorate degree programs pair students with faculty mentors — who, because of the virtual nature of the program, can live anywhere in the country — who work and research in fields specific to the student’s interests.  


Maximized Networking 

Online doctorate programs empower working professionals to expand their networks significantly. By connecting with fellow students throughout the country, students enrolled in online doctorates have the opportunity to cultivate a more diverse community of like-minded professionals who are collectively working toward the greater good. The insight, perspective and experiences of individuals from various backgrounds can help students develop a national, and even global, lens for viewing their work, relationships and impact. 

While an in-person educational experience can facilitate good conversation, an online platform creates a greater opportunity for diversified discussion. A principal working in education in a rural area, for example, may be enrolled in an online doctorate of education course with a superintendent in a major city. A business consultant who serves an aging client base may form a connection with an analyst focused on young professionals. Relationships like these can be mutually enriching, expanding perspectives and providing ample opportunity for collaboration, sharing advice and encouraging lifelong learning. 


Cons of Online Doctoral Programs 

While the online doctoral experience is overwhelmingly positive, there are a few factors for aspiring students to bear in mind. By asking the right questions about themselves and the programs they are considering, doctoral hopefuls can find the best fit for their educational futures.  


Net-Based Networking 

While virtual networking has tremendous potential for cultivating an expansive, diverse community, some prefer in-person interaction. For working professionals who find digital communication or relationship-building difficult or uncomfortable, the networking element of online doctoral programs may be challenging.  


Credibility Concerns 

Whether or not online degree programs are respected is an important issue for individuals considering a doctorate. The most critical question is whether or not an accredited institution issues a degree. Students who earn degrees — whether online or in-person — from accredited institutions can feel at ease about the credibility of their program. When a trusted accrediting body gives a program its stamp of approval, that means it meets high educational standards.  

There are several accrediting bodies in the United States, many of which focus on certain types of degree programs or regions of the country. AACSB, for example, accredits business schools. The scope of accreditation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) includes distance and correspondence education for eleven states and Latin America. 


Time Management  

Personalized learning, asynchronous instruction and virtual coursework mean that online doctoral students must create schedules and establish the structure for working toward their degrees. Individuals who struggle with time management or self-discipline may find that an in-person educational experience provides them with the rigor and boundaries they need to succeed academically. 


Earn a Doctoral Degree in Business Administration or Education through Marymount University Online 

For most working professionals interested in further education, the pros of an online doctoral degree outnumber the cons. The Online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership & Organizational Innovation and Online Doctorate of Business Administration in Business Intelligence (DBA) at Marymount University are accredited programs that equip professionals to advance their careers while connecting them with like-minded professionals across the U.S.  

Take the first step toward your doctorate here