Pros And Cons Of Pursuing An Online Doctorate Degree: Is It Right For You?

Is An Online Doctorate Degree Right For You? The Pros And Cons
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Summary: Pursuing an online doctorate degree offers flexibility and accessibility, making it easier to balance personal responsibilities while advancing your career. However, it's important to consider potential downsides such as diminished access to campus resources.

Is Pursuing A Doctorate Degree Online Worth It?

Doctorate degrees are about as far as you can take your education. Though they are commonly associated with educational professions, they are a great way to advance your opportunities in a wide range of careers. Pursuing your degree online is a great way to learn on your own terms. Remote learning is praised by many as a flexible way to get your degree while balancing other personal responsibilities. But are there downsides to be aware of as well? In this article, we take a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of pursuing an online doctorate degree. Read on to see if this option is right for you!

Weighing The Pros And Cons Of Pursuing An Online Doctorate Degree

Pro: Improved Flexibility

You have a lot of options when it comes to remote learning. Some are, from a structural standpoint, virtually the same as traditional classroom learning experiences. You log in at a pre-determined time. The professor and all of your classmates sign into a group chat. A lecture ensues. You try to hit mute quick enough to cut out the sound of your child asking for things. Standard stuff.

These courses are, of course, not fully flexible. You have to be somewhere at a certain time—even if that somewhere is your dining room table. Still, these courses can be more accessible than traditional classroom learning. You get to skip the commute, which can easily shave an hour of your day. You can also record lectures, and benefit from other accessibility features—like classroom group chats—that aren't available in person.

Other programs are designed much more specifically with flexibility in mind. These feature pre-recorded lectures. Instead of telling you when to work, the professor tells you what to work on. As long as you complete all of the required tasks on time, it doesn't matter when you do them. This is great for someone who already has a job or family but still wants to get their doctorate.

Con: Potentially Diminished Credibility

This is definitely less true than it used to be. For decades, most major universities have been developing their remote curriculum. COVID-19 rapidly accelerated that process. Now many—even most traditional schools—will have online programs as well.

The stigma surrounding remote learning has ostensibly vanished. Still, you need to be careful. Make sure that the university you choose is fully licensed and accredited. You should also check to make sure that it is capable of providing a high-quality education in the field you are interested in.

Do your research. Hunt out the social proof. What are people saying about this program?

Pro: It Can Save You Money

This is another consideration that isn't quite as true as it used to be. Colleges that are exclusively online tend to be cheaper than those with traditional classroom learning environments. Sometimes, they are considerably cheaper.

However, if you decide to go with the online program at an established traditional university, you will most likely wind up paying the same price per credit hour that everyone else pays. There are exceptions to this, obviously, but the savings potential goes down considerably for these types of schools. You will, of course, save on boarding expenses. These alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year, and leave you with a room approximately the size of a closet.

No matter what, it's important to shop around. You may be surprised by how much variety there is when it comes to online learning prices.

Con: You Lose Out On Infrustructure

One of the reasons colleges cost so much in the first place is because they are filled with big, beautiful buildings. Those big, beautiful buildings are filled with well-trained educators with big, expensive degrees (just like yours!).

They are also filled with big, expensive resources. Rare books. Lab equipment. Three-dimensional printers, simulation labs. Are you considering getting an advanced nursing degree? The flexibility of online work will be excellent as you balance your career obligations, but you will lose out on technology that simulates hospital pressures in a safe environment.

You lose out, in other words, on stuff that you will not be able to replicate from the comfort of your home. Online universities do still provide you with remote resources. Even having access to a large collection of databases can be an enormous boon when it comes to research projects. Still, if you are looking for the marbled college library experience, you want to get it remotely.

That’s particularly disappointing when you are getting a degree from a traditional university—that infrastructure is built into your cost per credit hour, whether you use it or not.

Pros: You Can Go Anywhere

Most people eventually reach a point in their lives where they aren't willing to relocate for their education. If you have a job or a family, it's just not feasible. Still, if you're going to get a doctorate, you don’t want to have to settle for whatever school is within driving distance. With remote learning, you don't have to. You can choose the best possible program available to you and tackle it from the comfort of your home.

Cons: It's Just Not For Everyone

The truth is that not everyone learns well remotely. Some people need the structure of classroom learning. Others like the energy of being in a room surrounded by like-minded peers, excited by the opportunity to learn. Whatever your reason, if remote learning isn't a good fit, it's better not to force the issue. Graduate school is hard enough under the best conditions. You don't want to shoot yourself in the foot before you even get started. Choose a method of learning that makes the most sense for your style.


Whether you want to teach at the university level or get a leg up on the competition when it comes to pursuing a leadership position at work, there are many benefits to online doctorate degrees. Many people find that the pros outweigh the cons—particularly when they are trying to balance the responsibilities of professional or family life.

If you are interested in finding an online doctorate program, start by researching student outcomes. How are people with doctorate degrees from this program faring in the professional world? This will give you an insight both into the quality of the program, and their alumni support network. There are lots of great online doctorate degree programs out there. With a little research, you'll find one that checks all of your boxes.