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How Long Does It Take to Earn a Doctoral Degree?

Understanding the process of completing a professional doctorate or PhD program can help you better prepare to earn your doctoral degree.

Everyone has heard the stories about students who spend a decade or more earning a doctoral degree. That might make you think twice about earning your own doctorate. But those stories shouldn’t dissuade you. There are ways to earn a doctoral degree faster.

Choose the Doctoral Degree That’s Right for You

The number of years you spend on your doctorate depends partly on your intended course of study. Many PhD programs are designed to take just three to five years. And PhD programs are not the only road to a doctoral degree. You could also choose to earn a professional doctorate.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Doctoral Degree?

What is a professional doctorate? Simply put, it’s a doctoral degree more geared toward professional practice. Where a PhD degree is an academic degree focused on original research, data analysis, and the evaluation of theories, a professional doctorate is a degree focused on applying research to practical problems, formulating solutions to complex issues, and designing effective professional practices within your field.

The choice of PhD vs. professional doctorate can influence how long it takes you to earn your degree because the way you earn them differs. In general, PhD candidates must complete a dissertation, which requires them to conduct research into an approved area of study within their discipline, typically an area no one in their discipline has fully researched before. Professional doctorate candidates, on the other hand, must complete a doctoral study, which requires them to identify a real-world problem within their field and research it thoroughly with the intent of uncovering new understandings that can eventually lead to new solutions.

Choosing the field and doctoral program that’s best suited for your interests and career goals can help you stay motivated throughout your studies.

Consider the Advantages of Online Learning

Whether you choose a PhD or professional doctorate program, take a look at online education. If you enroll in a campus-based program, you may have to pick up your life and move to be close to a university. Or, you may spend hours driving back and forth from campus. Online learning, however, doesn’t come with those complications.

Online PhD programs and online professional doctorate programs allow you to earn your degree from wherever you are in the world. All you need is internet access. Additionally, unlike at most campus-based programs, online doctoral programs provide excellent flexibility. Instead of being told what time of day to focus on your coursework, online degree programs let you choose the time that is best for you. That lets you work on a schedule that fits your needs, giving you more opportunity to take care of other responsibilities, such as holding down a full-time job.

Earning a doctorate doesn’t have to take as long as some suggest. By choosing the right doctoral program and taking advantage of online learning, you can improve your ability to complete a doctorate faster.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering doctoral degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Learning Commission,