How Are Online Doctorates Received in the Workplace?

The online doctorate has become an increasingly popular option for those looking to take their education all the way. As we push further and further into the digital world, more long-standing staples of life move into the internet, whether it be ordering a ride or watching television.  This includes doctorate degrees as more people feel the pull to further their education later on in life to either facilitate a progression in their career field or develop a career change altogether.

The benefits of an online degree can range from a more flexible time schedule to removing expenses on travel and possible course materials. For people tied to a full-time job or family responsibilities (or both), an online degree can be the best option for achieving a doctorate while attending to other duties.

See our ranking of 10 Great Deals: Doctorate in Psychology Degree Online.

Are They Worth It?

Despite more and more things and services moving into cyberspace, the stigma of obtaining something online– be it a date or a degree– can be embarrassing or worrisome for someone who might otherwise be interested. For some, a perception may still remain that online colleges– even those offering doctorate programs– are not “real” colleges whose degrees are not properly accredited.

So, what are employers’ perceptions of online doctorates? While a simple answer would be preferable, the hard truth is that it can vary both on the degree and the employer. There are certainly “degree mills” or illegitimate colleges that will trick a student into wasting time and money for an essentially worthless degree of which there are warning signs.

However, there are accredited universities that offer online doctorates such as Walden University which boasts the title of awarding more doctorates to black students between 2011 and 2015 than any other college in America. The main thing to look at is the accreditation of the college, whether an external authority has verified the strength of the education offered.

What Do Employers Think?

The opinions of employers in regards to an online doctorate are not necessarily monolithic. Negative perceptions of online degrees are decreasing as more respected institutions are offering online programs for students but the stigma has not entirely gone away. Degrees for human resources, in particular, can still be seen with a sense of apprehension by employers.

Employers might also discriminate if the degree was acquired from a for-profit college as opposed to a not-for-profit equivalent. The sense can be that a for-profit college will not be as competitive in its admission rates or that completion rates will not be as high as opposed to a not-for-profit college. For some employers, if an applicant with a doctorate from a not-for-profit university is competing for a job against someone with the same degree from a for-profit university, the former will have the advantage.

Does It Even Matter That Much?

The reality is that most employers aren’t entirely savvy on which degrees were earned online and which were earned in a classroom. Unless a college is well-known for being online, most hiring managers won’t even be aware if a doctorate was acquired online. Many hiring managers will also be looking past the doctorate to look at talent, job history, and intelligence. The doctorate– online or otherwise– might not be exactly the deciding point in being hired or not.


The New York Times

U.S News & World Report

Science Magazine