For this month’s blog, I was trying to determine what the best topic was to write about. Based upon my husband’s recommendation and the process he is currently going through, and that is selecting the right school along with the right doctoral degree program. My husband is in the process of completing his MS in Information Systems and wants to continue into a doctoral program. The challenge is does one do a DBA, PhD or what type of program? Does he stick to a program that offers an emphasis on technology or perhaps just do one that is more about business?
Here are my top 4 things to consider:
- What degree do you want? There are those that believe it is best to have the PhD behind your name versus the DBA. There is a great debate going on among individuals and educational professionals about which degree carries more weight, but keep in mind both of these are doctoral programs. Regardless of whether you do a DBA or PhD, there will be a dissertation that has to be written, proofed and defended. So my recommendation is look at your short and long term goals, what are the job listings saying the education requirement is or is not? If you have job goal in mind, then give that some heavy weight in your decision. In one of my earlier blogs, I listed many of the doctoral programs and their abbreviations because there are far more than DBA and PhD. As for me, I am working on a PsyD (Doctoral in Psychology). So check out that list and consider your future career goals.
- Consider the length of the classes for the program. If the school is going to allow you to only take one course at a time or because of family and work, one course is the maximum you can handle, then length of classes plays a big role. The first graduate college that I attended for a doctorate degree charged a set fee for the term regardless of how many classes you took. Students were allowed to take 1 – 3 courses, but if you are working full-time and have personal obligations, then anything past one course may be way too much. Keep in mind each course will need about 20 hours or more per week of your time, so be sure you have the time to give. Personally, I prefer the shorter term classes and taking them back to back, it means a lot of writing but for me it seems to move faster. Some people prefer programs where courses are 8, 10, 12 or 16 weeks long. This is a personal decision, but keep in mind if you do a longer term while taking one class at a time, then the program is going to take longer to complete. My personal decision was shorter classes and one course at a time, which works really well for me, but you have to base it on your own life.
- Residencies are something to consider because for most doctoral programs, you will travel to the college campus for the residencies. There are a few colleges that offer residencies in several areas, but make sure you are willing to make the journey to your residencies. Residencies are typically an in classroom setting where the school helps you prepare for your doctoral program and dissertation. The number of residencies will vary by school; the average is about three residencies. Personally, I am ready for my third and final residency which is set for April. So the number of residencies and the locations are very important to consider because keep in mind the school does not pay for your travel, hotel or food that is at your expense.
- Cost of the program is important because the typical doctoral program will take between 3 – 4 years to complete. Of course how many and how long the classes are will affect this as well. There is another debate about whether the return on investment for a doctoral degree is worth it or not. Well if you want to look at the financial impact, then look at your future career goals and what the positions pay to determine if it is worth the expense. Personally, I like to use www.salary.com to compare salaries for job titles and regions. Now if you are like me, what started out as a career goal is now become a personal goal to achieve. For me, it is not about whether the degree makes me loads of money, but it is about personal achievement. My doctoral journey has been a real battle and for me that now means I need to go the distance. So you have to weigh the costs yourself and determine if it is worth or not, based upon your personal and career goals.
There are other things to consider when it comes to selecting a doctoral program, but these would be my top four recommendations in things to consider.