Distance Learning PhD Application: Key Insights Before Enrolling

Distance learning has gained popular demand among Ph.D. students since it allows easy time management, especially with their hectic daily schedule. However, like any other academic course, there are requirements that need to be met in order to enrol for Ph.D. distance learning.

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What you should know about online PhDs before applying

1. Obviously, you’ll need a completed Master’s degree. In rare instances, some institutions may accept students with a Bachelor's degree. This would mostly be if the score of the Bachelor's degree is very high and very relevant to the Ph.D.

2. Much as PhDs can be done online and ease the student's worry of attending daily classes, distance learning programmes for Ph.D. still require the students to occasionally be present on campus. Most doctoral programs require some practical participation from the student like attending seminars, labs or conferences.

3. Most institutions offer exams on campus to PhD students, together with students who attend fully on-campus classes. Therefore, it is necessary to enrol in a school that is not continents away from you just to cover this requirement.

4. Give the same attention to your research proposal as you would for an on-campus PhD. So keep in mind the main steps of a successful research proposal, such as:

  • Explain how you are going to fill in the man inconsistency in your research area with your PhD project.
  • Define your plan for the research methodology.
  • Outline the possible impact of your research.

Check out some tips on how to write a successful PhD research proposal.

Application documents for your online PhD

Common documents you will be required to submit as part of the application process for your online PhD degree:

Application form

  • University Master’s degree certificate (original and photocopy)
  • Academic transcript (original and photocopy)
  • Copy of scholarship application form (if you applied for a scholarship)
  • Research proposal piece of academic writing
  • Personal statement/motivation letter
  • Resume
  • Approval from a professor from the university (stating he/she accepted to supervise your doctorate research)

In your resume and/or personal statement include all your qualifications, employment history, and reference of your published work/articles if it is the case. State why you are interested in your research project and what you enjoy most or in general about other research projects you have done in the past.

List the modules you completed in your final year of your Master’s degree and mention the title of your dissertation or research projects.

Main steps of the PhD application process

Overall, the process of applying for an online PhD may take between five and eight months. Here are the steps you’ll have to take when you apply for a doctoral degree:

Step 1: General GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and sometimes, subject GRE

  • preparing for the GRE will take at least 3 months

Step 2: Pass IELTS, TOEFL or other language proficiency exam (if applicable)

  • with the preparation for the exam, registering and actually taking the exam at a language test centre, it could take 1 month

Step 3: Get official translations of your grades and recommendation letters from your past professors

  • 1 month

Step 4: Select a PhD, prepare all the necessary documents required for application and finding a future supervisor for your research

  • 2 to 3 months

Step 5: Apply for your PhD and have an online or face-to-face interview

  • 1 month

PhD students should prove their financial credibility

The other requirement for distance learning students is credibility in terms of payment. In fact, at some point, you may be required to show up on campus. Before you are enrolled, all institutions check if you are credible enough to pay the required amount. This is mostly done either by ensuring that all payments are done at the beginning of the course or by providing financial documents that prove your financial credibility. This works as a security check for the institution to avoid being swindled.

Make sure you don’t miss out anything about the application process and look for a PhD programme that matches your career plans.

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