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Online PhD

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Online PhD [#permalink] New post 18 Apr 2007, 15:51
I have work ex of 16+ yrs. Want to move to teaching / consulting in next few years. Will online PHDs help? How do they compare against full-time PhDs.
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 [#permalink] New post 18 Apr 2007, 16:01
I guess it depends on where you want to do your teaching or consulting. But honestly, I don't know of any reputable online PhD. Most of the top schools (top 50 to 100) state that there is no distance learning for their programs.

Personally, I think online PhD is not for people who are serious about getting a "real" PhD. I would rather do a part-time PhD program at a much lower tier school than do an online one.

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 [#permalink] New post 18 Apr 2007, 16:14
tkkoh wrote:
I guess it depends on where you want to do your teaching or consulting. But honestly, I don't know of any reputable online PhD. Most of the top schools (top 50 to 100) state that there is no distance learning for their programs.

Personally, I think online PhD is not for people who are serious about getting a "real" PhD. I would rather do a part-time PhD program at a much lower tier school than do an online one.


Thanks tkkoh. Can you let me know the names of schools offering part-time Phd?
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2007, 06:00
I'm not entirely sure of what field you're in, and what the advantages of having a PhD are for the consulting side of that field, but for many schools you can be a full-time lecturer and teach if you have significant work experience, but no PhD. In fact I'm pretty sure that the AACSB recommends only 2 "tracks" for teaching-related duties in b-schools: 1) tenure-track (where research has to be an important part of the equation), and 2) teaching-track (where you absolutely need a link with practitioners). In other words it doesn't recommend a "pure" teaching track where someone spends all of his/her time teaching, without either doing research or keeping in touch with practice.

My point is that if you're in it for the teaching and the consulting side of it and not research, I'm not sure there's much of a point in doing a PhD in the first place. Even the lower tier schools will mainly concentrate their energies on making you a better researcher. However if your goal is teaching and consulting, I think plenty of reputable places would gladly accept a lecturer with sizable work experience.
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 [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2007, 12:33
Thanks Cabro57. I agree with you that having sizeable work-ex should be considered a qualification in itself to teach/consult. But I was not sure if it would open doors for a senior faculty position without a Phd.

I have been actively reading various blogs, forums etc. to see how online PHD is being perceived, and so far it seems that though not being given the respect and recognition by traditional academia, online education is sweeping the education world by its sheer reach and flexibility. And with many respectable universities offering online education at least at bachelor's and master's level, they are running into acute shortage of PhDs coming thru traditional channels.

To my mind, in not more than 3 to 5 years, online-teaching will become mainstream, and the graduates from online education will become more and more acceptable as they would carry not only the subject knowledge, but also would have an online-education experience.
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 [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2007, 17:47
Sorry, this is going to be a fairly long post. I actually think the issue you raise about PhD programs and online education is very interesting, so I'd like to know what other forumers have to say on this issue.

Where would you eventually want to teach? The general (perceived) quality of the school will likely determine whether you stand a chance at a "senior faculty position" without a PhD. As a general rule, if you're talking about most reputable universities (probably every "flagship" state school included), if you find any senior faculty without a PhD, it's likely someone who has been there for a long time. I'd be surprised if you ever found a junior tenure-track faculty member who doesn't have a PhD. However, you'll find plenty of lecturers in most large schools, including what some schools call "senior lecturers", who I guess are tenured but unlikely considered on the same level as senior professors. Since you stated that your interests were teaching and consulting, my original post had that type of position in mind. I don't think you need a PhD for that, and I don't think an online PhD will help compared to no PhD at all.

I think you need to be careful with your comments about online education. The main incentive for schools to offer online courses at the undergrad level (and for some graduate programs) is that it is a cash cow: expenses are very low once the online materials are available. On the other hand, PhD programs are cost centers. The biggest cost is faculty time. Advisor(s) spend a lot of time with PhD students, discussing papers, research design and strategies, preparing presentations and workshops, etc. Based on my own experience, e-mail can be fine sometimes, but person-to-person meetings are much more productive. And anyway, most of what I learned here I got from going to workshops and seminars and interacting with other students and faculty members. I believe implementing this in an online context would be awfully hard.

If you're a school, the main benefit (the only benefit?) of having a PhD program is that you get graduates who put your name in their resumes, and then people in academia recognize your school as good, which means that some of them might be willing to come teach at your school at some point. Thus "research recognition" is the catch phrase. I think most schools would agree that the most effective way to prepare someone to do good research is in-class, on-campus, and not online. I could be wrong, but I don't think that this is an "early adopter" issue here.

Finally, you're absolutely right that there is a shortage of PhDs coming through traditional channels. However as few schools hire their own graduates right after graduation, a school's answer to its own lack of labor supply is not to open the floodgates, but rather it is to hope that some other reputable school will do it (so that they can hire _that_ school's graduates). The current shortage of PhDs in b-schools is not caused by the number of applications to full-time, on-campus PhD programs. I'd argue that it is due to a combination of 4 factors: 1) the (aggregate) size of PhD programs is too small because schools don't make money out of it (as opposed to MBA programs), 2) b-school PhDs have lucrative outside options in investment banking and the like, 3) current b-school professors are getting older so a greater number of positions are vacated due to retirement than there are new PhD graduates to fill them, and 4) going to college is more popular than ever and b-schools are more popular than ever (my own very subjective assessment, I have no stats to prove this).

I think the AACSB had a report on the shortage of faculty members in b-schools and recommended increasing the size of PhD programs to mitigate the shortage. However, I don't think online education was part of the equation, for reasons mentioned above.

So there you go. In your own situation, I think the first step is to ask yourself what type of position you'd like to hold, and then look at school websites for the "typical" path to get there. The shortage of PhDs has been there for a while now, and I don't know of a single school that has started to hire online PhDs to mitigate the shortage. I don't foresee that happening soon either.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2007, 11:27
I agree with cabro if we are talking about research-oriented Ph.D. programs.

We can debate the mindset of traditional academia and the role it plays in all this, but as cabro suggests, there are some real problems with online education migrating to Ph.D. ranks. It really is best done (I think) in the apprenticeship model that currently exists. I hear about people working remotely during their dissertation phase, but I question the effectiveness of going this route.

Online vehicles of communicaton have a long way to go before they can approach the quality of face-to-face communication. In any business development setting, I've always found that a face-to-face is a necessity once a relationship gets to a certain point. For example, I could not imagine acquiring a company with only online meetings. That's another way to view a Ph.D. The working relationships and output levels are as high as they get in academia, so you are going to give up a lot going to an online model.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2007, 17:40
I agree with the M&A metaphor. I might add a 5th factor to the shortage of PhDs. B-school rankings often put a lot of weight on student/faculty ratios and the percentage of courses taught by PhDs. How these metrics are indicative of the quality of education you'll get is beyond me, but that's the way it is.
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 [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2007, 08:56
My only reason of trying to get a PhD was to ensure that I have necessary, if not sufficient, credentials to switch to teaching. Going by the debate here, I guess online PhDs have a long way to go.

In that case, what are my chances if I instead do a part-time/online MBA? Will that help me in teaching career? Though I did agree earlier that work-ex should be sufficient for teaching, but on second thoughts, my academic qualifications are fairly dated and dusty. Last 16 years have been spent on doing what my job required me to do, and not much of it was intellectual.
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 [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2007, 09:19
Sorry Nee, I don't think the replies on research Ph.D.'s address your concerns very well. It seems that there are adjunct faculty who have good industry (read managerial) experience, not necessarily intellectual experience, but aside from that I don't know much on what it takes to get teaching positions. The people who frequent these boards might not be the best resources to answer your questions (at least the ones who've been active the past few mos) since their leanings are in research universities (as I'm sure you've gleaned from the posts). One place I'd start is to look at the profiles of the people who teach at places you want to teach, if available. If not, perhaps you can try contacting one or two of these people.
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 [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2007, 11:25
^ I second that. Rankings aside, I'm pretty sure most b-school students (at any level) would attest that a PhD is neither necessary, nor sufficient to be a good teacher. We've all had our share of great lecturers and awful (tenured) professors.
  [#permalink] 23 Apr 2007, 11:25
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