Tips to Choose the Best Doctoral Program for You

Kelly Nelson-Danley
Kelly Nelson-Danley
Assistant elementary school principal; Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Deciding to complete the highest level of education is a big undertaking. Once you decide you are going to pursue a doctoral degree, you must decide which doctoral program is right for you. In doing so, you need to consider what your career goals are, who you can reach out to for advice on choosing a doctoral program, and how to plan for the future, including how you will manage your time during completion of the program.

Not only will earning a doctorate increase your knowledge, it will also make you marketable in competitive areas of employment and allow you to achieve your career goals.

Career Goals

First, when choosing a doctoral program, think about what your career goals are. Do you want to earn a Ph.D or Ed.D.? Do you want to continue in your position while expanding your knowledge? Do you wish to obtain a job as an adjunct of tenured professor? Do you want to conduct research in your field?  After asking yourself these questions, do some research on what doctoral programs can help you meet your unique wants and needs.

Seek Advice

Seeking advice from colleagues or friends that have already completed a doctoral program can also help you decide which program is best for you. Those individuals will be able to tell you what to expect from a program such as the one they experienced. Some may have completed an online program, others may have completed a face-to-face program, or even a hybrid type of doctoral program. With an increase in online collaboration tools, many universities are offering online doctoral courses. Asking others what worked for them may help you get a better understanding of what you can expect from various programs that are available.

Planning for the Future and Time Management

Doctoral programs are often not cheap. When choosing a program, review tuition costs, as well as financial aid offered. This will allow you to consider funds when choosing a program. Additionally, doctoral programs require focus, dedication, and time. When deciding which program to enroll in, consider how you will need to schedule time to complete coursework and write your dissertation. Some doctoral candidates find it easy to set deadlines for themselves and carve out large amounts of time away from their busy schedules to complete work. Others need more guidance from their dissertation chair and doctoral-level professors. If you are someone who needs a more-structured program, seek one out. Choosing a program is not easy. It will take time and thoughtful consideration, but finding the right one for you is worth it.

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