Going Back to School

How long does it take to get a doctorate?

How old are you? 40? 45? 50? 54? Somewhere in between?

It’s taken you two, three or more decades to become as successful in your career as you have. And while you probably didn’t think too much about where you’d be 20 or 30 years from when you started your career, well, here you are.

The years of effort and professional growth have been worth it.

And just when a lot of people would be on the downswing or at least in coasting mode, you’re thinking of taking it to the next level, challenging yourself, growing in your discipline and transforming your career by reaching your highest professional level. You’re ready to earn your terminal degree.

What you’re doing is reflective of something champion-boxer Muhammad Ali once said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

It is a bold and courageous thing you’re about to do, but what an achievement it will be.

Some people may even try to talk you out of it. Some may shake their heads in disbelief. Others may secretly wish they could do what you’re doing. And still others will cheer you on and support you to completion.

The most important thing, however, is that you’re committed to reaching your goal. Of course, the right professional doctoral program designed for the working adult can help. But, ultimately, you’re the one who has to put in the effort and do the work required.

The question, then, is how long will it take to earn your doctorate degree?

Statistically speaking, a Ph.D. takes twice as long as a bachelor’s degree to complete. In fact, according to a CBS Moneywatch report, the average student takes a very long 8.2 years to go through a Ph.D. program – and that’s if they finish.

However, if your career objectives make the applied doctorate a good option for you, the completion time conundrum becomes a completely different equation.

So here’s the short answer for how long it takes to earn an applied doctorate degree:
It depends.

Now here’s the long answer:
It depends.

Because the truth is:

  1. Every doctoral program has its own structure.
  2. Every college or university has its own program requirements.
  3. Every educational institute has its own transfer-credit policies.
  4. Every student has his or her biases and circumstances that can impact outcome.

Each of these four factors will determine, in part, how long it will take to finish your doctoral studies.

For example, as designed, Franklin University’s three applied doctoral programs (Doctor of Business Administration or DBA in Management; Doctor of Professional Studies or DPS in Instructional Design Leadership; and Doctor of Healthcare Administration or DHA) should take about three years to complete.

However, with up to 24 hours of previously earned doctoral coursework or professional certifications transferred toward the degree, at Franklin, it could take less than three years to earn your doctorate.

Of course, lots of other factors specific to you and your situation can also come into play when determining how long it will take for you to earn your doctorate.

So, how ready are you? Take this quick quiz to find out.

How much time do you have to invest in pursuing your doctorate?

  • None – but I’m doing it anyway.
  • I’m all in!
  • I’ll make it work on a part-time basis.

Quick tip: The more time you invest, the quicker you could finish.

Will you take any breaks from the program?

  • Break? What’s a break?
  • Yes, definitely.
  • Probably at least one.

Quick tip: Taking a breather can be good medicineas long as you get right back to it.

What will be the subject of your dissertation?

  • I have several already in mind.
  • I want to consult with my advisor.
  • I don’t have a clue at this point.

Quick tip: Choose a relevant topic of interest with plenty of research fodder.

Will finances play into the amount of time you have to spend?

  • Not really.
  • Of course!
  • Somewhat.

Quick tip: Don’t let financing get you down. Investigate the options, such as installment payment plans.

Will you take advantage of any available support resources?

  • I’m a self-starter so I don’t need it.
  • Everything I can.
  • Maybe some.

Quick tip: Student resources and faculty support can help you stay motivated and on track.

How self-motivated, ambitious and driven are you?

  • Very
  • Somewhat
  • Average

Quick tip: Know your capabilities and limitations, as well as be realistic about your expectations.

Did your answers make you think? Good. They were supposed to.

This little quiz isn’t so much about how you answered the questions, rather it’s to help you recognize that YOU have a lot of control over how long it will take you to earn your doctorate.

Want to accelerate your completion time? Try one or more of these ideas:

  1. Maximize your transfer credit. Ask the college or university about their policy on accepting previously earned credits or certifications. For example, did you start and stop a doctoral program already? If so, ask if they will they honor your prior credits. Will they give you credit for what you already know, thanks to professional experience or relevant credentials? Transfer credit can help you earn your applied doctorate degree faster, as well as reduce your overall tuition expenses.
  1. Choose the right program. While most programs require a year (or more) to complete the dissertation, an embedded dissertation process integrates the dissertation within the course framework so you have a head start when it comes time to focus on the dissertation. Online classes, an embedded dissertation process, faculty-supported mentoring, and the availability of student resources and learning communities can impact the length of your time in a doctoral program.
  2. Leverage all the support you can. Whether it’s help on the home front, on the job or through your chosen university, it truly takes a proverbial village to press on during times of difficulty or stress. Such things as faculty mentoring to guide your topic interests, a personal librarian to help with research resources, vibrant learning communities, peer support and more can really help to keep you motivated and on track for completion.

So, how long do doctoral programs usually take? If you pick the right program, work hard and remain focused, you can finish in about three short years.

Find out if Franklin University’s applied doctorate programs are right for you.