Online PhD Programs in Technology

Online PhD in Technology programs explore technology through the lens of scholarly scientific research, business theory, or computer processes. Curriculums could include a prescribed series of core courses meant to develop students’ breadth of knowledge. Also, at the doctorate level, students typically choose a singular topic to explore more in-depth. Both these aspects, coupled with instruction in research methods and academic writing could enable students to refine their expertise. And, to make a potentially valuable contribution to their field whether it is through thought leadership or technological innovation.

written by Rana Waxman

Online PhD in Technology: Overview

An online PhD in Technology may mean different things to each student. Technology is a broad discipline that applies science to solve a problem. Science and technology work together to accomplish a specific task, whether this is to communicate, transport, manufacture, secure data or create a medical device. Thus, technology involves tools, processes, systems, organizations and more. Students who want to work towards a terminal degree could therefore align their studies and research with career goals and personal interests.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted to an online PhD program in Technology, students may need to have at least a Bachelor's degree, although some programs build on Masters-level knowledge and work experience. Aside from one’s prior education and transcripts, other admission requirements could vary as well. Some of the required material could include the following items, however this is just an example.

  • Cumulative GPA
  • GRE Scores
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Sample of Written Work
  • Research Goals
  • TOEFL where applicable

Each program usually comes with both a deadline for application, and specific guidelines that students could identify and be

prepared for.

Types of Online Doctoral Degrees in Technology

Because of the many faces of technology, online PhD programs could encompass terminal degrees in three main areas: (1) Research and Academia, (2) Business Administration, and (3) Computer Science. Each degree program is defined by the university that offers it, and could come with specific, yet distinct requirements and related emphases. Some examples are provided below.

Online PhD Programs in Technology

An online PhD in Technology and related areas is a terminal research degree that often melds substantive courses in research processes, theory, teaching and consulting with an area of emphasis. Candidates are usually expected to contribute new insight to their field of study after involved coursework and independent research.

Students who pursue their PhD online may have readings, web-based discussion and other activities to take part in on a weekly basis. Usually, once all the courses have been taken, individuals need to successfully take a comprehensive exam, then they may be ready to tackle their dissertation.

Curriculums, while dependent on a concentrated area, could include a core of required courses in the following topics.

  • Academic writing
  • Survey of Applied Research Methods
  • Quantitative Research Techniques
  • Consulting or Teaching Seminar
  • Dissertation Research Seminars

Areas of emphasis may be available to appeal to a variety of career goals, and students may develop strong research and writing skills as they develop breadth and depth of knowledge.

Online PhD in Information Technology: An online PhD in Information Technology could help students work to advance research in IT management. Students might learn to create a management theory as well as lead IT strategy and implement IT policies.

Online PhD in Technology and Innovation Management: An online PhD in Technology and Innovation Management could prepare students to lead an organization through changes. Candidates might develop a broad grasp of business and technology management as well as in-depth knowledge of one focused area of study. For instance, students could research the design and function of computers through courses in software engineering, artificial intelligence and data mining. Then, they may work to use their skills to contribute to computer science research and creatively integrate computer technology into an organization.

Science and engineering doctorates accounted for 75% of all doctorates awarded in 2015, a substantially larger share than 10 years earlier (68%).i

Online Doctor of Business Administration 

An online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a professional practice doctorate that may be available through a university’s school of business and technology. DBA programs could help online students to understand key business theories and apply them to solve a real-world problem that they may experience in the workplace. Some programs may do this partly with online coursework as well as through in-person residencies and an applied doctoral business research project.

Online DBA curriculums could be designed to prepare students to conduct and synthesize academic research, communicate and think critically. Students typically take a series of core courses, which include applied research methods as well as some of the example topics below.

  • Marketing
  • Financial Decision-Making
  • Global Operations
  • Strategies
  • Leadership

On top of the core requirements, students may choose an area of emphasis. This usually adds depth and could help anchor their final project.

Online DBA in Business Intelligence: An online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Business Intelligence might prepare students to lead organizational strategies. Curriculums could meld information technology management with aspects of information science quantitative analysis, decision science, and management science. Students might therefore develop the ability to make strategic and tactical decisions in areas like data warehousing, modeling, and analysis.

Online DBA in IT Technology Management: An online DBA in Information Technology Management could prepare students to implement IT policies and processes, as well as explore trends in IT management. Curriculums may help students to formulate practical solutions to real-world problems as they engage in multidisciplinary research. Coursework could also provide instruction in leadership and strategic planning, which may inform students on the IT life cycle management processes.

Online Doctor of Computer Science Programs 

An online Doctor of Computer Science (DCS) is the highest degree in computer science. DCS online students may study to refine their technical skills and engage in action research in their area of emphasis.

Curriculums often include a series of core courses, but students may also conduct extensive research and deliver written projects. Students might thus explore high level design issues and may evaluate methods of data security in distributed systems. Overall courses could help students learn to develop a software process improvement plan for an organization, as well as design, test, and implement an experiment—as well as report on the results.

Online DCS in Big Data Analytics: A focus on big data analytics could help students refine their grasp of advanced topics in database systems and business intelligence. Candidates might complete action research to propose solutions to issues related to big data analytics.

Online DCS in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance: A focus in cybersecurity and information assurance could help students understand advanced theory, research and applications. Coursework could meld topics in security management with basics of enterprise security architecture and digital systems security. Students might conduct research to problem-solve issues that might relate to security awareness, threat assessment and business continuity.

Online DCS in Enterprise Information Systems: A focus in EIS could familiarize students with models such as CMMI and the Baldridge Process. Along with courses in business intelligence and strategy, students might study how to manage IT processes.

Online Doctor of Information Technology Programs

Online Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) programs could help students develop as thought leaders. Students may expand their ability to think critically and apply research skills to identify and analyze technology challenges—then, to work to develop innovative solutions to various IT problems.

Curriculums could help students learn how to design research, strategize and lead, and there could be a series of core topics that all participants take. A few examples of required courses follow. Students might then tailor their studies to their own goals with an area of emphasis.

  • IT Consulting
  • IT Life Cycle
  • Policies and Processes
  • IT Leadership
  • Organizational Strategy

Online DIT in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity: A focus in cybersecurity could prepare students to analyze theories and develop solutions that inform and shape the ways information is kept secure. Students may work to develop advanced skills in areas such as system and application security, assurance controls and compliance. Other courses might discuss security governance through a class in network and enterprise security risk management.

Online DIT in IT Education: A focus in IT education could prepare students to pursue a career in post-secondary teaching in IT. Coursework might stack curriculum design on top of theory, student assessment and methods for teaching adults.

Earning an Online PhD in Technology

Students who want to earn an online PhD in Technology may find that each school has a somewhat distinct format and structure. Many programs are designed to be completed in about three years (post-Masters) of full-time study and aim to provide a flexible alternative to on-campus study.

One of the potential draws to online study is convenience. Courses are usually delivered through a web-based platform, which could be very interactive. For instance, students might take courses via web conference which provides a ‘live’ online experience. Or, students may be able to complete modules on their own time frame, while being respectful of deadlines.

That said, online doctoral students may need to take part in face-to-face residency tracks. A residency, while brief, may provide the opportunity to build professional relationships and share knowledge with other business and technology students from around the country.

Wonder how you would stay motivated? Some universities may help students set goals and often pair a candidate with a research or dissertation mentor.

Take the Next Step

An online PhD in Technology could enable at work adults to achieve a terminal degree in their technical field with minimal disruption to a busy lifestyle. Whether you prefer scholarly research or want to master analytical approaches to solve technology problems, take the next step. Easily choose a subject from the menu to compare sponsored programs and connect with schools directly through the on-page form.


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