Doctorates for Professionals through Distance Education

Authored by: Terry Evans , Rosemary Green

Handbook of Distance Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415897648
eBook ISBN: 9780203803738
Adobe ISBN: 9781136635571


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Distance education has a long history of providing learning and training across a comprehensive range of fields and educational sectors for children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. One small, but significant, part of this provision has been in doctoral education, the most advanced area of university study. However, the distance education literature has made little reference to this field, although interest is emerging in this area, especially as more mid-career professional people undertake doctorates, whether PhDs or so-called professional doctorates. Evans (2008) reported, “a review of the literature on distance education shows that doctorates have rarely been a topic of consideration [and] the literature on doctoral education shows that distance education has rarely been a topic within it” (p. 304). Little has changed since Evans conducted his review. While research, data, and writing on both distance education and doctoral education grow and become increasingly easier to access (due, in no small part, to online data sets and reports), the two fields have not yet merged. However, in practice, a symbiotic connection between distance education and doctoral education has taken place over in the past two decades or more. This chapter reviews the issues and practices surrounding doctoral education at a distance, especially for those in major professional fields of study— education, library, and information science, and nursing, for example—and considers the future implications for what appears to be a growing aspect of distance education practice. This review draws particularly on our experiences, research and writing on U.S. and Australian practices in distance-based professional doctoral education. These are illustrative of the two major North American and British traditions of doctoral education in the English-speaking world.

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