Online PhD in Applied Science

Applied science is a vast field of study that encompasses the study of engineering, physics, biology, chemistry, and statistics. Students who enroll in online PhD programs in applied science typically choose a degree path with an emphasis in the area of study that they wish to pursue. The exact classes taken by students pursuing their applied science doctorate will vary depending upon their chosen concentrations, however all applied science programs are heavily based in science and math. Some universities also offer the opportunity to pursue technology and computer science studies as well.

The career path chosen by students who graduate from online PhD programs for applied science varies by their specialization. However, it's common for applied science graduates to establish careers within academia, engineering, or research. Many applied science programs include course work in communications and laboratory work as well, making applied science graduates strong candidates for leading research projects, writing grant requests, and reporting study results.

About Online PhD Programs in Applied Science

The curricula of applied science doctoral degree programs depend on the concentration chosen by the student. Typically, all students get a strong foundation in science and math, which they then build upon through their major content classes. Applied science students who study the biosciences will take biology classes, whereas students of geophysics will take geology and physics courses. Specific examples of classes that a student may take are listed below. They come from the University of Massachusetts‘s engineering and applied science Ph.D. with a specialization in applied mechanic and materials program.

Year One:

  • Advanced Mathematical Methods. This is a class that explores the mathematical methods used in research and material design
  • Computational Methods An applied mathematics course, this class explores numerical analysis and its application to materials research.
  • Advanced Materials. An advanced survey class that explores materials and materials design.

Year Two:

  • Advanced Structural Analysis. This class teaches students how to analyze the effect that machinery and materials will have on physical buildings and other structures.
  • Methods of Experimental Research. By providing insight into different avenues of experimental research, this class prepares students for doctoral-level analysis of experiments and studies.
  • Pavement Design. An elective course, this class teaches students about the materials used in pavement and the functions of pavement design and implementation.

Before graduating, applied science students typically need to complete a dissertation. Dissertations are research papers that explore a topic relevant to their concentration. Before writing the paper, students will take classes in dissertation research, proposal preparation, and the ethics of research. Then they will spend time formulating their theses, conducting research, and writing the report. At the culmination of the project, they will defend their dissertations to faculty members. Only after the process is complete can students receive their Ph.D.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Applied Science

Because the field of applied science is so broad, it is an excellent field for students who want to specialize their studies in science, engineering, or math. It has applications to a variety of career positions as well, and the Ph.D. can therefore make students into marketable employee candidates. However, as all specializations within applied science require strong math, science, and research skills, students should only apply for an applied science program if they feel comfortable with those subjects. Students who dislike those subjects may want to consider a different doctoral degree program. For those who are not interested in working in academia or research but who still want to study applied science, there are applied science master's degree programs, which may be a better fit.

Students have the option of pursuing the applied science doctoral degree online. This is a flexible option that allows students to complete assignments and research on their own time, allowing them to maintain careers or attend to other obligations while enrolled. Online degrees are not for everyone, however. Online students should be highly motivated and good with time management, especially because the applied science field requires a significant amount of research and study. Students who struggle with completing assignments on time may be better off with a traditional program that provides structure. There are also hybrid degree programs that provide a mix of classroom-based teaching methods and online instruction.

Application & Admission Requirements

Applicants to applied science Ph.D. programs should have a background in the area in which they hope to specialize. Admission officials expect to see previous instruction in math, science, and engineering in a study's academic history. Students will therefore need to supply transcripts of all undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate course work. In addition, students may also be required to write a personal statement, submit reference letters, provide their work history, and take the Graduate Record Exam. Finally, some programs may require interviews before they admit doctoral candidates.

Career Options & Job Market

Applied science degrees are versatile and therefore offer many possible opportunities. The career path chosen by the applied science graduate will depend on his or her specialization. Common professions include engineers, scientists, researchers, and professors. Some may go on to work for corporations, while others can work for the federal government. Students even have the option of going into business for themselves. Salaries and job outlooks vary across each profession and depend upon a graduate's experience, employer, and location.

Where to Find Information

How to Get Funding

Professional associations and societies related to applied science often hold scholarship and fellowship programs for graduate students. In addition, students can look to local organizations or corporations to provide funding opportunities. The federal government is also a good resource for financial aid. Below are some specific examples of tuition assistance programs.

  • Federal Direct Stafford Loan. This is a loan that Ph.D. students can pursue. The maximum amount available is $12,000, which is offered at a low interest rate of 6.8%.
  • Federal Perkins Loan. This is another federally-issued loan. It is awarded based on need at a low interest rate of 5%. Students are generally offered an average of $3,500 annually.
  • Campus-Based Aid. Accredited universities participate in federal financial aid programs, but also offer many programs of their own. Call your university's financial aid office to learn what resources are available to you.

Essential Advice

  • Start preparing for your doctoral degree while you are an undergraduate student. Getting research experience and taking applied science and related classes can make your application stand out among the many applicants admissions offices encounter each year.
  • Even if you don't think you'll receive any tuition assistance, consider applying anyway. You may get a small reward, and when it comes to increasing tuition costs, every little bit can help you afford your education.
  • If you are having trouble choosing a specialization, try contacting professors to get a sense of their research interests. If you find an area of research that interests you, you can choose the applied science field that will allow you to pursue it.
  • Try talking to current or former applied science Ph.D. students. They should be able to give you an idea of what to expect from the doctoral degree program.