In some fields, you have to keep climbing upward through the academic ranks. A bachelor’s degree, and even a master’s degree, will only get you so far. If you’re weighing your options when it comes to earning a doctorate, don’t forget to consider online learning and all of its benefits. Fortunately, as with online master’s degrees, there are several types of doctoral degrees you can earn either fully or partially online.

Research Degrees

Perhaps the most well-known doctorate is the Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy. This degree is awarded in a wide range of disciplines, from anthropology to biomedical engineering and music to statistics. Ph.D.’s are awarded based on academic research that’s worthy of publication in peer-reviewed journals. They’re primarily beneficial for candidates who want to pursue research or teaching positions.

Ph.D.’s may be the most common of the research degrees, but they’re far from the only ones available. Students can also earn a Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Engineering, Doctor of Information Security, Doctor of Management, Doctor of Professional Studies and Doctor of Social Science. Among the most popular Ph.D. programs today are psychology, education, nursing, public health and business, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Professional Degrees

Maybe research and academia isn’t your thing. In that case, you’re better off pursuing a professional doctorate degree instead of a Ph.D. or similar program. Today, students can even earn a law school degree partially online.

Professional doctoral programs are particularly common in the field of healthcare. For example, medical doctors in the United States earn either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Though these programs aren’t available in fully online formats from any school as of 2015, they can be supplemented with online courses that allow students to earn additional credentials at the same time they pursue their medical degree.

Some healthcare doctoral degrees are available through fully online programs, like the Doctor of Physical Therapy, the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. Students in such a degree program should be prepared to gain clinical experience as well as completing online studies.

Benefits of Earning a Doctorate Online

What obstacles stand in the way of students earning their doctorates? Often, they’re factors like location, time and cost. An online doctoral education will allow you to earn your degree from a prestigious school, no matter how far it is from your home. You won’t have to uproot your family or give up your current job (and the valuable experience you’re gaining from it).

No matter what kind of doctoral degree you choose to pursue, make sure you enroll in a reputable, accredited program – especially when you’re studying online and may never actually set foot on the school’s physical campus. Fortunately, you can take advantage of tools like U.S. News and World Report’s directory of online Ph.D. and doctoral degree programs.