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Posts tagged ‘online learning’

The Most Important Trait a Doctoral Student Needs to Have

If you are a doctoral student, you know what a rigorous journey earning your doctorate can be.

Doctoral degree programs are a very different world from undergraduate and master’s degree programs, and require different skills in order to be successful. With each milestone, you are challenged in new ways as you work to create information that informs your discipline while maintaining high levels of academic thought and scholarly writing.

The hard truth is that only about 50 percent of students who enroll in any doctoral program actually finish their degrees. Some get stuck on the comprehensive exam (COMPS); others struggle with identifying a gap in research or filling that gap during the dissertation process. So how do people get through it? When some crash and burn or simply stop swimming, what is it about others that enables them rise above and live to synthesize another day?

To answer these questions, we turned to some of Northcentral University’s best and brightest minds. If you didn’t already know, all of NCU’s faculty members hold doctoral degrees. They’ve been in the doctoral race and they know what it takes to finish. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Honestly, two of the most important characteristics a successful doctoral candidate needs to have are tenacity and flexibility. In a doctoral program, you must select and complete a long-term research agenda. This means you have to learn how to do research and all that entails, including working closely with your chair, communicating results, finding your way around obstacles, dealing with some anxiety, and sometimes navigating academic politics. The hard truth is that a dissertation usually takes a few years to complete and often requires candidates to work through problems that arise, change their plans, and stick with it when things get tough. If you are not tenacious about working on the dissertation and overcoming unexpected challenges and obstacles, or flexible when it comes to making changes that are designed to increase the academic quality of your dissertation, you won’t finish.”      

Dr. Greg Bradley, Dean, The Graduate School

One needs to be driven, relentless, tenacious, and have a passion for research. Research should be viewed as necessary vs. a necessary evil to get a PhD for the sake of getting a PhD. If you don’t like research, then you will not enjoy the journey.”  

Dr. Greg Hickman, Full-Time Dissertation Chair

“I believe the most important trait is humility. Simply put—the ability to accept criticism and then learn and grow from it.”  

Dr. Heather Frederick, Vice President of Academic Affairs

No matter where you are in your doctoral journey, you’ve probably already faced a challenge or two. But remember, if earning a doctorate was easy—everyone would have one! Your level of responsibility and accountability will only continue to increase throughout your career, and the dissertation process is your opportunity to begin that transition to scholarly independence.

In your experience, what trait has been or was the most important for you during your doctoral journey? Share with your fellow candidates, alumni and prospective doctoral students in the comments section! 

Trends in Adult and Workforce Education

“It’s a simple fact: the more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class.” – President Obama, 2013

In the President’s 2013 State of the Union address, he called on Congress to reform the Higher Education Act to make education more attainable and affordable. In today’s increasingly competitive economy, adult workers need to differentiate themselves and stay current in their fields. To do this, they need options for continuing their education and gaining additional experience.

Here are some current trends for continued learning for working adults:

Employer-Sponsored Training & Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Many companies are offering their employees specialized training and are even paying for them to go back to school. Some employers offer tuition assistance vouchers or have partnerships with colleges and universities to provide discounted tuition rates. In a recent article for, Northcentral University‘s Dr. Lee Smith, dean of the School of Business and Technology Management details the importance of providing employees with professional development opportunities.

“Supporting professional development initiatives during tough economic times makes more sense for most companies than not doing so,” says Lee. “To stay ahead of the game, it is incumbent on these organizations to ensure that their key employees are trained in areas that will advance company performance.”

Certification Programs

Certification programs are increasing in popularity among workers who’ve earned a college degree but want more specialized training in a given occupation. Skills can be developed at both the occupational and industry level. Individuals seeking certifications can look to traditional post-secondary education at colleges and universities or find certification opportunities through industry and professional associations.


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a hot topic in education today. Individuals with Internet access can take courses online for free at some of the nation’s top universities. While most MOOCS do not offer credit for course completion, there are circumstances that allow for a certificate of completion. If you want to enroll in a MOOC, be sure to check whether or not a certificate option exists, and whether or not they charge a fee.

Adult Internships & Volunteering

Adult internships and volunteering are on the rise. Short-term work and volunteer assignments can help adults gain experience and skills in areas they may be lacking or to get their foot in the door at a certain company or industry. Often, internships are unpaid, but they are a great way to determine whether or not you’ll enjoy a particular occupation or industry and can be great resume boosters as well.

Webinars and Conferences

Other options for continuing workforce education are webinars and conferences. Webinars are seminars or lecture presentations conducted over the Internet, often sponsored by one or more companies looking to gain visibility and demonstrate thought leadership in an industry or occupation. They are a convenient way to keep up with industry trends since all you need to do is register, and you can listen from anywhere you have Internet access. On the other hand, conferences are carried out in person and can also be more costly (webinars are generally free), especially if travel and overnight accommodations are required.

Northcentral University to Attend NAFSA 2013 Annual Conference

I'm Exhibiting at NAFSA!

If there’s one thing we’ve learned during our 17 years in higher education, it’s that the education field is incredibly diverse. That’s why we’re so excited to join the NAFSA: Association of International Educators community at the NAFSA 2013 Annual Conference & Expo in St. Louis, Missouri, May 26-31.

As a graduate-focused online university serving students and working professionals around the world, Northcentral University shares the goal of providing diverse students with increased access to higher education opportunities. Not only is Northcentral University regionally accredited, but by not requiring physical residencies or in-person sessions, students have the opportunity to earn an advanced degree while working with highly credentialed faculty from all over the world.

“Online education can garner the best of professional minds who cannot gather in one place (Arizona), but can be reached easily through the Internet,” explains NCU Dissertation Chair Dr. Daphne Halkias.  “Most of last year, [my husband and I] lived in a remote location in the desert. Were it not for technology, I wouldn’t be teaching nor doing research.”

Alina O’Connor, senior director of business development at Northcentral University, will be on hand during the conference in booth #301 to share more information about building an alliance with NCU and the benefits of online learning from a global perspective.

“I’m really looking forward to presenting NCU to a global audience,” says O’Connor. “Every institution is so unique, and I enjoy learning what it is that each college or university needs from an alliance, and work with them to help fill those needs, whether it’s educating faculty members who want to earn a doctorate, professional training and development opportunities, and student and alumni benefits.”


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