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Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Distance PhD in Philosophy? by Justin Weinberg

"The Philosophy Department at Staffordshire University is advertising a new distance-learning option for its PhD program:" according to Daily Nous maintained by, Justin Weinberg, associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina.

Our doctoral programme can now be run on either an attendance or distance learning basis. The principles are the same – i.e. a course of high-level supervised research leading to a substantial and original thesis. However, the supervision happens online instead of in person, for example by Skype, email, or similar. In other words, as a distance learning PhD student, you can pursue your work from wherever in the world you live, and whatever your schedule. Our aim is to make your experience of doing a PhD by distance learning as professionally and personally enriching as it would be by attendance.
The philosophers at Staffordshire seem sensitive to the kinds of obstacles distance-learning presents.

They add:
the monitoring of distance learning doctoral students will be more frequent, to try to ensure that the lack of face to face contact does not cause students to ‘drift off’ from their studies. This means that we will ask you to report regularly on your progress and your activities. Likewise, we will insist that you participate fully in the virtual life of the department, through online discussion forums, reading groups, organising virtual conferences, contributing to special online events, planning and delivering online learning materials, sitting in where relevant on online Masters courses, and etc…
 …distance learning study will normally only be available part time, and only candidates with extraordinarily high qualifications and references will be considered for full-time study in this mode.
I am curious what philosophers elsewhere think of the idea of a distance-learning PhD program, and whether their departments offer one (or are considering offering one). I imagine there is some resistance to the idea that extends beyond prejudice against the unfamiliar and it would be good to get those concerns out on the table, so they can be compared with the reasons that count in its favor (such as accessibility, cost control, etc.).

Source: Daily Nous

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