Online & Part-time PhD Progs

I. Full-Time Foresight Doctoral Programs
Five full-time (residency) doctoral programs in foresight are available globally, most in the English language. See Foresight Graduate Programs - Global List for details. These need to be better described, promoted, connected and supported by FERN.

II. Online and Part-Time PhD Programs in Foresight – Global List
A growing number of universities have reputable online or part-time doctoral programs, as well as known foresight faculty at the university. Such programs are ideal for a thesis in foresight practice, education, or theory that can be done by working professionals with a masters degree. Online and part-time programs are preferred perhaps ten to one over full-time (residency) doctorates for their convenience. These programs need to be better described, promoted, connected and supported by FERN.

Online and part-time doctoral programs can be divided into three categories for our purposes. Category one is online and part-time doctoral programs at universities with known foresight faculty, publishing in primary foresight specialties in primary foresight journals. These are listed first below, alpha by school name. Known foresight faculty, which may or may not be the same in department that offers the degree, are also listed. Category two is programs that have known faculty publishing in secondary foresight specialties. These faculty are also listed when known. Category three lists programs at universities that may have foresight faculty (unknown), alpha by school name. For the US, only universities with regional accreditation or higher are listed. The faculty and publications at all of these schools need to be further investigated and described by FERN volunteers. Any takers?

Additional Annotations (When Known): 
  • Name and type of degree (PhD, DBA, EdD, etc.).
  • Social rank of the university (five star is top 20%, one star is lowest 20%).
  • Course-intensive, research, and publication doctorate options.
  • Average and range of time to completion in years.
  • Average and range of tuition costs, and scholarship options.
  • Physical classroom meeting options or requirements,
  • Low-residency requirements, for online programs.

1. Online and Part-Time Doctoral Programs with Known Faculty in Primary Foresight Specialties
This category includes only programs that have resident faculty who have published primary foresight articles, and have experience in primary foresight specialties. So far, we've discovered the following programs. Let us know if you find more! 

Current Programs (see also associated Details Pages)
1. Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia)*** [See our Queensland U. of Tech Details Page]
Foresight Faculty: Sohail Inayatullah
2. Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA, USA)*** 
Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership ($54,000 in 2010)
EdD in Distance Education ($43,000 in 2010)
EdD in Higher Education Leadership
Foresight Faculty: Jay Gary, School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship
Ecumenical Christian university.
3. Swinburne University of Technology (Hawthorn, Australia)*** 
Research Doctorates in Business, Technology, Design, and Sciences($60,000 in 2010)
Foresight Faculty: Peter Hayward, Faculty of Business and Enterprise
4. University of Manchester (Manchester, UK)**** [See our U. Manchester Details Page]
DBA in Business Administration ($64,000 in 2010)
Foresight Faculty: Ian Miles, Luke Georghiou, Jennifer Harper, Mike Keenan, and Rafael Popper
They do governmental and corporate tech foresight work. See their The Handbook of Technology Foresight, 2008.
5. University of Stellenbosch (Stellenbosch, South Africa)*** [See our U. Stellenbosch Details Page]
Foresight Faculty: Andre Roux
6. University of the Sunshine Coast (Sunshine Coast, Australia)** [See our U. of the Sunshine Coast Details Page]
Foresight Faculty: Sohail Inayatullah

Pending Programs (check with the university to find out their latest status):
1. Tamkang University (Taipei, Taiwan)*** [See our Tamkang U. Program Details Page]
PhD in Strategic Foresight / Futures Studies.

2. Online and Part-Time Doctoral Programs With Known Faculty in Secondary Foresight Specialties
There are no known primary foresight professionals at these universities. where one may do secondary foresight work of various types.

1. Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University (Bedford, UK)
Part-Time PhD or Executive DBA in Management. You can do a focus on Complexity, Change, or Innovation under Dr. Allen. 
Peter M Allen is Professor of Evolutionary Complex Systems. He teaches on Complexity, Management, and Modeling Change and Innovation in Social Systems.
2. Leeds Metropolitan University (Leeds, UK)*** [See our Leeds Metropolitan U. Details Page]
Graham May was a primary foresight faculty, running an MS in Foresight but he left in 2004 when the MS was discontinued.
Jeff Gold is an HR and leadership specialist. Verne Wheelwright and Pero Micic have done research PhDs in foresight under him and Andy Hines is currently working on his. They also offer 3 year part-time DBA Program in Strategic Foresight. ($36,000 in 2010/ DBA)
3. Pepperdine U. Ed.D. in Organizational Change (Los Angeles, CA, USA) ($135,000)
A foresight-oriented title for this doctorate, but no known primary foresight faculty (needs to be investigated). 
4. University of Plymouth/Planetary Collegium (Plymouth, UK)
An art/new media oriented online university. Natascha Vita-More is doing her PhD there.

3. Select Online and Part-Time Doctoral Programs that May Have Foresight Faculty (Unknown)
These programs are all accredited by one of the "Top Six" accrediting agencies, but have no known affiliation with foresight professionals in either primary or secondary categories. Particularly useful degree choices in which you could undertake a foresight oriented thesis would be Education (PhD or EdD in Education, etc.), for foresight educators and academic futurists, or Business (PhD or DBA in Bus. Admin.) for corporate and institutional futurists. Prices listed below are very approximate, with the year last assessed. Your employer may pay a portion of the tuition, and scholarship/fee reduction applications are sometimes available.

1. Anderson University ($22,000 in 2009)**
Ecumenical Christian university.
Most inexpensive of the third-tier schools.
2. Argosy University ($49,000 in 2009)**
3. Capella University ($64,000 to $82,000 in 2009)***
4. Fielding Graduate University ($85,200 to $127,800 in 2009)***
5. New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)***
PhD in Education ($14,000 In-State, $39,000 Out-of-State)
Possible Foresight Specialties: Curric. & Instruction - Foresight Education; Ed. Tech - Foresight Distance Learning.
New class (cohort) admitted every even year (2010, 2012, etc.)
Low-residency requirement: Two weeks each Summer for the first three years.
Application Deadline: Jan 15, 2010, 2012, etc.
6. Northcentral University ($27,000 to $42,000 in 2010)**
Inexpensive third-tier school with many students.
7. Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Florida, USA)***
EdD in Education ($39,000 in 2009)
Possible Foresight Specialties: Instructional Tech and Distance Education
8. Union Institute and University (Cincinnati, OH and Sacramento, CA, USA)***
PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies ($70,000 in 2007)
Possible Foresight Specialties: Union lets you pick your own thesis committee, even with foresight faculty from outside the university.
9. University of Phoenix (Many locations in US and globally))**
Ed.D. in Education ($73,010 in 2009)
Possible Foresight Specialties: Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Technology 
10. Walden University (45 locations in US and global)***
PhD in Education ($60,000 to $80,000 in 2010)
Possible Foresight Specialties: Curriculum & Instruction - Foresight Ed; Self-Designed Option)
The Self-Designed Option could be tailored to specialize in Foresight Education.
Walden claims to have the largest number of online PhDs in Education. 

To Add:
Boston University,
Indiana State University, PhD Technology Management
Walden University, PhD Applied Management and Decision Sciences
Texas Tech U, PhD Technical Communications and Rhetoric
University of the Rockies, PychD Executive Coaching, Organizational Leadership.

For Further Research:
Carnegie Fdn's List of 282 US PhD Programs, in three classes (Humanities & Social Sciences, STEM, & Professional)
DegreeInfo Distance Learning is the oldest and largest distance learning forum on the Web. Post a question there for good advice.
DegreeInfo has a partial list of 45 UK universities that offer research doctorates.
Wikipedia's Global List of DBA Programs. Which of these are online and part-time is not clear.
Online Graduate Programs is a newer resource for researching online degree programs.

A 2006 comparison of some programs: Doctoral Studies by the Internet
comparison of doctoral costs for the EdD for for some of these. 
USN&WR ranks 12,000 full-time schools and 270 full-time doctoral programs, but not online programs. 
For the UK's 114 full-time universities, see the League Tables for rankings. has a ranking of 22 Australian universities, some with online programs.
OEDB ranks 44 US online schools, but their US list is not complete, and has no international schools. 
GuidetoOnlineSchools ranks 25 online schools, and gives some NCES stats.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiles aggregate stats about US online schools.
See NCES's Postsecondary Institutions & Price of Attendance in the US, 2008 for some aggregate data.

Key Questions to Ask in Evaluating These Programs
If you are considering an online or part-time doctorate to advance your career as a foresight professional, answering the following questions will be helpful. Questions are followed by a list of programs to consider, in three categories.

1. Where Do You and Will You Primarily Work? 
Where will you primarily use your foresight doctorate? The three main areas are Practice (applied research doctorate), Education (educational doctorate), or Academics (basic research doctorate). The older you are, the more likely it is that you’ll get a terminal degree to start or supplement work in either foresight Practice for a client (most common) or foresight Education, teaching for a school, university or company (second most common). Academic foresight (least common) is also very important to advancing and grounding the field, but is usually done via residency-based doctorates, and is mainly a young person’s game. Nevertheless, even doctorates for academic purposes can be done online by mid-career or older working professionals, particularly if you'd be satisfied using it to do basic research (as well as teaching) at a lower-tier university. FERN seeks to help students and educators doing doctoral work and instruction all three of these areas.

2. Who are your Primary Clients and Community? 
What clients and community will you serve most with your degree? For foresight Practice (applied research), typical clients can be grouped into four main communities, Science and Technology, Business, Policy, and Society. The last is a catch-all for a range of client types. Some clients span several or all of these communities. Foresight Education and Academics (basic research) are small enough that they can be treated as their own unique communities. 

3. What Foresight-Oriented Thesis Do You Wish to Do? 
Think first of your primary clients and community when you develop your thesis. It should serve their needs as powerfully as possible, while also building on your unique skills and interests. For a serious foresight thesis, you will also want a foresight practitioner, educator, or academic on your thesis committee, preferably as the chair, your primary advisor and sponsor. This person or persons will be your mentor(s), shepherding your unique intellectual contributions to foresight practice, education, or academics. Having foresight faculty in the same department that offers the degree is ideal. They can usually be your thesis chair. Failing that, or in addition, having foresight faculty from any department at the university should allow them to be on your thesis committee.

4. Do You Want a Course-Intensive, Research, or Publication Doctorate?
Course-Intensive online and part-time doctorates are by far the most common. You have to take a number of courses leading up to your thesis. The University of Phoenix is an example of this type. Some courses will be valuable, but others may be a waste of time, relative to your particular needs and interests. These doctorates typically take 3-4 years full-time and 6-8 half-time. Research doctorates are less common, and are primarily seen in Europe, Australia and South Africa. You do your own independent education, research, and thesis work, under faculty supervision. Required courses are generally self-paced, not instructional. They are faster to complete, typically taking 2-3 years full-time and 4-6 half-time, and often cost substantially less. Like the self-paced classes in college, which many start but few complete, research doctorates are best for self-motivated people who know just what they want. Publication doctorates are the least common. If you’ve already published extensive peer-reviewed work, typically six articles or more, and are an established expert in a field, you can bundle these articles up, do a bit more work, and get doctoral credit in just 1 year full-time or 2 years half-time. For those seeking to advance their careers in foresight practice, education, or non-tenure-track academic research, the Research and, where applicable, Publication doctorates are excellent alternatives to the Course-Intensive doctorate.

5. Do you Want a Practitioner-Oriented or Academic-Oriented Doctorate?
This distinction is less clear today than in the past, but it still has some value. Practitioner-oriented doctorates, DBAs and EdD's are available through business schools and education departments vs. PhDs, or academic-oriented doctorates. The PhD stresses research over application, and the DBA and EdD industry application over research. The PhD is generally more rigorous than the DBA or EdD, but not always, and not at all institutions. You can teach at the university with both, and the DBA or EdD usually have less of a research component (e.g., a DBA thesis is aproximately 50K words, a PhD thesis 100K words), but not always. The DBA and EdD are weak for tenure-track academics, but academic prestige may not matter for those getting their doctorate for practice or educational purposes. The US Dept of Ed. and the National Science Foundation recognize the DBA and EdD as "equivalent" to the PhD, so the distinction is more about process and social perception than it is about techical use. A DBA or EdD from a good university will still open doors for teaching and greatly increase your expertise. If your primary motivation is to add original thought to a particular area of academic study, the PhD would be preferred. If your primary motivation is to add original thought to an area of professional practice, a professional degree (DBA, EdD, etc.) might be preferred, and would be easier to complete as well. In practice, most people and clients will never know the difference, so it is a personal choice.

6. How Much Accreditation and University Reputation Do You Need? 
For accreditation, regional accreditation (RA) is, counterintuitively, preferable to national accreditation (NA). The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), a national accreditation body for online universities, accepts lots of low-rank universities, so credits from DETC schools don't always transfer to RA schools. As a result, we do not list DETC accredited schools. For reputation, if you are seeking an Academic doctorate, pay the most attention to social rankings. For an Education doctorate, any RA school will be sufficient. For a Practice doctorate, any accredited institution is sufficient, but higher rankings have more social significance. If pursuing a doctorate outside your own country, school ranking is less important. Nevertheless, we still recommend avoiding the lowest third or quarter of accredited online programs in any country, by ranking. Reward institutional performance! Comprehensive online university rankings have yet to emerge, so you'll have to do this ranking work yourself. In general, an online doctorate from a school that also has a high-ranked, full-time residency-based university is ideal, if you can find one. Boston University is perhaps the only US example at present. At the same time, several mostly-online and part-time degree universities, like Nova Southestern, Regent, Walden, and Union, are increasingly gaining reputations for excellence. Some, like the University of Phoenix, have mixed quality reputations, so buyer beware. The University of Phoenix enrolled about 225,000 students in 2008, about ten times the number of most of the others on this list, which typically range from 10-30K students

7. How Important is In-Person Student-Teacher and Student-Student Contact? 
If regular in-person contact is particularly important and/or motivating to you, a part-time, course-based university, like the University of Phoenix, should be high on your list. Such programs offer weekly physical classroom meetings. Such meetings may be optional, but you are still often expected to attend virtually at a particular time, or at least participate in classroom discussions online. The other end of the spectrum is an entirely online, research based doctorate, where you travel once or twice to meet your thesis chair in person, and do the rest all on your own. A third alternative, and for many a happy medium, is programs with a "low-residency" requirement, where students are expected to visit the university two weeks or less each year over the first one to three years, with the rest of the program done online. We suggest that one week of residency a year should be an expected part of every online doctorate. Low-residency programs require a extra work from the university, and a bit of scheduling and extra expense on the part of the student, so they are still only a minority of online doctorates. Nevertheless they are a great way to add socialization, networking, and motivation to any online program, whether course-intensive or research based. 

Benefits to an Online or Part-Time Foresight Doctorate - Brief Summary
Below is a short list of reasons why you might want to do an online foresight doctorate. The third reason under teaching, the ability to start a foresight masters program, is a particularly useful for growing the global foresight community.

  • More respect and better pay in the corporate world
  • Professional skills around a particular topic of interest
  • Higher pay (vs. master's holders) as part-time or full-time instructors
  • Access to better universities (vs.master's holders) to teach foresight as part- or full-time faculty
  • Ability to start foresight master's programs at many second and third tier institutions
  • Contribute to advancing and grounding the methodology of the foresight field
  • New research and writing skills around a particular topic of interest
Finding, networking, and supporting more Category 1 and 2 programs above is a high-value strategy for the continued development of the global foresight community.

Usefulness and Limits of the Online Doctorate for University Teaching
As mentioned before, an online degree even from an accredited university may not grant you teaching access to a top research university, unless that university already has a foresight department or center (and few do). You'll have to bring something else to the table, like particular industry or professional experience, for such jobs. By contrast, accredited online degrees work quite well for adjunct positions in second and third-tier universities, community colleges, private colleges, technical colleges, etc. It is true that you will be less competitive (meaning you'll have to bring other things to the table) if you are applying for full-time or associate professor positions with these degrees, but that can be overcome if you have other skills in marketing, management, curriculum development, etc.

Proposed Ideal Online Foresight Doctorate Structure
One example of what we think would be very helpful for our profession would be an online foresight doctoral program with the following characteristics. Let's see if we can get one created within this decade:

1. Strategic Foresight track of their (Business, Strategy, Policy, Education, Sociology, Communications, or other Departments) PhD. This track can be done by working with adjunct/affiliate faculty and/or dissertation committee members that specifically have futures studies PhDs, publishing professional futurists, and pubishing future-oriented academics from a number of postsecondary specialties. The program would briefly list the FS dissertation domains (FS methods and subject areas) that would be well-supported in the FS track.

2. Additional admissions prerequisites to the Foresight track that would minimize the educational overhead for these programs and guarantee the quality of the graduates. Ideally a distance PhD in Foresight would be for mature, self-motivated individuals who are already somewhat established academic, business, or institutional futurists. Entrants might have any of the following:
a. A Masters from one of the recognized Foresight MS programs
b. Two or more years of foresight publications (sole author or as part of a team).
c. Two or more years of experience as a business or institutional foresight professional (with references to validate).

 Lists an Alumni Council (volunteer based) that is available by email to help the incoming Foresight PhD students. I believe a number of global FS PhD alumni would be interested in participating, if asked. Ideally the program would also list the already completed foresight graduates, if any, and a brief outline of their dissertations. 

4. Encourages program students to publish in and cite the existing primary foresight journals as part of the PhD requirements. There are at least nineteen of these journals (and many more related journals), but these core journals are still "silos waiting to be networked" according to Clem Bezold, who has been on the editorial committees of several of them. Ideally examples of primary and secondary foresight journals would be listed on the program web page, further promoting the field to the prospective student.

PhD versus DBA for Business School Programs - Some Good Advice

From Alf Oldman, via LinkedIn Answers: "I completed my DBA at Henley Management College in 1997 on a part-time basis, following three enormously intensive but rewarding years. I was mid-career, having completed my Masters twenty-five years earlier. It is critically important to seriously analyze personal motivation to undertake a doctorate.

Let me introduce some archetypes to help flush out the decision process: (A) Academic - the typical doctoral student is aged mid-twenties, who has chosen an academic career, often with little or zero experience outside academia; (B) Lecturer - typically mid-career, professionally qualified individual, who has chosen the Educational Sector - career progression likely to be blocked without Doctorate or academic publications etc.; and (C) Practitioner - typically mid-career, professionally qualified, with a strong record of managerial/professional achievement, looking to become a true specialist in his or her chosen area of expertise. I fall into category (C) and my DBA was an immensly rewarding experience, both academically and professionally. I would not recommend a DBA/PhD lightly - the drop-out rate is enormous. A key question is "how are you going to finance it?". In my case, I received sponsorship from a professional organization and my research was subsequently published as a book. Whether one takes the DBA or PhD, probably the most important decision is to get a tutor who is a leading expert in the literature - with a weak or average tutor, the most likely outcome is years in the wilderness or drop-out. Understanding your motivation is paramount - shallow, egocentric individuals who are tempted by the cache "Doctor" are unlikely to have the required focus and tenacity. Finally, let me address the DBA vs. Phd question. For archetype (A), "the Academic", I would strongly recommend a traditional PhD. For archetype (B), "the Lecturer", I would probably recommend a DBA. Finally, for archetype (C), I would strongly recommend a DBA."

Marketing Foresight Doctoral Programs
FERN should do our part to make sure the foresight community knows about these programs. Places to market the best of our Category I programs to are the over 2,000+ foresight master's students and alumni of the existing global programs. There is also the World Future Society, which has over 25,000 members. Our has over 1,000 members, many of which who would be interested in this. Shaping Tomorrow's Foresight Network has over 1,400 members. The Association of Professional Futurists has over 400 members. The World Futures Studies Federation has roughly 300 members.