New “distance doctorate” program the first of its kind

“Time and geography are no longer hurdles for the working professional pursuing an advanced degree.”

In fall 2019, Purdue Polytechnic officially launched a new Doctorate of Technology distance-learning program tailored to actively employed, working professionals. The new graduate degree program, which took six years to create, is the first Doctorate of Technology degree offered completely online by a Tier 1 research university.

Kathryne Newton, the Polytechnic Institute’s associate dean for graduate programs and faculty success, explained that demand from working professionals for a distance doctorate was the driving force behind this new program. She said the time was right.

“Online learning has become more mainstream in recent years, and the Polytechnic already boasts proven success with its master’s degree distance programs,” said Newton. “Time and geography are no longer hurdles for the working professional pursuing an advanced degree. We can serve individuals who, due to work and home responsibilities, would choose not to pursue a doctorate in a traditional campus setting.”

Newton worked closely with Mitchell Springer, executive director of Purdue Online – Polytechnic Institute, to create a program that focuses on developing the competence in technology and research needed by business, industry and government. The doctorate program includes use-inspired basic research and purely applied research and development – all with no on-campus residency requirement. And, while the coursework is completed online, students have the opportunity to network with fellow professionals and faculty in a world-class program designed to support a work-life balance.

Springer describes the Doctorate of Technology program as one with “every bit of the rigor of a traditional doctorate program,” complete with a research-based dissertation. Students apply their innovation, management capabilities and research skills to evolving challenges across organizations, industries and society. At present, Technology Leadership and Innovation is the first track offered in the Doctorate of Technology program, and is open to professionals with a master’s degree from a wide range of fields. As the program grows, additional tracks aligned to other Polytechnic academic department specialties will be added.

“Time and geography are no longer hurdles for the working professional pursuing an advanced degree.”After a soft launch with a limited number of students in spring 2019, the goal for fall 2019 was to enroll 10 students in the new distance doctorate program. Instead, Newton and Springer welcomed 35 new Doctorate of Technology students.

“Working professionals want and need this next level of education,” said Springer. “Industry has a growing need for this Doctorate of Technology degree, and a need for employees who can conduct their own research.”

Doctorate of Technology student studies bio-warfare defense

Christopher L. King – Laker fan, inspirational speaker, and student in Purdue Polytechnic’s Doctorate of Technology program – has titled his research, “Bio-security defensive strategies against bio-warfare.” He studies ways to prepare for and defend against weaponized diseases. King already holds a master’s degree in biotechnology, innovation and regulatory science from Purdue, and a doctorate in synthetic organic chemistry from Howard University. He is adding a prestigious Doctorate of Technology degree to his educational triumphs.

“Industry requires you to multitask and wear more than one hat, and this program helps to broaden my capabilities,” said King. “And, when you hear ‘Purdue,’ you automatically think ‘excellence.’”

After just a few months in the Polytechnic Institute’s distance doctorate program, King appreciates the accessible faculty and the ability to customize his program to focus on what he needs.

“If I’m not grasping a concept, I can schedule the time to talk with faculty and make sure I understand the topic and can apply it to my work,” he said.

King’s ultimate goal is to serve in a department of the federal government, with an eye toward agriculture or

Online graduate certificates

Purdue Polytechnic Institute also offers an online graduate certificate program that allows working professionals to advance their careers in specialized areas:

  • aviation safety management
  • executive construction management
  • information technology business analysis
  • managing information technology projects

Learn more at

This article first appeared in Innovation Magazine, published annually by Purdue Polytechnic for alumni and friends.

People in this Article: