This is not a good time to be getting a doctoral degree in the humanities or the social sciences, at least if you expect to become a professor.
The California State University system--the largest in the world--is the latest to move toward putting some of its courses online. The cost is just $150 per course for remedial math courses. Preliminary studies indicate that students taking such courses learn more than do students in (the much more expensive) face-to-face classes.
Of course people like me might argue that it is relatively easy to automate a system to teach and grade elementary math, quite another to capture the nuances of historical experience. But how many history instructors could compete against, say, a class on the Civil War that featured lectures from Eric Foner of Columbia University and online discussions and papers graded by earnest and capable teaching assistants located in, say, India at one quarter the cost of a similar course at a state university?
Cheap, effective online courses offered by prestigious universities are likely to be a great boon for debt-burdened students and a disaster for professors. Professors can minimize the shock by: teaching so well that we cannot be easily replaced; adjusting to the new online reality by incorporating the best aspects of it into our teaching.