Online doctoral programmes have become increasingly popular, allowing adult professionals to pursue their academic goals while carrying on with their lives. This research inquired into a seldom-explored aspect of the online PhD experience: its transformative nature. Through in-depth interviews, we investigated the impact of online doctorates on candidates' lives and perspectives, as well as the retrospective advice they would give to their past selves at the beginning of the programme. Findings indicate that a sense of empowerment and agency is frequently rekindled in online graduate students as they rediscover their own unique voices and perspectives. The PhD also opens them up to new networks and worldviews, promoting personal and professional growth. Students' advice emphasises the importance of having a support network to turn to in times of need, cultivating grit and time-management skills, and learning to cope with constant rejection. This paper offers insights into the lived experience of online graduate students that might interest both prospective students and programme administrators.