1 Year Online Doctoral Programs – Finish Your Doctorate in Less Time

Searching for 1 Year Online Doctoral Programs or the shortest doctoral program online? Select one of these universities that offer accelerated courses.

Searching for 1 year online doctoral programs? Wondering if it is even possible to get your accelerated doctorate degree online in one year?

You’re not alone. In fact, over 1,000 people per month are asking the very same question: What is the shortest doctoral program online?

1 year online doctoral program student sitting with laptop

Can you earn a doctorate degree in 1 year?

Generally speaking, no, there are no 1 year online doctoral programs. However, there is one exception, as well as a few ways that you can speed through the process much faster than most universities will tell you.

First, the exception: You may be able to complete a 1 year online doctoral program IF you are transferring a lot of graduate level credits into an accelerated, non-dissertation program. Schools usually have a limit to the number of credits they can accept in transfer, so look around for a school that can accept all or most of the credits you have earned.

If you do not have credits to transfer, it is still possible to earn your doctorate much faster than universities advertise. Here’s how:

By enrolling in an online doctoral program with no dissertation requirement, you will be able to earn your degree relatively quickly. As an example, at a university that offers 8-week online courses, and allows you to take up to 9 credit hours per term, here is what that might look like:

  • Fall, first 8 weeks: Take three 3-credit classes (total of 9 credit hours)
  • Fall, second 8 weeks: Take three 3-credit classes that are 8 weeks (cumulative credits 18 hours)
  • Spring, first 8 weeks: Take three 3-credit classes that are 8 weeks (cumulative credits 27 hours)
  • Spring, second 8 weeks: Take three 3-credit classes that are 8 weeks (cumulative credits 36 hours)
  • Summer, first 8 weeks: Take three 3-credit classes that are 8 weeks (cumulative credits 45 hours)
  • Summer, second 8 weeks: Take three 3-credit classes that are 8 weeks (cumulative credits 54 hours)

By taking the maximum of 3 classes per 8-week semester, you can complete 54 credit hours in just one year! Most doctoral programs require around 60 credits, so just one more term with 2 doctoral courses would give you that. This, of course, would be an incredibly grueling schedule, but it is possible.

Need to see a real life example?

Let’s look at California Southern University’s business program, which they say takes 4 years at full-time status.

We weren’t convinced it would take this long to finish the doctorate online, so we contacted an admission’s counselor at the university.

Here’s what we found out:

First of all, California Southern accepts up to 30 credits in transfer toward the 60-credit DBA program, which is much more than most universities. But even without transferring credits, you can still move very quickly, especially with new courses starting every month.

California Southern University online doctoral program screenshot

Next, California Southern limits you to just one class during the first 8-week online semester – BUT – after doing well in that class, there is NO limit to the number of online courses you can take each week. The counselor even mentioned that a student was enrolled in 12 credit hours that semester! Tiring? Yes, but you do want to get your doctorate degree fast, don’t you?

With 8 week online courses and a rigorous schedule, it would be possible to finish in one year IF California Southern did not require a final project that takes one year to complete. So, no dissertation, but a long final project.

In sum, you could complete your regular doctoral courses in about one year, and your final project in one year – meaning this 4-year doctoral program can realistically be completed in as little as 2 years! No, that’s not a 1 year online doctoral program, but going from zero credits to graduation in just two years for a doctorate is impressive – making it one of the shortest doctoral programs online.

Accelerated Doctoral Programs No Dissertation

Most doctoral programs require a traditional dissertation, a written essay that is several hundreds of pages and takes a year or longer to write. However, a growing number of accredited colleges and universities now offer accelerated online doctoral programs with no dissertation requirement, which can help you earn this advanced degree much faster!

Instead of the traditional, time-consuming dissertation, students in these programs complete capstone projects. Capstone projects vary by school and by program, but may involve a combination of a research paper and field work, or consulting work at an area business, for example.

Is a GRE or GMAT required?

Not always! Quite a few graduate schools do not require GRE or GMAT scores at all, and others will often waive the requirement if you have:

  • A high GPA (usually over 3.0)
  • Professional experience

So even if you did not take the GRE or GMAT, or took it more than five years ago (at which point the scores expire), or scored low, it is absolutely possible to find 1 year online doctoral programs without submitting GRE or GMAT scores.

How long does it take to get a doctorate degree online?

The length of time it takes to earn your doctorate degree online depends on your own schedule, as well as the university and program you select.

As you browse programs online, most universities will indicate that their doctoral programs take 3 years or 4 years to complete. For example, a PhD in Psychology (research-focused) may take longer than an online PsyD (real-world application focus). However, if you enroll in accelerated 8-week courses online, take the maximum course load, and do not have a dissertation requirement, it may be possible to complete the program in as little as 2 to 2.5 years. If you are able to commit to such a rigorous schedule, you can finish your doctorate program much faster than universities advertise!

Doctoral Degree Salaries and Careers

Earning your doctorate is a significant investment of time and money, but there is definitely a pay off!

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), full-time workers who hold a doctorate earn $1,743 per week on average, while those with a master’s earn $1,401 – that’s an increase of almost 25%!

Check out the comparison of lifetime earnings for those with a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in these popular fields:

Profession With a Bachelor’s With a Master’s With a Doctorate % Increase from Master’s to Doctorate
Business $2,563,000 $3,257,000 $3,535,000 9%
Communications $2,333,000 $2,552,000 $3,306,000 30%
Computers, Math & Statistics $3,044,000 $3,541,000 $3,890,000 10%
Education $1,798,000 $2,260,000 $2,802,000 24%
Engineering $3,349,000 $3,918,000 $4,176,000 7%
Liberal Arts & History $2,046,000 $2,448,000 $2,705,000 10%
Psychology $2,001,000 $2,366,000 $3,157,000 33%
Social Science $2,406,000 $2,986,000 $3,490,000 17%
Visual & Performing Arts $1,966,000 $2,227,000 $2,545,000 14%

*Data from the United States Census Bureau

As you can see, those who have earned a doctorate have the potential to earn quite a bit more money than those whose highest education is a master’s degree (or lower). They will also have more opportunities to advance their careers and move into higher level positions at a faster pace.

So, if you are wondering if 1 year online doctoral programs exist – no, not really – but that doesn’t mean you can’t customize your schedule as we outlined above and create the shortest doctoral program online!

This article is brought to you by
Lindsay Aldini
Lindsay Aldini
Lifelong Learner
Joy Miller
Joy Miller
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