30 Best Online PhD Programs [2020 Guide]

We’ve identified the 30 best online PhD programs. Compare top schools and see what earning your doctorate could do for you.

Online PhD Programs

A PhD program is the highest type of degree a professional can get. This is why they are also known as “terminal degrees.” They are often the crowning achievement to a lifetime devoted to research and learning.

They also open exciting career opportunities in academia for anyone who wishes to nurture future professionals in their field.

Because they certify the highest level of expertise on any given field, holding a PhD can give you a hard-to-beat edge in the job market.

Thanks to the internet, and the ever-more-sophisticated platforms for long-distance education, you can now pursue a PhD entirely online, without relocating or pausing your budding career.

Types of Online PhD Programs

Check out the list below to explore some of the most popular online PhD avenues, as well as the potential repercussions they may have on your career. Click on the field of study that interests you to jump to that part of the page.

  1. Accounting
  2. Business Administration
  3. Counseling
  4. Criminal Justice
  5. Curriculum & Instruction
  6. Education
  7. Educational Leadership
  8. Finance
  9. Healthcare Management
  10. Higher Education
  11. Homeland Security
  12. Human Resources
  13. Information Technology
  14. Management
  15. Management Information Systems
  16. Nurse Practitioner (RN Required)
  17. Nursing Education (RN Required)
  18. Organizational Leadership
  19. Project Management
  20. Psychology
  21. Public Administration
  22. Public Health
  23. Public Policy
  24. Special Education
  25. Supply Chain and Logistics

In addition to PhD studies, many of these areas also offer other forms of doctoral degrees.

Accounting

accountant working on his office

If you pursue Accounting at the PhD level, you will achieve more than simply be recognized as the most educated person in the office.

After this level of specialization, an experienced accountant will have an additional avenue to certify their ability to design and run their financial tracking system.

This will place you in a position to occupy a leadership role within a large company, handling mid-to-large teams of financial professionals and their assistants.


You may also be able to apply to a command post in a government office, where they require to account for expenses while still predicting future availability of funds. At this level, you can also focus on accounting technology or tax accounting specifically.

If you wish to pursue a second career in academia, you should keep in mind that Accounting is one of the few fields that is facing a shortage of lecturers, as a wave of tenured professors has hit retirement age between 2005 and 2015.

Business Administration

business professionals meeting in office lounge

MBA degrees, or Masters of Business Administration, are usually awarded most of the spotlight when it comes to business-related higher education.

This means that programs geared towards a more scientific or theoretical approach often get overlooked – and that means they hide special reserve of grants and available spots.

If you wish to study the phenomena that secretly dictate financial outcomes, and are willing to use this knowledge to explore new avenues of revenue, this may be the PhD program.


These programs typically offer a deep focus on research and outcome analysis, which makes them great if you want to pursue a career in public administration.

Earnings for people with a PhD in Business Administration will vary depending on whether you choose a post in the private sector, as a lecturer, or as a public policymaker.

Counseling

counselor listening to a senior patient

The field of counseling is all about helping others and building the kind of environment where people and communities can thrive.

If you were looking to enter the counseling field, but you have a background in social sciences, humanities, or even business, a PhD will allow you to combine your pre-existing experience with the necessary knowledge to make a difference in people’s lives.


Counseling work offers very varied opportunities for work that encompass a variety of regimes and settings. A counselor with a PhD can work as part of a large healthcare organization, in a hospital setting, or as part of a network of outpatient care providers.

You can also start your private practice, especially if you want to cater to a specific population (like children, couples, or people with addictions). Counselors also play essential roles in the private sector, tending to the productivity and satisfaction levels of their peers.

Criminal Justice

police officers walking on street

Whether you grew up witnessing direct injustice, or just a fondness for police procedural TV shows, the chances are that you’ve seen the tremendous impact that the Criminal Justice field can have on people’s lives.

As an essential part of enforcing our current laws, graduates and PhD-level experts in Criminal Justice keep the fabric of our society together and playing under the same rules.

This can be a hugely rewarding and lucrative field. It is ideal for professionals with high persuasive and argumentative skills who can be flexible in their interpretation of language.


At the graduate level, Criminal Justice studies can also help you gather and interpret data that can help you analyze how laws are broken, and therefore to design systems that are safer for all citizens.

This can translate into high positions in law firms, director-level posts at correctional facilities, or even private practice.

Curriculum and Instruction

academic coordinator working on his laptop

An online doctorate program in Curriculum and Instruction will provide you with an efficient combination of educational skills. This program includes coursework regarding delivery practices, pedagogy, ad teaching methods.

However, it also goes a step further, as it provides you with a chance to research the way learning works below the surface.

This program could be ideal if you are looking to change the face of an educational institution, or want to install systems that allow others to reach their full potential.


Most online-based programs for curriculum and instruction will include several research-oriented modules, as well as specific seminars regarding resource management for educational settings.

This can open new ways of professional advancements if you want to become a school administrator, an academic coordinator, or work directly with your school district.

Education

early childhood instructor reading a book to children

At the Doctorate level, you will have the rare privilege to be simultaneously an education expert and to nurture the next generation of lecturers, school administrators, and early childhood instructors. This degree will enable you to take a leading position within your local school system.

This can round out an existing career in education or re-train you to run a training program within a larger company – such as the military or a private contractor.


A PhD in Education will also include a solid background in research methodology and data management.

This will enable you to investigate new ways to allocate resources within the educational system, or even to experiment and back new techniques that better prepare youth for our rapidly-changing world.

Educational Leadership

school administrators having a meeting

At first glance, a PhD in Educational Leadership is a subspecialty of a doctorate in Education. In reality, this is a broader field than it initially seems.

Top experts in Educational Leadership can efficiently teach, train, and mentor people of all ages, and are at the forefront of new holistic educational systems.

This can be an excellent field for you if you are a people person who wishes to make a lasting impact on their students and the organizations around them.


As a graduate, you will learn how to manage, allocate resources, design curriculums, and change modes of operation in a way that does not disrupt students. You will also learn to analyze and adjust the different factors that could impact student performance.

Most job positions in this field are, therefore, in the public sector, although there are now increasing opportunities developing in private university systems and faith-based schools.

Finance

Financial Consultant checking a document presented by her assistant

Finance is the number-based, profit-focused cousin of business administration. This is why their PhD programs are often very competitive and highly-sought out, although they are also among some of the highest-paid specializations.

As a Finance expert, a PhD in the field will certify your ability to run even larger or more complex organizations. Also, you will be provided with the research tools needed to predict market fluctuations and better allocate money in sustainable, profitable ways.


This is an ideal field if you already have experience in international business and are willing to invest some hard labor in improving your metrics. Result-oriented personalities tend to be particularly successful in the finance field.

After graduation, you can expect new professional positions to open up as a Financial Planner, Actuary, or a Financial Consultant for the private sector.

Healthcare Management

Healthcare Manager talking to a doctor on duty

Healthcare management is one of the most rapidly-expanding fields in the current American job market. Naturally, this has created a new wave of graduates and experts in the field.

If you are eager to differentiate yourself in this field and want to increase your abilities, a Healthcare Management PhD will provide you with the tools you need.


A Doctorate in Healthcare Management will allow you to bridge the professional gap between management and research positions, which are two of the best-paid ones in the healthcare industry.

At this level, you will be trained to experiment with new ways to integrate healthcare systems, assessing the success of coverage plans, intervention protocols, and preventive programs. Besides, you will be able to judge their financial efficiency and sustainability.

Higher Education

university professor doing a lecture in a classroom

A career in higher education is not just about directly teaching people. They are also about finding the most efficient ways to teach, create systems to ensure all teachings are correct, and ensure that all recipients of said education can take advantage of it.

If you already have a few years of experience in Secondary or Tertiary education, you may have already noticed that this is a field where credentials matter – and anything beyond a middle-management position will probably require a PhD qualification.


This is in part because the Higher Education industry is full of studious individuals who appreciate the effort placed on obtaining a degree.

This is not the only certification you will be getting off a PhD in Higher Education: you will also learn how to conduct research to best approach high-risk students and how to improve overall graduation rates and test scores.

Homeland Security

SWAT officers preparing to enter a building

Behind the imposing name, a career in Homeland Security will allow you to engage with your community and to protect it. Most entry-level positions in this field are closely linked to law enforcement or with crime prevention at a local level.

On the other hand, at the PhD level, Homeland Security experts design the systems that enable us to detect and predict future threats.

This includes the safeguards that keep society running during times of crisis, maintaining the infrastructure for quick responses, and designing the parameters for large-scale surveillance of ongoing threats.


This is a big responsibility, but it can be immensely motivating if you are an efficient planner who can adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

A PhD in Homeland Security can open the doors to director-level positions in the public sector, or may get you lucrative consultancies with private security firms.

Human Resources

human resource manager interviewing a job applicant

Human Resources is not just a well-established field already – it is also a very flexible one. Almost all companies have Human Resource needs, although the scale can vary wildly.

The largest employers in the country often see their Human Resource department grow into divisions of their own. Naturally, a large team needs to be led by people with great educations and deep expertise.


High qualifications are a must if you wish to climb the steps at the corporate ladder. However, there is more to a Fortune 500 management position behind a PhD in Human Resources.

This program will allow you to study the forces that shape the labor market and enable you to quickly scale up or down a team. For many rush-based industries, this is a skill worth paying for.

Information Technology

web developers working in the office

Information Technology is a rapidly-growing field that has quickly become one of the most accessible ways to break into high positions in Engineering.

If you already have a few years of experience in IT under your belt, you probably started with a keen love for machines and a talent for finding logical solutions.

As you rise in your responsibilities within a company, you will need to combine technical expertise with more in-depth organizational awareness.


By pursuing a PhD in Information Technology, you will be able to branch out into a variety of subfields. This encompasses Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, or Software Development.

Depending on how you focus your coursework, you can also gain a better understanding of other sciences that help turn code into profits, such as Product Design or Cybersecurity.  High median salaries and rapidly evolving tools mean the sky’s the limit.

Management

office manager having a meeting with colleagues in an office

If you are a natural-born leader who is eager to experiment with new methods to drive success and profit, consider a PhD in Management.

This research-oriented career path can turn you from an experienced manager into an innovative pioneer and mentor by providing you with the tools needed to run large organizations efficiently.

A PhD in Management will require a thorough knowledge of human resources, production processes, and finance.


Through the additional coursework and model projects addressed during your studies, you will perfect your ability to plan, supervise, and correct operational procedures at every level.

This will open the doors to Chief-level positions at mid to large companies and will give you an unparalleled knowledge if you ever want to start your own company.

Management Information Systems

data science manager checking the data center

The ability to lead people and hardware alike is a rare talent – but if you have an equal passion for both, Management Information System will allow you to combine both passions.

This field is all about developing and improving existing technology to make business management easier; whether you want to build a new digital platform or digitalize a large number of records, a PhD in Management Information Systems will help you develop all necessary skills.


An essential qualification in Management Information Systems will invariably include extensive training on business tactics, as well as hands-on knowledge of technology. If you choose to specialize in data science, portability, or cloud services, you can supervise in-house teams as easily as run your independent projects.

Nurse Practitioner (RN Required)

nurses walking in hospital stairs

As a Registered Nurse who has already advanced to a Masters’s level, you likely already have several years of clinical experience under your belt.

A PhD degree as a Nurse practitioner will allow you to move beyond the confines of a hospital as an independent practitioner.


A Nurse Practitioner will be able to take health promotion interventions directly into the heart of the community and take an active role in guarding the health of vulnerable populations.

This can encompass working with expecting women, infants, children, or older adults. Besides, you can also provide the first tier of care in some specialties, increasing their availability and affordability for the general public.

Nursing Education (RN Required)

healthcare professionals having a meeting

The healthcare field is a rapidly changing one, which places it in a uniquely vulnerable place when it comes to education. The way clinical protocols and standards often create an abyss between practicing professionals and new cadres of students.

The task of combining experience with modernity and experimentation falls to Nursing Educators – and if you want to take an active role in shaping the next generations of healthcare workers, this may be the field for you.


A PhD in Nursing Education will allow you to develop the best ways to demonstrate the clinical skills that you have been using to save lives daily. This position requires a nurturing approach that still manages to demand excellence.

A Nurse Educator will most likely work within a teaching hospital or Nursing school, guiding small groups of future colleagues.

Organizational Leadership

team of professionals in a meeting

A PhD in Organizational Leadership will help you bridge the gap between “several years in middle management” to the very top of your organization.

Such a program will build on your existing business knowledge and help you develop the best ways to motivate people. This will encompass maximizing their output, keeping them inspired and engaged, and attracting the kind of top-tier talent that your company can grow with.


Programs devoted to Organizational Leadership are often designed to cater to highly motivated entrepreneurial people.

This is why they tend to attract working people with a “take on the world” spirit. Then, their problem-solving skills and coaching abilities are nurtured and applied to a variety of custom projects.

Project Management

project manager having a meeting with his team

If you already have a few years of experience in Project Management, chances are you already have a deep understanding of the differences between “doing” and “organizing.”

Most junior project managers often come from rank-and-file positions and earn their higher responsibilities through hard work and critical successes.

At some point, the ability to learn “on the go” reaches its natural cap, and you will need a higher degree if you wish to continue tackling ever-larger projects.


A PhD in Project Management will allow you to explore the different facets that play a role in a team’s success. You will learn to spot and develop your personal leadership style, to predict hurdles, and to prevent future errors.

You will be able to settle the differences between clients, bosses, and workers, oiling the different cogs in your corporate machine.

Psychology

psychologist talking to a group of people during therapy session

As a Doctor in Psychology, you will receive the highest level of knowledge regarding the human mind, its behavior, and its motivations.

The science of Psychology itself has changed radically over the last few decades, as we have gained a deeper understanding of the different components of mental health.


If you are eager to take your psychology practice to the next level or are interested in designing research studies that address some of the rising mental illnesses (such as addiction, depression, or learning disorders), a PhD in Psychology will be a mandatory stepping stone for you.

There are many ways to gear your PhD studies towards your specialty field of choice, depending on your goals or previous experience. You will then be able to act as a behavior counselor, clinical researcher, analyst, or even as a hospital manager at a mental health facility.

Public Administration

Public Administrator working in her office

Handling public funds is a huge responsibility, and it deserves the strictest type of training. Public Administration tends to attract civically-minded people who wish to make a silent difference in the structures and systems around them.

A PhD in this field will teach you how to direct public funds and sustainably invest them. This will include research projects, impact studies, and thorough training on the basic tenets of transparency and accountability.


A PhD in Public Administration will go a long way in lifting your resume into the standards required by the merit-based agencies that guard us.

Besides, it will also enable you to make informed policy decisions, explain the impact of your interventions, and evaluate existing programs.

Public Health

health administrators having a meeting

Public Health is an odd hybrid field, as it provides the opportunity to directly impact the health and wellness of large amounts of people. However, it achieves this from the discreet confines of an office, rather than the fast-paced clinical environment.

Nevertheless, the programs designed and implemented by public health practitioners shape the lives of the public in many ways.


A PhD degree in this field will enable you to evaluate, monitor, and improve the services that silently protect us all. This includes water quality, air safety, and methodical procedures meant to deal with infectious threats.

You will then be able to coordinate and allocate resources across large swathes of territory.

Public Policy

male manager having a meeting with his team

As a PhD holder of a Public Policy degree, you will delve deep into the nuances that control the success of policy implementation and investment initiatives. This can take many shapes, and you will find the curriculum possibilities reflect this.

A Public Policy PhD program is often research-focused and revolves around independent project design.


In this way, you will be able to take your knowledge of the law, social forces, and economics, and apply it to the field where you wish to make a difference – from glamorous life-changing infrastructure to electrical supplies or environmental protection programs.

Your job prospects may touch on a variety of supporting industries, but will most likely be located within government agencies or non-profit organizations.

Special Education

special education teacher teaching a child with down syndrome

Educating children is a huge responsibility – but this is only compounded when special needs are thrown into the mix.

Special Education experts often handle smaller class sizes, but also need to deal with much more diverse student bodies; their field encompasses a variety of sensory and learning conditions that can impact early and long-term development.

Ensuring that each child, no matter their conditions, can reach its full potential is a highly rewarding task.


If you are up for taking this challenge to the highest level, a PhD in Special Education will allow you to research new methods to improve your students’ long-term prospects and quality of life.

You will also learn how to evaluate the success of each intervention, and potentially direct new methods that could affect special children for decades to come.

Supply Chain and Logistics

Supply Chain Manager checking supplies in a factory

All management sectors require a talent for organization and number-tracking, but few disciplines reward the ability to predict and prevent as much as supply chain management and logistics.

This is a relatively narrow field of business administration, and as such, you will need to go high in academia if you want to become a true specialist.


Because it encompasses transport, safety, international trade, and highly precise timetables, experts in supply chain and logistics are highly sought-after and richly-rewarded.

This field can be great for you if you are quick at assessing risks and can make logical, evidence-based decisions on the go.

How Do Online Doctoral Programs Work?

How Do Online Doctoral Programs Work

Online platforms have revolutionized long-distance education in relatively few years. After decades of being relegated to “courses by correspondence” status. Internet speeds have advanced enough to accurately mimic a classroom experience from home.

Nowadays, even traditional degrees offer the option of taking online classes, and the prestige behind 100%-online degrees has never been as great.

Modern Online doctoral programs now have similar admission requirements as a traditional program, and they analyze grades, professional experience, and personal references as part of their process.

Most programs also offer a similar system of “cohorts” or small study groups that can be tutored more closely by a lecturer or research assistant.

The curriculum is often designed to take the same amount of time as its on-site counterparts – at least when enrolling on a full-time basis. Most online students, however, tend to continue working while pursuing their degree, so they have the option to enroll in fewer modules at a time.

Graduation requirements include a certain amount of credit hours, in addition to the presentation of a research thesis or doctoral project.

So far, it all looks remarkably similar to a standard PhD program. The main difference is that an online PhD will have you attend a “virtual classroom” instead of a traditional one.

The exact mechanisms may vary among institutions, but both tend to offer the possibility of attending a live lecture via videoconference or sending your questions in real-time.

Naturally, the option to record a lecture or send additional questions via e-mail is often provided to account for the students’ different time zones.

Likewise, each module’s exams are conducted online, and oral examinations will closely resemble personal ones.

What Are the Best Online PhD Programs?

Best Online PhD Programs

It’s hard to predict the way your career will change after obtaining a PhD. A lot of this will depend on the number of years of experience you had before the PhD, as well as the type of company that you will be after upon graduation.

Nevertheless, there is rarely a shortage of statistics in today’s data-driven world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics can point you out towards the most lucrative online PhDs out there.

Degree Possible Careers Median Annual Salary
PhD in Information Technology Information Technology Manager $119,000
PhD in Finance Senior Financial Analyst, CFO $104,000
PhD in Human Resources Talent Recruiter, Human Resource Manager $100,709
PhD in Healthcare Management Admissions Director, Hospital Manager $99,000
PhD in Supply Chain and Logistics Senior Supply Chain Manager $95,000
PhD in Organizational Leadership Manager, Regional Manager $85,000
PhD in Project Management Program Director, COO $81,000
PhD in Business Administration Manager, Regional Manager $78,000
PhD in Criminal Justice Intelligence analyst, Criminal Prosecutor $77,210
PhD in Management Manager, Branch Manager $65,660

PhD graduates also frequently work in Higher Education as professors and college administrators.

Accreditation for PhD Programs Online

logos of six regional accreditors

Whenever a market grows rapidly, it can get significantly harder to track and control the quality behind what you are paying for. Fortunately, in the case of PhDs, we already have a well-established system to ensure that your degree will be recognized by employers and other universities alike.

Accreditation bodies are in charge of evaluating the curriculum and the academic standards of all the courses within the affiliated institutions.

They also keep records of the syllabus and class outlines of different classes, which makes it easier to transfer credits within institutions. Most of these bodies are focused on specific regions of the country.

The major accreditation councils to look for include:

  • The Higher Learning Commission
  • The WASC-ACSI (The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commissions for Senior Colleges and Universities)
  • The MSCHE (Middle States Commission on Higher Education)
  • The NCA-HLC (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission)
  • The NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)
  • The SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission)

The program you enroll may also be accredited by an industry-specific board.

Financial Aid for PhD Students

screenshot of the financial aid pdf for graduate studies

Pursuing a PhD online may be remarkably more affordable than under traditional methods, but it is still a significant financial investment. Fortunately, you are still able to take advantage of government aid in the form of grants and loans.

You may also qualify for scholarships from your university or other private organizations.

Scholarships are often awarded on academic merit or to students who meet specific criteria. Different scholarships are available depending on the region and the major chosen. They are usually meant to cover tuition costs.

Grants are typically smaller but can be used to cover some of the related expenses of pursuing a PhD – such as research materials or textbooks.

Student loans can be used for either tuition or living expenses and will need to be repaid upon graduation. Depending on the type of loan, they may be accruing interest while you are still studying.

Questions Related to Enrolling in PhD Programs Online

These are just some of the most popular questions people have about PhD programs online. Check out our answers!

Can You Get a PhD Online?

Yes, you can get a PhD online. There is an unprecedented amount of available options for online PhDs. In many cases, all you will need to attend class is a good, high-speed internet connection.

You will still need to study and work hard at your thesis or doctoral project. However, an online PhD will offer you the same level of interaction with your lecturers as a traditional one, without having to move to the nearest college town.

Are Online PhD Programs Respected?

Yes, online PhD programs are respected. Nowadays, online PhD programs carry the same weight as the institutions granting them. This means that you will find a wide array of rankings and prestige attached to each.

Keep in mind that, in addition to online-only for-profit colleges, many traditional state university systems now have their online campuses.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD Online?

As a general rule, Online PhD programs require the same amount of time and credits as a traditional PhD program. This means that, if you enroll full-time, they are intended to take at least 2 years.

It should be noted that many students choose online programs because they allow them to keep working while studying.

If you enroll as a part-time student, you will most likely take longer. Also, you will most likely need to complete a thesis or research project upon graduation. This is why most institutions put a “cap” of 7 or 9 years to complete the program.

How Much Does an Online PhD Cost?

The cost of an online PhD will vary depending on the institution. On average, the total cost of an online PhD at a public school will be $10,354, or $40,519 at a private non-profit school.

Most schools will require their long-distance students to pay a per-credit or per-semester tuition cost, in addition to administrative and technology fees. Online classrooms require more sophisticated technology, which can make the latter a bit higher.

On the other hand, you will not need to relocate or pay for student housing. Most programs also include online textbooks.

What Are the Cheapest Online PhD Programs?

It is almost impossible to talk about total costs without specifics. In general, you can expect to find the lowest fees at publicly funded universities, especially if you enroll as an in-state student. Keep in mind that you may need to submit proof of residence to qualify!

List of Universities Offering Online PhD Programs

Rankings Methodology

Each of these schools is fully accredited and offers one or more PhD programs online.

#1  Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

With five campuses across metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona State University was established in 1885.

The online Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH) program requires 84 credit hours, 13 classes (7.5 weeks/class) to complete, while the 84-credit-hour Doctor of Behavioral Health (Management) program requires 14 classes.

The university also offers a 100% online 90-semester-hour Doctor of Education in Leadership & Innovation program.

  • Doctor of Behavioral Health – Clinical
  • Doctor of Behavioral Health – Management
  • EdD in Leadership and Innovation

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Committee.

#2  Catholic University of America

Catholic University of America campus

Located in Washington DC, the Catholic University of America, established in 1887, is a Catholic institution.

The university offers DMin (Doctor of Ministry) programs in Evangelization, Liturgical Catechesis, Spirituality that is blended learning models involving 13 weeks online and 2-week residencies.

Students must have a Master of Divinity degree or equivalent to apply. The university offers an online/on-campus 79-credit-hour PhD in Nursing program and a 37-credit-hour DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program.

  • Doctor of Ministry in Evangelization
  • Doctor of Ministry in Liturgical Catechesis
  • Doctor of Ministry in Spirituality
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • PhD in Nursing

The Catholic University of America is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#3  Clemson University

Clemson University campus

Established in 1889, Clemson University is located in Clemson, South Carolina.

The university offers an online 60-credit-hour PhD in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, 70-credit-hour PhD in Healthcare Genetics and 36-credit-hour PhD in Rhetoric, Communication & Information Design.

Some of these programs may require scheduled on-campus meetings or face-to-face classes and/or synchronous online classes.

  • PhD in Healthcare Genetics
  • PhD in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
  • PhD in Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design

Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#4  Creighton University

Creighton University campus

Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University is a Jesuit institution founded in 1878.

The university offers doctoral programs: 54-credit-hour hybrid Doctor of Business Administration, 60-credit online Doctor of Education Interdisciplinary Leadership, Doctor of Nursing Practice (varying credit hours), 63-credit online Doctor of Occupational Therapy, and 143-credit hybrid Doctor of Pharmacy.

  • Doctor of Business Administration
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • Doctor of Pharmacy
  • EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership

Creighton University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#5  Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Established in 1891, Drexel University is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The university offers an online 45-47-credit-hour Doctor of Health Science, 45-credit-hour Doctor of Nursing Practice, and 60-61.5-credit-hour Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Management programs.

Programs are organized into four 10-week quarters per year, unlike the traditional single-credit semester system.

  • Doctor of Health Science
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • EdD in Educational Leadership and Management

Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#6  Duquesne University

Duquesne University campus

Duquesne University is a Catholic university, established in 1878 and located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Online doctoral programs include 54-credit EdD Instructional Technology & Leadership, 38-credit PhD Nursing, 47-credit PhD Nursing Ethics, 35-credit Doctor of Nursing Practice, and 209-credit Doctor of Pharmacy.

Students applying for the 4-year DPharm program must undergo a criminal background check.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Pharmacy
  • EdD in Instructional Technology and Leadership
  • PhD in Nursing
  • PhD in Nursing Ethics

Duquesne University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#7  East Carolina University

East Carolina University campus

Founded in 1907, East Carolina University is located in Greenville, North Carolina.

Online doctoral programs include 102-credit Doctor of Nursing, Doctor of Public Health with concentration areas: Environmental & Occupational Health/Health Policy, Administration & Leadership, 3 years EdD in Educational Leadership – Higher Education Administration/Pre K-12 programs.

All programs satisfy North Carolina licensure/certification requirements, but requirements may be different in other states.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Public Health – Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Doctor of Public Health – Health Policy, Administration and Leadership
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Higher Education Administration
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Pre K-12
  • PhD in Nursing

East Carolina University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#8  George Washington University

George Washington University campus

Located in Washington DC, George Washington University was founded in 1821.

Online doctoral programs are offered by different schools in the university and include PhD in Nursing (hybrid), PhD in Systems Engineering, Engineering Management, DNP in Adult-Gerontology Acute/Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Executive Leadership, Family Nurse Practitioner, Health Policy, Nursing Practice, Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.

  • Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy
  • DNP in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • DNP in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (post-BSN opportunity)
  • DNP in Executive Leadership
  • DNP in Family Nurse Practitioner
  • DNP in Health Policy
  • DNP in Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Engineering in Engineering Management
  • PhD in Nursing
  • PhD in Systems Engineering

GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#9  Hampton University

Hampton University campus

The historically black Hampton University is located in Hampton, Virginia and was established in 1868.

Online doctoral programs include DNP (500 credit hours), PhD in Business Administration (61 credit hours), Counselor Education & Supervision (61 credit hours), Educational Management (66 credit hours), Nursing (54-60).

These programs are designed for busy working professionals who can continue working while pursuing doctoral degrees.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • PhD in Business Administration
  • PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision
  • PhD in Educational Management
  • PhD in Nursing

Hampton University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#10  Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University campus

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University was established in 1876.

Online doctoral programs available include PhD in Health Sciences Informatics, Doctor of Education, DNP (hybrid), Doctor of Public Health in Health Policy & Management (hybrid), PhD in Education (online). Many of these programs have either full or part time-frequency.

  • Doctor of Education
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Public Health in Health Policy & Management
  • PhD in Health Sciences Informatics
  • PhD in Education

Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#11  Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University campus

Founded in 1905, Loma Linda University is located in Loma Linda, California.

The doctoral-level programs available include Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy, a 100%-online, 2 years, 78 quarter unit program, Doctor of Speech and Language Pathology, a 100% online, 2-year program that can be extended if students want to take a capstone project.

  • Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy
  • Doctorate in Speech Language Pathology

Loma Linda University is accredited by WASC: Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

#12  Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University campus

Located adjacent to Starkville, Mississippi, MSU was founded in 1862.

The various schools of the university offer online PhD programs in Community College Leadership, Computational Leadership, Electrical, and Computer Engineering, Engineering – Aerospace, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Students are provided with the same level of student support as on-campus candidates.

  • PhD in Community College Leadership
  • PhD in Computational Engineering
  • PhD in Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • PhD in Engineering – Aerospace Engineering
  • PhD in Engineering – Civil Engineering
  • PhD in Engineering – Mechanical Engineering
  • PhD in Industrial & Systems Engineering

Mississippi State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#13  New York University

New York University campus

New York University was established in 1831 and is located in New York, New York.

The doctoral programs offered by the university include an online Doctor of Occupational Therapy program and a 24-month online program with two immersive experiences leading to Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation. Both programs allow students to continue working while studying.

  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • EdD in Leadership and Innovation

New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#14  Northeastern University

Northeastern University campus

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University was established in 1898.

Doctoral programs offered by the university include a 3-4-year Doctor of Education program and a 1-2-year Transitional Doctor of Philosophy program. Both programs are delivered 100% online programs and require either full or part-time commitment and can be accessed from anywhere.

  • Doctor of Education
  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.

#15  Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University campus

Pennsylvania State University was established in 1855 and has campuses across the state.

Online doctoral programs offered include PhD in Adult Education, Comparative & International Education, Counselor Education, several areas of math, science, education, language, and social studies.

PhD programs are also available in Psychology, Design, and Technology, Workforce Education and Development. Other programs include Doctor of Education in Comparative & International Education, Higher Education, Learning Design and Technology.

  • EdD in Comparative & International Education
  • EdD in Higher Education
  • EdD in Learning, Design and Technology
  • PhD in Adult Education
  • PhD in Comparative & International Education
  • PhD in Counselor Education
  • PhD in Curriculum and Instruction – Curriculum and Supervision
  • PhD in Curriculum and Supervision – Early Childhood Education
  • PhD in Curriculum and Supervision – English Language Arts Education
  • PhD in Curriculum and Supervision – Language, Culture and Society
  • PhD in Curriculum and Supervision – Mathematics Education
  • PhD in Curriculum and Supervision – Science Education
  • PhD in Curriculum and Supervision – Second Language Education
  • PhD in Curriculum and Supervision – Social Studies Education
  • PhD in Educational Leadership
  • PhD in Educational Psychology
  • PhD in Educational Theory and Policy
  • PhD in Higher Education
  • PhD in Learning, Design and Technology
  • PhD in School Psychology
  • PhD in Special Education
  • PhD in Workforce Education and Development

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#16  Regis University

Regis University campus

Regis University is a Jesuit university founded in 1877 and located in Denver, Colorado.

The online doctoral programs offered by the university include 26-31 credit hour DNP with two different areas of specialization and a 3-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, which is available in on-campus and distance programs as well.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy

Regis University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#17  Texas A & M University – Commerce

Texas A & M University - Commerce campus

Located in College Station, Texas, Texas A & M University was founded in 1876.

The university offers an EdD in Educational Administration. It is the only online doctoral programs in the state. The 60-credit online program is designed in a cohort group study format to enable study along with peers pursuing similar professional goals.

  • EdD in Educational Administration

Texas A&M University – Commerce is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#18  Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus

Established in 1923, Texas Tech University is located in Lubbock, Texas.

The university offers online PhD programs in Curriculum and Instruction – Curriculum Studies & Teacher Education/Language Literacy and Diversity Studies/STEM, Educational Leadership Policy, Family and Consumer Science Education, Special Education.

There are other PhD programs available in hybrid and blended format as well.

  • PhD in Curriculum and Instruction – Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education
  • PhD in Curriculum and Instruction – Language, Diversity & Literacy Studies
  • PhD in Curriculum and Instruction – STEM
  • PhD in Educational Leadership Policy
  • PhD in Family and Consumer Science Education
  • PhD in Special Education

Texas Tech University is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#19  University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo campus

With campuses in Buffalo and Amherst, the State University of New York at Buffalo was established in 1846.

The university offers an online PhD program in Information Science. The program requires students to complete 72 credit hours of course work over 4 to 5+ years. They are required to attend a one-week residency each year.

  • PhD in Information Science

The University at Buffalo is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#20  University of Alabama

University of Alabama campus

Established in 1820, the University of Alabama is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The university offers online doctoral programs in DNP (40 credit hours with the requirement to attend one intensive and graduation), primarily online, 45-credit-hour Doctor of Social Work program, and a primarily online 72-credit-hour PhD in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (one campus visit required each semester).

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Social Work
  • PhD in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

University of Alabama is accredited and/or recognized by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#21  University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas campus

Located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the University of Arkansas was founded in 1871.

The online doctoral programs offered by the university include 100% DNP, the 75% online, 96 credit-hour, 2.5 year EdD in Adult and Lifelong Learning requiring 6 on-campus sessions, 100% online, 42-credit-hour, 2 year EdD in Educational Leadership, 100% online DEd in Human Resource and Workforce Education.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • EdD in Adult and Lifelong Learning
  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • EdD in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education

The U of A has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#22  University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport campus

Established in the 1800s-1900s, the University of Bridgeport is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The online doctoral programs offered by the university include the 40-month Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) with three concentration options and 1-week on-campus seminar, and the accelerated online 62-credit-hour, 3 year EdD in Educational Leadership.

  • Doctor of Health Science
  • EdD in Educational Leadership

The University of Bridgeport is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

#23  University of Florida

University of Florida campus

Located in Gainsville, Florida, the University of Florida was established in 1853.

The online doctoral degrees offered by different schools of the university include PhD in Classical Civilization, Latin and Roman Studies, EdD in Educational Leadership, Educational Technology, Higher Education Administration, Teachers, Schools and Society, DNP, and PharmD in Pharmacy.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • EdD in Educational Technology
  • EdD in Higher Education Administration
  • EdD in Teachers, Schools and Society
  • PhD in Classical Civilization
  • PhD in Latin and Roman Studies

The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#24  University of Missouri

University of Missouri campus

Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri is located in Columbia, Missouri.

The university offers DNP programs in 5 different areas of concentration, EdD in Educational Leadership, PhD in Agricultural Education and Leadership, Architectural Studies, Art Education, Nursing. Some of these programs may include campus or in-person attendance.

Scholarships are available for eligible students.

  • DNP – Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner
  • DNP – Nursing Leadership and Innovations in Health Care
  • DNP – Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • DNP – Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care
  • DNP – Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • PhD in Agricultural Education and Leadership
  • PhD in Architectural Studies
  • PhD in Art Education
  • PhD in Nursing

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#25  University of Nebraska – Lincoln

University of Nebraska - Lincoln campus

Established in 1869, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is located in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The university offers an online PhD in Educational Studies, EdD in Educational Studies – Educational Leadership and Higher Education, PhD in Educational Studies – Educational Leadership and Higher Education.

The PhD and EdD programs require 6 hours of on-campus research seminars.

  • EdD in Educational Administration – P-12 School Leadership
  • EdD in Educational Studies – Educational Leadership and Higher Education
  • PhD in Educational Studies – Educational Leadership and Higher Education

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#26  University of Southern California

University of Southern California campus

Located in Los Angeles, California, the University of Southern California was established in 1880.

The online doctoral programs include Doctor of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Social Work, EdD in Educational Leadership, EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership, Global Executive Doctor of Education. The programs are designed to accommodate the student’s working schedules.

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Doctor of Social Work
  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership
  • Global Executive Doctor of Education

USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Senior College and University Commission.

#27  University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina campus

Established in 1801, the University of South Carolina is located in Columbia, South Carolina.

The university offers an online doctoral program such as a PhD in Civil Engineering,

Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, EdD in Curriculum and Instruction – with concentration areas Curriculum Studies, Educational Technology, or STEM.

  • EdD in Curriculum and Instruction – Curriculum Studies
  • EdD in Curriculum and Instruction – Educational Technology
  • EdD in Curriculum and Instruction – STEM
  • PhD in Civil Engineering
  • PhD in Computer Engineering
  • PhD in Computer Science
  • PhD in Electrical Engineering
  • PhD in Mechanical Engineering
  • PhD in Nuclear Engineering

The University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#28  University of Southern Mississippi

University of Southern Mississippi campus

With its main campus in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the University of Southern Mississippi was founded in 1910.

The online doctoral programs offered by the university include EdD in Educational Administration – P12 (54 credit hour, synchronous class structure), EdD in Higher Education Administration (43 credit hour, synchronous class structure), PhD in Nursing Leadership (48 semester hours, including 15 dissertation hours).

  • EdD in Educational Administration – P-12
  • EdD in Higher Education Administration
  • PhD in Nursing Leadership

The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#29  University of Tennessee – Knoxville

University of Tennessee - Knoxville campus

The main campus for the University of Tennessee was founded in 1794, two years before the state was formed. Here, you can choose between 11 graduate programs.

Offered through three colleges within the university, each doctorate programs has its own admission requirements. The PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering includes a dissertation requirement. The Nursing programs, on the other hand, offer a wide variety of concentration options.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Social Work in Clinical Practice and Leadership
  • PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering – Engineering Management
  • PhD in Nursing

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#30  Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University campus

Located in Richmond, Virginia, VCU started as a medical college in 1838. It has retained its emphasis on medical science but now offers a variety of programs in other fields as well.

The university offers both synchronous and asynchronous options, depending on the program.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctorate in Nurse Anesthesia Practice
  • EdD in Leadership
  • PhD in Health Related Sciences
  • PhD in Nursing

VCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Is a PhD Worth It?

professor teaching students in a university

Yes, a PhD is worth it. After graduation, you can expect to make an average of $30,000 more per year than those with a Master degree.

A PhD takes hundreds of hours of work, even without counting the ones you already put on your previous degrees. They are usually reserved for those who genuinely enjoy the learning process.

No matter if your ultimate goal is entering academia or professional advancement, though, a PhD will not be the end of the journey: just another tool to help you achieve your dream.

An online PhD will show your colleagues and potential employers that you have risen to expert status.

This article is brought to you by
Joy Mays
Joy Mays
Director
Stephen Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Editor
Taylor Burgess
Taylor Burgess
Author