2024 Best Doctorate Degrees Online [No Dissertation Required]

By Joy Miller
Updated on July 10, 2024
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Finish your doctoral program faster without a Dissertation! Explore 50 doctorate degree online no dissertation programs: EdD, DBA, DNP, PhD, PsyD.

In the past, the majority of doctoral programs always required students to write a dissertation. Now, instead of spending years working on a dissertation, a growing number of universities offer doctoral students an alternative to the dissertation process: a capstone project.

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List of Doctorate Degrees without Dissertation Requirements

Here is a list of doctoral programs that don’t require a dissertation. Instead, you complete a capstone project or a doctoral study project.

Click on your desired field of study to jump to that section:

  1. Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  2. Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  3. Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA)
  4. Doctor of Information Technology (DIT)
  5. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  6. Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  7. Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)
  8. Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)
  9. Doctor of Public Health (DPH)
  10. Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Like dissertations, capstone projects are a culmination of your education. They usually involve some original research or some type of applied practical knowledge in your field. It all depends on the school and program.

Be sure to check out the specializations available, as well as the particular requirements for each of these non dissertation PhD programs to be sure you select the one that will best suit you and help you achieve your goals.

1. Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

If you’re an experienced business professional looking to advance your career, a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) might be the perfect fit. Many online DBA programs offer a dissertation-free option, replacing it with a capstone project. This allows you to tackle real-world business challenges, applying your learning directly to your work.

In a DBA program, you’ll delve into advanced topics like strategic management and data-driven decision-making. The flexible online format lets you balance your studies with your career. By choosing a DBA, you’re positioning yourself for executive roles or high-level consulting opportunities, all without the need for a traditional dissertation.

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2. Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

If you’re an education professional seeking to advance your career and make a larger impact, an online Doctor of Education (EdD) could be your next step. Many EdD programs now offer a no dissertation path, typically replacing it with a capstone project.

In an EdD program, you’ll explore advanced educational leadership, policy, and curriculum development. Your capstone project will likely focus on solving real-world educational challenges, allowing you to directly apply your learning to your professional context. The online format provides flexibility, enabling you to balance your studies with your current teaching or administrative role. By earning an EdD, you’re preparing yourself for top positions in educational leadership, policy-making, or curriculum design, all while avoiding the lengthy, research-intensive dissertation process.

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3. Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA)

If you’re a healthcare professional aiming to take on top leadership roles in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry, a Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) could be your ideal path. Many online DHA programs offer a path without the lengthy dissertation process, often replacing it with a capstone project.

In a DHA program, you’ll dive into crucial areas like healthcare policy, organizational leadership, and decision-making in healthcare settings. Your capstone project will typically involve addressing real-world healthcare management challenges, allowing you to apply your learning directly to your field. By earning a DHA, you’re positioning yourself for executive roles in hospitals, healthcare systems, or health policy organizations, all without a dissertation requirement.

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4. Doctor of Information Technology (DIT)

Are you ready to elevate your IT career to new heights? A Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) could be your key to unlocking advanced opportunities in the tech world. Many online DIT programs now offer a path without a dissertation requirement, replacing it with a comprehensive project that showcases your expertise.

In this program, you’ll immerse yourself in crucial areas like cybersecurity strategy, AI implementation, and enterprise architecture. Your final project will likely involve solving complex technological challenges, allowing you to apply cutting-edge concepts to real-world scenarios. The flexible online format lets you balance your studies with your current role, positioning you for high-level positions such as Chief Information Officer or IT strategist. With a DIT, you’ll gain the skills to drive digital transformation and shape the future of technology in various industries.

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5. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Are you passionate about advancing patient care and shaping the future of nursing? A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) could be your pathway to becoming a leader in healthcare innovation. Many online DNP programs now offer alternatives to the traditional dissertation, focusing instead on practice-based projects that directly impact patient outcomes.

In this program, you’ll explore advanced clinical practice, healthcare policy, and evidence-based care strategies. Your final project will typically involve implementing and evaluating a real-world healthcare intervention, allowing you to translate research into practice. The online format accommodates your demanding nursing schedule while elevating your expertise. This degree prepares you for roles such as advanced practice nurse, clinical leader, or healthcare policy advocate, empowering you to drive meaningful change in healthcare delivery and patient care quality.

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6. Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Are you ready to take your physical therapy career to the next level? A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) can open doors to advanced practice and leadership in rehabilitation care. Many online DPT programs now offer capstone projects instead of dissertations, allowing you to apply your learning directly to clinical practice.

During your studies, you’ll delve into advanced topics like movement science, clinical decision-making, and evidence-based interventions. Your capstone project will likely involve developing and implementing innovative treatment approaches or conducting clinically relevant research. The online program format enables you to continue your clinical work while advancing your education. A DPT prepares you for roles as a specialized clinician, researcher, or leader in physical therapy, equipping you with the skills to enhance patient outcomes and contribute to the evolution of rehabilitation science.

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7. Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Are you passionate about advancing mental health care and making a profound difference in people’s lives? A Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) can elevate your clinical skills and prepare you for leadership in psychological practice. Many online PsyD programs now offer practicum-based projects as an alternative to the traditional dissertation, allowing you to apply advanced concepts directly to clinical scenarios.

Throughout your doctoral journey, you’ll explore cutting-edge therapeutic techniques, psychological assessment methods, and evidence-based interventions. Your culminating project will likely involve developing and implementing innovative treatment approaches or conducting clinically relevant research in real-world settings.

The online format of a PsyD program enables you to continue your current clinical work while advancing your expertise. This degree prepares you for roles as a licensed psychologist, clinical director, or consultant, equipping you with the skills to provide high-level psychological services and contribute to the evolution of mental health care.

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8. Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

Looking to revolutionize public service and governance? A Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) could be your springboard to top-tier leadership in the public sector. Many online DPA programs have shifted from traditional dissertations to capstone projects, giving you the chance to address real administrative challenges head-on.

This program will immerse you in crucial areas like policy analysis, organizational dynamics, and strategic public management. For your final project, you might develop innovative solutions for complex governmental issues or conduct research aimed at enhancing public sector efficiency. The online DPA allows you to elevate your expertise while maintaining your current role. This doctorate can help position you for influential positions such as executive director, policy strategist, or government reform consultant. You’ll gain the insights needed to spearhead significant improvements in public institutions and non-profit organizations.

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9. Doctor of Public Health (DPH)

A Doctor of Public Health (DPH) can enhance your ability to address complex health challenges on a population level. Many online DPH programs now offer project-based alternatives to traditional dissertations, allowing you to apply your learning to real-world public health issues.

In this program, you’ll study advanced epidemiology, health policy, and evidence-based interventions. Your final project might involve developing a community health initiative or analyzing the impact of a public health policy. The online format lets you continue your current work while expanding your expertise. A DPH prepares you for roles such as health department director, global health consultant, or public health researcher. This degree equips you with the skills to influence health outcomes across communities and contribute to the advancement of public health practices.

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10. Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Are you driven to make a lasting impact in social services and community welfare? A Doctor of Social Work (DSW) can empower you to become a transformative leader in the field. Many online DSW programs now offer alternatives to the traditional dissertation, focusing on applied projects that directly address real-world social challenges.

In this program, you’ll explore advanced topics like social policy analysis, evidence-based practice models, and organizational leadership in social services. Your final project will typically involve developing and implementing innovative interventions or policies that address pressing social issues.

The online format of a DSW allows you to balance your studies with your current social work practice, enhancing your expertise while you continue to serve your community. This degree prepares you for roles such as clinical supervisor, policy advocate, or social services director, equipping you with the knowledge to drive systemic change and improve social outcomes on a broader scale.

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What is a Doctoral Dissertation?

A doctoral dissertation, the culmination of most doctoral degree programs, is a substantial written document in which the student uses the teachings and skills gleaned from the entire program to develop and discuss an original concept, theory or practice that will help advance the field.

Writing a dissertation is no easy feat! They are typically hundreds of pages long, and students work on them for over a year, reviewing research, conducting experiments and analyzing data.

Because this project is daunting, demanding, and often requires years of research, many universities have come up with alternatives that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and provide worthwhile contributions to their field without completing a traditional dissertation.

What Are All But Dissertation Completion Programs?

“All But Dissertation” (ABD) completion programs, also known as PhD completion programs, are designed to help students who have completed all the requirements of a doctoral degree program except the dissertation.

Quite often, students work diligently through the coursework of their doctoral program, but fall short when it comes to completing the required dissertation. According to the Council of Graduate Schools, only about 56% of those who start a doctoral degree program earn their doctorate or PhD within 10 years. Completing a dissertation is an enormous project that entails extensive research — and life, family, careers and other obligations sometimes get in the way.

For example, the Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) offered by National University is one example of a structured program that transfers credit for prior academic coursework and provides guidance and mentorship as you work to finish your dissertation. This type of program typically takes 2-3 years.

Is a Dissertation Required for a PhD?

Not always. In the past a dissertation was required for a PhD, but a growing number of institutions have started to offer online doctoral programs no dissertation.

Instead, students may complete a capstone project to demonstrate their knowledge and provide new contributions to the field. This may be a combination of a research paper and fieldwork, or perhaps you might do some consulting work at a functioning business. However, it most cases, it will require considerably less independent research than what is required for a dissertation.

Capstone projects vary from school to school, and program to program.

One of the benefits of non-dissertation doctorate degrees is that you can finish in less time. Check out our guide on accelerated online doctoral programs for a deeper look.

Is Financial Aid Available for Online PhD Programs?

Looking to manage the costs of an online PhD program? You’ve got options.

First up, the FAFSA – it’s not just for undergrads and can open doors to federal grants and loans. Don’t overlook state financial aid either; many states offer loan programs that might be more budget-friendly than private loans, helping to reduce the cost of repayment.

Also, keep an eye out for scholarships and grants tailored for online doctoral students. These can take into account your academic achievements and work experience.

Many universities now offer affordable online programs, designed to provide quality education without the hefty price tag of traditional on-campus degrees. For more specific details and info about reducing these costs, the financial aid office at your university is a great resource. They can guide you through the maze of options and help you find the best fit for your financial situation.

Can You Get a No Dissertation Doctorate Online?

Yes! A growing number of reputable, accredited colleges and universities offer non-dissertation doctorate programs. We’ve compiled a list of universities offering online doctorate degrees without dissertation requirements in the next section.

Are There Any PhD Programs Without Dissertation Requirements?

Yes, there are quite a few doctoral programs without dissertation requirements, but PhD programs without dissertation requirements are few and far between. In these cases, instead of the dissertation most commonly used in a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program, a capstone project is required to help you put your new-found skills to good use.

In the past, dissertations were required so that you could demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your field. But universities have started to realize that there are quite a few ways you can do that.

As you can see with the online DBA programs, a few colleges are no longer requiring dissertations. They allow you to complete a doctoral capstone project instead. No, it’s not technically a dissertation. But you do prove that you have acquired a high level of expertise in your field of study.

Higher education is continuing to change at a rapid pace. As another example, a number of PhD programs without GRE requirements are appearing.

How Many Credits Do PhD Programs Require?

Most PhD programs require between 54 and 90 credit hours. That’s between 18 and 30 courses. This is true for both campus-based PhD programs and online PhD programs.

Let’s look at one of National University’s online programs as an example. The online DBA in Accounting is 54 credit hours and consists of 18 courses (most courses are 3 credit hours).

In contrast, if you attend a state university campus program like the University of Illinois, the PhD in Business requires 64 credit hours (around 21 courses), provided you already have your master’s degree.

Do All Doctoral Programs Require a Dissertation?

No. A wide-range of doctoral programs do not have a dissertation. Instead, graduate schools allow you to complete a capstone project which focuses on solving a real-world problem.

You can also earn your doctorate through an accredited online program if you don’t want to attend on campus.

Is a PhD Program Without a Dissertation Respected?

A dissertation allows students the opportunity to demonstrate expertise in their field of study through extensive research and an associated dissertation research paper.

In certain fields, a dissertation will be the measure of quality. This is true for academia should you ever want to be a tenured professor at Harvard. But if that’s not your goal, doctoral programs in higher education, leadership, or business administration are reputable – provided you earn your doctorate from a graduate school with regional accreditation.

Can I Get an Online Doctorate Degree Without a Dissertation?

Yes. There are dozens of online doctorate degrees with no dissertation being offered from accredited universities. The most common doctoral degree programs are the Doctor of Education, Doctor of Business Administration, Doctor of Psychology, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Are There Any 18 Month Doctorate with No Dissertation Programs?

Yes. Some online PhD no dissertation programs can be completed in as little as 18 to 24 months.

To finish in a short time like this, you will need to be enrolled full time and progressing through your doctorate program courses successfully. You will also need your capstone project to be approved in a timely manner. Again, in order to complete your doctorate in less than 18 months, you’ll need to enroll in a PhD without thesis or dissertation requirement.

Are There Any PhD Without Dissertation Programs Online?

Yes, a number of universities offer online doctoral degree programs without dissertation to help working professionals juggle full time jobs with their studies. We’ve compiled a list of them above. As more universities offer no dissertation doctorates, we will update the list.

It’s worth noting that while these programs do not require traditional dissertations, there will usually be a research project (usually known as a Capstone) through which you demonstrate what you have learned. Each program should detail the capstone experience requirements and the opportunities you will have while enrolled.

A growing number of universities allow you to complete your program as a full time, working professional from the comfort of your own home!

Ready to start your journey?