What Can You Get a PhD in?

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What can you get a PhD in? This question is frequently asked by people who want to expand their knowledge and unlock new career paths by earning a doctoral degree.

What Can You Get a PhD in

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You can earn a PhD in a wide variety of fields, ranging from anthropology to zoology. This guide explores some of the most popular types of PhDs, associated careers, and factors to consider when selecting an online PhD program.

What Can You Get a PhD In?

Colleges and universities offer doctorate programs in a broad range of disciplines, so aspiring PhD students have many options.

The best PhDs to get depend on your professional goals, interests, and previous education. Here are ten of the most common PhDs that people pursue.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

The program that’s best for you will depend on your personal interests and professional goals.

PhD in Anthropology

Museum curators with PhD in Anthropology degree

You can deepen your understanding of anthropological research methods and theories with a PhD in Anthropology.

Many doctoral programs allow students to specialize in a subfield, such as archeology, biological anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. Courses vary by program but typically cover data analysis, field research methods, and public archeology.

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Graduates who earn this degree may go on to work as college professors, forensic anthropologists, and museum curators.

PhD in Biology

Biotech professionals with PhD in Biology degree

A PhD in Biology prepares students to contribute new knowledge to the biological sciences. Students can focus on various areas of specialty, including computational biology, ecology, and genetic epidemiology.

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These programs often have interdisciplinary curricula that allow students to study advanced biological concepts and research methods. Course subjects may include biochemistry, contemporary biology, molecular neuroscience, and statistics. Current professionals work in bioinformatics, biotech, education, healthcare, and other industries.

PhD in Business

Business consultant discussing with business owners

A PhD in Business trains business leaders and researchers. Students learn how to use advanced financial models and strategies to solve complex business issues.

Business PhD programs frequently teach subjects like accounting, consumer behavior, industrial organization, and microeconomics. Additionally, they cover research methods like econometrics and statistical analysis.

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Graduates can use their business knowledge and skills to become business consultants, C-suite executives, economists, and professors.

PhD in Clinical Psychology

Medical psychologist in a session with patient

You can enrich your understanding of the human psyche with a PhD in Clinical Psychology. This degree focuses on researching mental health issues and psychological science. Students also learn how to apply their knowledge in clinical settings.

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Typically, courses cover adult psychopathology, clinical interviewing, professional ethics, and psychological assessment. Students may also be required to complete clinical practicums. Graduates often pursue careers as child psychologists, neuropsychologists, and medical psychologists.

PhD in Computer Science

Senior software engineer & chief technology officer discussing

A PhD in Computer Science allows students to expand their knowledge of advanced computer systems and theories.

Curricula often cover a broad range of topics, like algorithms, data management, and random computing. Additionally, this degree trains students to conduct cutting-edge research in subfields of computer science, such as artificial intelligence and cryptography.

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Graduates frequently work as chief technology officers, computer and information research scientists, and senior software engineers.

PhD in Education

Professor guiding his students

If you want to research educational approaches and theories, you might consider a PhD in Education. This degree trains students to develop new learning methods and promote more effective teaching.

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Common courses include advanced qualitative methodology, educating diverse learners, and instructional design. Also, many students specialize in higher education, literacy, special education, and other niches. Current professionals with this degree often work in teaching, administrative, and research positions in colleges and K-12 schools.

PhD in English

Technical writers & editors reviewing paperworks

A PhD in English gives students the opportunity to interpret, theorize, and teach literature, film, and other types of media.

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Courses cover literature from a variety of cultures, genres, and periods, such as children’s literature and Victorian literature. Moreover, these programs often promote interdisciplinary research that engages with history, psychology, and other fields. This degree can help you qualify for a position as a college professor, editor, or technical writer.

PhD in Psychology

Psychologist in a session with a patient

A PhD in Psychology prepares students to conduct independent research on human cognition, behavior, and mental processes.

Students also learn how to implement clinical research methods and design experiments with human subjects. This research-intensive degree covers subjects like affective science, developmental psychology, professional ethics, and history and systems of psychology.

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Additionally, many programs include clinical practicums. Graduates frequently work as academic researchers, clinical psychologists, and market researchers.

PhD in Nursing

Clinical researcher discussing with a nurse

A PhD in Nursing gives students a strong theoretical foundation in healthcare delivery and nursing science.

Standard course topics may include grant writing, leadership for nurse scientists, and methods in clinical research. This degree also trains students to apply advanced research methods to develop innovative approaches to patient care and improve healthcare policies.

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A PhD in Nursing can unlock careers in clinical research, health policy, and nonprofit organizations.

PhD in Physical Therapy

Physical therapist providing assessment to a patient

A PhD in Physical Therapy allows students to research the science of physical therapy and educate others about the latest approaches to treating ill, injured, and disabled patients.

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The curriculum typically addresses subjects like applied physiology, movement science, and prosthetics. Students also learn how to treat patients in clinical settings. This degree helps prepares students for specialized physical therapy careers in acute care, oncology, sports, and other areas.

How to Choose a PhD Program

Friends checking on PhD Programs online

The right PhD program for you aligns with your goals and sets you up for academic and professional success.

These considerations can help you compare online PhD programs:

  • Faculty reputation. Prestigious faculty can assist with networking and connect you with exciting professional opportunities, such as presenting at top conferences.
  • Funding opportunities. Many PhD programs offer complete funding packages, which may include stipends and other benefits.
  • Placement rates. Programs that place alumni in tenure-track academic jobs and high-paying industry positions may provide excellent career support.
  • Research areas. It’s strategic to look for a program that offers courses and extracurricular activities related to your interests. For instance, an English PhD program with speculative fiction courses might be ideal if you want to study science fiction writers.

Additionally, you can contact current PhD students to get a sense of the program’s culture and learn about their experiences.

Do You Need a PhD to Be a Professor?

Professor discussing to his class

You don’t always need a PhD to become a professor. The requirements vary by institution and position.

Some colleges hire people with master’s degrees and relevant industry experience to teach freshman-level courses. For instance, someone with an MBA and several years of work experience might teach undergraduate finance courses.

Schools that require a terminal degree may also accept a doctorate degree from an accredited university, even when it’s not a PhD. A professional doctorate degree focuses on practical applications of knowledge, while a PhD emphasizes original research.

How Hard Is It to Get Into a Ph.D. Program?

PhD degree students researching together

If you want to learn how to get a PhD, you can start by researching admissions criteria for online programs in your field. Requirements vary by program, so some schools may be more difficult to get into.

Here are some common admissions requirements:

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in a relevant field
  • GRE scores (only some schools require them)
  • CV or resume
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample
  • Interview with the admissions committee
  • Portfolio

The specific requirements influence how challenging it is to get into a particular program, so it’s beneficial to research the criteria ahead of time.

What Is the Easiest PhD to Get?

PhD students doing their group research works

The difficulty level of any PhD is highly subjective. But choosing a quality PhD program can increase the likelihood that you finish your degree on schedule.

A PhD program with these qualities can help facilitate your success:

  • Classes that align with your research focus
  • Knowledgeable faculty who enjoy mentoring graduate students
  • Full-funding packages
  • Student support services, like mental health counseling
  • Professional development workshops
  • State-of-the-art research facilities
  • Clear program milestones

Additionally, you may finish your doctoral degree faster. A program with less requirements makes it one of the easiest PhDs to get such as fewer credit hours or doesn’t include a dissertation component.

What Are Some of the Highest Paying PhD Degrees I Can Get?

Highest Paying PhD Degrees

Many careers that require an advanced degree have lucrative median salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of ten high-paying careers often pursued by people with PhDs:

  • Physicists — $142,850
  • Computer and information research scientists — $136,620
  • Pharmacists — $132,750
  • Political scientists — $128,020
  • Economists — $113,940
  • Mathematicians — $112,110
  • Medical scientists — $99,930
  • Physical therapists — $97,720
  • Clinical and counseling psychologists — $90,130
  • Postsecondary business teachers — $88,790

Many factors can affect salaries and job availability, including geographic location, skills, work experience, and your PhD program’s reputation.

Does It Matter Where You Get Your PhD?

students getting PhD degrees

The institution you choose for your PhD can impact your academic performance, career trajectory, and personal life.

Choosing a program that offers financial support can give you more time to focus on your studies and develop marketable skills. Additionally, you may find it easier to conduct and publish innovative research with access to leading faculty and top facilities.

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Employers often consider a school’s reputation when considering job candidates, so selecting a prestigious program could boost your chances of landing a preferred position.

Earning Your PhD Degree Online

Woman earning her PhD Degree online

What can I get a PhD in? Colleges and universities offer a broad range of doctoral programs in numerous disciplines. These degrees enable you to study advanced concepts in your chosen field and immerse yourself in the world of academic research.

Graduates use their PhDs to pursue a variety of careers in academia, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. Many jobs that require graduate degrees offer lucrative wages and other benefits, such as academic tenure.

If you want to build your expertise and perform ground-breaking research, you can begin your journey by researching online PhD programs from accredited universities.

Ready to start your journey?
Brianna has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Florida and an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include careers and professional development, digital pedagogy, and first-year writing.