Accelerated Online Ph.D. Programs

Accelerated programs let students earn a degree in a shorter time than traditional on-campus or online courses of study.

February 15, 2022 , Modified on March 24, 2022

Accelerated Online Ph.D. Programs

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Online 1-Year Ph.D. Programs

Earning an accelerated doctoral degree online can help students earn an advanced degree quickly. Accelerated programs let students earn a degree faster than traditional on-campus and online programs.

This guide covers information about pursuing accelerated doctoral programs online. It details common courses, types of degrees, and education formats.

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Shortest Ph.D. Programs


Before Enrollment: Research

Enrollment: Apply

Attendance: Year One

Most schools offer courses on a semester system. However, some institutions follow a quarter-based or trimester-based system. In many online accelerated doctoral programs, courses do not follow the campus schedule. Instead, they occur in shorter blocks that may last between 5-8 weeks.

At the beginning of a doctoral program, students take introductory courses that explain the basics of the field. As they move through coursework, classes become more advanced. Students also take specialized electives. In accelerated doctoral programs, learners take classes all year, including over the summer.

Graduation: End of Year One

Credit requirements vary by program. After students complete all required coursework, they often must submit a dissertation to graduate. Once they finish their research, Ph.D. candidates submit it for review and defend their conclusions.

Example Curriculum: Accelerated Doctoral in Counseling

Courses vary by program. The following includes a sample curriculum for a doctorate-level counseling program.

Quarters 1-2 or Semester One

Psychotherapy Overview
Grief Counseling
Ethical Issues in Counseling

Quarters 3-4 or Semester Two

Counseling Across the Lifespan
Treating Complicated Grief
Group Grief Counseling

Accelerated Doctoral vs. Regular Doctoral Timeline

Candidates should compare timelines of accelerated and nonaccelerated doctoral programs. Through the link below, students can learn about the typical time commitment for an online doctoral degree.

How long does it take to earn a PhD online?

Tips for accelerating the college timeline.

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Featured Online Ph.D. Counseling Programs

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Fastest Doctoral Programs

Accelerated online Ph.D. programs attract many students looking to earn a terminal degree quickly. Members of the military, those seeking high-paying jobs, and students looking to quickly enter the healthcare field make great candidates for fast-track doctoral programs. In the next section, degree-seekers can explore doctoral degrees for each of these groups.

Check out our guide to online programs for working adults to learn more about earning a degree while working full time.

Accelerated Doctoral Programs For Military Members

Accelerated Online Doctorate in Criminal Justice

Icon Completion Time: Through accelerated doctorates in criminal justice, students can earn their Ph.D. in significantly less time than traditional programs. These programs may let students start the dissertation process early and work on research throughout the program. Through accelerated courses, students can finish their Ph.D. in three years. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: Ph.D. programs in criminal justice require students to hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and often also requires a master's degree. Applicants must submit official transcripts and may be required to demonstrate at least a 3.0 GPA. Some programs prefer a professional background in criminal justice.

Accelerated Online Doctorate in Human and Social Services

Icon Completion Time: Students who pursue an accelerated online doctorate in human and social services can expedite graduation by taking a full course load each term. They may also start their research early in the program and take dissertation seminars throughout their studies. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: These programs often require a master's degree. Additionally, students typically need to submit official transcripts that demonstrate at least a 3.0 GPA. Doctoral programs in human services do not usually require standardized test scores or professional experience.

Accelerated Online Doctorate in Forensic Psychology

Icon Completion Time: Accelerated forensic psychology programs let students expedite graduation by taking a heavy course load each semester. Learners typically take three courses each term rather than the traditional two. Students also start their dissertation research early in the program instead of working on it after finishing coursework. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: Prospective students must submit an application and official transcripts. They often need a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework. Some programs may include residencies. Forensic psychology programs with a clinical emphasis may include a supervised clinical practicum.

Accelerated Online Healthcare and Medical Doctoral Programs

Accelerated Online Doctorate in Behavioral Health

Icon Completion Time: Students earning a fast-track doctoral degree in behavioral health online graduate quickly. They may take classes that each last only 7.5 weeks. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: These programs often require a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some clinically focused behavioral health doctoral programs require a master's in a health-related field and licensure in an approved healthcare profession. Some programs also require in-person clinical components. [/accordion-minimal-item]
Accelerated Online Doctorate in Nursing Practice
Icon Completion Time: An accelerated online doctorate in nursing may let students complete their degree in two years or less. Some programs shorten degree-completion times through flexible online classes. Some schools let students with a master's degree in the field take fewer courses. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: Doctoral programs in nursing prepare current nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and other nursing professionals for advanced clinical work. These programs include supervised clinical internships that build high-level skills. Applicants need an active RN license, a satisfactory GPA, and clinical experience.

Accelerated Online Ph.D. in Psychology

Icon Completion Time: An accelerated Ph.D. in psychology may allow students to begin their dissertation earlier than they can in traditional programs. Additionally, students may take extra courses each term to finish faster. Accelerated Ph.D. programs may take three years or less. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: Applicants to online Ph.D. in psychology programs sometimes need a master's degree. However, many institutions accept bachelor's degrees. Prospective students may need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants might also need to submit GRE scores, recommendation letters, and an essay. These programs sometimes include a practicum.

Accelerated Online Doctoral Programs for High-Salary Careers

Accelerated Online Doctorate in Education

Icon Completion Time: Students who pursue an accelerated online doctorate in education can earn their degree in three years or less. Programs may feature accelerated courses and on-campus intensives that speed up completion time. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: Doctoral programs in education typically require a minimum 3.0 GPA, GRE scores, and recommendation letters. Applicants often need relevant professional education experience, a master's in the field, and/or a current teaching position. Education doctoral programs may include on-campus residencies.

Accelerated Online Doctorate in Business Administration

Icon Completion Time: Typical doctoral programs in business administration may take six years or more to complete. Students in accelerated programs can graduate in three years or less. Accelerated programs feature shorter classes and a faster dissertation process. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: DBA programs typically accept students with many years of management experience. Additionally, many schools require a master's degree in business administration or another business-related field. Applicants may also need to hold at least a 3.0 GPA.

Accelerated Online Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership

Icon Completion Time: Accelerated Ph.D. in education leadership programs might feature shorter courses and a faster dissertation process. This format allows students to graduate in three years or less. Icon Example Courses: Icon Program Requirements: Applicants typically need to submit a statement of purpose, recommendation letters, GRE or MAT scores, and transcripts. Prospective students may not need professional experience or a master's degree in the field.

Other Popular Accelerated Degree Subjects

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