The Best Online PhD Programs 2022

Earning a Ph.D. online can open up new career opportunities or help expand a current career.

February 10, 2022 , Updated on July 7, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Edited by Veronica Freeman
The Best Online PhD Programs 2022

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Online PhD Program Degrees

A Ph.D. is the most advanced degree in most fields. Graduates with a Ph.D. can work as researchers, professors, or clinical psychologists. Online Ph.D. programs take several years to finish. Coursework depends heavily on discipline and field of study. Learners complete a large amount of independent research.

Applicants to the most competitive online Ph.D. programs need a master's degree and a strong academic record. Students interested in pursuing an online Ph.D. must submit writing samples, GRE scores, and recommendation letters.

Read on for an overview of online Ph.D. programs, benefits, and requirements.

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Featured Online Doctorate Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ph.D. Programs

Can I complete a Ph.D. program online?

Some Ph.D. programs allow enrollees to complete coursework online. However, students may need to fulfill on-campus residency requirements.

Can I get a Ph.D. without a master's?

Some online Ph.D. programs only accept candidates with a master's degree from a regionally accredited school. However, many schools accept applications from high-performing bachelor's graduates.

How long is a Ph.D. program?

Ph.D. program length varies by discipline, school, and learners' prior graduate work. Master's degree-holders may finish in 3-5 years. Some candidates take longer.

Why Get a Ph.D. Degree?

An online Ph.D. meets or exceeds education requirements for many careers. Graduates with a Ph.D. can apply for jobs in education and scientific research. Earning an online Ph.D. can also improve professionals' earning potential. According to PayScale salary data from September 2021, Ph.D. graduates average $100,000 annually. Salary varies widely by discipline and career. Professors earn a median annual salary of $80,560.

Online Ph.D. programs provide greater flexibility and lower costs than on-campus programs. See below for more information about online Ph.D. tuition and expenses.

Earning a Ph.D. requires time, persistence, and money. However, earning a degree gives graduates many personal and professional benefits. For example, doctoral students can pursue their interests at a deep level. Doing so can bring intellectual satisfaction and confidence.

How to Choose a Doctoral Program

1. Discover Your Interests

Students considering a Ph.D. program should know what their intended field of study is and what career options are available after graduation. Once a student knows what field they are interested in, they can begin researching top programs in the area, or in the country if they are willing to relocate.

2. Research Program Options

There are a variety of program layouts available for doctoral students. Students should decide if they want an online, hybrid, or in-person program. Students interested in an online program should research asynchronous vs. synchronous course layouts to decide what works best for their schedule.

3. Consider Program Lengeth and Finacial Aid

Before applying to a doctoral program, students should understand the requirements and the average amount of time it takes to complete the degree. Students should also research financial aid options, including research grants and graduate assistantships.

4. Know Application Deadlines

Once a student has decided which doctoral programs to apply to, they should begin the application process immediately. Many doctoral programs only have one start date a year, so students should research when they can enroll and when applications are due.

5. Reach Out to the Falculty

Students should consider reaching out to faculty members at the school they're interested in either before or during the application process. Doing so can help students tailor their application and also have a better idea of what to expect during the program.

How Much Does a Ph.D. Cost?

Doctoral degrees can range in price, but on average they cost $114,300 according to EducationData. Another study, conducted by the National Center of Education Statistics, states that a student can expect to pay $18,947 per year on average. A student's cost can vary depending on in-state vs. out-of-state tuition and any scholarship or graduate assistantship funding. Costs can also vary by the type of degree, a Ph.D. can cost less than an M.D. or Ed.D., for example.

Stipends do not usually cover all living expenses. Even fully funded Ph.D. students sometimes borrow money. Student debt among Ph.D. graduates averages around $159,630. Online Ph.D. programs may cost less than on-campus programs. Some schools offer online learners in-state tuition rates. Many online students also save on transportation costs and campus fees.

However, online learners incur extra expenses. Read below to learn about these fees.

Is a Ph.D. a Good Investment?

An online Ph.D. meets or exceeds education requirements for many careers. Graduates with a Ph.D. can apply for jobs in education and scientific research. Earning an online Ph.D. can also improve professionals' earning potential. According to PayScale salary data from September 2021, Ph.D. graduates average $100,000 annually. Salary varies widely by discipline and career. Professors earn a median annual salary of $80,560.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Doctorate Psychology Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online students need reliable computers, high-speed internet, and technical support. These come with additional expenses.

Students enrolled in online Ph.D. programs also need money for books, supplies, and graduation fees. Some careers require professional licenses or certifications. These credentials can carry hefty application fees. Online Ph.D. programs often require enrollees to meet with advisors on campus. Learners should budget for travel and housing expenses.

Available Online Ph.D. Degrees

Coursework in online Ph.D. programs varies by discipline. Many Ph.D. programs begin with 2-3 years of advanced coursework. Core coursework covers research methods and includes dissertation preparation courses. Learners also study their field's history and major theoretical frameworks.

Ph.D. programs cultivate advanced specialization through elective courses and independent study. Students culminate their program with a comprehensive exam. Learners also complete independent research for their dissertation.

See below for three common Ph.D. programs. Keep in mind that not every school offers these programs.

The Best Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
    Location

    Little Rock, AR

    Tuition

    $13751

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Information quality; information science
    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    UA Little Rock, which began as a junior college in 1927, has grown into a metropolitan research university offering over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs.

    The online Ph.D. program in computer and information science prepares graduates for careers in computing and knowledge-based industries and research and educational positions. The 75-credit degree requires only three campus visits for the candidacy examination, dissertation research proposal, and oral dissertation defense.

    The online doctorate program accepts students who have earned their bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants must submit official transcripts, GRE scores, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and a written statement describing their academic and professional goals.

    Available Scholarships: ACXIOM Diversity Scholarship Program

  • Franklin University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Depends on degree
    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    For over 115 years, Ohio-based Franklin has pioneered affordable and accessible programs designed to meet the needs of working adults. The university offers five fully online applied doctorate degrees: doctor of nursing practice, doctor of business administration, doctor of education in organizational leadership, doctor of healthcare administration, and doctor of professional studies in instructional design.

    Each doctorate program requires 58 credits or less for completion. Most distance learners complete their degree in 2-3 years. Franklin offers a generous transfer credit policy, allowing students to apply up to 24 previously earned credits, or about 40% of the total required, toward completion of their degree.

    Available Scholarships: Graduate Student Scholarship; Choose Ohio First STEM Scholarship

  • Brenau University
    Location

    Gainesville, GA

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Depends on degree
    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Established in 1878 in Gainesville, Georgia, as a women's college, Brenau now confers degrees in more than 50 areas of study to both men and women. Brenau has added over 40 online programs since 1998. The College of Education administers four doctor of education options: Ed.D. ABD completion pathway, Ed.D. elementary education, Ed.D. leadership in higher education, and Ed.D. middle grades education.

    Designed for students who have already earned their teaching certificate, these online doctorate degrees deliver classes in condensed and accelerated seven-week formats. Applicants to the Ed.D. degrees must hold either a master's or educational specialist degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25.

    Available Scholarships: Alumni awards and scholarships

  • Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
    Location

    Indianapolis, IN

    Tuition

    $9807

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Depends on degree
    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

    Created in 1969 through the merger of two Indianapolis-based schools, Indiana University and Purdue University, IUPUI offers over 550 degrees. A leader in distance learning, IUPUI features more than 200 online degrees, including several online doctorate degrees in education, nursing, and public health.

    Students may choose from five fully online doctor of education degrees in art education, science education, educational leadership, instructional systems technology, and literacy, culture, and language.

    Online doctorate programs in nursing consist of the mostly online doctor of nursing degree and the research-oriented Ph.D. in nursing. The online doctor of public health degree delivers most courses online but requires three on-campus residencies.

    Available Scholarships: Robert and Cynthia Hendershot Scholarship; IUPUC Alumni Association Scholarship

  • Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Depends on degree
    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    This evangelical Christian institution, established in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1971, enrolls over 100,000 students in more than 700 campus-based and online programs. Liberty offers over 160 online doctorate programsacross the liberal arts and sciences and professional fields. The most popular degree options include ministry and theology, education, music, business education, and nursing.

    Designed as a convenient alternative to a traditional on-campus program, an online doctorate degree at Liberty offers eight different start dates throughout the academic year and takes between 2-3 years to complete. Most programs deliver courses entirely online in eight-week formats that allow students to work at their own pace.

    Available Scholarships: Liberty University Online (LUO) scholarships

  • University of New England
    Location

    Biddeford, ME

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Accredited By: New England Commission on Higher Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    UNE, Maine's largest private university, operates two campuses in Maine and one in Tangier, Morocco. The university offers one online doctorate degree. The 51-credit online doctor of education comprises an entirely online curriculum with a limited number of synchronistic classes and no residency requirements, allowing students the flexibility to study when convenient.

    Doctoral candidates can work on their dissertation throughout their degree and present their dissertation defense online. The program, which accepts up to four three-credit transfer courses, features multiple start dates and takes as few as three years to complete. Students enroll in two eight-week classes each 16-week semester.

    Available Scholarships: Maine Department of Education REVV Grant

  • Touro University Nevada
    Location

    Henderson, NV

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Accredited By: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Touro Nevada, a Jewish-sponsored, private institution affiliated with the Touro College and University system, focuses primarily on training healthcare and educational professionals. It offers two online doctorate degrees in education and nursing.

    Designed for K-20 educators or health professionals seeking career advancement in educational settings, thedoctor of educationadmits students who hold a master's in any field. The three-year program requires two week-long on-campus residencies.

    The doctor of nursing practice admits registered nurses with an MSN degree from an accredited nursing program. This fully online nursing degree offers three start dates and an accelerated curriculum option that allows distance learners to finish their degree in one year.

    Available Scholarships: Touro University Nevada Dean Scholarship

  • Seton Hall University
    Location

    South Orange, NJ

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Direct care-advanced practice; indirect care-health systems administration
    Accredited By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Seton Hall, a Catholic university with a main campus in South Orange, New Jersey, serves over 10,000 students in 90 undergraduate and 120 graduate programs. Its doctor of nursing practice, a terminal online doctorate degree, prepares registered nurses for advanced practice roles and administrative and leadership positions.

    For students who already have an MSN in direct or indirect care, the program only requires 31 credits. Post-BSN applicants must complete between 73 and 79 credits. The curriculum, which covers core areas in population health, healthcare systems, and evidence-based practice, culminates in the completion of a final scholarly project that focuses on improving healthcare systems, patient outcomes, and quality and safety in clinical practice and administration.

    Available Scholarships: Minette's Angels Foundation Nursing Scholarship

  • Southeastern Louisiana University
    Location

    Hammond, LA

    Tuition

    $11890

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Founded in 1925, Southeastern confers over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees each year. It currently offers two online doctorate programs in nursing and in education.

    The fully online doctor of nursing practice provides two pathways to a degree. The BSN-to-DNP admits RNs seeking a family nurse practitioner specialization while earning a practice-focused terminal doctoral degree. Advanced practice registered nurses who already hold an MSN degree may enter the post-MSN DNP track.

    The 60-credit online doctor of education in educational leadership uses a cohort model, admitting a minimum of ten students for each cohort. Candidate interest determines each cohort's start date. In addition to a master's degree, GRE scores, a resume, and a personal statement, candidates must have completed three years of professional experience.

    Available Scholarships: Philipp Wolters Family Endowment for Nursing, The Mollie Robicheaux Branch Endowed Scholarship in Education

  • North Carolina State University at Raleigh
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $14958

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

    NC State, part of the University of North Carolina system and the largest university in the Carolinas, serves over 36,000 students in more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs. It currently offers 100 online degree programs, including one online doctorate degree in education administration.

    Designed for school administrators who already hold principal licensure in North Carolina, the Ed.D. requires 54 credits beyond a master's degree. The cohort-based program comprises 27 credits in core and elective courses related to educational leadership, nine credits in research methods, two six-credit internships, and 12 credits of dissertation research. The degree prepares graduates for district/superintendent licensure.

    Available Scholarships: Kathryn M. Moore International Studies Award for College of Education Graduate Students

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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