Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

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Updated November 29, 2022

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Earning a Ph.D. requires time, persistence, and money. However, earning a degree gives graduates many personal and professional benefits.

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Are you ready to discover your college program?

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.


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.

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 Programs

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

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.

The Best Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

#1 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

  • Little Rock, AR
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A public institution, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock enrolls students from its main campus. The school offers an online doctorate in computer and information sciences. Some doctoral programs require applicants to hold a master’s degree in their field, while others may accept bachelor’s degree-holders.

The online learning format makes it easier for doctoral students to earn a degree while working. Doctoral students take courses in a virtual learning environment and meet with faculty advisors online.

As the terminal degree in data science, a doctorate represents the highest level of education in the field. Earning a doctorate in data science generally takes 3-5 years, depending on the student's enrollment option. With a doctorate, graduates can work in academia, research, and data science practice.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock Fast Facts:

In-state Graduate Tuition: $5,760

Out-of-state Graduate Tuition: $13,050

Admission Rate: 66%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13-to-1

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,495
Out-of-state
$18,750
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
9,581
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

Franklin University

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A private institution, Franklin University enrolls students from its main campus in Columbus, Ohio. The online doctor of business administration prepares doctoral students for advanced roles in their field. The admission requirements for the doctoral program typically include a master's degree in business management.

While a doctorate requires intensive study, the online format helps students balance their degree with other responsibilities. After completing the online business management program, doctoral students can visit campus to graduate in person.

As the highest level of education, a doctorate prepares graduates for advanced roles in their field. Most doctoral programs require 4-6 years of study, though the length varies depending on the program and the student's enrollment option. Graduates pursue careers in academia, research, or business management practice.

Franklin University Facts:

Total Online Doctoral Programs: 3

Graduate Tuition: $16,080

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13-to-1

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,552
Out-of-state
$9,552
Retention Rate
47%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,031
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

Brenau University

  • Gainesville, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Gainesville, Georgia, Brenau University enrolls degree-seekers as a private institution. Degree-seekers in the doctorate in elementary education program complete advanced coursework in their field. Prospective applicants can learn more about admission prerequisites and program requirements by contacting the school.

An online doctorate can help students pursue an advanced degree while maintaining a full-time job. Students considering the elementary education program can reach out to a faculty advisor to learn about any in-person requirements.

As the terminal degree in K-12 education, a doctorate builds advanced knowledge and skills. Most doctoral students complete their degree within five years. With a doctorate, graduates pursue opportunities in academia, research, and K-12 education practice.

Brenau University Fast Facts:

Total Online Doctoral Programs: 3

Graduate Tuition: $12,834

Average Cost per Credit: $816

Admission Rate: 58%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 10-to-1

Average Tuition
In-state
$29,370
Out-of-state
$29,370
Retention Rate
52%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
2,817
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

  • Indianapolis, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis operates as a public institution. The Ph.D. in music therapy trains graduates for advanced careers through a flexible learning format. Prospective applicants can learn more about admission prerequisites and program requirements by contacting the department.

The program's flexible learning format helps graduate students complete their doctoral degree. Students may need to visit campus occasionally for in-person activities, such as labs or simulations.

As the highest level of education, a doctorate prepares graduates for advanced roles in their field. Depending on their enrollment status, doctoral students generally earn their degree in 3-5 years. With a doctorate, graduates pursue opportunities in academia, research, and occupational therapy practice.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Facts:

Total Online Doctoral Programs: 3

In-state Graduate Tuition: $8,826

Out-of-state Graduate Tuition: $24,144

Admission Rate: 81%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15-to-1

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,580
Out-of-state
$29,589
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
29,537
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Liberty University delivers 229 academic programs, including online options. The DBA program provides students with a reasonably priced education. Leaders in business management earn a doctoral degree as a way of gaining advanced skills and knowledge.

Students typically complete their doctoral program in 4-7 years. During that time, degree-seekers complete advanced coursework, pass comprehensive examinations, and conduct research for their doctoral dissertation.

Liberty University Facts:

Average Tuition Per Credit: $750

Percentage of Learners Receiving Aid: 99%

Percentage of Students Receiving Loans: 57%

Applicants Admitted: 51%

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: Yes

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

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

University of New England

  • Biddeford, ME
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students in the education field can explore the University of New England's doctor of education curriculum. The online format offers an affordable route to a doctoral degree.

Internship and service-learning activities give students valuable hands-on experience. Students can explore the school’s website to learn how to earn credit for internships and graduate-level hands-on learning opportunities. Degree-seekers can attend networking events to connect with peers and professionals in their field.

University of New England at a Glance:

Online Master's Programs: 7

Total Doctoral Programs: 1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $23,498 in-state; $23,498 out-of-state

University of New England has been accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.

Average Tuition
In-state
$37,390
Out-of-state
$37,390
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
7,483
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#7 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

Touro University Nevada

  • Henderson, NV
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Touro University Nevada delivers 14 online and on-campus programs. The reasonably priced doctor of education gives students a high-quality education in the field. The flexible program lets working professionals earn their degree around their other commitments.

Students may receive credit for hands-on learning opportunities, such as internships. The institution's website provides details about how to earn credit for graduate-level experiential learning. Student organizations provide professional development opportunities to help learners prepare for their career.

Touro University Nevada Fast Facts:

Graduate Tuition Rate: $42,300 in-state; $42,300 out-of-state

Transfer Credits Allowed: No

The school holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,900
Out-of-state
$9,900
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,530
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#8 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

Seton Hall University

  • South Orange, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The reasonably priced doctor of nursing practice gives students a high-quality education. Busy students take advantage of the flexible program to earn their degree while fulfilling their other responsibilities.

Students at the school enroll in affordable doctoral programs that meet high standards of quality. Learners interact through class discussions, and the program also uses video lectures and assignments.

Seton Hall University Statistics:

Undergraduate Graduation Rate: 73%

Learners Receiving Financial Aid: 100%

Students Awarded Student Loans: 51%

Per-Credit Price: $1,332

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No

Seton Hall University has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a regional accrediting body.

Average Tuition
In-state
$41,460
Out-of-state
$41,460
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
10,219
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#9 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

Southeastern Louisiana University

  • Hammond, LA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Hammond, Southeastern Louisiana University welcomes students as a public institution. The school offers an online doctorate in nursing practice. The doctoral program builds on the student's prior nursing practice knowledge to strengthen advanced skills.

While a doctorate requires intensive study, the online format helps students balance their degree with other responsibilities. Doctoral students typically work with the program to complete any in-person requirements in their local area.

The terminal degree in nursing practice, a doctorate leads to high-level roles in the field. Students typically spend 3-6 years completing a doctorate. Professionals pursue academic, research, and nursing practice careers after completing the program.

Southeastern Louisiana University Facts:

In-state Graduate Tuition: $6,684

Out-of-state Graduate Tuition: $19,162

Admission Rate: 90%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20-to-1

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,777
Out-of-state
$18,255
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
14,220
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Online Ph.D. Programs 2022

North Carolina State University

  • Raleigh, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners wanting to earn a doctor of design degree online can study at the North Carolina State University. With an online format, students can save money on their doctoral degree.

Doctoral programs typically take 4-7 years to complete. Doctor of design students earn their degree after completing all coursework, exams, and dissertation research.

North Carolina State University Fast Facts:

Graduate School Tuition Rate: $9,095 in-state; $26,421 out-of-state

Amount of Aid Awarded Per Learner: $8,938

Average Price With Financial Aid: $14,958

Graduation Rate: 82%

Transfer Credits Counted: No

The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, a regional accrediting body.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,535
Out-of-state
$26,654
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
45%
Students Enrolled
36,304
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

How to Choose a Doctoral Program

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

More Ph.D. Programs

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