Online PhD Programs and Doctoral Degrees
What are Online PhD Programs?
Online PhD Programs encompass both PhD programs and Doctoral online programs. Each could provide a flexible and convenient way to earn the highest level degree in a given field.
While the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the Professional Doctorate Degree differ, one thing that online programs have in common is that they make use of online learning to provide a convenient option for working professionals.
Top Online PhD Programs on Gradschools
Online PhD programs and professional doctorate degrees may be available in many academic categories. The most popular on GradSchools.com are in:
- Psychology: e.g. Online PhD in Developmental Psychology
- Organizational Leadership: e.g. Doctor of Business Administration - Organizational Leadership
- Business Administration: e.g. Online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
- Education Leadership and Administration: e.g. EdD in Educational Leadership - Administrative Leadership
- Counseling Psychology: e.g. Doctor in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Social Work: e.g. Doctor of Social Work(DSW)
- Continued Teacher Education: e.g. PhD in Education - Reading, Literacy, Assessment & Evaluation (Non-Licensure; Family Friendly)
- ESL/TESOL: e.g. Doctor of Education in TESOL (Ed.D)
- Early Childhood Education: e.g. Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Early Childhood Education
- Healthcare Administration and Management: e.g. Doctor of Health Administration
Online PhD Programs vs. Online Doctorate Programs
Online PhD programs and online Doctorate programs are both terminal degrees in their disciplines, meaning that academically, this is the highest award. Some students do continue their education in post-doctoral programs. However, in most fields this is not a requirement, but is a further specialization - one you might see with medical doctors.
As you embark on your search for the ‘right’ advanced degree, you might notice that both PhD programs online and online doctorate programs are offered. Navigating the terminology is important, especially since these two types of doctoral degrees may share the ‘Doctor’ but are actually different in important ways. In our next sections we discuss the difference between an online PhD program and an online doctorate program.
PhD Online Programs
Online PhD degrees, also called ‘research doctorates’, are awarded in all fields as recognition for academic research that is publishable. This usually takes the form of a dissertation or single thesis that a committee of peers will examine and which the candidate then defends.
These programs tend to be focused on the PhD candidate’s original knowledge contribution to his or her field. If you enjoy teaching, consulting, and research, you are likely a good candidate for online PhD Programs.
Online Doctorate Programs
Online Doctorate programs are practice doctorates. If your career requires licensure, as do many fields in law, medicine, psychology and education, often times your fit is with a professional doctorate degree. These are offered in many fields as well, and may be referred to as first professional degrees or vocational degrees.
While online doctorate programs also entail research, it is of a practical nature. Students are expected to understand theory and use available knowledge to address a topic they are passionate about. These students are also more interested in practicing their profession than in continuing to research, publish or teach. Now this isn’t to say there is no overlap, but in general, your choice is going to be between a clinical, practical, professional doctorate or a scholarly, research degree.
Popular Online PhD Degrees
Why Earn Your PhD Online?
Online PhD Programs and online Doctorate programs might make achieving academic goals possible to those who:
- Live too far to commute
- Want to minimize disruption to a current career
- Need the convenience and self pacing
- Are seeking work-life balance
- Have other time restrictions
How Do Online Doctoral Programs Work?
PhD programs online typically make courses available anywhere with an internet connection. Assignments, lectures, readings and class message boards may be accessed through a digital platform. Students might participate in classes 24/7, giving a larger degree of flexibility, as long as deadlines are met. Some online doctorate programs may also integrate a "live" component to their classes, requiring students to log in at set times for streaming lectures or discussions.
Online doctoral students typically interact with professors and classmates through email, messaging systems and chat rooms to simulate a traditional classroom experience. Most PhD online programs also provide students with additional resources to bring the full grad school experience to your home.
While there is no 'one' standard formula in distance-learning, potential features of accredited online PhD programs might include the following.
- Some on-campus visits in the form of short meetings or intensives, especially in human-centered academic fields
- Access to your university’s digital libraries and publications
- Software that enable student-teacher and student-student interaction
- Online discussion forums
- Residency, professional business conferences or supervised practicum requirements
- Student services, such as tutoring, tech support and career services.
Contact your preferred Online Phd Programs to learn what specific resources they may make available.
DID YOU KNOW?
Online PhD Programs are also known as "Research Doctorates" whereas Online Doctorate Programs are known as "Practice Doctorates".
5 Careers That Require a PhD (and Average Salary)
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 3% of all jobs in the United States typically require a doctoral degree.
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Physicians and Surgeons – General Surgery
Sources: [i] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/article/education-level-and-jobs.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm#tab-5 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinarians.htm#tab-5 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm#tab-5 | [v] bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm#tab-5 | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-5
Should I Look For an Accredited Online Phd Program?
Online PhD programs may be as respected as their traditional on-campus counterparts but you still want to look into appropriate accreditation.
Choose a university that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or by their recognized regional affiliates. Also look into program-specific accreditation. This is going to vary depending on whether your online PhD is from a business, nursing or psychology graduate school. Each use very different accrediting boards.
On top of that, if you are looking for online PhD programs for fields that require licensure (such as psychologists), make sure that the university and the program itself are accredited as this may be a requirement for state licensure exams or certification.
How Long Are Online PhD Programs?
Earning an online PhD in your field might take anywhere from 3 to 6 years, although you may find part-time online PhD programs that have a different time to completion.
Some students apply after their Bachelor’s degree, while others use the Master’s degree as a platform for entry. The education level you have going into a PhD program online might impact how long it takes you to degree. Additionally, requirements and program lengths vary between schools.
How To Choose an Online PhD Program
There may be a lot of details to factor into choosing an accredited Online PhD program, but taking the time to research these details is worth the effort. All online doctoral programs are fairly rigorous, so you want to make sure it is the right fit for you.
Online PhD programs are commonly offered as 'mirrors' of a university's residential program, although the learning delivery is different and some of the courses may not be available for distance-learners.
Before you select an online PhD program, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Online PhD or PsyD? Be sure that the type of degree and the institution that awards it aligns with the career goals you have set for yourself.
- University Review: Make sure that you know about their faculty, and the professors are people you look forward to learning from.
- Read and Ask Questions: Read descriptions. Pose a question to their admissions office to test their response time. You need a good tech support as a distance-learner. And, not all online PhD programs have the same formats. You can request more information from the graduate schools directly through the on page form available by clicking the link on any listing.
- Prerequisites: Make sure you find out what completed classes are needed in order to apply.
- Transferring Credits: You definitely want to make sure that your previous degree credits can be transferred to your online doctoral degree program.
- Program Length: If you have specific time constraints, prefer to take things slow or accelerate the process, determine how to make this work with the online format.
- Tuition: Is this program in your budget? Do they offer financial aid?
Top 472 Online Graduate Schools with PhD and Doctoral Programs
- Accredited online university.
- Capella University offers doctoral programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession.
- Competency-based curriculum delivers both foundation knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.
Northcentral UniversityDoctor of Philosophy in Education - Sport and Athletic Management Education Specialist in Educational Leadership Doctor of Business Administration - Management Information Systems Doctorate of Marriage & Family Therapy - Therapy with Military Families Doctor of Philosophy in Education - E-Learning Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration - Computer and Information Security Doctor of Business Administration - Industrial Organizational Psychology Doctor of Business Administration - Computer and Information Security Education Specialist - General Education Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Gender Diversity Studies Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy - General Family Therapy Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy - Culture, Diversity & Social Justice in a Global Context Education Specialist - E-Learning Doctor of Business Administration - Marketing Doctor of Business Administration - General Business Doctor of Education - General Education Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - General Psychology Doctor of Public Administration Doctor of Business Administration - Management of Engineering and Technology Doctor of Education - Learning Analytics in K-12 Education Doctor of Business Administration - Project Management Doctor of Education - Instructional Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration - Advanced Accounting Doctor of Business Administration - Financial Management PhD in Business Administration - Industrial Organizational Psychology
Nova Southeastern UniversityDNP Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems
Rivier UniversityDoctor of Nursing Practice
Concordia University-PortlandEdD in Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation EdD in Educational Leadership - Higher Education EdD in Educational Leadership - Transformational Leadership EdD in Educational Leadership - Instructional Leadership EdD in Educational Leadership - Administrative Leadership
The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyPh.D. Applied Behavior Analysis Ph.D. International Psychology Ph.D. Organizational Leadership Ph.D. Business Psychology, Consulting Track Ph.D. Business Psychology, I/O Track Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis, Credential Track Ed.D. Educational Psychology and Technology
Walden UniversityDoctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Technology Doctor of Education (EdD) - Early Childhood Education Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (For Administrators) Doctor of Education (EdD) - Special Education Doctor of Education (EdD) - Higher Education Leadership & Management Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (Non-Licensure) Doctor of Education (EdD) - Higher Education & Adult Learning Doctor of Education (EdD) - Reading, Literacy & Assessment Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Global Supply Chain Management Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - International Business Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Marketing Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Self-Designed Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Finance Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Entrepreneurship Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Homeland Security Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Leadership Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Accounting Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Social Impact Management Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Information Systems Management Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Human Resource Management Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Healthcare Management Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Technology Entrepreneurship Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) - Energy Management
Northern Illinois UniversityOnline BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice Online MSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
Purdue University GlobalM.S. - DNP Family Nurse Practitioner M.S. - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice) M.S. - DNP Adult Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) M.S. - DNP Executive Leader
Grand Canyon UniversityDoctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Higher Education Leadership Ed. S. in K-12 Leadership Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction D.B.A. with an Emphasis in Management Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership in with an Emphasis in K-12 Leadership Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Industrial and Organizational Psychology Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Data Analytics) Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision Bridge (Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision) Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Marketing) Ed. D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Special Education D.B.A. with an Emphasis in Marketing Ed. D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Health Care Administration Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development D.B.A. with an Emphasis in Data Analytics Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Behavioral Health Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Christian Ministry Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology
Colorado Technical UniversityDoctor of Management - Executive Leadership (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - General Concentration (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Environmental and Social Sustainability (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Private Sector Higher Education Leadership Doctor of Management - Nonprofit Leadership (Executive Format) Doctor of Computer Science - Big Data Analytics (Executive Format) Doctor of Computer Science (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Criminal Justice Doctor of Management - Project Management (Executive Format) Doctor of Computer Science - Enterprise Information Systems (Executive Format) Doctor of Nursing Practice Doctor of Management - Higher Education Teaching and Learning Doctor of Management - Technology Management (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Organizational Development and Change (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Healthcare Management and Leadership (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Global Leadership (Executive Format) Doctor of Computer Science - Information Assurance (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Homeland Security (Executive Format)
Liberty University OnlineDoctor Of Worship Studies Doctor of Worship Studies: Leadership EDD: Curriculum and Instruction/Special Education PHD: Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership Doctor of Business Administration: Human Resources Doctor of Business Administration: Marketing Doctor of Business Administration: Healthcare Management EDS: Higher Education Administration EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Secondary Education EDD: Community Care & Counseling: Traumatology EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Special Education Doctor of Public Administration PHD: Public Policy PHD: Education: Organizational Leadership Doctor of Education: Educational Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Doctor of Business Administration: Project Management DMN: Church Revitalization Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology: Industrial/Organizational Psychology DMN: Theology and Apologetics Doctor of Education: Curriculum and Instruction Doctor of Ministry: Expository Preaching DMN: Biblical Studies Education Specialist: Curriculum and Instruction
South UniversityNursing Practice (DNP)
Capella UniversityEdD - Reading and Literacy PhD - Accounting (ACBSP-accredited) DBA - Business Intelligence (ACBSP-accredited) DrPH - Public Health PhD - Information Technology Management (ACBSP-accredited) DBA - Accounting PhD - Nursing Education DBA - Strategy and Innovation (ACBSP-accredited) DNP - Doctor of Nursing Practice (CCNE-accredited) EdS - Teacher Leader in Digital Transformation DBA - Human Resource Management EdS - Personalized and Competency-Based Instruction PhD - Human Resource Management (ACBSP-accredited) EdS - Reading and Literacy PhD - Information Assurance and Cybersecurity PhD - Counselor Education and Supervision (CACREP-accredited) PhD - Information Technology PhD - Leadership (ACBSP-accredited) PhD - Leadership in Educational Administration DNP - BSN-to-DNP (CCNE-accredited) DBA - Global Operations and Supply Chain Management (ACBSP-accredited) EdS - Teacher Leader in K-12 Studies PhD - Psychology PhD - Strategy and Innovation EdD - Curriculum and Instruction
Union Institute and UniversityPh.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies
Albany Medical CollegeGraduate Program in Bioethics
Villanova UniversityMS in Chemical Engineering MS in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering MS in Biochemical Engineering MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering Ms in Electrical Engineering MS in Mechanical Engineering
Sullivan UniversityPh.D in Management - Strategic Management Ph.D in Management - Conflict Resolution Ph.D in Management - Information Technology Ph.D. in Management - concentration in Human Resource Leadership
Auburn UniversityRehabilitation Counseling Master's Program
Michigan Technological UniversityMechanical Engineering or Engineering Mechanics
Loma Linda UniversityOnline MPH in Health Education
Athabasca UniversityDoctor of Education (EdD) in Distance Education Doctorate in Business Administration
Adizes Graduate SchoolGraduate Program in Organizational Transformation
Messianic Bible Institute-YeshivaMessianic Judaism
University of KentuckyEducation
Oklahoma State UniversityFire and Emergency Management
Illinois Institute of TechnologyMetallurgical and Materials Engineering
Lehigh UniversityComparative and International Education
New Mexico State UniversityEducational Administration (Educational Leadership)
International University of the Health SciencesMedicine
Lesley UniversityPh.D. in Educational Studies: Educational Leadership Ph.D. Expressive Therapies Ph.D. in Educational Studies: Individually Designed Specialization Ph.D. in Educational Studies: Adult Learning Specialization