United States Accredited Online PhD and Doctoral Programs
Online Doctoral Programs encompass both PhD online 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 technology to provide a convenient learning option for working professionals.
GradSchools.com Top Schools with Online Doctorate Degrees*
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 10,861+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 1:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 44,560+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 18:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 26,149+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 17:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 30,631+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 18:1
EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features.
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.
What Are 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.
What Are 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.
Accredited Online PhD Programs
|PhD/Doctorate Program||Degree Awarded|
|Online Business (DBA)||D.B.A.|
|Online Criminal Justice and Legal Education||Ph.D. in Criminal Justice|
|Online Fine Arts and Design||Ph.D|
|Online Health and Medicine||PharmD, DBA, DPT, DNP, DSL, Au.D|
|Math, Science, Engineering, Technology (STEM) Online||Ph.D., M.D/Ph.D, DBA, DCS|
|Public Affairs and Social Sciences Online||PsyD, DMFT, DSW, DrPH, DPA|
|Religious Studies||D.Min, PhD|
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 discusssions.
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".
How Long Are Online PhD Programs?
The process of earning an PhD online 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.
Are Doctorate and PhD Programs Online Respected?
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.
What Fields Have PhD Programs Online?
Online PhD programs and professional doctorate degrees may be available in many academic categories. We have categorized them under the following broad domains, and included samples of some potential program choices. Search for online doctoral degrees in education, business, and nursing. Use the on-page menu to refine your search by category.
- Business: e.g. Online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
- Criminal Justice and Legal: e.g. Online PhD in Criminal Justice
- Education: e.g. Online Doctor of Education(EdD)
- Fine Arts and Design: e.g. Fine Arts and Design PhD Online
- Health and Medicine: e.g. Online Doctor of Nursing Practice DNP, online BSN to DNP Family Nurse Practitioner
- Liberal Arts and Humanities: e.g. Online PhD in Ethics and Philosophy
- Math, Science and Engineering: e.g. Online Doctor in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering
- Public Affairs and Social Science: e.g. Online Phd in Public Affairs and Social Sciences Doctor of Social Work(DSW)
- Religious Studies: e.g. Online PhD in Religious Studies
- Technology: e.g. Online Doctorate Healthcare Administration and Management Programs
5 Careers That Require a PhD
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 3% of all jobs in the United States typically require a doctoral degree.i The 64 occupations that BLS designates as requiring a PhD include:
|Career||2016 Median Annual Salary for PhDs|
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Physicians and Surgeons – General Surgery
How To Choose an Online PhD Program
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: Rread 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 availabe by clicking the link on any listing.
- 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.
Review PhD Online Programs
There may be a lot of details to factor into choosing an accredited Online PhD program, but taking the time to research these details (in addition to tuition costs and whether you have all your prerequisites in place) is worth the effort. All online doctoral programs are fairly rigorous, so you don’t want to settle for one that isn’t just right or is a logistical nightmare. Smart shopping is for smart students. Get a jumpstart on researching online Ph.D programs today.
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
- The competency-based curriculum delivers both foundational knowledge and real-world skills.
- Two online learning formats available: FlexPath lets you set your own deadlines and move at your own pace, while the GuidedPath offers extra structure for those who need it.
New York University
Earn your Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) in as few as two years with NYU’s online program, OT@NYU. Master’s degree and GRE required – waiver available. Apply today!...
Sacred Heart University
The online Post-Master's Doctor of Nursing Practice program offered by Sacred Heart University infuses practice-focused doctoral education with innovation and practical clinical research and scholarship.
Emporia State University
Doctor of Philosophy in Library and Information Management.
The PhD in Business Administration degree with a specialization in Criminal Justice takes a multi-discipline approach to...
The online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree enables the graduates to transform the health care delivery system and design new systems to improve the context in which health care is offered.
Indiana Wesleyan University
The Doctor of Philosophy with a major in Organizational Leadership includes both onsite classes in Indiana and online coursework. Its mission is to provide a Christ centered, innovative, and challenging doctoral program, which enables students to bec...
- Portland, ORPortland, OR
University of Western States
he SPP EdD curriculum helps students complete coursework requirements to become licensed professional counselors (LPC) and Certified Consultants through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (CC-AASP).
The online Ed.D. from top-ranked Peabody College empowers influential leaders to address systemic challenges and drive positive change within the workplace. A master’s degree is required to apply.
Arkansas State University
The Ed.S. Education Degree Specialist in Superintendency program is designed to provide study beyond the master’s degree to improve educators’ general educational and specific professional competencies as leaders in the public school systems.
Purdue University Global
Purdue Global’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is designed to prepare advanced practice nurses to thrive in today’s rapidly changing health care environment. With the shrinking number of primary care providers, the nursing shortage, and the increasing...
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS)
Academic Excellence. As the second oldest pharmacy program in the U.S., we have been educating pharmacy professionals since 1823. Learn from our experienced faculty about everything from patient care to the management of patient practice and public healt...
This fully online Doctoral degree program prepares candidates for leadership and teaching roles across the post-secondary education sector. This three year accredited EdD program consists of courses eight weeks in length, limited to a cohort of 15...
- Villanova, PAVillanova, PA
To advance your career in this steadily growing field, earn a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) from Villanova University. Our program is modern, relevant, balanced and comprehensive; providing foundations in basic theory coupled with c...
- Villanova, PA
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Business Psychology program (I/O Track) Ph.D. trains doctoral-level psychologists for a career in academic research as well as for corporate, consulting, and other work settings.
Grand Canyon University
At Grand Canyon University, the Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration With An Emphasis in Marketing) program is your introduction to an exciting executive and academic journey.
As a seasoned nurse practitioner, you do far more than care for the sick. You elevate the practice of patient-centered care and help transform the way healthcare is delivered. Now it’s time to gain the doctoral-level credentials that support th...
As one of the first online doctoral programs in industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology, Walden’s PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program allows you to deepen your knowledge of workplace and organizational behavior.
Liberty University Online
- Berrien Springs, MIBerrien Springs, MI
The DNP is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs.
Colorado Technical University
- Schaumburg, IL
- Cincinnati, OHCincinnati, OH
Union Institute and University
Union Institute & University’s doctoral program plays a distinctive role in American higher education. Grounded in humanistic inquiry...
University of Southern California
Doctor of Education (EdD) in Organizational Change and Leadership: Prepares current and emerging leaders to drive systemic change in schools, nonprofits and government agencies, promoting learning and creating more effective, competitive organi...