Boston MA Online PhD Degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences Programs

Online Doctorate Degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences programs provide a flexible option for students pursing the highest level of award in many fields. Online doctoral degrees in Public Affairs might explore areas such as government policy, nonprofit administration, social justice and public health. Social sciences PhD programs study human society and relationships from other angles. Topics might include social work, family therapy, psychology, and interdisciplinary studies. The diversity of online doctoral degrees means you could look for a program to match your professional goals and personal curiosity.

Why Consider Online Doctorate Degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences?

Online doctorate degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences may make a terminal degree in your field more accessible. Students might attend programs based anywhere in the world. No two online universities are the same, but the virtual classroom may help address the needs of many busy adult learners.

Access to Courses: Distance students typically access their degree plan and coursework through their university’s online portal. You might complete assignments through various cloud-based productivity tools, and may be able to learn at your own pace. Some programs use interactive platforms and multimedia formats.

Interaction: To interact with your faculty mentors, you could use email, threaded discussions, white boards, chat rooms or Skype—this will vary from school to school. Some schools integrate face-to-face residencies with their online courses and may even schedule monthly meetings with your faculty, colleagues, and other professionals.

Research: Online Doctorate degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences may help you gain a deeper level of knowledge in your specific area of interest. For research, extra study or writing tools, many schools provide an online library. You might even be able to access live or on-demand guest lectures. Also, some online universities may pair you with a faculty mentor who could guide your otherwise independent and self-directed learning experience.  

Double Up on Degrees: Some online Doctorate degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences allow you to earn your masters while you complete your PhD in some fields of study. This may provide an extra incentive for students who have their bachelors degree to continue their education.

DID YOU KNOW? Researchers listen well, have a solid grasp of the written word and are effective communicators.i

Types of Online Doctorate Degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences

There are several types of online doctorate degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences that have the same weight academically but otherwise differ. These typically fall into one of two categories.

Online PhD: An online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is an academic degree usually connected to research and scholarly publication. Students are often expected to conduct research and write a lengthy dissertation that adds to their field of inquiry. The online PhD in Public Policy and PhD in Psychology are two examples of possible programs.

Online Professional Doctorate: By contrast, online applied or professional doctorates, such as the Doctor of Public Health (DPH), and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), tend to be devoted to the advanced, clinical or practical application of theory to a specific professional domain. Students may be expected to draw deeply from research to come up with solutions to current issues in their field.

Within these two categories, you may be able to find Online Doctorate Public Affairs and Social Sciences programs in many topic areas. Make sure to read program descriptions, course outlines and contact schools for information if it will help you choose a perfect doctorate degree for you.

Online PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies

An online PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies may suit the student who is drawn to humanistic inquiry and has multiple research interests. Some of the ideas you might explore could include leadership, public policy, social change, ethics and innovation. This type of program might be presented with various majors. Humanities and culture, educational studies, public policy and social change and ethical leadership are some possible choices. 

Online Doctoral Degrees in Counseling Psychology

Doctoral degrees in Counseling Psychology span studies in several areas, such as addiction, family therapy, expressive arts and more.

Online PhD in Family Therapy: In many schools, the online PhD in Family Therapy is designed for students who have earned their masters degree. A blend of theory, clinical practice, teaching, and research, some programs may help students fulfill the instructional component for AAMFT Approved Supervisor status. In their courses, students could study systems theory of behavior, cybernetics, interactional therapies and solution-focused approaches. Possible electives might include Couples Therapy, Family Business, Grief and Loss, and Medical Family Therapy. 

Online PhD in Psychology-Addictions: Students who pursue their PhD in Psychology online with a focus on addictions may develop expertise in substance abuse and addictive personalities. Coursework is likely to address the dynamics of addiction and dependency with a view on assessment and treatment. Also, students may take courses in research methods, statistics, tests and measurements and research design.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Educational and School Counseling

Students who pursue an online PhD in Educational Psychology may add to the field of education through independent, professional research. Coursework is likely to explore some of the key theories in psychology that relate to how high achievers and special needs students learn. Courses might explore how to apply these theories to teach a variety of learners. Also, students could research issues such as student cognition, motivation, and development.

Online PhD in Emergency Management

Online PhD in PhD in Emergency Management programs may help students develop the ability to make evidence-based decisions and apply best practices in a crisis. Some of the course topics that candidates might study include risk management and policy. Programs may also offer optional areas of emphasis, such as corrections, criminology and higher education.

Online PhD in Criminal Justice: Some students might prefer to approach emergency management from the criminal justice point of view. Online PhD in Criminal Justice programs typically cover current theory and practice, as well as national and international issues in the administration of criminal justice. Coursework could discuss the root causes of crime and its impact of criminal justice policies. Those who choose to pursue an optional area of emphasis in emergency management could explore in more depth the ethical issues and leadership strategies that may need to be managed during crisis.

Online PhD in Gerontology

The online PhD in Psychology with a focus on Gerontology may help students grasp the unique needs of the older adult and their families. Coursework could explore topics such as specific mental health issues, the psychology of aging, death and dying. Other courses in critical analysis, research ethics and methods might help students design their dissertation proposal.

Online PhD in Human Services

An online PhD in Human Services may prepare students to conduct in-depth inquiry into the needs of underserved populations and the delivery systems used to furnish related services. Coursework could draw content from counseling, social work, psychology, family studies and criminal justice, as well as social justice and advocacy. Other courses could be oriented to research methods and design. These courses could foster critical analysis and the capacity to develop and apply policy to help diverse groups, such as those who struggle with addiction, illness, poverty and violence.

Online PhD in Nonprofit Management

Students interested in public service leadership might choose an online PhD in Nonprofit Management program. Coursework is likely to draw from various areas – law, finance, taxation, strategy, marketing and personnel. Students could also study best practices for collaboration and to form coalitions between the nonprofit sector, public policy and public relations. In some universities, students may also take courses in board governance and volunteer management or resource development. Read through program descriptions to find a PhD program where you could take courses and conduct research that aligns with your professional interests.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Psychology

Online Doctoral Degrees in Psychology span many areas and may offer several options in terms of the degrees themselves. Look for PhD, PsyD, EdD, and DBA degrees in Psychology and make sure to read course curricula to help you choose a program that meets your needs.

Online Doctor of Psychology (PsyD): Unlike the research-intensive PhD, the PsyD is more clinically focused. It is also a degree that might lead to licensure as a clinical psychologist.ii Most online PsyD programs cover a certain number of core courses but also leave room for students to choose multiple electives. Core courses are likely devoted to advanced theories of personality, cognition, emotion and motivation. Also, they could discuss psychological assessment, psychopathology and psycho-pharmacology. While electives vary between schools, you might find diverse aspects of psychology to explore. Coaching, eating disorders, Myers-Briggs indicators, dream analysis and hypnosis are some possibilities.

As with the PhD, students could learn research methods which may be needed for their final PsyD doctoral project. In this project, the goal is usually to choose a subject that is relevant to the candidate’s practice and follow up with a written model that best presents the topic, research and findings. This could be in the form of a critical analysis of current literature, a community-based action research project or an analysis of a specific clinical application.

Online PhD In Business Psychology-Consulting: Students in an online PhD in Business Psychology-Consulting track program could explore how human behavior impacts an organization’s effectiveness. Candidates might learn how to strategize and manage talent, coach executives and oversee employees. Additionally, students main gain a solid grasp of how to look at finances to assess corporate health, form policy and manage change.

Online PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology students are likely to explore the links between human behavior and organizational productivity. In their courses, students could discuss key I-O issues (e.g. work culture, job attitudes) and their impact. Some students might also focus their studies around a theme such as human resource management or forensic consulting. These concentration areas vary by school, so keep an eye out for ones that speak to your goals. 

Online Doctoral Degrees in Public Administration & Policy

Online doctoral degrees in Public Administration often explore areas such as leadership and public policy.

Online PhD in Public Administration programs could engage students with courses in reasoning, analysis and strategy. Coursework might explore areas such as governance and public policy, organizational change, finance and budgeting. Other courses could explore best practices for leaders in the public sphere. As a research degree, candidates are typically expected to write a dissertation at the end of their program. 

Online Doctor of Public Administration programs might tackle public policy and administration issues through case study analysis and action-based research. Courses in an online DPA program might cover ethics, social responsibility and theories of leadership. 

Online Doctoral Degrees in Public Health

Online doctoral degrees in Public Health may prepare students to think critically and lead effectively in the face of complex public health issues. There are two degrees to consider in Public Health that while academically on par, have key differences.

An Online PhD in Public Health is an advanced degree that tends to cover public health research methods and theory. This type of degree could help students make research-based and original contributions to the field as scholar-practitioners. PhD Public Health coursework could address issues in disease and injury prevention, health informatics and communications, marketing, and public relations in the public health field.

By contrast, online Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree programs are advanced professional degrees. This type of degree could focus on methods and applied research where theory is linked with practice. For instance, DrPH students might take courses in advanced practice in epidemiology, leadership and public health policy action.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Social Work

Online Doctoral Degrees in Social Work might help students develop advanced practice skills, or contribute to their profession through scholarly insights. Prospective learners might choose one of two advanced degrees.

The online Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program may help refine your abilities as a practitioner and leader in the field of social work. Online DSW programs may engage you with coursework and action research which integrates theory and practical clinical experience.

As an alternative, the online PhD in Social Work may prepare you to research and analyze advanced theory. Some PhD programs may allow you to focus your studies in a relevant area that aligns with your interests, such as addiction, medical social work, or clinical expertise.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Sociology

Online doctoral degrees in Sociology explore various social problems and their influences. Some online doctoral degrees in Sociology explore the impact of business on society. The online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Social Impact Management is one example. As a terminal degree in business administration, students usually take core business courses in marketing, finance, operations and strategy. Other courses could explore change management, compliance and sustainability. Also, you might take a deeper look at topics such as corporate responsibility and social involvement in branding. Students are usually expected to conduct applied business research.

Find Accredited Online Doctorate Degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences

Online Doctorate degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences may be offered at regionally or nationally accredited universities. Some individual programs may also be approved by professional agencies. As a general guide, accreditation is a measure of quality control that could speak to curriculum, faculty, student services, professional standards and fiscal stability. This may be an important factor when deciding between several options.

Take the Next Step

Take your education to new heights. To search for online doctorate degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences in a specific subject, use the on-page tools. You can easily compare degrees and contact schools directly to get started today.


[i] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3022.00 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm

Find Schools