3 Year PhD Programs

You may want to complete a doctoral degree. Yet, many doctoral programs often take 4 to 6 years to complete. That may seem like a long time to remain in school. Completing a 3 year PhD program may be a possibility.

What is a 3 Year PhD program?

Students wishing to complete their final degree in higher education may wish to pursue a 3 year PhD program. Like any other doctoral degree, it aims to provide a high level of education in the selected field of study. Some universities and colleges offer the option to condense the education required into three years instead of the typical path. The coursework may be similar, but the format, density of courses, and timeline could differ.

Earning a doctorate is a big commitment, no matter what path the student takes. For those who wish to get into the field sooner, a shorter educational path may be a good fit for their goals. Not all higher education providers offer this path because of how comprehensive and consuming it may be. It may enable students who thrive in academia to pursue their goals more fully and with more direction.

The type of work completed ranges from each program. Some examples of how these programs operate may include:

  • Independent learning
  • 11 month learning paths instead of summertime breaks
  • More one-on-one mentoring with faculty
  • Time for dissertation research
  • Participation in research groups
  • Online or on-campus education
  • Peer support opportunities
  • Student collaboration opportunities

Students may enroll in smaller class sizes in some programs. Other schools often focus on providing students with more in-depth learning through lectures, research, and hands-on learning from home solely. The key to remember is that doctorate study work is often time consuming and requires a strong focus on education. That may make tasks like working during this education a bit more challenging.

There are many educational paths offering a 3 year PhD program. Some initial examples may include:

  • Doctor of education (ED.D and educational leadership focus)
  • Doctoral degree programs in healthcare and health sciences (a range of options including DNP, occupational therapy, and Ph.D. in nursing)
  • Doctorate programs business fields including organizational leadership, humanities, and the DBA
  • Doctorate programs in criminal justice

Is earning a Ph.D fast beneficial? This really depends on your specific needs. Many people may want to start in a career that requires a doctorate degree. Others may wish to see advancement in their existing program but their employer may not allow for it until they complete their education. For some, it is about adding those added credentials to their resume that makes it worth exploring this path way.

There are a few things to know about these fast paced educational programs:

  • Different requirements for different programs: A school of nursing program is often different than one for computer science. Expect the coursework, format, and requirements to differ, too.
  • Most people may spend more time in their doctorate program when it is an accelerated class. There is often more work to do in a shorter timeframe. That could mean more dedication to their education, in most cases.
  • Many accelerated Ph.D. programs may be available online. Fully online programs often require less time working in a hands-on fashion. Some 3 year programs may require more in person work and are completed on campus as a result.
  • Students may still have ample control over what their learn. You may have flexibility in pursuing specific topics that interest you and your future career goals.
  • Not all schools offer this format. It is often an intensive course. It may also not fit their specific school’s setup.

Compare schools and programs carefully. Be sure to learn more about the curriculum expected. Compare a few options to find one that works for your needs. Online Ph.D. programs could make this a bit easier to do especially for students who do not wish to live on campus.

Examples of schools offering a 3 Year Ph.D.

Here are just a few schools that may offer a 3 year doctorate program. Others may be available as well.

University of Florida

  • Latin and Roman Studies
  • Classical Civilization
  • Nursing Practice

University of Missouri

  • Human Environmental Sciences
  • Educational Leadership
  • Occupational Therapy

University of North Dakota

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Energy Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering

Hampton University

  • Business Administration
  • Educational Management
  • Philosophy in Nursing
  • Counselor Education and Supervision

Accelerated PhD Program

An accelerated PhD program is typically much like a 3 year PhD program. The difference is that some accelerated programs may be longer than three years. Like a 3 year program, the schools offering it often condense the education a student receives into a shorter period of time. However, students may still need to learn the depth of education necessary to achieve their educational goals.

Some programs may allow students to move from a bachelor’s degree into a PhD degree within 7 to 8 years. Typically, a bachelor’s degree takes 4 years to complete. This is followed often by a master’s degree, which requires another 2 years of study at least. Then, students wishing to complete a doctorate degree in the typical fashion could spend 4 or more years doing so. An accelerated program may enable students to complete their education in a shorter period of time.

Students typically need to increase their coursework each term. They may also need to complete courses during the summer months or otherwise off season. This fast track option often enables students to get into their field faster.

Students need to carefully consider each program and school to determine what is offered. These accelerated programs may be less formal in terms of their structure. That means some programs could be faster than others. Some doctorate programs may require more time spent on campus. Others are fully an online Ph.D. This range may make comparing programs a bit more difficult.

How long does an Accelerated PhD Program Take?

An accelerated PhD program often requires fewer credit hours of study than a traditional PhD program, which may reduce the time spent completing the program to 3 years. This depends on the course of study itself. It also may be dependent on the structure of the program set by the university.

Traditional PhD programs typically take 8.2 years to complete. A professional doctorate program may be completed in about 5.9 years. However, an accelerated online PhD program may be able to be completed in as little as 3 years.

Traditional PhD programs aim to focus on academic research. They also often focus on theoretical studies. Professional doctorate programs are a bit different. Students typically use existing research in these programs. They often apply that research to current, real world problems. This may reduce the amount of time spent on research. That’s why these programs may shave off more than 2 years of study.

Quality online doctoral programs may offer a bit of a difference. The classes might be shorter. They often pack a large amount of information in them. Students may find it requires more self paced learning. These programs may also focus on using existing research. Students may still be focused on solving real world challenges within these programs. Most often, accelerated PhD programs may require full time study. The difference is that they are fully online. This may create more flexibility for students.

It may also be important to consider the amount of commitment a person needs to put into an accelerated program. The program length is shorter. That does not always mean there is less to learn. More often, a student may need to spend longer hours during their educational year to gain the information and skills necessary to complete licensing exams or earn their PhD candidacy.

Is it worth getting a PhD?

Making the decision to enroll in graduate school is often a personal one. Doctoral students do so for many reasons. This may include learning more about topics they enjoy. Some students may study in these programs because they want to reach new goals set by their employers. Still others complete an online Ph.D. to change the course of their career.

Consider some of the reasons one may think about getting a doctorate degree.

Career and employment prospects

In some fields completing a PhD may be recommended or encouraged. This depends on many factors. Students should consider their specific goals and skill development. Some employers may require this type of higher education to hire a study as one of their qualifications.

Career advancement

Some students may enroll in graduate school because their employer wants them to enhance their education or pursue a related field. This may be necessary for advancement within these programs. Students may wish to speak to their human resource department or manager to determine if this is a benefit to them.

Research focus

Some students may complete their graduate school education immediately after completing their master’s degree. Those who wish to work in academia may find research in their field to be a big draw. They may wish to complete original research. They may wish to work on new research projects that interest them. In this case, working towards a Ph.D degree could be worthwhile to those students.

Special education

Some students might complete their degree to enable them to earn specific, special education in a topic or area that interests them. This may allow them to devote more time to gaining high level of skills in these areas. For those passionate about a project, topic, or path, doctorate level education often allows them to pursue it with a more flexible and open schedule instead of one course after another. This could give them the leeway they need to pursue education where they like.

Admission Requirements for a 3 Year PhD Program

Graduate programs may set admission requirements independently. This may include a range of prerequisite education. Online doctorate studies may be a bit different from some in-person programs. To learn the admission requirements the PhD program of your interest, be sure to request information from the school of your choice.

Some examples of admission requirements may include:

  • Admission into the school
  • GPA may be considered
  • GRE may be necessary (some programs do not require a GRE)
  • Prerequisite studies in the
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Licensing, depending on the course path
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Formal application and fees
  • Resume
  • College and university transcripts

Students may need to meet other requirements. Each university might offer a different set of rules for applying. Also, each Ph.D program may have requirements for applicants to meet before they enroll.

Salary and Job Outlook

PhD students may find themselves graduating with the educational requirements associated with a range of careers. This may include areas such as social work, public health, or mental health, among many others. Take a look at some of the potential ways an online doctoral degree might apply to career goals.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

A computer and information research scientist create new uses for upcoming and current technology. This is primarily a full time position. The expected growth for this career is 15% through 2029 according to the BLS. The median salary for this position is $126,830 per year and in most cases, requires a minimum of a masters degree.

Postsecondary teachers

A postsecondary teacher or professor works at a college or university as an educator. This may be a part time or full time position. The expected growth for this career is 9% through 2029 according to the BLS . The median salary for this position is $80,790 per year and in most cases, requires a minimum of a masters degree to teach at a community college.

Wildlife Biologist

A zoologist or wildlife biologist studies animals and wildlife in offices, labs, or outdoors. This is a full time position. The expected growth for this career is 4% through 2029 according to the BLS. The median salary for this position is $66,350 per year and in most cases, requires a minimum of a bachelors degree, however for a PhD is needed for most research positions.

Statistician

A mathematician or statistician analyzes data and develops techniques based on the data to solve problems. This is a full time position. The expected growth for this career is 33% through 2029 according to the BLS. The median salary for this position is $93,290 per year and in most cases, requires a minimum of a masters degree.

Accreditation for Accelerated PhD Programs

Accreditation may be important for many people completing a PhD program. It often varies from one area of study to the next. Those earning a 3 year PhD in computer science may need accreditation from a different provider than one earning a Doctor of Business Administration degree. Consider some of the doctoral degree programs below and their accrediting bodies.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

To take the NCLEX, which is the licensing exam for nurses, students must attend an accredited school. Look for accreditation from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). This organization often ensures students studying to work in nursing sciences have a curriculum and instruction to prepare them. The NCLEX requires students to complete an education in this field. A Ph.D. in nursing from an accredited school may enable students to sit for this exam. DNP educational paths might differ widely to get a student to this point.

Computer Science

Those completing a doctoral degree in computer science may wish to look for a school with ABET accreditation.

Criminal Justice

Those completing a degree in criminal justice may wish to seek out accreditation from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS).

Doctor of Business Administration

Those completing a doctoral degree in business studies may wish to seek out accredited programs from the Academy of Business Administration.

Scholarships for Accelerated PhD Programs

Completing a 3 year program often means taking on expense from college education. Some students may be able to reduce costs through scholarship programs. Many schools offering graduate programs may also offer financial aid support. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify.

Take a look at some scholarship options that may help some doctoral candidates with funding their

M. Hildred Blewett Scholarship

Scholarship Value: Valued up to $45,000
Deadline: June 1
Requirements:

  • Identify as female
  • Current US or Canadian Citizen
  • Working towards a PhD
  • Essay
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Application
  • Personal Statement
  • Letter of institutional support

Description: This award is designed to help women transitioning back to a career in physics research. The award may be used for expenses such as independent care, tuition, travel, and equipment fees.

ALA Century Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $2,500 non renewable
Deadline: March 1
Requirements:

  • US or International student
  • Major in Library Science
  • US or Canadian Citizen
  • Must be a student with a disability
  • School must be accredited by the American Library Association
  • Application form
  • Three references
  • Official transcript
  • Personal statement

Description: This is a non renewable scholarship intended for a student pursuing an advanced degree in Library Science. The student must be disables or have a disability in order to qualify, with financial need also playing a factor.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Scholarship Value: $46,000 one time award
Deadline: November 1
Requirements:

  • Us Citizen or permanent resident
  • Enrolled full time
  • Must be in a STEM Program
  • Essay
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Application form
  • Official transcript

Description: This is a one time award that is designed to aid those students pursuing an advanced STEM degree. The award has been around since 1952.

Moss Adams Foundation Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $1,000 non renewable scholarship
Deadline: April 30
Requirements:

  • US citizen
  • Identify as female
  • Major in Accounting
  • Attend an accredited school
  • Proof of financial need
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Application
  • Official transcript

Description:  This is a one time $1,000 scholarship fort a female accounting student pursuing an advanced degree. The award is given to a student based on a number of criteria including financial need.

Beinecke Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $34,000 non renewable scholarship
Deadline: February 9
Requirements:

  • US student
  • Attend a participating college or university
  • Minimum 3.5 GPA
  • Pursue an upper level degree in arts, humanities, or social sciences
  • Full time student
  • Current college junior planning to pursue an advanced degree
  • Formal nomination
  • Personal statement
  • FAFSA
  • Official transcript
  • Resume
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Financial data sheet

Description: This is a one time award for current college juniors who are going to continue studies in grad school. Must be attending and be nominated by a partner school and pursuing a degree in the arts, humanities, or social sciences.

Scholarship Value: $5,000 renewable scholarship for up to three years
Deadline: May 1
Requirements:

  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Racially and ethnically diverse student
  • In first year of law school
  • US student
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Federal income tax forms
  • Personal statement
  • Official transcript
  • Application
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA

Description: This is a renewable scholarship for first year law students. It may be renewable for up to three years for a total of $15,000. Applicants need to be ethnically and racially diverse.

Women Techmakers Scholars Program

Scholarship Value: $10,000 non renewable scholarship
Deadline: December 5
Requirements:

  • International or US student
  • Record of academic excellence
  • Female
  • Computer Science or Computer engineering major
  • Full time student in US or Canada
  • Must be an undergraduate or graduate student
  • Essay
  • Resume
  • Official transcript
  • Application
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Recommendation letter

Description: This is a $10,000 non renewable scholarship. Applicants may be considered based on academic record and responses to short answer essay questions.

National Black Nurses Association Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $3,500 one time non renewable scholarship
Deadline: April 15
Requirements:

  • US student
  • Pursuing a degree in nursing
  • US citizen
  • African American
  • Member of NBNA
  • Currently enrolled in nursing program with at least one year left
  • Application
  • Official transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Essay

Description: This is a one time scholarship awarded to students in good academic standing. Applicants must be members of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA).

The Point Foundation Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $19,200 one time non renewable scholarship
Deadline: January 25
Requirements:

  • US or international student
  • Member of LGBTQ or history of leadership and dedication to LGBTQ community
  • Application form
  • Must be a student at the time of application

Description: This is a one time nonrenewable scholarship. It is for students who are in or provide support and leadership for the LGBTQ community. Finalists for this award must interview with the Point’s Board of Regents.

Citizens Bank Graduate Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $5,000 one time non renewable scholarship
Deadline: June 30
Requirements:

  • Legal US resident
  • US student
  • Enrolled as a graduate student
  • Application form
  • Essay

Description: This is a one time scholarship that is awarded directly to the school. The essay is the primary form that may be used in determining the winner of this award. 

Ready to learn more? With a wide range of opportunities available, students interested in a Ph.D. that’s completed in 3 years may find a range of options in their selected field of study. Compare a few to find one that works for each of your need and goals.