Why This Matters

  • EARN $1,743 PER WEEK ON AVERAGE WITH A PHD

    According to a 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, individuals with a doctoral degree earn, on average, $342 more per week than those with a master’s degree and $570 more per week than those with a bachelor’s degree.

  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR PHDS IS ONLY 1.5%

    Individuals with a PhD enjoy the lowest unemployment rates of all potential workers in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their advanced skills and knowledge make them sought-after by employers.

  • NEED FOR COLLEGE PROFESSORS UP 15% BY 2026

    Many people who earn a PhD do so to further their careers in post-secondary education. A doctorate is a common prerequisite for tenure-track teaching positions and administrative roles at universities.

Our Research

Typically, individuals seeking a PhD are older and already part of the workforce. They may also have family or other personal commitments that limit their ability to attend an in-person program. We compiled this list consisting of programs with coursework that can be fully completed online. Please note that some programs may require in-person attendance for a dissertation defense or a practicum component.

Once we selected our top programs, we evaluated their reputation, course strength, flexibility, and cost. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score of each degree on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 81 hours to write this article
  • 184 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 315 education programs we compared

The Top 42 Online PhD Programs

Best Online Doctorate Degree Programs
01
Duquesne University

intelligent score 99.8

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format Online, On-Campus

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 47-53 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $1441 per credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 412-396-6000

Learn More

Delivery Format Online, On-Campus

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 47-53 credits

01
Texas Tech University

intelligent score 98.9

Award Good Value

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Good Value

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 63 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $436.80 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 806-742-2011

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 63 credits

01
Concordia University Chicago

intelligent score 98.37

Award Leadership Emphasis

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Leadership Emphasis

Delivery Format Online, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 30 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $750 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 708-771-8300

Learn More

Delivery Format Online, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 30 credits

01
West Chester University

intelligent score 98.2

Award Best for Public Administration

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Public Administration

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 45 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $116.99 per credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 610-436-1000

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 45 credits

01
Delta State University

intelligent score 96.18

Award Best for Education in Professional Studies

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Education in Professional Studies

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 69 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $310 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 662-846-4255

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 69 credits

01
Georgia Southern University

intelligent score 95.85

Award Best for Business Administration

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Business Administration

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 37 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $277 per credit; Out-of State: $1,105 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 912-478-5384

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 37 credits

01
University of Louisiana Monroe

intelligent score 95.69

Award Best Therapy Degree

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Therapy Degree

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 60 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $500 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 318-342-3145

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 60 credits

01
University of the Cumberlands

intelligent score 91.81

Award Best for Information Technology

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Information Technology

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 60 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $500 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 855-791-7201

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 60 credits

01
Saybrook University

intelligent score 91.78

Award Best for Hybrid Programs

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Hybrid Programs

Delivery Format Online, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 68-83 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $1200 per credit

accreditation Western Association of Schools and Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-308-0032

Learn More

Delivery Format Online, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 68-83 credits

01
Amridge University

intelligent score 91.58

Award Best Distance Learning School

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Distance Learning School

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 36-66 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $575-$875 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-790-8080

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate 36-66 credits

01
Best Public Research School
University of Florida
01
Low Tuition
University of Missouri
01
Best in the Midwest
Iowa State University - College of Human Sciences Online and Distance Learning
01
Best in the South
The University of Alabama
01
Best Christian University
Liberty University
01
Best in the Southeast
North Carolina A&T State University
01
Best State University
Indiana State University
01
Best Catholic University
DePaul University
01
Best Faith-Based Institution
Grand Canyon University
01
Best Private University
Bellevue University
01
Best Education Degrees
University at Buffalo
01
Most Affordable
Medical University of South Carolina
01
Best Private Research School
George Washington University
01
Low Tuition
University Of South Dakota
01
Best in the West
University of Colorado Denver
01
Nationally Recognized
Nova Southeastern University
01
Best for Small Class Sizes
Faulkner University
01
Best in the Southwest
UNM Health Sciences Center
01
Best Christ-Centered Program
Indiana Wesleyan University
01
Student Recommended
University of North Dakota
01
Best in the Northwest
Idaho State University
01
Most Flexible
Capella University
01
Best Faith-Based Institution
Regent University
01
Industry-Leading Faculty
The University of Texas at Tyler
01
Best Hybrid Programs
Colorado State University
01
Executive Friendly Programs
Robert Morris University
01
Most Customizable
University of Northern Colorado
01
Best Nursing Science Degree
Indiana University - Online
01
Best Scholarships
Northcentral University
01
Best Nursing Degrees
Andrews University
01
Best Technology Degrees
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
01
Best ABA Degree
Endicott College

What You Should Know About This Degree

Although all coursework for the listed programs can be completed online, some programs may require on-campus attendance for your dissertation defense or have an in-person practicum experience component. When selecting a program, check out its in-person requirements and make sure they fit into your schedule and budget.

When contemplating a doctorate degree, it’s important to determine if you want a PhD or a professional degree. Both are terminal degrees, but a PhD focuses more on research and scholarly development. As the name implies, a professional degree concentrates more on gaining knowledge and developing advanced skills for a particular profession. Many disciplines offer both PhDs and professional degrees. Consider what your career goals are and whether a PhD or a professional degree will be best suited for helping you obtain those goals.

Even an online PhD program is a significant commitment of time and energy. As this is the highest level of education one can obtain, the coursework is intellectually rigorous and demands focus and innovative thinking. For working adults, especially those who have been out of school for a number of years, enrolling in a PhD program is a big life change that requires preparation and planning.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online PhD programs:

  • Do I meet the eligibility requirements for this program? Because of the advanced nature of doctoral study, most programs have specific educational requirements. They may include a master’s degree in a related field of study as well as professional experience in that field. Some programs may allow students to take foundational graduate-level coursework as part of the doctoral program, although this can add to the degree completion time.
  • What kind of faculty support does this program offer? At the doctoral level, it’s common for students to work closely with faculty on their research and dissertations. Having a good faculty support system in place is essential to success in a doctoral program, especially one that you’re completing online.

Once you’ve found the programs that interest you, research their application processes and requirements. This information is typically available on the program’s webpage; you can also contact the program directly if you have questions.

Financing your education is another important consideration. Research scholarship opportunities and financial aid deadlines. If you are currently employed, check with your employer to see if tuition remission/reimbursement benefits are available.