Not all online PhD programs are created equal. Some provide the bare minimum learning opportunities to online students. Others provide robust learning environments on par with campus-based learning. Still others are accredited – a critical component of your program choice.
Accredited programs ensure that your learning is held to a high standard. Regional accreditation offers the highest standards of education. National accreditation can also be beneficial but isn’t as stringent as regional accreditation.
Nevertheless, enrolling in an accredited program not only ensures a high level of learning, but in some cases, accreditation is required for financial aid, certifications and licensures, and for employment after you graduate.
Accreditation is one of many factors to consider when looking for a quality online PhD program. You should also examine the following:
- the school’s reputation
- student reviews
- indices of the school’s level of academic quality
- program offerings
- financial aid opportunities
It can be difficult to ensure you receive a quality online degree. Luckily, many accredited online doctoral programs make the selection easy by providing clear-cut details about their programs’ quality and accreditation status.
The Top 15 accredited online doctorate programs on the list below give doctoral students such as yourself access to exceptionally high academic doctoral degrees in many fields of study. Our list gives you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Additionally, you’ll get insight into how you must demonstrate and apply the knowledge you learn in your courses.
These online PhD degrees impart the knowledge and skills you need to succeed and thrive in a fast-paced and ever-changing workforce. Some of these graduate programs are also quite affordable, with some even winning awards.
Doctoral students can feel confident getting any of the degrees on this list because they are all taught by faculty who are experts in their field. The faculty who teach these online programs are often the same faculty who teach traditional classes on campus. This means they know how to teach you the information you need to become an expert in your field.
These degrees also come from schools with excellent reputations and schools that have won numerous achievements and awards. With that kind of background, you can rest assured that your online PhD program from the following schools is top-notch.
Top 15 Accredited Online Ph.D Programs:
1. Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University was originally founded in 1878 as a land-grant college. Its name was the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi.
Then and now, the university is committed to three purposes: learning, research, and service.
Today, the online Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer Engineering encourages you to learn, research, and serve as you complete your degree.
This program offers the ability to complete your degree while maintaining work and family commitments with no in-person course requirements. MSU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers an online Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering to prepare you for leadership roles in research, consulting, and product design, among other areas.
The same faculty who teach the on-campus program teach online courses. This ensures you get a high-quality education despite studying remotely.
This terminal degree program includes coursework and a dissertation. Course offerings include:
- Data Structures and Analysis of Algorithms
- Energy Systems
- Solid State Electronics
Graduates of this program have gone on to work in roles as:
- Electrical and Electronics Drafters
- Electromechanical Equipment Assemblers
- Non-Destructive Testing Specialists
Online education students pay $539.00 per credit hour for tuition and required fees.
Mississippi State University has regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Learn more about Mississippi State University’s Online Ph.D in Electrical and Computer Engineering program here.
2. Boston University
Boston University has undergone great change and growth since it began as Newbury Biblical Institute in 1839. The university is still changing and evolving today, including expanding its online offering of Ph.D. programs.
Among Boston University’s doctoral degree programs is a Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy degree program. If you’re a practitioner with a professional degree in occupational therapy, this program allows you to expand your knowledge and abilities in the field.
This is a 33-credit program, which is relatively short for a doctoral program. It takes most students about 18 months of full-time study to complete.
The curriculum includes a broad scope of courses, such as:
- Health Promotion and Wellness
- Evaluating Clinical Theory and Research
- Outcomes Measurement and Monitoring I: Program Evaluation
- Outcomes Measurement and Monitoring II: Individual Client Monitoring
Furthermore, you must complete multiple practicum experiences, undertake a capstone project, and complete a doctoral project as well. These activities give you the real-world experience you need to apply what you learn during the course of your classwork.
The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy degree has an estimated tuition of $895 per credit hour. This figure takes into account scholarship funds granted to OT students. Transfer credits are not accepted.
Boston University has received regional accreditation from and is a member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Learn more about Boston University’s Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program here.
3. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
In 1886, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church as the private school Chattanooga University. Many things have changed since then. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is now a state school. It offers graduate programs that include an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and a DNP in Nursing Administration Systems.
UT Chattanooga offers its DNP doctoral degrees in a flexible online format to accommodate working nurses. With a doctoral program online accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, UT Chattanooga offers you the opportunity for a high-quality education. There are two tracks available:
- DNP-Nursing: This program is for post-master’s nursing students such as NP, CRNA, CNM, or CNS. As a DNP nursing student, you’ll complete 36 credit hours of coursework and an evidence-based, innovative Translational Capstone Project to help solve a healthcare problem. You will also complete clinical hours to achieve a mandated minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate hours of specialized training.
- DNP-Nursing Administration Systems: This nursing degree is for you if you have completed your BSN. It is also for those with a non-advanced practice master’s degree or a master’s degree in a different field. Both full and part-time program options are available. This nursing program curriculum includes the following:
- 57 credit hours of coursework at the doctoral level
- the Translational Capstone Project
- 1,000 clinical hours
Additionally, if you choose the DNP-Nursing Administration Systems track, you can also opt to complete a Master of Business Administration.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree’s estimated cost is $571 per credit hour for in-state students and $618 per credit hour for those living out of state.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Learn more about the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Online DNP programs here.
4. Colorado State University
Founded in 1870, Colorado State University is now one of the nation’s leading research universities.
Graduate students seeking a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering can choose between a 72-credit program option and a 42-credit program option. The choice depends on how much coursework you’ve previously completed.
Online learners like you work with an advisor of your choice to select your classes. Once your course outline is complete, you can commence working towards finishing your doctoral degree.
CSU’s online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering prepares you to work with multi-disciplinary teams. You’ll use tools from various fields to solve complex issues. Systems Engineering online Ph.D. graduates can successfully tackle today’s multi-faceted challenges by using tools from areas that include:
- operations research
- software engineering
- control systems
Courses come in synchronous and asynchronous formats. You can study using the best methodology for your personal and professional situation.
Courses come in synchronous and asynchronous formats. You can study using the best methodology for your personal and professional situation.
The program is for working professionals. You’re encouraged to apply your knowledge and skills immediately in your workplace. Beware, though – admission to the program is highly competitive. Only a few students are accepted each semester. Graduates are successful in various industries, including research and development and healthcare.
The estimated tuition for the online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering degree is $1,118 per credit hour.
The Higher Learning Commission accredits Colorado State University.
Learn more about Colorado State University’s Ph.D. in Systems Engineering here.
5. East Tennessee State University
East Tennessee State University was founded in 1911 as East Tennessee Normal School. It’s a university where people come first and relationships are built. Likewise, ETSU ensures that diversity is respected and excellence is achieved.
These guiding principles are evident in the university’s hybrid Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This DNP degree focuses on clinical practice that creates healthcare leaders. You will use your knowledge to improve patient outcomes.
The DNP degree at ETSU is for advanced practice nurses and executive nurse leaders in rural clinical practice. Most students work in primary care settings. You complete most of your coursework online. However, you must come to campus one to two times each semester for required intensive sessions.
This program offers numerous concentrations in:
- Executive Leadership
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
You must also complete a minimum of 40 hours of interprofessional experience as part of the overall practicum requirement.
The estimated cost of tuition for in-state online students is $2,985/year and $25,839/year for out-of-state students. Consult ETSU’s tuition page for more detailed information.
East Tennessee State University has received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Learn more about East Tennessee State University’s DNP online doctoral program here.
6. Ball State University
Indiana’s Ball State University bears the name of one of its founders, Frank C. Ball. The school was founded to help boost city development. In the years since it’s become a large academic institution dedicated to helping students like you advance their education.
Ball State University’s Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Educational Administration and Supervision degree is a flexible program for educational administrators dedicated to quality teaching, research, and service.
The EdD at Ball State is a 90-credit hour program. It leads to licensure for a school superintendency in Indiana. Courses are offered online with face-to-face classes that meet one Thursday each month. Required courses include:
- Fiscal Management of Educational Agencies
- Special Education Law for Administrators
- School Facilities
- The Educational Administrator and Public Relations
- The School Superintendent
You are required to select at least one cognate field. Options include business administration and higher education. Prospective students must have a master’s degree to be considered for admission.
Alternatively, you can enroll in the 63-credit Specialist in Education (EdS) in Educational Administration and Supervision online program.
The cost for Indiana residents is $461.00 per credit. Out-of-state residents pay $679 per credit.
The Higher Learning Commission accredits Ball State University.
Learn more about Ball State University’s Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Educational Administration and Supervision program here.
7. Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon is a private Christian university. It has been helping students find their purpose and prepare for their careers for over 60 years. The university is doing this through its online Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership degree, which is one of the best online PhD programs available today.
At Grand Canyon University, you take only one class at a time. This helps you truly focus on that one class and mastering it before moving on.
The EdD in Organizational Leadership from GCU covers six domain areas, including:
- Educational Leadership
- Scholarship and Research
- Globalization and World View
- Organizational Development
Courses are delivered in short, eight-week sessions. You must also complete a dissertation to graduate. You’ll draw on the work of past researchers to develop an original qualitative research study.
As a graduate of this program, you’ll be prepared to work as an education administrator in postsecondary or community college leadership.
The estimated cost of this program is $715.00 per credit hour.
Grand Canyon University has regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Learn more about Grand Canyon University’s Online Doctor of Education program here.
8. Boise State University
Boise State University is Idaho’s largest university. It was founded in 1932. The school has come a long way since then. It is now at the forefront of technology with its online Doctor of Education in Educational Technology degree.
This doctoral degree online has no on-campus requirements. It’s for people passionate about applying research to teaching and ready to lead and innovate within the education field. This is just one of the many reasons why this is among our top picks for online accredited PhD programs.
The EdD in Educational Technology at Boise State offers an online curriculum with both synchronous and asynchronous courses and exams. Core courses cover topics related to:
- Research Methods (both qualitative and quantitative)
- Global and Cultural Perspectives in Educational Technology
- Leadership in Educational Technology
- Introduction to Statistics for Educational Technology
- Research Writing
Doctoral graduates prepare for a variety of roles, including:
- Instructional designer
- Higher education faculty
- Researcher in an area like online learning or mobile technologies
The estimated tuition cost of the Doctor of Education in Educational Technology program is $599.00 per credit for online students in-state or out-of-state. This comes to $10,782.00 for a course load of 18 credits per year.
Boise State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Boise State’s education program also has professional accreditation from The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Learn more about Boise State University’s Doctor of Education in Educational Technology program here.
9. Dakota State University
Dakota State University was founded in 1881 in South Dakota. It was the first institute to educate teachers in the Dakota Territory. While the school is traditionally associated with teacher education, it is so much more today
The university’s top-rated Ph.D in Information Systems online degree prepares you for many occupational avenues, including research, teaching careers, and corporate employment. This online Ph.D. program focuses on scholarship and multi-disciplinary research projects that effectively prepare you for your chosen career.
The online doctorate in information systems from DSU offers courses tackling the most contemporary issues in the industry. Online Ph.D core courses include:
- Project and Change Management
- Enterprise Modeling and Data Management
- System Analysis and Design Using Case Tools
- IT Infrastructure, Technology and Network Management
Both full and part-time enrollment options are available. The courses are offered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. You have five concentration options to choose from to add depth to your degree. These include:
- Application Development
- Data Management
- Healthcare Information Systems
- Information Systems of Cyber Security
- Network Administration and Security
Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education before applying.
The estimated tuition cost for this program is approximately $470.00 per credit hour.
Dakota State University has regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Learn more about Dakota State University’s Online Doctor of Science in Information Systems program here.
10. Utica College
The program allows you to meet the demands of home and work while completing a rigorous online advanced degree. One campus residency is required so you can get the hands-on experience you need to learn and excel as an autonomous practitioner.
The online tDPT program was created for licensed PTs with a bachelor’s or master’s degree who want to enhance their career and build upon what they’ve learned as a physical therapist. However, a focused practicum is tailored to align with your career aspirations. The 16-month curriculum includes core courses like:
- Prevention and Wellness
- Diagnostic Imaging
- Global Health Care Issues
- Foundations of Autonomous Practice
- Pharmacology and Pathophysiology
Utica College is also a military-friendly university. It accepts Credit for College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams and ACE credit for military training.
The estimated cost of tuition for this program is $785.00 per credit hour. You must complete 18-19 credits to graduate.
Utica College is accredited by and a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Learn more about Utica College’s Online Post-Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program here.
11. University of West Georgia
This university had humble beginnings as an agricultural and mechanical school. It was designed to provide better education programs for rural youth. Now, as the University of West Georgia, this school continues in its dedication to the success of its students.
The University of West Georgia offers one of the top online accredited doctoral programs for students seeking a Doctor of Education in School Improvement degree. This online program can be completed in only three years. It is a 100 percent online program with no campus visits.
The University of West Georgia offers a unique online opportunity for PK-12 educators looking for an inquiry-based program. It prepares you to become a change agent within schools. Coursework is in a flexible asynchronous format using a variety of technologies. Course offerings may include:
- Teaching and Learning
- Research and the Effective Use of Data
- Leadership for School Improvement
- Policy Analysis for School Improvement
- Leadership for Change
You must also complete 15 credit hours of electives in a specialized area of concentration. You can choose among the following specialty areas:
- School Counseling
- Educational Leadership
- K-12 Online Learning
- Instructional Technology
- Media Specialist
- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
- Special Education
- Early Childhood Education
Applications are reviewed during the spring and fall by several faculty members. New students are admitted for the spring and summer semesters.
The estimated cost of tuition for this program is approximately $517.00 per credit hour.
The University of West Georgia has regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. It has also been named one of the Best Southeastern Colleges and one of America’s Best Value Colleges by The Princeton Review.
Learn more about the University of West Georgia’s Online Doctor of Education in School Improvement program here.
12. University of North Texas
The University of North Texas was founded in 1890 as Texas Normal College and Teacher Training. Today, UNT is a public research university with over 44,000 students. It is the flagship institution of the University of North Texas System.
UNT offers a PhD in Information Science that focuses on data science. The Ph.D in Information Science at UNT is a flexible program. Online and blended courses are paired with a residential experience, giving you both online and in-person learning opportunities. This format promotes student-faculty interaction that’s beneficial for your academic growth.
Data science courses may include the following:
- Data Visualization for Analytics
- Analytic Tools, Techniques, and Methods
- Big Data Analytics
- Information Theory and Design
- Information and Behavior
As a graduate of this program, you’ll leave with the skills to research critical data science issues from an information science perspective.
The estimated cost for the Ph.D. in Information Science is $6,350.00 per year. It’s an affordable option among the PhD programs online we’ve recommended in this ranking.
The University of North Texas has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Learn more about the University of North Texas’ Information Science PhD program here.
13. Regis University of Colorado
Today, the school offers two subspecialties of its online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The program’s online classes are only eight weeks long. You are not required to visit campus, but the program’s rigors may require you to quit full-time employment temporarily.
The DNP program at Regis can expand your career options in the health sciences and boost your value to employers. Two online doctoral programs are available, including:
- Advanced Leadership in Health Care – designed for students with a background in nursing leadership.
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – created for APNs who want to increase their level of clinical education and strengthen their leadership abilities.
New students begin the doctoral program in May of each year. You can choose to complete the program following a two or three-year plan.
The program’s estimated tuition cost is $989.00 per credit hour.
Regis University has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The Loretto Heights School of Nursing has received additional accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Learn more about Regis University of Colorado’s Online Doctor of Nursing Practice program here.
14. Valdosta State University
Georgia’s Valdosta State University prides itself on being a tight-knit and supportive learning community. The university’s online practitioner-oriented Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) degree adheres to these principles and helps you develop:
- leadership skills
- improved communication abilities
- management techniques
- problem-solving skills
The 54-credit hour Doctor of Public Administration is a great choice if you want to advance your career in government, the non-profit sector, or NGOs.
A variety of concentration options are available in this accredited doctorate degree online. Specializing allows you to develop critical skills in the context of your particular field.
As an applicant to this program, you must have:
- a master’s degree from an accredited college or university
- satisfactory GRE scores
- an acceptable cumulative graduate GPA
As a prospective student, you can strengthen your application with a strong comprehensive resume, a professional statement, and letters of recommendation.
The estimated cost for a Doctor of Public Administration degree is $299.00 per credit hour.
Valdosta State University has regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lear more about Valdosta State University’s Online Doctor of Public Administration program here.
15. Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global is part of the Purdue University System. In 2017, Purdue University Global was created after acquiring Kaplan University. KU was a leader in online adult education and PhD online schools. Purdue Global offers over 175 online programs at all levels in some of the hottest fields, like public administration and criminal justice.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is a fully online doctoral program designed for advanced practice registered nurses to stay ahead in the rapidly changing healthcare field.
You’ll take courses in ten-week terms. You must complete 48-57 credits to graduate, which most students do in about 1.5 years. With multiple start dates throughout the year, you have the flexibility to start this program when it best fits in your schedule.
Some of the courses in the program include:
- Scientific Foundations for Practice Doctorate
- Epidemiology and Social Determinants of Population Health
- Ethics, Policy, and Advocacy for Population Health
- Clinical Decision-Making for Practice Doctorate
- Transforming the Health Care Organization
The estimated tuition for the DNP program is $700/credit hour.
Purdue Global is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Purdue Global’s DNP program is further accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Prospective students can learn more about Purdue Global’s DNP program here.
Is a PhD worth it?
A PhD is considered the highest academic degree you can earn. Doctoral programs can take years to complete. By the end, you’ll have a wide span of knowledge of your specific field and the education you’ll need to score top positions in your industry.
But a doctoral program isn’t for everyone. You’ll need to consider the advantages and disadvantages before making the commitment. So is a PhD worth it?
- If you are passionate about research, online accredited PhD programs might be the right choice. PhD students conduct important (and often ground-breaking!) research that can advance the field. Pretty exciting stuff! You’ll build a name for yourself, boost your reputation, and collaborate with others sharing your same passions and interests.
- Accredited PhD programs online can provide you with specialized training that you’ll need to create your niche or advance your career. Some industries have a clearly defined role for professionals with a doctoral degree so earning a doctorate is a logical next step. Examples of occupations with a clearly defined doctoral (or post-doc) level progression include: As you saw in our rankings, there are PhD schools online for each of these degrees and many others!
- While many students pursuing their doctoral degrees come from master’s degree programs, some doctoral programs accept students with a bachelor’s degree. If you don’t have a master’s yet, you can earn your master’s degree while pursuing your PhD. This saves time and money by completing them simultaneously. While this isn’t possible for some programs, it’s common in computer science, psychology, and sociology.
- Graduates with their PhD may benefit from increased employment opportunities in research and academia. While not all PhD grads work in academia, most academics at four-year schools do have a PhD.
- If you Google “doctoral programs online accredited or online PhD programs accredited,” you’ll find that some can be expensive. Some programs offer tuition waivers, stipends, health insurance, and a housing allowance, but that is not always the case. Many Ph.D programs require you to attend full-time, leaving you unable to support yourself with full-time employment. While financial aid opportunities are available to eligible students through grants, loans, and scholarships, earning a Ph.D can still be expensive.
- If your career doesn’t require a Ph.D to advance (and earn higher pay or a promotion), is it worth investing time and money? Does career advancement in your field come from educational attainments or professional experience or a combination of both? Sometimes a master’s degree is all you’ll need to secure a top position in your field. You’ll have to make that determination.
- Do you have what it takes to finish the program? Once you begin a Ph.D, you’ll need to finish it, or you’ll have nothing to show for your hard work. An unfinished Ph.D doesn’t mean much.
Are there online PhD programs?
There are many great opportunities to earn a Ph.D online! There are many accredited online PhD programs, too.
Online doctoral programs allow you to gain an advanced degree without giving up your job. You can balance your work, family, and educational commitments. Many online programs offer asynchronous courses with no set log-in times!
Online doctoral degrees are just as rigorous as their on-campus counterparts. Online Ph.D students must complete assignments, exams, and projects just like they would if they were on campus. Courses come from experienced faculty who understand the needs of the field and what it takes for you to be successful. You won’t sacrifice quality when you choose an online Ph.D.
Accredited online PhD programs may be more cost effective than traditional Ph.D programs. While online students have financial aid opportunities, an online doctoral degree is still a significant financial investment.
Fortunately, some schools offer low in-state tuition rates for their online Ph.D students regardless of residency. Other schools offer discounted tuition rates to online master’s degree and Ph.D students. Online Ph.D programs may also provide additional cost savings with online textbooks and open-source software.
Online students’ travel expenses are also lower since few (if any) campus visits are required. Since online Ph.D students often work while earning their degree, they add value to their organization by sharing their knowledge and skills obtained in their online programs.
What are the requirements for a PhD?
In your search for “PhD online programs accredited or PhD programs online accredited,” you probably noted that many are notoriously competitive. Most schools accept a limited number of Ph.D degree applicants to preserve the integrity of their programs. Prospective students must submit a strong application packet that will catch the eye of the acceptance committee and makes them stand out from other applicants.
Most doctoral programs require a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in your most recent degree program. Some programs may require additional information, including:
- letters of recommendation
- a statement of purpose
- GRE scores
- a CV or resume
A doctorate degree has several different parts, including:
You typically complete coursework during the first part of your Ph.D program. Coursework prepares you for the dissertation process by providing advanced knowledge and training with courses in research methods. Some programs offer a series of required courses. Others allow you to choose a specialization or elective courses that align with your professional interests.
Ph.D programs with a dissertation component usually require doctoral students to complete a comprehensive examination. This exam allows faculty to assess your level of knowledge and understanding of the field before beginning your dissertation. It may be an oral or written exam.
Ph.D students work to develop their dissertation proposal. The dissertation proposal is a comprehensive statement that describes the research that a Ph.D candidate wants to accomplish. Clearly and concisely, students must:
- state their research question
- discuss the general scope of their project
- discuss how they’ll do it
- explain how it contributes value to the field.
Once the dissertation proposal is approved, you can move on to the research phase of your program.
Dissertation research serves as the culminating piece of doctoral study. You work closely with your advisor to complete the dissertation research project you designed. You also summarize your research and present your findings in your dissertation paper.
Some Ph.D or doctoral programs require you to complete a field experience or practicum as part of the curriculum. Instead of a dissertation in online doctoral programs like nursing or physical therapy, you may complete this requirement.
Doctoral programs may offer you the opportunity to complete a special project. These unique professional development opportunities allow you to develop areas of specialized knowledge that can help you build your resume and advance your career.