Not all accredited online doctoral programs are created equal. You might consider factors such as:
- a school’s reputation
- level of academic quality
It can be difficult to be sure that you will receive a quality online degree.
Luckily, many accredited online Ph.D programs make the selection easy!
The Top 15 Accredited Online Ph.D Programs on the following list give doctoral students such as yourself access to an exceptionally high academic doctoral degrees. Our list gives you the information you need to know 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 doctoral programs impart the knowledge and skills you need to succeed and thrive in a fast-paced and ever-changing workforce. These graduate programs are also quite affordable, and some have even won awards for affordability.
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 at the same universities. This means that 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.
Here’s the 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:
Today, the online Ph.D in Electrical and Computer Engineering encourages you to learn, research, and serve as you complete your degree.
This program allows you to complete your degree while maintaining work and family commitments.
Mississippi State University has received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MSU offers the online Ph.D in Electrical and Computer Engineering to prepare graduates for leadership roles in:
- product design
The same faculty who teach the on-campus program teach online courses. The program includes coursework and a dissertation. Course offerings include:
- Data Structures and Analysis of Algorithms
- Energy Systems
- Solid State Electronics
Graduates have gone on to work in roles as:
- Electrical and Electronics Drafters
- Electromechanical Equipment Assemblers
- Non-Destructive Testing Specialists
Online education students pay $531.25/credit hour for tuition and required fees.
For more about Mississippi State University’s Online Ph.D in Electrical and Computer Engineering program, go 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.
Boston University has a Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy degree program. It offers a way for practitioners with a professional degree in OT to expand their knowledge and abilities in the field.
Boston University has received regional accreditation from and is a member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy degree’s estimated tuition is $895/credit hour (after scholarship.)
For more about Boston University’s Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program, go 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 DNP in Nursing Administration Systems.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has received regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Chattanooga University offers its DNP doctoral degrees in a flexible online format to accommodate working nurses. Programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
- DNP-Nursing: This program is for post-master’s nursing students such as NP, CRNA, CNM, or CNS. DNP nursing students complete 36 credit hours of coursework and an evidence-based, innovative Translational Project to help solve a healthcare problem. Nursing program students will complete additional 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 students who have completed their BSN. It is also for those who have 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. The nursing program curriculum includes:
- 57 credit hours of coursework
- the Translational Project
- 1,000 clinical hours
Students can also earn their Master of Business Administration by completing additional coursework.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree’s estimated cost is $562/credit hour for in-state students and $609/credit hour for those living out of state.
For more about the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Online DNP programs, go here.
4. Colorado State University
Founded in 1870, Colorado State University is now one of the nation’s leading research universities.
Online graduate students seeking to obtain a Ph.D in Systems Engineering degree have the choice between a 72-credit program option and a 42-credit program option. The choice depends on how much coursework they have previously completed.
Online learners work with an advisor of their choosing to select their classes to complete their doctoral degree.
Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
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 Engineers 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 are should study using the best format for your personal and professional situation.
The program is for working professionals. You are encouraged to apply your knowledge and skills immediately in your workplace. Admission to the program is highly competitive. Only a handful of 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.
For more about Colorado State University’s Ph.D in Systems Engineering, go 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
- relationships are built
- diversity is respected
- excellence is achieved
This is still true today in the university’s hybrid Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
The DNP degree focuses on clinical practice that creates health care leaders who use their knowledge to improve patient outcomes. East Tennessee State University has received regional accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The DNP degree at ETSU is for advanced practice nurses and executive nurse leaders in rural clinical practice. Most working in primary care settings. You complete most of your coursework online. You come to campus one to two times each semester for required intensive sessions. Concentrations are available in:
- Executive Leadership
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
All students 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.
For more about East Tennessee State University’s DNP online doctoral program, go here.
6. Ball State University
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
In fact, it is the highest-ranked among the accredited online PhD programs in education on our list.
Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The EdD program at Ball State is a 63-credit hour program. It leads to licensure for 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
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.
The cost for Indiana residents taking six credit hours each semester is $2,888/semester. Out-of-state residents would pay $4,196/semester.
For more about Ball State University’s Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Educational Administration and Supervision program, go 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. It is one of the best online PhD programs available today.
This degree offers several concentrations, including emphases on:
- Behavioral health
- Higher education leadership
- K-12 leadership
- Organizational Development
- Special Education.
At Grand Canyon University, online students take only one class at a time. This helps you truly focus on that one class before moving on.
Grand Canyon University has received regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The EdD in Organizational Leadership from GCU covers six domain areas including:
- Scholarship and Research
- Globalization and World View
- Organizational Development
All students complete a dissertation. They draw on the work of past researchers to develop an original qualitative research study. Courses are delivered in short, eight-week sessions. Graduates prepare to work as education administrators in postsecondary and community college leadership.
The estimated cost of this program is $702/credit hour.
For more about Grand Canyon University’s Online Doctor of Education program, go 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 is for people passionate about applying research to teaching and ready to lead and innovate within the education field. It is one of our top picks for online accredited PhD programs.
Boise State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Boise State’s education program has professional accreditation from The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
The EdD in Educational Technology at Boise State offers an online curriculum with both synchronous and asynchronous courses and exams. Core courses cover:
- Research Methods (both qualitative and quantitative)
- Global and Cultural Perspectives in Educational Technology
- Leadership in Educational Technology
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 $10,782 per year for online students in-state or out-of-state (information based on full-time enrollment of 18 credit hours per year).
For more about Boise State University’s Doctor of Education in Educational Technology program, go here.
9. Dakota State University
South Dakota’s Dakota State University was founded in 1881. 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.
The university’s top-rated Ph.D in Information Systems online degree prepares students for:
- teaching careers
- corporate employment
This online Ph.D. program focuses on scholarship and multi-disciplinary research projects that effectively prepare students for their chosen careers.
Dakota State University has received regional accreditation from the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
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 program options are available. The courses are offered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Doctoral students have five concentration options to choose from to add depth to their 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.
The estimated tuition cost for this program is $470/credit hour.
For more about Dakota State University’s Online Doctor of Science in Information Systems program, go here.
10. Utica College
The program allows you to meet the demands of home and work. You can still complete a rigorous online advanced degree. One campus residency is required so students enrolled in the program can get the hands-on experience they need to learn and excel as autonomous practitioners.
Utica College is accredited by, and is a member of, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
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. 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
Utica University is 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/credit hour.
Prospective students can get more about Utica College’s Online Post-Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program, go 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. The University of West Georgia has always been dedicated to the success of its students.
The university 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 does require two campus visits.
The University of West Georgia has regional accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It has been named one of the Best Southeastern Colleges and one of America’s Best Value Colleges by The Princeton Review.
The University of West Georgia offers a unique online opportunity for PK-12 educators looking for an inquiry-based program. It will prepare you to become change agents within the schools. Coursework is in a flexible asynchronous format using a variety of technologies. Course offerings include:
- Teaching and Learning
- Research and the Effective Use of Data
- Leadership for School Improvement
You also complete 15 credit hours of electives in a specialized area of concentration.
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 $517 per credit hour.
For more about the University of West Georgia’s Online Doctor of Education in School Improvement program, go 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 42,000 students. It is the flagship institution of the University of North Texas System.
UNT offers a PhD in Information Science focused 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. It promotes student-faculty interaction. Data science courses include:
- Data Visualization for Analytics
- Analytic Tools, Techniques and Methods
- Big Data Analytics
Graduates leave with the skills to conduct research on critical issues in data science from an information science perspective.
The estimated cost for the Ph.D in Information Science is $6,350/year. It’s an affordable option among the PhD programs online we’ve recommended in this ranking.
The University of North Texas has received accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
For more about the University of North Texas’ Information Science PhD program, go here.
13. Regis University of Colorado
Today, the school offers two subspecialties of their online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The program’s online classes are only eight weeks long. You are not required to visit campus. 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 estimated cost of tuition for the program is $960/credit hour.
Regis University has received its accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission. The school is a member of the North Central Association. The Loretto Heights School of Nursing has received additional accreditation from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing – Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
For more about Regis University of Colorado’s Online Doctor of Nursing Practice program, go 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 helps you develop:
- problem-solving skills
The 54-credit hour Doctor of Public Administration is a great choice for current professionals who want to advance their career in:
A variety of concentration options are available to you in this accredited doctorate degree online to develop specialized skills in the context of their particular field.
Applicants must have:
- a master’s degree from an accredited college or university
- satisfactory GRE scores
- an acceptable cumulative graduate GPA
Prospective students can strengthen their application with:
- a strong comprehensive resume
- professional statement
- letters of recommendation
The estimated cost for a Doctor of Public Administration degree is $293/credit hour.
Valdosta State University has received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
For more about Valdosta State University’s Online Doctor of Public Administration program, go 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 health care field.
The estimated tuition for the DNP program is $700/credit hour.
Purdue Global has its accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission. The HLC is a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Their DNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Prospective students can learn more about Purdue Global’s DNP program here.
Frequently Asked Questions
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, a PhD might be the right choice for you. 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.
- A PhD 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 degree 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.
- Doctoral programs can be expensive. Some programs offer tuition waivers, stipends, health insurance, and a housing allowance, 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 the investment of 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.
Online doctoral degrees may also be more cost-effective than a traditional Ph.D program. 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.
Travel expenses are also lower for online students 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?
Doctoral degrees 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 you to have a minimum of a cumulative GPA of at least a 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 exam 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.