What Is the Benefit of Earning a Doctoral Degree?
Enroll in one of our top easy accredited online Ph.D. programs and don’t let the “doctor” in our title intimidate you. Less than 2% of the U.S. population has earned a doctoral degree. By taking your education as far as possible, you’ll distinguish yourself from millions of Americans. And with a flexible, online program, you don’t need to put your life on pause to gain this revered credential.
Doctoral programs are ideal for students deeply invested in their academic disciplines. Beyond satisfying your own intellectual itch, your doctoral research can forever change the way people think about your field.
Monetarily, advancing your education is always a wise investment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that weekly earnings rise with educational attainment. It found that, on average, workers with doctoral degrees make 30% more than those with only a bachelor’s degree.
What’s the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a Professional Doctorate?
Before diving into our top easy accredited online Ph.D. programs, it’s important to know the difference between a Doctor of Philosophy and a professional doctorate. In short, these programs differ in their research expectations. Designed for those who want to teach at a four-year university, Ph.D. programs require a dissertation. This is a substantial research project that tackles a big idea in your field.
Professional doctorates are ideal for those aiming to advance their careers in business, education, or nursing, for example. In a professional doctorate, you might focus more on applied research, using your capstone project to offer a solution to a problem within your organization, for example.
Can I Really Earn a Doctoral Degree Online?
Yes! Fully online doctoral degree programs exist. However, for most programs, expect a few in-person requirements.
What Are the Best Online Doctoral Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online.
Whereas some universities focus more on undergraduate studies, 70% of Capella University’s students are earning graduate-level degrees. This fully online institution has 18 online doctoral degrees, spanning social work and health services to business and education.
Capella has both Ph.D. and professional doctorate programs. For example, you can choose between a Ph.D. in business management or a Doctor of Business Administration. In both programs, you are assigned a faculty mentor who will guide you through your studies and help with your dissertation or capstone project.
Capella’s programs are already affordable, but if you pursue a Doctor of Business Administration or a Doctor of Information Technology, you might be able to shave off an additional $20,000 from your tuition. The Capella Progress Reward is a scholarship granted to new students in these programs who exhibit good academic standing and pass their first course on the first try.
Providing working professionals with a flexible pathway to a Ph.D. was Walden University’s founding mission in 1970. Today, it offers 25 online doctoral degrees, both Ph.D. and professional doctorate programs in areas like psychology, public health, and social work.
Beyond its focus on doctoral studies, Walden aims for its graduates to “be a force for good” in their communities. With students from more than 150 countries, Walden hopes to create positive social change across the globe.
At Walden, you’ll connect with a peer mentor, a fellow doctoral student who is further along in their studies. This support is in addition to your dedicated faculty mentor. Walden’s student support system is also designed with its online learners’ families in mind. The university chooses kid-friendly locations, like Orlando, for its doctoral residencies, recognizing that many students need to bring their families with them for any in-person requirements.
U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Florida at No. 34 on its Best National Universities and at No. 7 on its Top Public Schools. Beyond employing two Pulitzer Prize winners, Florida’s faculty received $838 million in research awards last year. Bottom line: UF is one of the most well-respected universities in the country. Its distance learning opportunities create more access to the Gators’ leading academic programs.
UF offers six online doctoral degrees in education, nursing, and pharmacy. It has two additional online doctoral options within its Department of Classics. These focus on classical civilizations and Latin and Roman studies.
At UF, educators can earn a Doctor of Education in educational leadership, higher education, or educational technology. An additional specialization allows candidates to examine the role of teachers and schools in society while using their research to address a specific problem within their school.
Liberty University is not new to distance learning. In the 1980s, this faith-based university started expanding the reach of its Lynchburg campus through mailed correspondence courses. Today, it offers more than 400 online degree programs. Well done, internet!
Liberty has more than 20 online doctoral programs, many of which have several specialization options. For example, Liberty’s Doctor of Business Administration includes 14 specializations ranging from international business to real estate development. Some of Liberty’s online doctorates can be earned entirely online. Any in-person requirements are administered through on-campus intensives, which are offered several times throughout the year to accommodate students’ schedules. Coursework is divided into 8-week units, and Liberty’s programs have eight start dates throughout the year.
Liberty’s mission is to train “Champions for Christ,” and so this university has several faith-based programs, like a Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Worship Studies, and Ph.D. in theology and apologetics.
Based in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota is the state’s largest institution of higher education. It is also the only school in North Dakota offering graduate-level degrees in law and medicine. But you don’t need to live in North Dakota to benefit from this university’s reputable degree programs. Ten of UND’s doctoral programs are available online.
Currently, UND ranks at No. 128 on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools. This university has especially distinguished itself in engineering, aviation, and medicine. Interested engineering students have several options in online doctoral programs at UND. Here, you can choose to pursue biomedical, chemical, electrical, energy, environmental, or petroleum engineering. UND also offers online doctoral programs in aerospace sciences, education, and nursing.
All of UND’s doctoral degrees require 90 credit hours. However, the time it takes to complete each program differs, ranging from three to seven years.
As a doctoral student, you’ll want guidance from someone who has undertaken the same rigorous academic journey. All of Northcentral University’s faculty have earned a doctoral degree. Furthermore, you’ll be in the majority as an online graduate student at NCU, as 95% of it students are pursuing an advanced degree.
Northcentral has more than 20 online doctoral degrees in disciplines like education, criminal justice, and psychology. NCU employs a one-to-one learning model. Here, you’ll get individualized support on more than just your dissertation. In each course, you’ll be paired with a professor in a “class size of one.” Your professor gives personalized feedback as you work through each topic.
NCU’s cost-effective tuition rates can be further reduced with its “2020 Vision” scholarship. The university will award six full-tuition scholarships to the students with the best essays describing how their degrees will help them achieve a lifelong goal.
Do you dream of adding “pirate” to your list of credentials? Then, choose East Carolina University and you can become an ECU Pirate. ECU is located in Greenville, North Carolina, a short drive from the ocean. Beyond its national reputation as the No. 109 school on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools, ECU is one of North Carolina’s top producers of nurses and educators.
At ECU, you can choose between four online doctoral programs. The online Doctor of Education offers two specializations in higher education and Pre-K through 12th grade. Candidates in the Doctor of Public Health program can focus on either environmental and occupational health or health policy, administration, and leadership. Lastly, nurses can advance their education with either a professional doctorate, the Doctor of Nursing Practice, or the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing.
If your goal is to earn a Ph.D. without taking on student loans, the University of Missouri might be the school for you. Nearly half (48%) of Mizzou’s students graduate debt-free. Not only is this university affordable, but it ranks at No. 64 on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools.
More than 16,000 students enroll in Mizzou’s online courses. Mizzou Online offers ten online doctoral programs, most of which are housed in the Sinclair of Nursing. Nurses can earn either a Ph.D. or a professional doctorate in nursing. The Doctor of Nursing Program has five specializations, including pediatric nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology, and family nurse practitioner.
Educators have two online doctorate choices at Mizzou, either a Ph.D. in art education or a Doctor of Education in educational leadership. Mizzou also has a Ph.D. in agricultural education and leadership and a Ph.D. in architectural studies.
Based in Terre Haute, Indiana, Indiana State University is all about applied learning. All of its programs require experiential learning, and it is part of ISU’s vision to become a leader in hands-on education.
So, while you can earn six of Indiana State’s doctoral degrees online, you can also expect in-person requirements in each program. These intensives guarantee you know how to put the knowledge you gain in the classroom to work.
At ISU, health professionals can earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice or a Doctor of Health Sciences. Educators can pursue a Ph.D. in higher education leadership or school administration. You can also pursue a Ph.D. in technology management or a Doctor of Athletic Training. Indiana State’s DAT is the only program of its kind to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.
Become a University of Arkansas Razorback and you’ll join ranks with some of the nation’s most accomplished researchers. In addition to holding the No. 72 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools, the University of Arkansas has the highest classification awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For this award, Carnegie takes into account the quality of a university’s doctoral programs, the number of research grants it receives, and the productivity of its scholars.
The U of A has four online doctoral programs. Its Doctor of Education offers three tracks in adult and lifelong learning, educational leadership, and human resources and workforce development education. Lastly, the U of A has a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
All programs are housed within the same academic departments that serve on-campus students. This means you’ll have the same access to accomplished faculty as your traditional counterparts.
Don’t let the name fool you. Grand Canyon University is based in Phoenix, Arizona. But if you do choose to visit the campus, a trip to the Grand Canyon is still in order. It’s only about a three-hour drive away.
GCU is a Christian institution with more than 60,000 online learners. A growing percentage of these students are pursuing graduate-level degrees. Currently, approximately half (47%) are graduate students.
GCU offers five online Ph.D. programs, all in psychology. Here, you can choose to focus on performance psychology, cognitive psychology, or industrial/organizational psychology. You can also specialize in counselor education or technology, learning, and psychology. All of these programs emphasize research, and candidates begin working on their dissertations in their first course. A series of courses will keep you on track to complete your dissertation, helping you with steps in the process like developing a proposal and gathering data.
At Nova Southeastern University, you can swim with the sharks, both figuratively and literally. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, roughly ten miles from the Atlantic Ocean, NSU’s nickname is the Sharks. It also has a Ph.D. program in oceanography and marine biology. So, at NSU, you can both become a Shark and study sharks!
On top of this unique degree, NSU has more than 16 online doctoral programs. These span academic disciplines from criminal justice and occupational therapy to cybersecurity management and speech-language pathology.
By enrolling at NSU, you’ll have access to the university’s Center for Collaborative Research. Besides providing state-of-the-art equipment, this facility supports interdisciplinary discoveries. NSU’s faculty and students are currently working on more than 200 projects, researching solutions to issues like coral reef deterioration, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
Located in Irvine, California, just south of Los Angeles, California Intercontinental University is an online university committed to graduating business leaders. At the doctoral level, CIU has just one program: a doctorate of business administration.
If you want to improve your organization through scholarly research or become a thought leader in global economics, e-commerce, or consumer behavior, for example, then CIU is a great option for you. CIU’s graduates have gone on to work at Fortune 500 companies and start their own thriving businesses.
CIU’s DBA candidates choose between four specializations: global business and leadership, entrepreneurship and business management, healthcare management and leadership, or information systems and enterprise resource management. The DBA program requires 60 credits, and you’ll write a dissertation as your final project. You’ll also take a comprehensive exam to ensure a firm grasp of the material covered in your courses.
In addition to being the No. 79 university on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools, Colorado State University boasts the title of the nation’s most sustainable campus. Nearly all (90%) of CSU’s departments are conducting sustainability-related research. Support CSU’s efforts to protect our world’s natural resources by leaving your car in the garage and studying online.
CSU Online offers three doctoral degrees. It has both a Doctor of Engineering and a Ph.D. program in systems engineering. These highly competitive programs attract senior managers or executives who are interested in examining complex systems and discovering innovative solutions to improve how they work. Candidates come from diverse engineering experience in industries like aerospace, clean energy, and automotive.
CSU also has an online Ph.D. in higher education for students who aim to lead a college or university.
The University of Maryland Global Campus has served the U.S. armed forces for more than 70 years with its flexible degree programs. The result? UMGC has locations across the state of Maryland and at more than 140 military bases across the globe.
UMGC offers two online doctoral degrees. Its Doctor of Business Administration is a 48-credit-hour program geared toward executive-level professionals. This degree culminates with a dissertation, and required courses in data analytics and evidence-based research will help you along the way. UMGC also has a Doctor of Management in community college policy and administration. This program is designed for those who want to successfully lead a community college and conduct research that will improve institutional operations across the country.
Both of UMGC’s doctoral degree programs utilize a cohort model. You’ll start the program with the same group of students, who will also be passionate scholar-practitioners in your field.
Based in Cypress, California, outside of Los Angeles, Trident University International is a 100% online institution dedicated to adult learners. Most of Trident’s students are over the age of 30, and a third of its doctoral students are over 50 years old. Trident also has a long history of enrolling U.S. service members. Nearly half of its students are active-duty or veterans.
At Trident, students can undertake either a Ph.D. or a professional doctorate in three disciplines: business administration, educational leadership, or health services. All of these programs can be earned entirely online with no in-person residencies.
As a Trident student, you’ll complete approximately nine to 12 self-paced courses to graduate. Trident’s Career Services Center is available to help you as you look for academic openings in your discipline or as you apply for job titles that fit your new credentials.
Become a Tennessee Volunteer by enrolling at the state’s flagship university, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. UT ranks at No. 44 on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools. Through Vols Online, you can gain a doctoral degree from this leading university without stepping foot in the Volunteer State.
Befitting UT’s nickname, the doctoral programs offered through Vols Online center on compassionate disciplines, like nursing and social work. Here, you can undertake a Doctor of Nursing Practice or a Ph.D. in nursing online. Or you might choose to take on a Doctor of Social Work. UT’s DSW program is designed for practicing clinical social workers. Through flexible asynchronous online coursework and real-time, interactive videos, these professionals can advance their education while continuing to help their clients.
Lastly, UT has an online Ph.D. program in industrial and systems engineering with an optional engineering management concentration.
Concordia University Chicago started in 1864 as a teacher’s college. Grounded in the Lutheran faith, this private institution has now expanded to disciplines beyond education. Although its academic opportunities have grown, CUC has remained small in size. It enrolls under 5,000 graduate students and has an 11:1 graduate student to faculty ratio.
CUC has three options for online doctoral candidates. Here, you can earn a Doctor of Business Administration in as little as three years. This 60-credit-hour program has four specializations in health care, human resources, leadership, and marketing. At CUC, educators can earn either a Doctor of Education or a Ph.D. in several specializations, including curriculum and instruction, literacy, and special education.
Dissertations can make the length of doctoral programs somewhat hard to predict. CUC guarantees that your tuition will not increase during your course of study as long as you maintain continuous enrollment.
Based in Beaumont, Texas, approximately 80 miles outside of Houston, Lamar University is a public university and part of the Texas State University System. Lamar’s “Cardinal” community is quickly growing. Today, it serves more than 15,000 students, roughly a third of whom are pursuing graduate-level degrees.
Through LU Online, students can undertake one doctoral program, a Doctor of Education in educational leadership. This 60-credit-hour program is meant for candidates who want to reach the highest administrative levels in their schools, districts, or educational organizations. Lamar’s Ed.D. program has a global focus. Required courses cover educational ethics, values, and leadership strategies from around the world.
All faculty members in LU’s department of educational leadership have earned an Ed.D. or Ph.D., ensuring you learn from experts with terminal degrees in the field.
Centered in Fort Lauderdale with locations across Florida, Keiser University has more than ten online doctoral degrees. Keiser is focused on adult learners who continue to work as they study. More than 75% of its students work full- or part-time while enrolled in their degree programs.
At Keiser, you’ll undertake coursework that has been designed by more than leaders in academia. Keiser maintains advisory boards with professional experts and statewide community leaders, ensuring that the school’s standards are informed by the industry’s specific needs and competencies.
Keiser’s doctoral degrees span academic disciplines, from business and education to psychology and nursing. This university even offers a Doctor of Business Administration in Spanish, allowing students to gain advanced business knowledge in their first or preferred language. Additionally, unique among Keiser’s programs is a Doctor of Chiropractic. Though coursework is administered online, this program does require in-person clinical training.
Yes, there are gorillas in Kansas! Based in Pittsburg, Kansas, Pittsburg State University’s mascot is Gus the Gorilla. Beyond its standout nickname, Pitt State boasts a unique flat-rate tuition. Here, you won’t pay more for taking on additional credit hours. Instead, full-time graduate students who are enrolled in at least nine credit hours pay a single tuition rate.
Pitt State started as a teacher’s college and has a long tradition in educational studies. Doctoral students have one online option at this university: an Educational Specialist degree in advanced studies in leadership.
Pitt State’s EdS candidates can either pursue specializations in elementary or secondary school administration or special education. This degree’s 36-credit-hour curriculum builds on a student’s master’s degree coursework. It also might serve as a stepping stone to a Doctor of Education.
Situated near Toledo, Ohio, Bowling Green State University holds the No. 119 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools. BGSU offers one online doctoral degree program in technology management. If this is your field of choice, you’ll be impressed to learn that among BGSU’s alumni is Shantanu Narayen, the president and CEO of Adobe Inc.
BGSU’s Ph.D. program in technology management is a five-for-one deal. It is administered in collaboration with Indiana State University, the University of Central Missouri, East Carolina University, and North Carolina A&T State University.
This Ph.D. program attracts highly motivated professionals with significant work experience. As a candidate, you can choose to specialize in five areas: construction management, digital communications, human resource development, manufacturing systems, or quality systems. In addition to the required research and core technology courses, you’ll complete nine hours of professional studies, which might include an internship.
Johnson University is a Christian institution of higher education with campuses in Knoxville, Tennessee and Kissimmee, Florida. Johnson has one online Ph.D. program in leadership studies. This program is housed in the university’s Center for Global Studies, a department led by board members from several Christian universities.
Johnson’s Ph.D. in leadership studies requires 60 credit hours. The curriculum is divided into course requirements in leadership, ethics, research, and a candidate’s chosen specialization. There are four concentrations available in educational leadership, organizational leadership, the philosophy and theology of leadership, and missional leadership.
Coursework is completed entirely online, using an asynchronous format. Classes last seven weeks, and candidates get a one-week break before focusing on a new topic. Research summits provide students with opportunities to network with peers and professors in person. This Ph.D. takes full-time students four years to earn or seven years for part-time students.
Founded in 1868, Hampton University is a historically black university located near Virginia’s picturesque Chesapeake Bay. Enrolling just over 4,000 students, Hampton has ten colleges, and most of its students pursue degrees in liberal arts, education, science, and business.
Hampton U Online expands the reach of this university through several fully online degree programs. Doctoral students can earn a Ph.D. in business administration, undertaking 61 credit hours in online coursework and summer on-campus residencies. For educators, Hampton offers a Ph.D. in educational management or counselor education and supervision. Students can also choose to earn an educational specialist in counseling.
Lastly, Hampton has a Doctor of Nursing Practice program. This degree requires 33 credit hours and 500 clinical hours. Classes are delivered online, but candidates can expect three in-person residencies.
Located within 20 minutes of downtown St. Louis, Maryville University enrolls just over 10,000 students, more than half of which study online. This university is focused on the jobs of tomorrow. By partnering with companies like Boeing and Edward Jones, Maryville is trying to predict job titles that currently don’t exist so it can design the educational programs for future leaders.
Currently, online students can earn two doctoral degrees through Maryville’s online portal. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is a robust program with six specializations in areas like pediatrics, gerontology, and psychiatric mental health. As a DNP candidate, you’ll complete coursework online and your clinical training at an approved site near your home. Maryville’s DNP can be earned in as little as 20 months.
Maryville also has a Doctor of Education in higher education. This cohort program takes as few as 32 months and can be earned entirely online.
The University of North Carolina is the highest-ranked university on this list. U.S News & World Report ranks it at No. 5 on its list of the Top Public Schools and No. 29 in National Universities. A degree from this renowned university comes with serious clout. And UNC’s accolades haven’t gone to its head. This large institution boasts an impressive 13:1 student to faculty ratio, proving it continues to provide students with personalized attention.
UNC has one online doctoral degree option, a transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy, or tDPT. This program is housed in the School of Medicine’s Department of Allied Health Sciences. It is geared toward licensed physical therapists who want to teach in a clinical or academic setting. This is a two-year, part-time degree designed to allow therapists to continue their practices. As a tDPT candidate, you’ll take 12 courses and complete a case study capstone project.
Centered in Montgomery, Alabama, Faulkner University is a Christian, liberal arts university with just over 3,000 students. Faulkner’s online doctoral degrees reflect the university’s two main priorities. Here, you can earn a Ph.D. in biblical studies or humanities.
The Ph.D. in biblical studies is a four- to five-year program delivered entirely online. As a candidate, you’ll not only delve into the books of the Bible, but you’ll also learn to read them in another language. Students must prove proficiency in either Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek.
Faulkner’s Ph.D. in the humanities focuses on an advanced understanding of the philosophy and history of learning. This fully-online program takes three to five years, and it is also highly customizable. You can choose to focus your dissertation on an author, an idea, or even a historical era.
Located in Denver, Colorado, Regis University is a Jesuit Catholic university. This Catholic order’s motto is “men and women in service of others,” and so you’ll find a strong tradition of service-learning at Regis.
Fittingly, Regis’ sole fully online doctoral degree program centers on a profession that demands a high level of compassion: nursing. Regis’ Doctor of Nursing Practice offers two tracks, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse or an advanced leadership in health care specialization.
Regis’ DNP takes either two or three years to earn. Classes are organized into 8-week units, and the program culminates with a capstone project. Candidates typically choose to focus this final project on a problem within their organizations, using their research to determine a solution and offer steps to initiate it.
Based in Hobbs, New Mexico, the University of the Southwest is a non-denominational Christian university with a mission to “mold the next generation of leaders through Christ-centered values.” All of USW’s graduate programs are delivered online.
Here, you can gain a Doctor of Business Administration and a free laptop! USW’s doctoral students receive a free laptop upon enrolling in their first course. Additionally, expensive textbooks are not a concern at USW. All course material is covered by your tuition costs.
USW’s DBA is a three-year, part-time program with no in-person residencies. Candidates can focus on strategy and innovation or leadership and organizational development. Alternatively, you can choose a self-design track, working with your dissertation committee to tailor your studies to your specific career goals.
Beyond boasting the No. 44 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools, the University of South Carolina has one of the most unique college mascots: Cocky the fighting gamecock.
USC’s online programs apply the same rigorous academic standards as their on-campus counterparts. Here, online learners can pursue more than five flexible doctoral programs. Teachers dreaming of adding “doctor” to their titles can pursue a 100% online Doctor of Education. This Ed.D. focuses on curriculum and instruction, and students can further specialize their studies in either educational technology, STEM education, or curriculum studies. The curriculum studies concentration focuses on social justice issues within education, and students seek to create more educational equity across socio-economic backgrounds.
USC also has several options to complete doctoral-level coursework online in its College of Engineering and Computing. Ph.D. programs in areas like computer science and nuclear engineering incorporate online components, however in-person residencies are also expected.
Why Is It Important for a School To Be Accredited?
A doctoral degree takes time and determination. Before you begin, you want to guarantee the value of your efforts. Accreditation does just that. It lets you rest assured that you are receiving a quality education from a reputable university.
There are two types of accreditation in higher education: institutional and programmatic. Agencies like the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education ensure that schools within their regions are meeting higher educational standards across all programs.
Professional associations, like the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or the Council on Social Work Education, provide accreditation to specific academic programs. These ensure that a program’s curriculum is based on the core competencies that are needed in that line of work.
What Types of Jobs Does a Doctoral Degree Lead To?
In most cases, a Doctor of Philosophy, or a Ph.D., is required to teach at a four-year college or university. If you dream of being a professor, you’ll need a doctorate in your field.
Keep in mind, academia does not work like Corporate America where employees are often promoted from within. Departments do not typically hire their own Ph.D. candidates after graduation. This might make pursuing your degree online even more attractive. You then won’t need to move for your program and then move again for your job.
Teaching or conducting research at a university, however, is not the only goal among doctoral candidates. If you want to work as a clinical psychologist, you’ll likely need a doctorate. A doctorate degree can also help you reach the highest leadership roles in healthcare or education systems, working as a chief health officer or chief academic officer, for example.
Bottom line: as a doctoral candidate your goal will be to advance knowledge in your field. This degree might not be a requirement for reaching the next step in your career. But by becoming a thought leader in your industry, it will undoubtedly help.
What’s a Professional Degree?
When you hear “doctoral degree,” you might first think of a medical doctor. Yes, doctors earn a Doctor of Medicine, but this degree is often referred to as a professional degree. Other professional degrees include lawyer, which requires a Juris Doctorate, and dentist, which requires a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry.
How Long Does a Doctoral Program Last?
Your program might only take three years, but it also might take seven. The time it takes to graduate will depend on what you choose to study and your educational background.
Some Ph.D. programs admit students with only a bachelor’s degree. These programs often take longer to complete because you’ll earn your master’s along the way. If you already have a master’s degree, you might graduate faster, as long as your credits are transferable.
Of course, the length of your program also depends on how long it takes you to finish your dissertation or capstone project. Many online programs incorporate research-focused courses to keep your dissertation on track. These classes cover steps in the process, like how to choose a topic, conduct a literature review, or submit to scholarly publications.
Do All Doctoral Programs Require a Dissertation?
No, professional doctorate programs do not always require a dissertation. Dissertations often focus on your field’s big picture ideas, or theories. You might decide to develop an applied research project instead. For example, if you are earning a Doctor of Education because you want to lead your school district, you might choose to create a data-led solution to a problem currently faced by the district.
These Universities All Look Great. How Do I Narrow My Choices?
If you’re interested in earning a doctoral degree, you likely already have a research topic in mind. You’ll want to find a faculty mentor who is an expert on this topic. Not only will this provide you with a worthy guide, but it will also save you time. Your research will require a survey of current literature on your topic, and a knowledgeable faculty mentor can help jumpstart this step in the process.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out our Top 30 Fastest Accredited Online Graduate Colleges and the Ten Best Nationally Accredited Online Colleges!