Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Erin TrederRachel Miller, Ph.D.
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Updated January 2, 2024
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A Ph.D., or doctor of philosophy, is the highest level of academic degree that you can attain. Consisting primarily of research, a Ph.D. prepares you for a career in academia or research in the field you study.

Students who choose to pursue a Ph.D. online will find it can be completed in less time. Online students also get the added benefit of being able to complete their work from the comfort of home. The overall cost may also be less compared to an in-person program.

We’ve compiled a list of the best accredited online Ph.D. programs to help you start your search.

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Top Schools for Online Accredited Ph.D. Programs

Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Capitol Technology University

  • Location-markerLaurel, MD
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$25,830
  • Out-of-state$25,830
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate47%
  • Students Enrolled796
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment98%
  • AccreditationYes
Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Clemson University

  • Location-markerClemson, SC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,118
  • Out-of-state$37,110
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate49%
  • Students Enrolled27,341
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment49%
  • AccreditationYes
Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Keiser University

  • Location-markerFort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$20,800
  • Out-of-state$20,800
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate96%
  • Students Enrolled19,861
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment50%
  • AccreditationYes
Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Mississippi State University

  • Location-markerMississippi State, MS
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,110
  • Out-of-state$24,790
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate76%
  • Students Enrolled23,086
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes
Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Nova Southeastern University

  • Location-markerFort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$33,510
  • Out-of-state$33,510
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate93%
  • Students Enrolled20,898
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment52%
  • AccreditationYes
Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Old Dominion University

  • Location-markerNorfolk, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,029
  • Out-of-state$26,664
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate96%
  • Students Enrolled23,494
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment76%
  • AccreditationYes
Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Saybrook University

  • Location-markerPasadena, CA
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled915
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
Best Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs 2024

Texas Tech University

  • Location-markerLubbock, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,935
  • Out-of-state$21,204
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate68%
  • Students Enrolled40,542
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment68%
  • AccreditationYes

Are Online Ph.D. Programs Worth It?

An online Ph.D. program is an ideal choice if you want to balance your career and family responsibilities along with your education.

While there are some preconceived notions that online programs aren’t legitimate, as long as the program you choose is accredited, the degree is the same as one earned in person.

While the annual tuition cost to earn a Ph.D. online averages $12,596 for a public institution and $28,017 for a private university, doctoral graduates enjoy a lower unemployment rate and higher weekly salary than those with less education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Did You Know…


Does Accreditation Matter for Online Ph.D. Programs?

A college is accredited after being recognized by an independent institution that verifies the school’s courses and programs meet set quality standards.

The school you choose must be accredited in order for your Ph.D. to be recognized by employers, earn professional licensures, and qualify you for federal financial aid.

Legitimate accreditors are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

How Much Does an Online Ph.D. Cost?

In general, you can expect to pay around $13,000-$30,000 per year in tuition and fees for your online Ph.D.

Several factors affect how much your Ph.D. program will cost, including:

  • Whether the program is fully funded
  • Whether your school is public or private
  • Whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student
  • How long your program lasts (most Ph.D. programs take 5-7 years to complete)
  • How much financial aid you get

While many in-person and online doctoral programs in the U.S. are fully funded, these tend to be highly competitive.

One way to save money on your online Ph.D. is to attend a program that offers in-state tuition to residents. Make sure you submit the FAFSA each year so you can secure federal financial aid.

You may also need to budget for occasional travel to and from campus and research sites, especially as you work on your dissertation.

What’s the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a Doctorate?

While a Ph.D. and a doctoral degree, or doctorate, both signify the same level of education completed, their uses are different.

Doctorate is the broader term — a Ph.D. is a type of doctorate. Specifically, a Ph.D. is an academic degree that prepares you for a career in research or teaching in your field of study (such as science, English, or economics).

Besides a Ph.D., other types of doctorates include a doctor of medicine (MD), a doctor of education (Ed.D.), and a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.). These degrees are typically used in either an academic or professional setting.

Online Ph.D. Programs That Don’t Require a Dissertation

A dissertation is a final written project culminating in a student’s original research at the end of their Ph.D. program. A dissertation is typically presented and defended by its author. It’s typically required for degrees with an academic or research focus.

Not all Ph.D. programs require a dissertation. For example, some Ph.D. programs in humanities, education, business administration, and criminal justice require simple or no dissertations for a quicker completion time.

What Jobs Can You Get After Earning an Online Ph.D.?

Once you finish your online doctoral program, you can explore a variety of career paths both within and outside academia.

Many Ph.D. graduates, especially those who studied the humanities, go on to become professors. Other popular roles include administrator, scientist, and psychologist.

Graduates of online Ph.D. programs earn a relatively high average base salary of $108,000 a year, according to Payscale.

Popular Careers for Ph.D. Grads
JobMedian Annual Salary (May 2023)Job Growth Rate (2022-2032)
Political Scientists$132,3507%
Economists$115,7306%
Biochemists and Biophysicists$107,4607%
Mathematicians$116,44030%
Statisticians$104,11030%
Postsecondary Education Administrators$102,6104%
Medical Scientists$99,98010%
Psychologists$92,7406%
Postsecondary Teachers$82,2708%
Epidemiologists$81,39027%
Historians$72,8903%
Anthropologists and Archaeologists$63,8004%
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Ph.D. Programs


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Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Accredited Schools Online. Page last reviewed November 20, 2023.

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