The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

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Updated January 25, 2023

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Online Ph.D. programs provide students with flexible schedules and affordable tuition. Check out our guide to the best programs.

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A Ph.D. or doctoral degree is the highest degree you can obtain in an academic field. You can get a Ph.D. in nearly any subject, from nursing to English. Doctoral candidates complete original research under the direction of top scholars at their university.

More universities steadily add online offerings, and Ph.D. programs are no different. Online doctoral programs allow candidates to work through their Ph.D. on their own terms.

Why Get an Online Ph.D.?

  • You'll become an expert in a field you're passionate about.
  • You get to perform original research and make a difference in your field.
  • Online doctoral programs let you set your own schedule and balance commitments with ease.
  • You'll get to work with top scholars in your field.
  • You'll be able to network with colleagues and classmates all over the world.
  • You can work on your degree while still pursuing your career.
  • Online doctoral degrees often offer accelerated programs for students.
  • Tuition costs for online programs are often lower than those for in-person programs.

Did You Know?



Explore Our Featured Online Doctoral Programs

Does Accreditation Matter for Online Ph.D. Programs?

Accreditation matters — even for online Ph.D. programs.

When a program is accredited, it meets the educational standards that other institutions adhere to. Accreditation ensures that potential employers and other academic institutions recognize the credentials an institution confers to its students.

Private, independent organizations all across the U.S. evaluate universities to make sure they meet these standards.

When it comes to getting a Ph.D. online, make sure your program is accredited. A doctorate is the highest level of education you can earn. If your program isn't accredited, your colleagues in the field and at other institutions likely won't take your degree seriously.

If your college is unaccredited, you also won't qualify for any licenses you may need.

Top Schools for Online Accredited Ph.D. Programs

Read About Our Methodology Here

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Amridge University

  • Montgomery, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $675-$780

Out of State | $675-$780

Credits to Graduate: 51-60

Amridge University has five online Ph.D. programs in organizational leadership and management, interdisciplinary studies, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and biblical studies. Each program offers a blend of online and on-campus courses in both full-time and part-time formats.

All of Amridge's online Ph.D. programs have 12 credits of dissertation modules and a thesis requirement. For admission, you typically need a graduate degree from a related program and a writing sample. You must also pass an interview.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,000
Out-of-state
$9,000
Retention Rate
50%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
775
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Andrews University

  • Berrien Springs, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $1,428

Out of State | $1,428

Credits to Graduate: 60-90

At Andrews University, online students can choose from among five Ph.D. programs in business administration, curriculum and instruction, higher education administration, educational leadership, and leadership. While most programs consist of 60-61 credits, candidates for a Ph.D. in leadership without a related master's degree must take 90 credits.

For admission, you typically need a master's degree with a minimum 3.3 GPA. Candidates must also submit three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. GRE test scores may be required for certain online Ph.D. programs.

Average Tuition
In-state
$29,808
Out-of-state
$29,808
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
3,162
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Boston University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per year:

In State | $37,838-$61,050

Out of State | $37,838-$61,050

Credits to Graduate: 32-64

Boston University offers three online Ph.D. programs: social work, mechanical engineering, and occupational therapy. While engineering and social work students must complete dissertation and teaching requirements, occupational therapy students must complete mentored research, a research manuscript, and a practicum.

For admission, you need a master's degree in a related field, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. You may also need a writing sample. Engineering applicants may pursue a Ph.D. directly after their bachelor's degree but need additional credits, including the requirements for a master's in engineering.

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,854
Out-of-state
$56,854
Retention Rate
92%
Admission Rate
20%
Students Enrolled
32,718
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Capitol Technology University

  • Laurel, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $933

Out of State | $933

Credits to Graduate: 60

Capitol Technology University offers a whopping 35 online Ph.D. programs, including computer science, engineering, and business. Program options include artificial intelligence, manufacturing, product management, and systems engineering. Capitol Tech's programs run entirely online, with no on-campus requirements.

Online Ph.D. students must complete a dissertation or publish three original research papers. For admission, you need a master's degree in a related field, two letters of recommendation, and at least five years of relevant experience.

Average Tuition
In-state
$25,830
Out-of-state
$25,830
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
754
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Clemson University

  • Clemson, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $521-$955

Out of State | $521-$955

Credits to Graduate: 56-60

Clemson University offers six online Ph.D. programs, including healthcare genetics, special education, and teaching and learning. Depending on the program, students may take synchronous online classes or a mix of on-campus and online classes.

Admission requirements vary, but you'll typically need a master's degree with a minimum 3.5 GPA. You also must submit letters of recommendation and a statement of intent. Clemson's online teaching programs require at least two years of teaching experience.

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,118
Out-of-state
$37,110
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
26,406
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
85% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Colorado State University-Fort Collins

  • Fort Collins, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $945-$1,118

Out of State | $945-$1,118

Credits to Graduate: 60-72

Colorado State University students have access to three online Ph.D. programs in higher education leadership; systems engineering; and learning, performance, and change. While systems engineering courses run entirely online, the other two programs feature a mix of online and on-campus classes.

CSU offers asynchronous and synchronous classes. Each online Ph.D. program requires a dissertation. Admission requirements vary, but you'll generally need a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants will also need varying levels of professional experience.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,426
Out-of-state
$28,147
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
32,428
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
85% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Eastern Virginia Medical School

  • Norfolk, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $975-$1,422

Out of State | $975-$1,598

Credits to Graduate: 47-60

Eastern Virginia Medical School offers online Ph.D. programs in reproductive clinical science, higher education, contemporary human anatomy education, and ultrasound imaging education. All programs have dissertation requirements and involve a mix of asynchronous and synchronous classes.

To apply, you need a master's degree in a related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, and one or more personal essays. Candidates may also need work experience, letters of support, and writing samples.

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,289
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Faulkner University

  • Montgomery, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $575-780

Out of State | $575-780

Credits to Graduate: 45-54

Faulkner University has three online Ph.D. programs: biblical studies, humanities, and health sciences. Each program runs entirely online and includes a dissertation requirement. The accelerated programs allow full-time students to graduate within 18 months to three years.

Applicants must have a master's degree in a related field with a minimum 3.0 or 3.25 GPA. You'll also need to submit letters of recommendation, a goals statement, and a writing sample.

Average Tuition
In-state
$21,000
Out-of-state
$21,000
Retention Rate
60%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
2,961
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Florida Atlantic University

  • Boca Raton, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $303.71

Out of State | $303.71

Credits to Graduate: 72 post-bachelor's credits, including 18 post-master's credits

At Florida Atlantic University, students can choose between three online Ph.D. programs: computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering. These programs run entirely online and follow an asynchronous course format. Ph.D. students must complete at least 24 credits related to their dissertation.

To get in, applicants must have a master's degree in a related field with a minimum 3.3 GPA. You also must submit letters of recommendation and complete the appropriate prerequisite courses. Each program offers a bachelor's-to-Ph.D. pathway.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,522
Out-of-state
$14,374
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
30,805
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Indiana State University

  • Terre Haute, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $438

Out of State | $569

Credits to Graduate: 63-72

Indiana State University has three online Ph.D. programs: higher education leadership, school administration, and technology management. Each online program features on-campus requirements, such as intensive workshops, residency seminars, and in-person classes. Students must also complete a dissertation in all three programs.

Applicants need a master's degree in a related field with a minimum 3.25-3.5 GPA. Depending on the program, you may also need a teaching license, work experience, GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, and/or a written statement.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,186
Out-of-state
$20,290
Retention Rate
69%
Admission Rate
92%
Students Enrolled
10,829
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
69% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $1,223

Out of State | $1,223

Credits to Graduate: 54-60

At Keiser University, you can choose from among five online Ph.D. programs: criminal justice and criminology, curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, industrial and organizational psychology, and instructional design and technology. To graduate, you must complete research courses and a dissertation, in addition to foundational and core courses.

While most classes run online, you'll need to attend campus for two residencies. You typically need a master's degree in a relevant field to be admitted. Some programs offer bachelor's-to-Ph.D. pathways, which may require a minimum 3.0 GPA and additional coursework.

Average Tuition
In-state
$19,808
Out-of-state
$19,808
Retention Rate
60%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
20,330
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $395-$595

Out of State | $395-$595

Credits to Graduate: 48-60

Liberty University offers 65+ online programs and concentrations, including options in public administration, Christian leadership, and aviation. Each program features core, advanced focus, research, and dissertation courses.

You can complete your degree entirely online via eight-week classes. There are no on-campus requirements. For admission, you need a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some programs may ask for writing samples and prerequisite courses.

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,791
Out-of-state
$14,791
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
93,349
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Mississippi State University

  • Mississippi State, MS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $506-$514

Out of State | $506-514

Credits to Graduate: 32-61

Mississippi State Online offers 14 online Ph.D. programs and concentrations, such as plant and soil sciences, community college leadership, and engineering. While the core curricula vary by program, each program requires you to complete 20 research and dissertation credits.

Online students benefit from access to MSU's libraries and dissertation workshops. For admission, you need a master's degree, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,800
Out-of-state
$23,840
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
22,986
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
88% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Northcentral University

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $1,085-$1,283

Out of State | $1,085-$1,283

Credits to Graduate: 60

Northcentral University has 12 Ph.D. online programs available. Options include human resources management, cybersecurity, and data science. Each program features dissertation requirements, and many offer specialization opportunities.

For direct-entry admission, you'll need a master's degree in a relevant field. You may qualify for further evaluation if you have a degree in an unrelated discipline, but this usually requires you to complete additional courses.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,064
Out-of-state
$11,064
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
12,471
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Nova Southeastern University

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $936-$1,505

Out of State | $936-$1,505

Credits to Graduate: 51-76

Nova Southeastern University offers nine online Ph.D. programs, including nursing, computer science, and criminal justice. Each program has a dissertation component, and some offer specialization opportunities. While most programs and classes run entirely online, some Ph.D. programs, like nursing, have an annual 2-3 day residency requirement.

For admission, you typically need a master's degree in a relevant field with a minimum 3.0 GPA. You may also need to submit two reference letters, a writing sample, and a personal statement. Work experience or professional licensure may be required as well.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,370
Out-of-state
$32,370
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
20,888
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Old Dominion University

  • Norfolk, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $571

Out of State | $595

Credits to Graduate: 48-54

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,029
Out-of-state
$26,664
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
24,286
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
95% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Regent University

  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $670-$950

Out of State | $670-950

Credits to Graduate: 51-67

Average Tuition
In-state
$17,220
Out-of-state
$17,220
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
10,483
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Saybrook University

  • Pasadena, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $1,009-$1,514

Out of State | $1,009-$1,514

Credits to Graduate: 60-78

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
785
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Texas A & M University-College Station

  • College Station, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $718-$853

Out of State | $1,247-$1,382

Credits to Graduate: 64

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,395
Out-of-state
$36,849
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
70,418
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

Texas Tech University

  • Lubbock, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $263-353

Out of State | $263-$353

Credits to Graduate: 60-72

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,683
Out-of-state
$20,953
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
40,322
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

The University of Alabama

  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $440

Out of State | $440

Credits to Graduate: 72

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,780
Out-of-state
$30,250
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
37,840
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
90% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

  • Knoxville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $815-$835

Out of State | $890-$910

Credits to Graduate: 48-85

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,332
Out-of-state
$28,522
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
30,559
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

University of Alabama in Huntsville

  • Huntsville, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $434-$620

Out of State | $434-$620

Credits to Graduate: 66-69

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,730
Out-of-state
$22,126
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
9,999
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

University of Missouri-Columbia

  • Columbia, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $556

Out of State | $556

Credits to Graduate: 42-72

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,330
Out-of-state
$27,612
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
31,089
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
87% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

University of North Dakota

  • Grand Forks, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit: 

In State | $498

Out of State | $498

Credits to Graduate: 60-90

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,540
Out-of-state
$12,810
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
13,615
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
83% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Columbia, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $572

Out of State | $572

Credits to Graduate: 60

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,288
Out-of-state
$33,528
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
35,470
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Schools for Accredited Online Ph.D. Programs of 2023

University of the Cumberlands

  • Williamsburg, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $325-$500

Out of State | $325-$500

Credits to Graduate: 60-66

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,875
Out-of-state
$9,875
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
19,110
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

How Much Does an Online Ph.D. Cost?



In general, you can expect to pay a total of $60,000-$200,000 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 discounts to residents. Make sure you also submit the FAFSA each year so you can secure federal financial aid.

As an online student, you might encounter additional fees, like per-semester technology fees. You'll also need a computer or laptop and potentially certain software to go with it.

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



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

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

Many Ph.D. grads, 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 $101,000 a year, according to Payscale.


Popular Careers for Ph.D. Grads
Job Median Annual Salary (May 2021) Job Growth Rate (2021-2031)
Political Scientists $122,510 6%
Economists $105,630 6%
Biochemists and Biophysicists $102,270 15%
Postsecondary Education Administrators $96,910 7%
Mathematicians and Statisticians $96,280 31%
Medical Scientists $95,310 17%
Psychologists $81,040 6%
Postsecondary Teachers $79,640 12%
Epidemiologists $78,830 26%
Historians $63,940 4%
Anthropologists and Archaeologists $61,910 6%

So Are Online Ph.D. Programs Worth It?

If you want to pursue a Ph.D. on your own time and with a budget in mind, an online Ph.D. program may be worth it. However, keep in mind that some disciplines require hands-on experience in the field or lab that may not be possible through an online program.

An Online Ph.D. May Be Worth It If …

  • You are passionate about your area of research.
  • You want to set your own schedule.
  • You need to fit studies into your daily life.
  • You are on a tight budget.
  • You are self-motivated and a self-starter.

An Online Ph.D. May Not Be Worth It If …

  • The program is not accredited.
  • You can't work independently.
  • You can't concentrate at home.
  • You have difficulty prioritizing work and meeting deadlines on your own.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Ph.D. Programs

Are online doctoral programs legit?

If the online doctoral program is accredited, it is legitimate. Accreditation ensures that the program meets the rigorous educational standards of other comparative doctoral programs. With accreditation, employers and other institutions of higher learning will recognize your degree as legitimate.

With more universities turning toward online programs to serve a more diverse student body's needs, there are a growing number of legitimate, accredited online Ph.D. programs.

How long are online Ph.D. programs?

Online Ph.D. programs, like any other doctoral program, can vary in length but typically last 5-7 years. A doctoral degree balances coursework with research. Usually, students must meet a certain number of course requirements before they can start original research.

While coursework may take only a year or two, writing a dissertation that meets the program requirements varies from candidate to candidate.

What is the difference between a Ph.D. and a doctorate?

A Ph.D. is a type of doctorate. Ph.D. stands for doctor of philosophy. Traditionally, a Ph.D. can be conferred on a student working in any field except theology, law, or medicine. Students working in disciplines like the social sciences, history, English, and the natural sciences earn Ph.D.s.

Schools can also confer other types of doctorates, like a doctor of education, doctor of juridical science, or doctor of nursing practice.

Can I earn my Ph.D. entirely online?

Yes, many accredited colleges and universities offer 100% online Ph.D. programs. That said, some programs may require on-campus experiences, such as library research and a dissertation defense.

What do employers think of online doctoral programs?

It takes a high level of discipline and persistence to obtain a doctorate, no matter the context. Most employers will recognize and value the hard work it takes to get a Ph.D., whether you completed your doctorate online or in person.

Make sure you research potential programs. If you're attending an accredited, well-regarded school, employers will value your online Ph.D. just as much as a traditional one.


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