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The Top 10 Easiest PhDs: Tuition, Duration, and Financial Aid

Lisa Marlin

If you’re wondering what the easiest doctorate degree is, this really depends on your definition of easy.

You may find a lengthy research dissertation challenging, or you may love writing and struggle with mathematical or analytical assignments. Equally, depending on your lifestyle, a flexible program that allows you to study online at your own pace could be much more manageable. Or it may be better to go all-in on an accelerated program that you can finish in a short space of time.

With all these factors and more in mind, you can learn about the easiest PhDs available today across various fields.

Table of Contents

The Easiest PhD Majors

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and we all excel in different areas. Having said that, a significant proportion of people find math and science challenging, so many people will find the following majors the easiest PhDs to get:

  • Religion/Theology

However, the easiest PhD for you could be quite different. If you have a head for numbers but don’t do so well with languages, you mind find a PhD in mathematics or engineering much easier.

Your interests also come into play: it’s always easier to apply yourself to a topic that you’re passionate about.

The Easiest PhD Programs

We’ve ranked the following programs based on various criteria to find the easiest doctoral degrees across a range of disciplines while mostly staying away from courses heavy in maths and science, as areas that people typically find challenging.

We looked for programs that offer a high level of flexibility, making it easy to fit your studies around other parts of your life. We also prioritized shorter programs that allow you to earn your doctorate in record time and progress with your career and avoided those with lengthy dissertation requirements.

Walden University, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Human Sciences

PhD in Education – Higher Education Leadership and Policy (Self-Designed)

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Walden University was named first in the USA  for PhD Education graduates. This is one of the easiest PhD programs to get into, as the University has an acceptance rate of 100%. It is also one of the shortest PhD programs in the field, offering a fast-track option that allows you to transfer up to 50% of your total credits and finish the program sooner.

  • Courses include: Leading the future of education, education law, policy & governance, and higher education in the 21st century.
  • Credits: 86 quarter credits
  • Duration: 3-8 years
  • Delivery: Online
  • Tuition : $692 per quarter hour
  • Financial aid: Grants, scholarships, and loans
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Capella University

PhD in Psychology – General Psychology

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Capella University offers a wide range of online programs for students looking for ongoing education with a high degree of flexibility, including being able to study at their own pace. This PhD in Psychology is also one of the easiest online PhD programs, as it gives you the option to complete the doctorate in as little as five quarters.

  • Courses include: Ethics & multicultural issues in psychology, advanced inferential statistics, and quantitative research methods in psychology.
  • Credits: 87
  • Duration: 5-9 quarters
  • Tuition : $545
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, employer discounts, and military benefits

The University of Florida, Department of Classics

PhD in Classical Studies

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The US News & World Report named the University of Florida one of the top 5 public research universities  in the USA for 2023. With a focus on the humanities, many people will find this PhD program relatively easy, focusing on subjects like languages, culture, and history.

  • Courses include: Greek prose composition, the roman tradition, and Latin prose composition.
  • Credits: 60
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Delivery: On-campus
  • Tuition : $12,744
  • Financial aid: Fellowships, scholarships, and teaching assistantships
  • Acceptance rate: 31%
  • Location: Gainesville, Florida

Faulkner University

Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities

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Faulkner University was founded on Christian principles and offers many flexible programs designed to help students balance their education with their other commitments. This is one of the easiest PhD programs because you can complete it in just 48 credit hours while gaining a global intellectual and spiritual perspective through courses covering thought, ideas, and literature in the Western tradition.

  • Courses include: Scholarly inquiry & writing in the humanities, historical investigations, and literary analysis.
  • Credits: 48
  • Duration: 3 years+
  • Tuition : $650 per semester hour
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, federal work-study, and loans
  • Acceptance rate: 76%
  • Location: Montgomery, Alabama

Regent University

PhD in Renewal Theology

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Regent University is a popular private institution that offers programs in over 150 areas of study, including some easy PhD programs that can be completed with very flexible study arrangements. This theology doctorate program aims to create future church leaders with a global outlook based on a Renewal approach to history and contemporary issues.

  • Courses include: Advanced hermeneutics, renewal theology, and advanced cosmogony & anthropology.
  • Duration: 4 years+
  • Delivery: Online (with 2-week on-campus residency each fall)
  • Tuition : $670 per credit
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, and loans
  • Acceptance rate: 50%
  • Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Boston University, College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College

Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PP-OTD)

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Boston University is a private institution ranked #1  in occupational therapy by the US News & World Report. This PP-OTD is one of the easiest doctorate degrees in physical therapy because you can complete it in just 18 months. It aims to equip practicing therapists for higher leadership roles capable of innovatively addressing the field’s key challenges.

  • Courses include: Social policy & disability, health promotion & wellness, and evaluating clinical theory & research.
  • Credits: 33-37
  • Duration: 18 months
  • Tuition: Varies
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, employer reimbursement, and federal loans
  • Acceptance rate: 20%
  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts

The University of Tennessee Knoxville, College of Social Work

Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in Clinical Practice & Leadership

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The College of Social Work is a higher education institution that strives to provide exemplary education in social work. It’s also heavily involved in international projects, which allows students to develop a global perspective on the sector. You could consider this DSW to be an easy doctorate degree, as an accelerated program designed to train existing clinical social workers in advanced clinical practice and leadership.

  • Courses include: Neuroscience for clinical practice, psychopathology & psychopharmacology, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, federal work-study, graduate assistantships, veteran services, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 78%
  • Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

New York University, School of Law

Juris Doctor (JD)

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New York University is one of the largest private universities in the country, with campuses and academic centers across the globe. In this JD program, students enjoy a strong blend of theory of law and practice through the school’s more than forty legal clinics.

  • Courses include: Constitutional law, survey of criminal procedure, and international law.
  • Credits: 83
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Tuition : $73,216
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, fellowships, veteran benefits, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 21%
  • Location: New York City, New York

North Carolina State University, College of Design

Doctor of Design (DDes)

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NC State University is among the top 1% of universities worldwide, according to the Center for World University Rankings. This program encourages practicing professionals to develop innovative concepts and promote them more generally in the design community and society. It is an easy doctorate degree in design in that you can complete it in three years or even less.

  • Courses include: Research methods in design, case study analysis in design, and design for health & wellbeing.
  • Credits: 57
  • Delivery: Online (with one week of on-campus study every semester)
  • Tuition : $505.28
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, student employment, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 46%
  • Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Frontier Nursing University

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

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Frontier Nursing University is a not-for-profit institution with several accolades for nursing education, ranking third  for online master’s family nurse practitioner programs. The program is designed for working professionals and emphasizes evidence-based practice, with a quality improvement project in collaboration with your chosen clinical site. With this easy doctorate program, you can earn the highest nursing qualification in mere 15-18 months.

  • Courses include: Epidemiology & biostatistics, ethics & health policy, and leadership & organizational dynamics.
  • Credits: 30
  • Duration: 15-18 months
  • Delivery: Online (with 3-day on-campus orientation)
  • Tuition: $19,380
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, employer benefits, veteran benefits, and loans
  • Acceptance rate: 66%
  • Location: Versailles, Kentucky

What’s the Difference Between a Professional Degree and a Doctorate?

A PhD program largely focuses on theoretical learning and the analytical aspects of the discipline you’re studying. It typically involves extensive research presented in a lengthy thesis or dissertation, often proposing a new theory or innovative findings.

On the other hand, a professional doctorate or master’s degree emphasizes gaining knowledge for practical applications and does not typically involve a dissertation. While a PhD can make you an erudite scholar well-equipped to work in research or academia, a professional degree typically leads to a career path as a professional in the industry, government, or nonprofit sector.

FAQs about the Easiest PhDs

Which phd is the easiest to get.

The PhD you’ll find easiest will depend on your own strengths and weaknesses and your passions. Generally, most people will find doctorates in the arts and humanities the easiest. Flexible programs that can be completed online and accelerated ones with a shorter overall time commitment are the easiest to complete in terms of meeting other life commitments.

Which Subject Is Easy for a PhD?

Subjects like the humanities, education, theology, and psychology are generally considered the easiest, mostly because they involve less quantitative research and rely on qualitative study methods.

Final Thoughts

The easiest PhD for you will depend on your own talents, weaknesses, and which practical aspects of the program will make it easiest for you to earn your doctorate. Many people find the arts and humanities easier than science and math, though your passion for any subject can make studying it relatively easy. Having the flexibility to study online , at your own pace, or alternatively, in a shorter, more intensive period like a 1-year PhD program  can also make it easier to finish your PhD.

Although easiness is one factor to consider when choosing the right PhD for you, it certainly isn’t everything. Most importantly, you should opt for the program that matches your interests and is most likely to help you achieve your career and life goals.

Want to explore more options? Check out our list of the highest paying PhDs  to learn about the programs that will give you the best return on your investment.

Lisa Marlin

Lisa Marlin

Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.

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Explore a range of online doctoral programs, including Ph.D. degrees, that offer accelerated paths, reduced residency requirements, and flexible online learning options.

Many degree programs fall under the title of doctorate, including Doctor of Philosophy degrees or Ph.D.

These Ph.D. degree programs are available in a variety of subjects and are intended to help students understand their specialty in the abstract and as a school of thought and theory rather than strictly as a practice.

Institutions that offer the best programs typically have exceptional funding, prestigious reputations, top-of-the-line research facilities, and abundant academic resources.

When selecting one of the shortest online doctoral programs or easiest online Ph.D. programs, you can access more info by visiting the links provided in each school description to ensure that you find the best program for you!

The easiest isn't always the shortest nor the shortest the easiest.

Doctorate Programs That Might Interest You

1-year Online Doctoral Programs | 18 Month Doctorate Programs Without Dissertation | Shortest Doctoral Programs Online and On-campus | Easiest Ph.D. to Get Online | Easiest PhD to Get (Traditional) | Free PhD Programs Online

Doctorate Degree vs PhD

Ph.D. programs focus more on the theoretical and abstract aspects of their respective fields of study to understand it as a school of thought rather than just a practical application.

Usual doctorate programs tend to be more practical in their study and focus on the application of knowledge rather than understanding more abstract perspectives.

Ph.D. degrees are often offered in the same fields that have standard doctoral degrees available usually offered in fields such as engineering, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Doctorate programs are made up of advanced coursework, research projects, or thesis work almost strictly for practical application. Such degrees will get you ready to teach at the university level or help you advance to the leading edge of your field researching, serving, and creating.

Ph.D. and Doctorate degrees can often achieve the same ends and should be considered more or less equal in weight.

1 Year Ph.D. Programs Online

Chatham university.

Chatham offers a 1-year online DNP program for working nurses seeking advanced leadership roles. The intensive curriculum covers care delivery models, quality improvement, evidence-based practice, and informational systems. The program features synchronous online classes and immersive clinicals at sites nationwide. Students collaborate virtually with renowned faculty.

Within 12 months, students complete 36 credits and 1,000 clinical hours. Graduates can sit for Family Nurse Practitioner certification. Nurses with a BSN can enter the accelerated program. Applicants need an active RN license. This online DNP empowers nurses to rapidly earn doctoral credentials while working. It prepares graduates to advance as clinical, executive, research, and teaching leaders.

Breyer State Theology University

Breyer State Theology University offers a 1-year online PhD in Grief Counseling through its Department of Ethereal Studies. This accelerated program is tailored for working professionals seeking to advance their bereavement therapy career. The curriculum covers advanced grief counseling theories and interventions for diverse populations. Students gain expertise in areas like trauma-informed care, healing rituals, afterlife philosophies, and continuing bonds.

The online format combines asynchronous learning with live classes in an intimate cohort overseen by esteemed faculty. Students complete their dissertation in just one year. Graduates earn a PhD from BSU's pioneering metaphysical psychology department. This flexible doctoral program prepares students to progress their counseling practice or pursue academic research roles.

American International Theism University

American International Theism University (AITU) offers one-year online doctoral degrees for working professionals. Accelerated PhD tracks include Philosophy of Islamic Studies, Business Administration, Education, Finance, and Grief Counseling. Professional doctorates prepare leaders in Divinity, Sacred Music, Spiritual Psychotherapy, and more. The online programs blend video lectures, discussions, and immersive retreats. Curricula explore metaphysics, ethics, and wisdom traditions across faiths.

Within 12 months, students complete doctoral coursework, exams, and a dissertation overseen by distinguished faculty. Applicants should hold a relevant master's degree and background in theological studies or social sciences. These intensive online doctoral programs allow students to rapidly earn advanced credentials through flexible study with global peers. Graduates pursue roles driving innovation in spiritual care, research, and leadership.

Online Doctorate Programs That Might Interest You

15-18 month doctorate programs without dissertation, boston university.

Boston University offers a Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program that can be completed in 18 months. The program consists of 10 courses, which are about 33 to 37 credits. Students may concentrate on various areas and can then choose what else they would prefer to learn to complete their credit requirements.

This is a fully online degree program that accelerates each semester’s worth of class to take only seven weeks to complete with new courses starting every September, January, and May. The program is available to doctoral students who have completed an accredited occupational therapy program. There are foundation courses, which include evidence-based practice and health care management, but no dissertation is necessary whereas a doctoral project is still required.

Frontier Nursing University

The Maryville University of St. Louis offers a Doctor of Nursing (DNP) program that is available online. The DNP program requires students to complete a total of 33 credit hours, including 18 to 20 months for completion. Many students in the online DNP program are working as nurses in the field, and this affords them a flexible program that allows many students to achieve their academic goals while active in the healthcare industry.

This course is an online program that does not require a GMAT or GRE. It may have a waiting list, but unlike other programs, it does not require clinical hours. The Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership is an online program that offers personal coaching throughout the process. It is a cohort learning method with online education, and students might need a bit more time to complete it.

Maryville University

Maryville University offers online doctoral degrees tailored for working professionals. Programs available fully online include Doctorates in Higher Education Leadership, Educational Leadership, Nursing Practice, Health Administration, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy. The EdD programs prepare graduates for leadership and faculty roles in education. The DNP equips nurses for advanced clinical and executive practice.

Health Administration focuses on healthcare organizational development, quality, and finance. Licensed PTs and OTs can pursue clinical doctorates while working. Courses blend live online classes and self-paced learning. Programs leverage cutting-edge virtual labs and simulations. With a relevant master's degree, students can earn an accredited doctorate from Maryville University online to advance their careers.

24 Month Doctorate Programs

University of north carolina – chapel hill.

One option is to earn an online Ph.D. in Nursing, while another option is to earn their Medical Degree at the same time as their  Master of Business Administration , but the Transitional Doctoral Program in Physical therapy may be earned in 24 months fully online. This part-time program provides online learning courses to help licensed physical therapists enhance their skills and gain access to higher career options. Some credits can be earned through workplace applications.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers over a dozen online doctoral degrees tailored for working professionals. GCU provides online EdD tracks in Organizational Leadership, Higher Education Leadership, and K-12 Leadership. Other doctorates cover psychology, nursing, business, and more. Programs blend asynchronous and live virtual classes focused on applying concepts. Specialized tracks allow customization.

Online students get personalized faculty support and access to robust digital resources. Within 2 years (or less), learners complete coursework, residencies, exams, and a dissertation to earn an accredited doctoral degree from GCU. With flexible and practical curricula, GCU enables busy professionals to obtain doctorates fully online and further their careers.

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a Doctor of Education degree program that can be completed fully online. The minimum time to earn the degree is about 30 months for completion of all 54 credits. The courses are each 8 weeks long and no dissertation is required. The Doctor of Education degree program provides a curriculum that focuses on developing innovative programs, as well as a capstone project.

University of West Georgia

The University of West Georgia offers several online doctoral degree options for working professionals seeking advanced training. UWG provides online doctorates in School Improvement, Nursing Education, Professional Counseling and Supervision, and Higher Education Administration. The EdD programs focus on data-driven leadership strategies and developing administrative expertise.

The DNP prepares nurses to improve care systems and patient outcomes. Coursework blends synchronous evening classes and self-paced learning for flexibility. Experiential projects allow application to careers. With a relevant master's degree, students can earn an accredited doctorate fully online from UWG to advance as leaders in their field.

Shortest Ph.D. Programs Online and On-campus

Obtaining a Ph.D. can be a long-term commitment and many doctoral programs can take over five years to complete. To help busy working professionals looking to jumpstart their careers and those looking to begin their careers at a high level, this list serves as a simple reference guide, compiling information on some of the shortest doctoral programs in the country.

These online degree programs operate in full-time, part-time, fully online, or hybrid formats.

  • Baylor University - online EdD in Learning and Organizational Change, 54 credits, 36 months
  • Maryville University - online Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online DNP), 20 months, no GRE or no GMAT requirement
  • University of Dayton - online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership for Organizations, 36 months, 60 credits
  • Capella University - online Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision, 0 max transfer credits, 60 credits, CACREP accredited
  • Franklin University - online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), 58 credit hours, transfer up to 24 hours of previously earned credit, 36 months + 1 year for dissertation
  • Walden University - online Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology, up to 53 credits, fast-track option, earn MPhil at the same time
  • Frontier Nursing University - online Doctor of Nursing Practice, MSN with DNP, 675 clinical hours for MSN plus 360 additional for DNP
  • Boston University - Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy, PP-OTD, 33-37 credits
  • University of Florida - online MSN to DNP, 35 credits, five semesters
  • Gwynedd Mercy University - Accelerated Executive Doctorate of Education ABD (All But Dissertation) Completion Program, online EdD , 27 credit hours, 18 months
  • Duquesne University - Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), 35 credit hours
  • The College of St. Scholastica - Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy, online tDPT, 16 credits
  • Liberty Univesity - Doctor of Ministry, online DMin, 30 credit hours, 24 months
  • University of Florida - Doctor of Nursing Practice, MSN to DNP, 35 credits, 5 semesters
  • University of North Dakota - Post-Master's Doctor of Nursing Practice, online DNP, 36 credit hours, 5 semesters
  • Seton Hall University - Doctor of Nursing Practice, online DNP, 31+ credits for post-MSN students, 73-79 credits for post-BSN students
  • Regis University - Doctor of Nursing Practice, online DNP , 28-33 credit hours, 8-week terms
  • Georgia State University - Curriculum and Instruction EdD, Educational Leadership EdD, on-campus EdD, 54 credit hours
  • Bowling Green State University   - Technology Management, web-based Ph.D., 66 credit hours
  • Hampton University - Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management, online Ph.D., 60 credit hours
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania - Safety Sciences, online Ph.D., 54 credit hours
  • East Carolina University   - Doctor of Nursing Practice, hybrid online DNP

Easiest Ph.D. Programs Online & On-Campus

To be sure, at the Ph.D. level, no program could be considered "easy," but there are certain programs designed to be "easier" than others. Generally, education, humanities, and the social sciences are considered the easiest fields in which to pursue degrees.

With that in mind, our list of the easiest Ph.D. programs includes schools and programs that offer significantly reduced residency requirements, accelerated courses, credit transfers, and integrated dissertation colloquia.

The rankings below display schools with accreditation from at least one of the six regional accrediting agencies , and all offer at least one virtual Ph.D. degree. Accredited online Ph.D. programs are also organized according to the U.S. News and World Report and Forbes Magazine rankings.

Easiest Online Ph.D. Programs & Online Doctoral Programs

  • WALDEN UNIVERSITY - 156 Online Doctoral Programs
  • REGENT UNIVERSITY - 81 online doctorate degrees, 6 Ph.D. programs online
  • HAMPTON UNIVERSITY - 5 online doctoral degree programs
  • UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA - 8 online doctoral degree programs
  • UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI - 4 online doctorate programs
  • COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY - 3 online Ph.D. programs, 1 online doctoral program
  • UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA - 12 online Ph.D. programs, 3 online doctoral programs
  • NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY -  10 online doctorate programs, 8 online Ph.D. programs
  • LIBERTY UNIVERSITY -  19 online Ph.D. programs, 16 online doctorate programs

Easiest Ph.D. to Get (Traditional)

The easiest doctorate degree can vary depending on your interests, skills, and strengths. However, here is a list of doctorate degrees that are mentioned as potentially less difficult to obtain:

  • Business Administration: This program focuses on business development, design, methods, tools, and professional ethics. A Ph.D. in Business Administration can be a good choice for professionals looking to advance their careers in business.
  • Counseling: A doctorate in counseling allows you to specialize in areas such as human behavior, social psychology, counseling supervision, or specific therapy approaches. This degree can lead to advanced career opportunities in healthcare and social services.
  • Criminal Justice: This program equips you with research skills and the ability to analyze data in the field of criminal justice. It can open doors to various career paths, including emergency management, forensic departments, and information security sectors.
  • Education: A doctorate in education focuses on enhancing educational research skills and preparing for leadership roles in educational institutions. It can lead to administrative positions in universities, professional departments, or elementary and secondary schools.
  • Healthcare Administration: This program prepares you for leadership roles in the business aspect of the medical industry. It covers topics such as policies, ethics, group management, hospital administration, and advanced patient care.
  • Human Services: A doctorate in human services prepares you for leadership positions within organizations that help underserved populations. It focuses on policies, legislation, rights, ethics, and protocols for serving within human services organizations.
  • Management: This program provides practical skills applicable to various industry settings. It covers areas such as financial management, system management, conflict management, and human resources management.
  • Public Administration: A doctorate in public administration develops managerial and strategic planning skills for administrative roles in different industries. It offers coursework in ethics of management, public policy, strategic planning, performance management, employee evaluation, and economics of administration.
  • Public Health: This program equips you with advanced training and research skills for the healthcare industry. It focuses on leadership and management roles in public health, emphasizing innovative thinking and communication mastery.
  • Public Policy: A doctorate in public policy focuses on theory, ethics, research, and practice in public service programs. It prepares you to analyze and propose policies to improve communities and societies.
  • Psychology: A doctorate in psychology combines research skills with professional practice. It can lead to careers as addictions counselors, applied researchers, professional consultants, or clinical psychologists.
  • Theology: A doctorate in theology explores divine and spiritual traditions through academics, research, and religious studies. It can lead to careers as professors, social service managers, private school teachers, or directors of religious education.

Please note that the difficulty of a doctorate degree can vary depending on individual circumstances, personal strengths, and the specific requirements of each program. It's important to thoroughly research and consider your own interests, skills, and career goals before deciding on a doctorate program.

Free Ph.D. Programs Online (Fully Funded)

According to .

  • Brown University - Fully-funded Ph.D. program in computer science
  • University of Houston-Downtown - Full scholarship program for online doctorate
  • Devry University - Comprehensive scholarship program for online degrees
  • University of Maryland-Baltimore County - Full scholarship program for online undergraduate and graduate degrees
  • Wilson Community College - Full scholarship program for community college students
  • University of Leeds - Up to 30 fully-funded online Ph.D. programs
  • University of the Witwatersrand - Comprehensive scholarship program for online bachelor's or master's degrees
  • The University of Texas at Dallas - Full scholarship program for online bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees
  • University of Strathclyde - Full scholarship program for online undergraduate or master's degrees
  • Emory University - Fully-funded online Ph.D. program in economics
  • New York University - Fully-funded Ph.D. program in childhood education
  • University of Pennsylvania - Fully-funded online Ph.D. program in educational leadership and policy

If you're not looking for an accelerated program , the list below displays some of the best traditional Ph.D. programs in the country, according to

Best Ph.D. Programs in the U.S.

Guide to online doctorate degrees.

Fewer positions requiring this advanced level qualification and reduced competition for such job opportunities among job seekers are some of the reasons behind the few doctoral graduates.

With technological advancements in almost all areas of life, acquiring education, a significantly advanced level of education has become more accessible.

Graduate students now do not have to attend physical classes to pursue their dreams of developing and advancing their skills.

You can pursue your doctorate in the comfort of your home or even your office. There was a 20% growth in students granted doctorate degrees between the 2009/2010 and 2019/2020 academic years, according to NCES. This growth has been attributed in part to online Ph.D. programs and the streamlining of modern universities.

Online Ph.D. programs are a relatively newer idea and online schooling in general has greatly increased access, flexibility, and convenience.

Students typically complete these degrees soon after completing a Master’s degree in the same area. As such, and with bachelor's degrees being necessary stepping stones, students can expect their journey from primary school to a Ph.D. to take about nine years, barring any accelerated tracks and failed classes.

Cost of an Online Doctoral Degree Program

When choosing any doctoral degree program, it is crucial to evaluate the costs and salary after attending. Even though online Ph.D. courses may usually be cheaper than on-campus learning, secondary schooling is rarely cheap and not every field will allow you to make back the cost in a reasonable amount of time.

Tuition, materials, technology, transportation, housing, and groceries should all be factors brought into account when deciding whether or where to attend, and in what field you can find the most success and fulfillment.

Below are the annual tuition rates of different institutions as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

  • Private-For profit institutions- $18,200
  • Private-Not for-profit institutions- $37,600
  • Public institutions- $9,400

Choosing an Online Doctoral Degree Program

Since doctoral programs require considerable investments of money and time, it is important to consider every factor before deciding on a school or program. Take some time to consider the marketability, cost, and difficulty of each program and your own interest in the subject. To reach your career and educational goals, do your best research.

How Long Does it Take to Get a PhD

The length of a Ph.D. program can vary, but it typically takes 3 to 6 years to complete.

  • A Ph.D. program typically takes 5 to 6 years in the United States.
  • A Ph.D. program typically takes 3 to 4 years in the UK and many other European countries.

The actual length of a Ph.D. program can be influenced by many factors, including the nature of the research, the student's progress, the advisor's availability, and funding considerations.

  • Some students may finish in less time, while others may take longer.
  • Part-time Ph.D. programs are also available, which can take longer to complete.

Here is a table summarizing the length of Ph.D. programs in different countries:

Top 50 doctorate-granting institutions ranked by the total number of doctorate recipients, by sex: 2020

Tied institutions are listed alphabetically.

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates.

Doctorate recipients from U.S. colleges and universities: 1958–2020

(Number and percent) * = value < |0.05%|.

State or location of doctorate institution ranked by the total number of doctorate recipients, by sex: 2020

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Getting a Ph.D. doesn’t always have to be a time-consuming and complex project. If you already have experience in the field, you can shorten the process and get a Ph.D. in just a couple of years. Instead of spending four to seven years completing your studies, you can achieve your Ph.D. goals quickly and begin reaping the benefits.

Not all Ph.D. programs are created equal. Their duration depends on several factors, including the specialization. It may be impossible to speed up some of the program’s aspects but still spend months writing your dissertation.

You can start your journey to getting a degree by exploring accelerated Ph.D. programs online. Let’s take a closer look at options that can suit your goals.

When it comes to selecting a fast Ph.D. program online, keep in mind that anything related to math, science, or medicine is never fast. However, some degrees don’t require as much in-depth study and practice. They are:

  • Education – some education doctoral programs may have more flexible requirements and shorter completion times.
  • Social Sciences – certain subfields within social sciences, such as sociology or psychology, may have relatively easier admission processes and less competitive programs.
  • Business Administration – while a Ph.D. in Business Administration requires dedication, some programs may have more structured curricula and shorter completion times.
  • Humanities – history, or philosophy may offer Ph.D. programs that with be easier to complete within just a few years.
  • Applied Sciences – certain applied sciences, such as environmental science or public health, may have Ph.D. programs that focus on practical research. They may take less time than other disciplines.

Even the easiest and fastest Ph.D. online requires time and dedication from your side. Some of the accelerated programs are designed to pack five years’ worth of knowledge into three years of studies. This means that you would have to forgo many of your current commitments to accommodate a hectic education process.

What Affects the Duration of a Ph.D. Program?

Besides the field of study, the following factors can affect the duration of your Ph.D. program:

Even the easiest Ph.D. program online could take more time than you expect because of the complexity of the research topic you choose. When making this choice, make sure to speak to your advisors, mentors, and peers about their experience.

Check how much data collection and fieldwork your topic requires.  You could find that your accelerated online Ph.D. program turns into five years of research.

Some online universities have strict program requirements that demand a specific amount of time to complete. Meanwhile, other schools offer more flexibility. When budgeting your time and planning out your studies, pay special attention to the structure. In some cases, you could find opportunities to shorten the program. In others, the framework may not allow you to do so.

Studies show that the time to complete even the fastest Ph.D. online is a combination of funding conditions, publishing during the program, and associated time strategy. Ph.D. funding usually increases the time it takes to complete your studies. If you decide to publish while completing your Ph.D., it can decrease the completion time.

If you have sufficient research funding and decide to publish, you are likely to earn your degree faster. However, unfunded students with high research productivity usually study longer.

Even if you decide to study online, you must receive adequate advisor and research support. Pay special attention to this factor when choosing the program. You can find out how it works at the university of your choice by speaking to the admissions committee or finding reviews from the alumni.

If you can receive regular guidance with quality feedback, you are likely to speed up your education process. In schools where students don’t get dedicated mentor hours regularly, the time to complete the Ph.D. program increases.

Also check what research facilities the school is ready to provide for offline studies (yes, some online programs may require you to visit the campus anyway). Lack of access to proper facilities and materials always slows the studies down.

No matter how hard you prepare for the Ph.D. program, personal circumstances get in the way. Many people find that they can’t juggle their personal and professional commitments with studies as well as they planned. This causes significant delays.

Meanwhile, you should always be thinking about the possibility of unexpected personal circumstances. Thankfully, the majority of easy online Ph.D. programs readily accommodate these needs. They demand that Ph.D. studies be finished within a certain amount of time. However, this time is usually long – around seven or eight years.

Some of the easiest Ph.D. programs online still have strict publication requirements. You can find out that the program requires you to publish your research findings in academic journals or present them at conferences before completion.

This particular program requirement can slow the studies down, especially if the research process is complex.

Overall, it can take between three and seven years to earn your doctorate. No matter how easy or fast the program may seem at first, multiple factors can slow it down. Thankfully, the majority of these factors are known beforehand. It’s up to you to do the research and plan your time.

What Affects the Complexity of a Ph.D. Program?

Even the fastest Ph.D. program online may not be easy. When rushing to earn your degree, you need to pay special attention to the program itself. It may be extremely hard to handle. Factors to consider include:

The interdisciplinary nature of your program can make it complex. If you need to study several fields at once or conduct interdisciplinary research, you may need to make more effort to complete the program. If you haven’t faced such research before, you could need extra time to study. Several methodologies and additional terminology can easily present a challenge.

If your research project requires an in-depth understanding of complex theoretical frameworks, it could slow you down. You would need to master these frameworks and learn how to apply them.

Even the easiest fields of study require extensive data collection. Data collection methods could be complex and time-consuming. For example, if you need to conduct a survey or arrange fieldwork, you would need to make an extra effort outside your study hours.

You may also need to master complex analysis techniques and learn how to leverage advanced software.

If your program requires collaborating with multiple researchers or institutions, you may run into collaboration issues that could increase the complexity of your studies. Projects that bring many people and facilities together always have some time of communication issues that slow down the collaboration process.

Besides simplicity and duration, you need to pay attention to other aspects of online programs including:

  • Accreditation – the program you choose must be accredited by an accredited body that employers in your niche recognize.
  • Structure – the program should have a structure that allows for accelerated learning.
  • Research focus – the program should align with your research goals. This can help you speed up the learning process.
  • Support – a program should provide adequate support from the faculty and facilities.
  • Credit transfer policies – find out if the program allows you to transfer credits from previous degrees in order to shorten the education process.
  • Flexibility – make sure the program is flexible enough to help you keep personal and professional commitments.
  • Reputation – take the time to read reviews, talk to alumni, and do online research to assess the university’s reputation.

While the program can be easy and short, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is cheap. Some students believe that online programs are less expensive than offline learning. This is usually not the case. Learn about the cost of the program and explore financial aid opportunities before making the final choice.

Top Easiest and Fastest Ph.D. Programs Online

These programs offer you an opportunity to finish your doctorate studies faster than others. They also have easier curricula than similar programs in other universities.

Chatham University offers several Ph.D. programs in an online format. They can be completed in just 16 months or four terms. These programs include:

  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Admissions requirements for these programs may vary, but you would have to provide official transcripts, a resume, and an admissions essay for both of them.

The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Maryville University offers several online Ph.D. programs that you can complete in less than two years. They are:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Educational Leadership

It’s possible to complete these programs within just 20 months, depending on your time constraints. The school offers convenient financial aid options that can help you pay for the doctorate program.

The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arizona State University offers strong online degree programs in behavioral health. You can choose one of the two specializations.

  • Online Doctor of Behavioral Health – Management
  • Online Doctor of Behavioral Health – Clinical

Admissions requirements for these programs include official transcripts from all previously attended places of study, one letter of recommendation, and a CV or resume. The total number of class hours required by this program is 135.

The College of St. Scholastica focuses on online and hybrid learning . Ph.D. programs include:

  • Doctorate in Educational Leadership
  • Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

These programs take between two and four years to complete. The admissions requirements vary from program to program. Official transcripts from all previous places of education are necessary for all programs. The school allows you to transfer credits.

The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Walden University offers a wide range of Ph.D. programs online . Many of them take less than 3 years to complete. These doctorate programs include:

  • Doctor of Education
  • Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision
  • Doctor of Psychology in Behavioral Health Leadership
  • Doctor of Social Work

The school also offers a wide variety of degree acceleration options, including transfer of credits, credit by work experience, and credit by examination. You may be able to complete some of these programs in less than 24 months.

Accelerating Your Ph.D. Studies

Getting a Ph.D. doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. If you have all the information necessary to speed up your education, you can obtain a degree in just one year. Speeding up the process doesn’t mean giving up on the quality of studies. Many accredited and renowned universities are offering fast and easy Ph.D. programs online. They can also help with acceleration opportunities.

If you are ready to get a degree but worry about the time it takes, consider programs that don’t require long years of study. The benefits of short online programs can be just as significant as the advantages of full-time offline learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

The shortest Ph.D. programs take around two years to complete. You can speed up the process even further by transferring credits or asking the school to accept relevant work experience as study credits.

Yes, many universities offer opportunities to complete a Ph.D. program in just two years. Some of these programs are available in a fully online or hybrid format.

A fast Ph.D. program doesn’t lack quality. While some specializations and research topics don’t demand significant time investments, they can be just as beneficial as programs that may take over five years to complete.

Yelena Skosyrskih

PHD in Economics, Associate Professor, Department of Business Process Management, Faculty of Market Technologies IOM

What Is the Easiest Doctorate Degree? [2024 Guide]

What is the easiest doctorate degree?

What Is the Easiest Doctorate Degree

Sometimes, finding the easiest doctoral degrees comes down to better understanding what each program consists of and the time that will be involved in pursuing them.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Accelerated PhD programs are also a possibility. Finding the learning option that best fits your schedule can be a strategic way to conveniently earn your doctorate degree.

Another option is finding a university that is more lenient in their required master’s degree GPA needed for a PhD program admission.

What Is the Easiest Doctorate Degree?

Completing a doctorate from any university requires dedication and perseverance. Here are a few program and admissions factors, though, that could make a doctoral degree a little less difficult to obtain:

  • Less math required
  • Less science required
  • No GRE or GMAT requirement
  • No dissertation requirement
  • No residency requirement
  • Online learning options available
  • Accelerated courses available (generally lasting 8 weeks each)
  • Aligned with your interests and strengths

The easiest PhD to get can also depend on your own interests, skills, and strengths. For example, someone with strengths in English and communication might not consider it easy to obtain a doctorate in chemistry.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Business Administration

Criminal justice, healthcare administration, human services, public administration, public health, public policy.

Methodology: The following degree programs are offered online by accredited universities. Specific admission requirements vary by university, but a growing number of schools do not require GRE or GMAT scores or dissertations. The degree programs listed below are in alphabetical order.

doctorate degree in Business Administration

This is a research-based business program for professionals who wish to take their managerial skills to an advanced level. You can combine corporate experience and relevant research to make impactful administrative decisions.

Business administration courses are usually defined around an overall business development project that looks at business design, methods, tools, and professional ethics. If you are looking to advance your career in business, you might want to consider earning a doctorate in business administration.

Some business professionals with administration expertise pursue senior administrative roles in their professional industry or become involved in making impactful business decisions to help transform companies.

doctorate degree in counseling

If you are working in the healthcare or social work industry, a doctorate in counseling might appeal to you.

An advantage of this particular type of program is that you can pursue a specification that aligns best with your interests and career goals. For instance, you might study human behavior, social psychology, counseling supervision, or even specific avenues of therapy.

Getting a doctorate degree in counseling can open the door to more advanced career opportunities in the healthcare and social services industries. Some counseling professionals open a private practice while others may work in a hospital, university, or community center.

Following a doctorate in counseling, you can pursue licensure and certification in the field.

doctorate degree in Criminal Justice

If working in the domain of law and order fascinates you, you might consider earning a doctorate in criminal justice.

A criminal justice program can help you develop the necessary skills to conduct your own research and analyze data in a way that influences the justice system. A doctoral program can also give you the chance to explore theoretical elements of the justice field.

Depending on your academic background and your area of specialty within criminal justice, this doctorate can lead to a variety of career paths. Some graduates work within emergency management agencies, forensic departments, information security sectors, and even academia.

doctorate degree in Education

If you wish to have a leadership role in the education industry, you might consider pursuing a doctorate of education. This program enables you to enhance your educational research skills and adapt to administrative roles in a variety of sectors.

Professionals in this field may hold senior administrative roles in universities, professional departments, or elementary and secondary institutions. Principals and superintendents are both examples of educational administration roles.

In an education doctoral program, you’ll likely take advanced research courses. Research skills can help you analyze the current educational system and implement changes within academic institutions.

doctorate degree in Healthcare Administration

A doctorate in healthcare administration can help prepare you for leadership roles in the business aspect of the medical industry.

This versatile degree involves courses that focus on policies, ethics, group management, hospital administration, finances for healthcare, and advanced patient care.

A healthcare administration doctoral program can enable you to combine holistic knowledge and advanced business strategies. This skill set is directly applicable to helping healthcare institutions run effectively and efficiently.

Professionals in this field may work as health information managers, hospital administrators, clinical or nursing home managers, and other leadership roles within healthcare institutions.

doctorate degree in Human Services

A doctorate in human services can help prepare you for leadership positions within organizations that help those in need. This type of program often has a focus on underserved populations.

Through the coursework, you can gain an advanced understanding of policies, legislation, rights, ethics, and protocols for serving within human services organizations. You can often choose a concentration based on your interests and what population you most wish to serve.

There’s a growing need for people in the industry of social services. Professionals in this field tend to work as social service managers, community service managers, or training and development managers.

doctorate degree in Management

Learning practical skills that can be applied to numerous industry settings is at the forefront of a doctorate in management.

You may gain credibility in the eyes of employers through this doctorate program. You’ll likely learn advanced skills in training, research, theory, and practice for leadership in business, education, or government institutions.

In your studies, you’ll typically focus on financial management, system management, conflict management, or human resources management. You can structure your course load according to your interests and career goals.

This doctorate program is quite broad, so it can be applicable to leadership and management roles in nearly any industry, depending on your chosen concentration.

doctorate degree in Public Administration

A doctorate in public administration can be tailored to suit your interests and career goals. This type of program can help you develop your managerial and strategic planning skills for administrative roles in a variety of industries.

You can also pick a specific concentration that best aligns with your industry of choice. Public administration coursework tends to look at ethics of management, public policy, strategic planning, performance management, employee evaluation, and the economics of administration.

Common public administration careers include human resources manager, budget analyst, and health services manager.

doctorate degree in Public Health

A doctorate in public health can equip you with advanced training and research skills for the healthcare industry. Some leadership and management roles in the public health industry require innovative thinking and communication mastery.

Your coursework will likely consist of lots of hands-on and practice-based work. You can also choose a specialization that focuses on health education, epidemiology, biostatistics, and more. Some professionals with a doctorate in public health work as medical services managers, professors, medical researchers, or epidemiologists.

doctorate degree in Public Policy

A doctorate in public policy focuses on public policy theory, ethics, research, and practice on a community and global scale. You can learn about the development and purpose behind public service programs, and you can learn to analyze and propose policies to improve them.

Coursework often focuses on ethics, legislation, communication development, management principles, and case study evaluation with extensive research. Common public policy careers include political science professor, political scientist, community services manager, and emergency management director.

doctorate degree in Psychology

A doctorate in psychology can develop your research skills in a way that is applicable to professional practice.

The coursework is designed to prepare you for direct professional practice. Some career paths in this field include addictions counselor, applied researcher, professional consultant, and clinical psychologist.

Some of your courses may look at behavioral assessments, child psychology, advanced psychodynamic theory, or ethics and professional development. In addition, you can choose a specialization that aligns with your interests.

doctorate degree in Theology

Using academics, research, and religious studies, a doctorate in theology explores the divine and spiritual traditions around the world.

Many theology doctorate programs focus mostly on Christianity and the Bible. You may find yourself studying ethics, history, philosophy, literature, or ancient texts during this degree program.

Secular or religious careers in this field can include professor, social service manager, private school teacher, or director of religious education.

Types of Doctorate Degrees

Types of Doctorate Degrees

There are a variety of quick doctorate degrees that do not take an extensive amount of time to complete:

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) . This professional degree is designed to prepare people for leadership roles in educational institutions. There is a greater focus on the application of research. This type of program can take approximately 3 years to complete.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) . This scholarly program can help you develop the advanced skills necessary to be a leader in your chosen field of expertise. A PhD is also common for those who are interested in research and academia. Some PhD programs can take around 3 years to complete, though a dissertation requirement may add time.
  • Doctor of Theology (ThD) . This degree combines research with religious studies. You can explore spiritual traditions through the study of literature, ancient religious texts, ethics, history, and liturgical practice. Some programs only take 2 years to complete.
  • Medical Doctorate (MD) . Earning a medical doctorate from an accredited institution is a requirement to become a licensed physician. You’d study patient ethics, management, and advanced healthcare practices, and you’d engage in research-based study. Some medical doctorates can be completed in 3 years with a residency.
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) . This research-based degree helps prepare you for management and leadership roles in a variety of business industries. Its aim is to train professionals and managers to develop and implement conceptual tools for innovative change within their businesses. It can take a minimum of 2 years to complete this doctorate degree.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) . This is the highest level of academic study for nursing available. A DNP enables nursing professionals to become experts in clinical nursing practice or to work in more focused roles outside of direct patient care. A DNP can take a minimum of 1 year to complete with a placement to follow.

There are many other doctorates available that may better align with your interests and career goals.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD?

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD

A PhD generally takes 3 to 5 years to complete. Basically, how long it takes to get a doctorate degree will depend on the school and the individual program. It can also depend on the number of credit hours required and how long it takes to complete any dissertation requirement.

Some universities also offer part time PhD programs , which will of course take longer to complete than full time ones.

If no dissertation is required, a doctoral program can generally be completed in 3 years with full-time study. Some online PhD programs also offer accelerated courses to help you complete your degree more quickly.

Can You Get a Doctorate in 2 Years?

two year doctoral programs

While it’s rare to obtain a PhD or doctorate in 2 years, there are some two year doctoral programs available. These programs require a full-time course load and extensive organizational and time management skills.

Some programs emphasize that a minimum of 2 years of study are required. A very few number of doctorate programs take a year of study plus a residency placement. Doctorate degree online no dissertation programs may take less time to complete as well.

If you want to get your doctorate as quickly as possible, you might want to subscribe to a full-time course load and find a reliable mentor to help you through the process. You can also prepare yourself to be completely immersed in academic research and writing.

Are There Any 1 Year Online Doctoral Programs?

one Year Online Doctoral Programs

If no dissertation is required, a doctoral program can typically be completed in 3 years with full-time study. There are some schools, though, that offer accelerated doctorates so you can try to finish sooner.

In addition, some programs require fewer credit hours overall. A program that consists of 35 credit hours may be completed in 2.5 years or less. Doctorates that consist of 27 credit hours may take 18 months or less.

There are a few rare doctoral programs that can be obtained in 1 year, usually because they require fewer credit hours and also have an accelerated learning option.

Here are some examples of doctorates that can require fewer credit hours:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Education
  • Doctor of Ministry
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy

It’s strategic to research the scheduling and program requirements of the schools you are interested in.

What Is the Quickest Doctorate Degree to Get?

Quickest Doctorate Degree to Get

Doctorate programs can vary between schools and between areas of study. It is sometimes easier to define what the quickest doctoral degree is by highlighting the factors that can make a degree take longer to complete.

For example, many PhD programs require you to write a dissertation. Other programs, such as medical or nursing programs, can require a residency. Some online doctorate degrees with no dissertation require 400 hours or more of practicum experience. These factors can all extend the time spent in a program.

Some of the quickest doctoral programs are ones that have fewer credit hours and do not have dissertation or residency requirements. Being continuously enrolled year-round can also lessen the time it takes for you to complete your studies.

If you’re looking for the shortest doctoral program online, you might want to consider accelerated doctoral degrees. They truly put a focus on the speed, convenience, and advancement of their doctoral students.

Which Subject Is Easy for PhD?

Which Subject Is Easy for PhD

All doctorates take extensive work and dedication, but you may find some programs to be less difficult than others based on your own interests and skill sets.

For example, the following humanities and social science subjects are often perceived as less difficult because they involve less math and science:

  • Anthropology
  • Communications

In addition, professional doctorates are sometimes perceived as less difficult than PhDs because they are more practice-based and do not tend to require dissertations.

Do You Need a Masters to Get a PhD?

You do not always need a masters to get a PhD. Admissions criteria vary by each university, and some programs, typically bridge or direct-entry programs, admit students with just a bachelors degree.

Schools with bachelor-to-PhD programs generally admit undergraduate students who have an impressive application and a completed bachelors degree. There has been a rise in the number of bachelors-to-PhD programs available, so you may want to research the admissions requirements of the universities that interest you.

What’s the Difference Between a Professional Degree vs. Doctorate?

Here are some contrasting differences between a professional degree and a doctorate degree.

In some cases, a professional degree can still come with the title of doctor.

What’s the Difference Between a PhD vs. Doctorate Degree?

Here are some core differences between a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a professional doctorate degree.

Both degree paths can help qualify you for senior or leadership roles in your industry.

Is a Doctorate Worth It?

Earning a doctorate degree

Yes, a doctorate is worth it for many students. Earning a doctorate degree allows you the opportunity to advance your skill set and expertise in your chosen field. In the process, it can also help qualify you to advance your career.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who earn a PhD or professional doctorate generally earn more than those with lower degrees.

Getting Your Doctorate Degree Online

Getting Your Doctorate Degree Online

Earning a doctorate degree online can be a flexible way to adapt terminal studies to your existing schedule. Online programs often allow you to decide how heavy you want your course load to be.

Choosing the ideal online doctorate degree for you depends on your previous work and educational experience, your interests, and your career goals. The convenience of advancing your skill set and specialized expertise online makes online doctoral programs a popular choice for students and professionals alike.

You can start exploring doctorate degrees from accredited universities today to find the ones that best align with your schedule and career goals.

what is the quickest and easiest phd to get

10 Easiest Ph.D. Degrees

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Updated September 20, 2023

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Contributing Editor is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A doctorate can lead to careers in academia and research and development. Professionals with these degrees can take on leadership roles in nearly every industry.

But a Ph.D. is not for everyone. They can be extremely challenging, intensive, and time-consuming.

Not all Ph.D. programs are the same, however. On this page, we explore some of the easiest Ph.D. programs. We look at what makes these disciplines easier than others, and what opportunities they have to offer students.

Best Ph.D. Programs

Ph.d. vs. professional doctorate.

A Ph.D. and a professional doctorate are both terminal degrees, but they have some key differences. A Ph.D. features substantial research requirements, whereas a professional doctorate incorporates advanced practical training.

When it comes to easy doctoral degrees, Ph.D. programs typically run longer and require more intensive study. The theoretical focus of a Ph.D. can also prove more challenging than a practical doctorate.

What Makes a Ph.D. Easy?

A Ph.D. can be difficult for many reasons. These programs typically take 5-7 years to complete and feature a large amount of research. You may have to develop an original dissertation and then defend it at the end of the program.

The process can be intense and isolating. And there are disciplines that tackle challenging material, such as STEM, medicine, and law fields. These programs tend to feature more technically difficult studies, though that really depends on your abilities as a student.

For many, an easier program features more accessible material, shorter completion times, or less intensive research requirements.

Here, we highlight some of the easiest Ph.D. programs, including the easiest Ph.D. disciplines, the easiest online Ph.D. programs, and the easiest Ph.D. without dissertations.

1. Ph.D. in Humanities

A Ph.D. in humanities gives you a very broad area of study to explore. The discipline covers much of the human world, including investigations of cultures and societies throughout the globe and time. Many of these programs also encourage interdisciplinary studies, which makes the field even more open-ended.

This flexibility helps make humanities one of the easiest Ph.D. programs. You may even have the ability to take a comprehensive exam and complete a smaller research project instead of completing a dissertation, which could make things easier.

2. Ph.D. in Education

A Ph.D. in education examines topics like educational leadership, policy, and curriculum and instruction. While most of these programs require a dissertation, they can be completed relatively quickly compared to many other Ph.D. programs.

Unlike humanities above, an education Ph.D. tends to be more limited in scope. This can make it less daunting for some. Education can be a practical discipline as well, which allows you to put theory into action.

Featured Doctorate Degrees in Education

3. ph.d. in theology.

A Ph.D. in theology prepares you for careers in religious leadership, teaching, and analysis. You use critical thinking skills to advance scholarship in the field. You may also engage with other disciplines, which provides educational freedom.

Many Ph.D. programs in theology feature vocational components. This, along with the subjective nature of the discipline, can make it easier for you to pass your program, but it may also be harder to excel.

Featured Doctorate Degrees in Theology

4. ph.d. in business administration.

In a Ph.D. in business administration , you can follow many different paths. You may specialize in disciplines like accounting, management, or finance. You may investigate theories, evaluate current systems, or look for gaps in existing business studies.

While not as practical as a doctorate in business administration (DBA), a Ph.D. in business can still prove more applicable and testable than many other disciplines. For some students, this makes the field more approachable.

Featured Doctorate Degrees in Business Administration

5. ph.d. in psychology.

In a psychology Ph.D. program, you study the human mind and behavior. The psychology discipline offers many specialization opportunities, including health, organizational, and developmental psychology. Graduates from these programs can take on teacher roles or enter the psychology profession directly.

While Ph.D. programs in this field can be research-heavy, certain pathways offer more practical learning opportunities, such as the clinical psychology branch. You can also get the opportunity to run experiments, which can break up tedious research.

Featured Doctorate Degrees in Psychology

6. ph.d. in literature.

A Ph.D. in English or literature allows you to advance your knowledge of a specific branch of literary scholarship. These programs often encourage you to take interdisciplinary approaches to develop new and engaging ideas. You work with theory, critical analysis, and history to approach topics from new angles and add to the discourse.

Most Ph.D. programs in literature require a dissertation, but the flexibility of topics can be freeing. Similar to many humanities fields, you may find literature an easier discipline to pass but difficult to master.

7. Ph.D. in Criminal Justice

A Ph.D. in criminal justice takes on all sectors of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, policy, and human services. You'll investigate leading theories, contemporary issues, and criminal behavior. Since this field has such a practical foundation, you can apply your learning to real-world situations and solutions.

The discipline offers many specialization opportunities, such as justice administration, public policy, and emergency management. Several schools offer a Ph.D. in criminal justice that you can complete in less than four years.

Featured Doctorate Degrees in Criminal Justice

8. ph.d. in public policy.

In a Ph.D. in public policy program, you study the development, implementation, and consequences of public policies. You research policy histories and systems and evaluate their effectiveness.

While these programs can prove rigorous, the real-world applications of the discipline may help you latch on to the studies more easily. After graduation from this program, you can take on leadership positions in governments and organizations.

9. Ph.D. in History

History offers you an array of study opportunities, including social, cultural, or intellectual history. You might look at a specific time or place. You may aim to work in academia, public institutions, or other investigative fields.

History Ph.D. programs often require intensive research. You must find a new way of looking at a historical topic, possibly through interdisciplinary approaches or an unexplored subfield.

10. Ph.D. in Sociology

A Ph.D. in sociology explores the relationships between humans and society. You research policies, inequalities, family, and education. You conduct sociological studies to better understand social dynamics and demographics. You may also use your findings to analyze and provide solutions to ineffective policies and structures.

While some sociology programs feature complex theoretical investigations, project-based programs take a practical approach. If you're more hands-on, you'll appreciate the focus on testing, experimentation, and measuring.

Featured Doctorate Degrees in Sociology

Cost of doctoral degrees.

When choosing a Ph.D. program, many people first look at program cost and length. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average annual cost of tuition and fees at graduate school was $19,749 in 2020-21. Public schools cost less than private colleges and universities, with average annual tuition prices at $12,394 and $28,445, respectively.

Rather than comparing cost, however, you might consider affordability. Factor in what kind of financial aid options you qualify for, such as federal financial aid , grants, and scholarships . Many schools offer tuition discounts and creative payment options as well.

Online vs. On-Campus Ph.D.

Online Ph.D. programs typically feature scheduled synchronous classes, anytime asynchronous classes, or a combination of both. Synchronous sessions usually offer evening or weekend options.

Along with schedule flexibility, online Ph.D. programs require little or no on-campus requirements and travel. This makes even the most distant programs accessible, giving you more options to choose from.

While convenient, online Ph.D. programs may not suit everyone. Online learning may have a less interactive environment and require more independence than on-campus programs. Finally, not all Ph.D. disciplines translate to online studies, particularly those with heavy practical requirements.

Even the easiest online Ph.D. program can prove challenging. Before settling on one, make sure your learning style and requirements align with the delivery method and resources provided.

3 Considerations When Choosing a Ph.D. Degree

Every student wants and needs different things from their Ph.D. program. Regardless of how easy a Ph.D. program looks, they all require a significant commitment. To make sure you make the best decision, consider other factors, like:

  • Faculty: Your school's faculty could play a major role in what and how you learn. Try picking a school and program that has experts in your field.
  • Research Environment: You also want to examine the research environment, including the libraries, centers, and labs. Ask what type of support Ph.D. students receive and what tools and resources they have at their disposal.
  • Past Graduate Performance: Look at the school and program's previous graduates. Pull statistics on their performance in the program and careers afterward. High retention, graduation, and employment numbers can be effective quality assurance measures.

Frequently Asked Questions About Easiest Ph.D. Degree Programs

Can you get a ph.d. without a dissertation.

Yes. While most doctorates without dissertations belong to professional programs, you can earn a Ph.D. without completing a traditional dissertation at some schools. Some programs have a practical project, and others have a research project without the depth of a dissertation.

Are there any 1-year Ph.D. programs?

No. You can earn certain professional doctorates in about one year, but you cannot complete a Ph.D. program in that time. While Ph.D. programs typically take 5-7 years to complete, some of the easiest Ph.D. programs allow you to graduate in less than four years.

What are the best Ph.D. programs for working professionals?

An asynchronous online program may be the easiest Ph.D. to get for working professionals. This delivery method allows you to complete your studies during the hours that suit you best. An asynchronous schedule can even accommodate a nontraditional work schedule.

What is the most difficult Ph.D. program?

The most difficult Ph.D. program depends on how you learn best, but certain disciplines tend to be more difficult. Highly technical programs, such as mathematics and science disciplines, challenge many students. Very involved and intensive programs like engineering may also prove to be difficult.

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

Shape your future with an online degree

Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.

35 Shortest Doctoral Programs Online [Fastest Doctorate & PhD Degrees]

Have you ever dreamed of getting your PhD or doctorate without spending ages in school? We’ve got you covered!

We’ve put together a list of the 35 shortest doctoral programs available online for 2024. This is ideal for those of you looking to fast-track your education.

shortest doctoral program online

Online accelerated PhD programs are growing in popularity as students are searching for the shortest PhD programs with the smallest number of requirements.

Online doctoral programs vary widely in their graduation requirements which is why we put together this guide showcasing universities that require less than 60 credits hours to get your online doctorate degree.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that lifetime earnings for doctorate degree holders is $900,000 more than those holding a master’s degree only. That’s almost $1 million more!!

And because a doctoral degree is the highest level of academic achievement, you will also receive the accompanying scholarly respect as you make valuable contributions to your field and society as a whole.

Accredited Schools Offering the Shortest Doctoral Program Options


For universities to be included in our guide, we looked at a number of criteria including the total number of credit hours required , accreditation, programs offered, and quality of online programs. Each of these universities offer accredited online doctoral and graduate programs. Some universities offer both campus and online programs as noted below.

Completion time can differ for each student, but it’s exciting to note that some accredited schools are now offering doctorate degrees that require fewer than 40 credit hours for completion! This may offer more flexibility and efficiency in your educational journey.

Before you apply, make sure to take a good look at the tuition fees, graduation criteria, and the classes each university offers.

1. Boston University

  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy (Online) – 33 to 37 credit hours

Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

2. Colorado Christian University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 30 credit hours (MSN to DNP)

Colorado Christian University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

3. Concordia University Chicago

  • PhD in Leadership – Gerontology (Online) – 30 credit hours
  • PhD in Leadership – Health & Human Performance (Online) – 30

Concordia University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

4. Duquesne University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 35 credit hours

Duquesne University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

5. Drexel University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 45 credit hours

Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

6. East Carolina University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 36 credit hours

East Carolina University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

7. Frontier Nursing University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 28 credit hours

FNU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8. Grand Canyon University

  • DNP in Educational Leadership (Online) – 45 credit hours

Grand Canyon University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

9. Gwynedd Mercy University

  • EdD in Educational Leadership (Online) – 54 credit hours

Gwynedd Mercy University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

10. Hampton University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 33 credit hours
  • PhD in Nursing (Online) – 48 (with Masters)

Hampton University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

11. Indiana State University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Campus) – 39 credit hours

Indiana State University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1915.

12. Indiana University of Pennsylvania

  • PhD in Safety Sciences (Hybrid) – 54 credit hours
  • PhD in Criminology (Campus) – 42

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

13. Liberty University

  • Doctor of Ministry (Online) – 30 credit hours
  • Doctor of Public Administration (Online) – 48
  • Doctor of Education (Online) – 54
  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership (Online) – 51
  • Doctor of Worship Studies (Online) – 45
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 41
  • EdD in Community Care Counseling (Online) – 57
  • EdD in Educational Leadership (Online) – 54
  • PhD in Theology and Apologetics (Online) – 57

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

14. Monmouth University

  • EdD in Educational Leadership (Hybrid) – 54

Monmouth University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

15. National University

  • DNP in Executive Leadership (Online) – 46 credit hours
  • Doctor of Public Administration (Online) – 54
  • EdD in Instructional Design (Online) – 54
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice (Online) – 54
  • Doctor of Education (Online) – 48
  • Doctor of Business Administration (Online) – 48

National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

16. Nova Southeastern University

  • EdD in Curriculum and Teaching (Hybrid) – 57 credit hours
  • EdD in Higher Education Leadership (Hybrid) – 54
  • EdD in Human Services Administration (Hybrid) – 54
  • EdD in Instructional Technology and Distance Education (Hybrid) – 54
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership (Hybrid) – 54
  • EdD in Reading Education (Hybrid) – 54
  • EdD in Special Education (Hybrid) – 54
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 38-40
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy (Hybrid) – 39

NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

17. Penn State World Campus

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 38-46 credit hours(with Masters)

The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

18. Regent University

  • PhD in Communication (Online w/Residency) – 56-64 credit hours
  • Doctor of Strategic Communication (Online w/Residency) – 49
  • Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership & Renewal (Online) – 36

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.

19. Seton Hall University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 73 – 79 credit hours(BSN)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 31 (MSN)
  • EdD in K-12 Administration (Campus) – 54 – 57
  • Executive EdD in K-12 Administration (Campus) – 54

Seton Hall and its online programs are accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

20. University at Buffalo

  • DNP in Child Health Nurse Practitioner (Online) – 36 credit hours
  • DNP in Family Nurse Practitioner (Online) – 36
  • DNP in Nurse Anesthesia (Online) – 36
  • DNP in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Online) – 36
  • DNP in Women’s Health Practitioner (Online) – 36
  • PhD in Nursing (Online) – 57

The University at Buffalo is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

21. University of Alabama – Huntsville

  • PhD in Applied Mathematics (Campus) – 54 credit hours
  • PhD in Atmospheric Science (Campus) – 48
  • PhD in Biotechnology Science and Engineering (Campus) – 48
  • PhD in Physics (Campus) – 48

UAH is officially accredited and/or recognized by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

22. University of Arkansas

  • EdD in Educational Leadership (Online) – 42 credit hours

The U of A has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission without interruption since 1924.

23. University of Bridgeport

  • EdD in Educational Leadership (Hybrid) – 42 credit hours

The University of Bridgeport is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

24. University of Colorado – Denver

  • PhD in Applied Mathematics (Campus) – 42 credit hours

Since 1913, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) has accredited all institutions in the CU system.

25. University of Florida

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 75-78 credit hours(BSN to DNP)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 35 (MSN to DNP)
  • EdD in Higher Education Administration (Online) – 39

The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

26. University of Michigan – Flint

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice – Executive Leadership (Online) – 43 credit hours

University of Michigan-Flint is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

27. University of Minnesota

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 41 credit hours
  • Dozens of PhD programs are also available on campus with less than 50 credit hours required

All campuses of the University of Minnesota operate with the accreditation of the Higher Learning Commission.

28. University of Missouri

  • EdD in Educational Leadership (Online) – 46 credit hours
  • PhD in Nursing (Online) – 77 credit hours (BSN)
  • PhD in Nursing (Online) – 56 (MSN)
  • PhD in Nursing (Online) – 48 (Post Clinical)
  • DNP in Nursing Leadership and Innovations in Health (Online) – 40

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

29. University of Montana

  • PhD in Counseling – Counselor Education and Supervision (Campus) – 48 credit hours(with Master’s)

The University of Montana-Missoula is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

30. University of North Carolina – Greensboro

  • PhD in Economics (Campus) – 45-57 credit hours

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

31. University of North Dakota

  • PhD in Nursing (Online) – 30 credit hours

The University of North Dakota as a whole is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

32. University of Northern Colorado

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 44 credit hours (with Masters)

Since 1916, the University of Northern Colorado has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

33. University of Tennessee – Knoxville

University of Tennessee – Knoxville received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

34. University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas at Tyler is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

35. Wilmington University

  • Doctor of Business Administration (Online) – 54 credit hours
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Online) – 33
  • Doctor in Prevention Science (Online) – 39-48
  • EdD in Educational Leadership (Online) – 49-51
  • EdD in Higher Education (Online) – 51
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership (Online) – 51

Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Popular Online Doctoral Programs

The following doctoral programs have accelerated online courses which can help you finish your doctorate at a faster pace:

  • Business Administration
  • Counseling & Therapy
  • Criminal Justice / Homeland Security
  • Healthcare Administration

Human Services

Information systems / technology.

  • Ministry / Theology

Public Administration

  • Public Health
  • Public Policy

By earning an accelerated doctoral program online, you will also be contributing to your field’s body of knowledge, which can be deeply rewarding and satisfying.

Accounting Doctoral Programs

2 year PhD program course

If you enjoy working with numbers and financial concepts, then consider delving deep into that field with a doctorate in accounting. This degree can prepare you for a position as the chief financial officer of an organization, serve as an auditor, teach accounting at the college level, or oversee a team of accountants.

During your studies, you’ll take classes in statistical analysis, financial research methods, and accounting theories. Available concentrations may include Public Accounting and Forensic Accounting.

Another possible option if you’re looking for the shortest completion time is earning a DBA with a concentration in Accounting.

Online Doctorate in Business Administration

fastest PhD programs

A doctorate in business administration is a degree program that will prepare you for leadership at various companies and skillful operation within global markets.

People with a DBA often hold leadership positions in a variety of fields, including for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, and government groups. They can also work in education, whether in an administrative role or as a professor.

In preparation for such positions, coursework may cover topics like quantitative research methods, qualitative research methods, statistics, economics, management theories, and organizational behavior.

As a more exclusive degree than an MBA, a DBA can set you apart and help you land top leadership positions. Plus, the number of courses required is often less, making it one of the shortest doctoral options.

Slightly different than the DBA degree, a PhD in Business Administration is geared more toward academia.

If you’d rather conduct original research and teach students about your specific field in business rather than take on a demanding and rigorous role as a company’s CEO, a PhD in Business might be right up your alley.

Counseling Doctoral Degree Programs

doctorate in one year

A doctoral degree in counseling or therapy can equip you to help others work through their mental health or interpersonal struggles, and it can prepare you for leadership in a counseling organization.

Professionals in this area often pursue career paths in social work, private practice, and program administration. You may also tailor your education with concentrations like Counselor Education and Supervision, Art Therapy, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Addiction Counseling.

Coursework often covers topics like group and individual counseling, trauma response, ethical behavior, and diversity. Some universities require that you already be licensed as a counselor in your state before beginning their programs.

A PhD in Counseling is designed for counselors looking to ramp up their careers by becoming college and university educators, advanced counselors who train and lead others, or primary researchers on innovative studies.

If you’re currently a counselor and training other counselors, or if managing counseling programs are career goals of yours, then a PhD in Counseling online can make those goals a reality.

Criminal Justice & Homeland Security Doctorate Degrees

accelerated doctoral programs online

When you hold a doctorate in criminal justice or homeland security, you may find work in law enforcement, government, or private practice. Your chosen career may provide opportunities to protect your community, conduct investigations, work with criminals, or collect intelligence. Often, doctoral graduates gain leadership positions, such as serving as a chief of police.

In pursuit of your doctoral degree, you may take classes in psychology, emergency and disaster situations, the justice system, and victimology.

Your program may offer concentrations like Terrorism, Criminology, Information Assurance, Security or Emergency Management.

accelerated doctoral programs in education online

Whether you want to teach in a classroom, serve in school administration, support teachers through an outside organization, or equip the next generation of instructors, a doctoral degree in education can help you achieve those goals.

Many graduates remain in the classroom and take on leadership roles. Others education professionals choose positions such as principals, superintendents, professors, policymakers, curriculum specialists, or educational consultants.

While earning your doctoral degree, you may take classes in curriculum, organizational leadership, student assessment, and education research. You could select an EdD concentration in an area like Special Education, Administration, Curriculum and Instruction, or Early Childhood Education.

A PhD in Education and an EdD are quite similar degrees. Both programs focus on education and prepare you for leadership roles. PhD programs, however, are more research-based.

A PhD is typically more research-based and might be a better match for someone looking for a career in research, publishing, and teaching at the university level. It focuses less on application than an Ed.D., but the same types of careers would be possible with either of these two degrees.

In terms of time to completion, the shortest program option is likely the EdD as there’s often no dissertation required.

doctorate in 2 years

People with strong math and money skills are good candidates for pursuing a doctoral degree in finance. Many doctoral graduates take leadership positions with investment firms, large banks, hedge funds, universities, or government agencies. Some earn CEO or other C-suite roles.

A doctorate in finance can even prepare you for an international career. As you study for your degree, your classes may cover subjects like market analysis, global markets, financial planning, theories of finance, taxation, and leadership.

Some students choose to prepare for leadership roles in this field by pursuing a DBA with a concentration in Finance.

Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration

fastest online doctorate

When you hold a doctoral degree in the field of healthcare administration, you will be well-suited for a leadership position in a healthcare or medical setting. Potential places of employment include hospitals, nursing homes, medical records companies, political think tanks, government agencies, and universities.

Students of this discipline take classes on global health, business, law and policies, finance, and organizational leadership. Many DHA programs offer concentrations like Public Health, Leadership, and Health Policy.

An alternative academic path that is available at some colleges and universities is earning a DBA with a concentration Healthcare Administration which can offer the shortest path to a doctorate when no dissertation is required.

Human services doctor

A doctorate in human services can prepare you for a leadership position in an organization or program that provides services or assistance for various groups of people. Work settings may include schools, clinics, community outreach programs, or non-profit organizations.

Some people who pursue this degree are licensed counselors who want to serve in a leadership capacity in a mental health practice. Others desire teaching positions in human services at the university level.

Courses in a doctoral program may include grant writing, leadership, communication, financial management, and ethics. Some of the concentration options are Mental Health, Gerontology, Marriage and Family, and Leadership and Management.

A PhD in Human Services prepares graduates for leadership and as policymakers in the public and human services fields.

A PhD in Human Services is quite flexible. Students with a variety of undergraduate and master’s degrees in public service, including social services, child welfare, criminal justice, and healthcare, may find this degree interesting.

MIS and CIS professionals

Companies and organizations rely on systems to keep their data and records safe and accessible; to be at the forefront of that field, consider a doctorate in information technology .

With this degree, you might be qualify for work as a C-suite executive, a director in a tech department, a consultant, a leader in a government agency, or a strategist. You might also be well-poised for opening your own company.

Your classes will equip you with knowledge about data collection and analysis, threat and risk management, policy-making, strategic planning, and research.

Management / Leadership Doctorate Degrees

1 year phd programs online

If you want to hold one of the highest roles in an organization, then earning a doctoral degree in management may be in order. Some people who hold this degree become C-suite executives, such as chief operating officers. Others take the helm of school districts or universities, or they accept teaching or research roles in higher education.

To earn this doctorate, you will take classes on leadership, ethics, consulting, decision-making, innovation, and research. Many students pursue concentrations like Technology, Homeland Security, Non-Profit Organizations, or Healthcare.

Alternatively, some schools offer a DBA program with a Management concentration. This often adds more flexibility to the program and can make it the shortest option when compared to the PhD which usually requires a dissertation.

Ministry (D.Min.) or Theology Doctorate Programs

Dmin student with Bible

You can take your religious education to the next level with a doctorate in ministry or theology. After earning this degree, you may choose to put your education into practice in church, parachurch, counseling, or chaplaincy positions.

Coursework often helps students grow not only academically, but also spiritually. Topics covered may include leadership, spiritual disciplines, evangelism, social justice, and teaching methods.

Some doctoral candidates pursue a specialization; options may include Counseling, Worship, Chaplaincy, Spiritual Disciplines, and Urban Ministry.

A career as a professor is a possibility with this degree as well as a missionary leader or lead pastor at a church.

Many universities require students to hold professional ministry positions before admitting them into their programs.

Online Doctoral Nursing Programs (Doctor of Nursing Practice)

DNP students school

The top-educated nurses have their doctoral degrees in nursing practice. If you have this degree, you may continue offering direct patient care; for example, you may work as a specialty nurse in a healthcare clinic. You could also use your degree as a care coordinator, a manager of a nursing team, a policymaker, or a nurse educator.

For RNs (Registered Nurses) who want to teach and train other nurses in an academic setting, a PhD in Nursing is the best doctorate-level nursing degree to pursue. A PhD in Nursing also prepares graduates for a career in research as nursing scientists who can contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

Coursework may include classes on information technology, finance, organizational leadership, safety, and healthcare law. Keep in mind that a doctoral degree in nursing is a terminal degree in the field does not qualify for a position as a physician.

DNP programs have gained a lot of popularity over the years and are designed for RNs who seek advancement while remaining practicing nurses.

A DNP prepares graduates for leadership in the nursing industry by advocating for and making policy, managing and directing nursing programs at health facilities, and ensuring that their communities offer the best healthcare to citizens who need it most.

Doctor of Public Administration

Whether you want to work in a government agency or would prefer a position with a related organization, a doctorate in public administration can help you achieve your goals.

People with this doctoral degree often serve as politicians, lobbyists, non-profit directors, grant writers, administrators, or government affairs directors. If you want to go into government or politics, you could work at the local, state, or national level.

Students in this field study human resources, public policy, budgeting, ethics, organizational leadership, and decision-making.

As a professional doctorate, the DNP may be one of the shortest paths to a doctorate when compared to the PhD which generally requires a lengthy dissertation.

Online PhD in Public Health

Public Health Doctorate

Many people who earn a doctoral degree in public health conduct research in the fields of epidemiology, environmental science, clinical trials, or academia.

Others choose leadership roles in public health organizations that work to better the health outcomes for populations or groups of people. For example, you could become a safety engineer, a clinic manager, or an executive of a hospital system.

Classes for this degree program often cover health equity, data analysis, biostatistics, and healthcare policy. Concentrations are available at many universities; options may include Health Education, Leadership and Laboratory Science.

Online PhD in Public Policy

Public Policy Doctoral Students

If you want to have a hand in creating or modifying the policies that shape people’s lives and communities, then a doctoral program in public policy can provide the education that you need. Graduates often work for government agencies, universities, think tanks, and various institutions.

Doctoral programs often prepare students through the study of ethics, decision-making, research, leadership, and cultural diversity. Students identify problems, gather valuable data, and create effective solutions.

Doctoral candidates may focus on Urban Policy, Health Policy, Financial Management, or other areas of specialization.

Online Ph.D. in Psychology Programs

Psychology PhD Programs

A doctoral degree in psychology can help you understand how people think and the influence that thought has on behavior. Many people pursue this degree because they want to work as licensed clinical psychologists in schools, private practices, hospitals, or organizational settings.

The doctoral curriculum often covers counseling theories, psychopathology, culture, motivation and behavior, and cognition.

Programs leading to licensure typically require students to engage in a lengthy supervised practicum.

What is the Difference Between a PhD and Doctorate?

A PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, is just one type of doctorate degree, of which there are many.

Here’s a list of common doctorate degrees:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Although the PhD is just one type of doctorate, it does have one distinguishing feature: the dissertation requirement. Nearly every PhD program requires adding to your field’s body of knowledge by performing original research on an approved topic of interest.

So, if you’re looking for fast track doctoral programs, then professional doctorates are generally a better choice.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate?

someone walking in a long but picturesque trail

The length of time it takes to complete your doctorate depends on the university and type of doctoral program.

On average, it takes 3-5 years.

Here are a few things that significantly impact completion time:

  • Does the doctorate require a dissertation?
  • How many classes can you take at one time?
  • Are you transferring any credits into the program?
  • How many weeks are classes?
  • Is there a residency requirement?
  • Is there a professional internship requirement?

As you can see, the best answer we can give you is: it depends.

To give you a ballpark, if you are working toward a professional doctorate (DBA, EdD, PsyD, etc.) and there is no dissertation requirement, you should be able to complete your program in about 2-3 years. Some people may be able to complete the degree in less time, of course. This is simply an average.

For students pursuing Ph.D. programs, the dissertation requirement significantly impacts your completion time. Generally speaking, it takes most doctoral students 3 years to 5 years for degree completion.

What’s the Quickest Way to Earn a Doctorate Degree?

What are the shortest doctoral programs?

The shortest path to a doctorate varies depending on your background, the program selected, and the university’s requirements.

The time it takes to complete a doctoral program online varies widely by the university. For some universities, 3 year PhD programs are the norm. One common question we hear asked is if there are any 1 year online doctoral programs. For most students, the answer is somewhere in the middle if you already hold a master’s degree.

The official timeline given on most university websites is about 3 – 5 years to complete your degree, but that’s just a general guideline.

If you are looking for the shortest PhD programs, you’ll want to select a program that does not require a dissertation. Dissertations are notorious for taking 2+ years to complete beyond the actual course requirements.

The following doctoral programs often do not always require a dissertation: EdD, PsyD, DBA, DPA, and similar professional degrees. Most PhD programs require a dissertation (which means it’ll take you longer to complete).

Another way to speed up your degree is by enrolling at a university that offers accelerated doctoral courses (8 weeks long). Since the courses take half the time to complete, you can finish your doctoral studies in the shortest possible timeframe.

And finally, you’ll want to pick a program that requires fewer credit hours. For example, one university may require 64 credit hours for an EdD while another may only require 42 credits. When looking for the shortest doctorate programs, you’ll want to examine the credit hour requirements closely. Plus, this is a great way to find the cheapest online PhD, EdD, DBA, and other doctoral programs. Generally, you’ll pay less tuition if you don’t need as many credit hours for program completion.

Are There Any One Year Online Doctoral Programs?

1 year online doctoral programs

While some schools offer the possibility of finishing a professional doctorate in 12 months to 18 months, most accredited universities generally promote their doctorate programs as taking 3 years or more to complete. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

Standard PhD Duration

The usual time frame for completing a PhD is about 3 to 5 years. Occasionally, you might come across a 2-year PhD program, but these are quite rare.

No-Dissertation Degrees

Choosing a program without a dissertation requirement can speed up the process. Typically, no-dissertation doctorates are found in professional fields, such as:

  • Other career-focused doctorates

Strategies for Accelerated Completion

  • Select an online program with fewer credit hours required.
  • Enroll in accelerated courses, often structured as 8-week classes.
  • Consider no-dissertation programs
  • Look for programs that don’t require a GRE for admission.

Capstone Project as an Alternative

Instead of a traditional dissertation, consider programs offering a capstone project. Capstone projects require research but generally take less time to complete than dissertations.

So, while 1-year online doctorate programs are not commonly available, especially from accredited institutions, the strategies outlined above can help in finding and completing a doctorate program in a significantly shorter time frame than the standard duration.

Do All PhD Programs Require Students to Complete a Dissertation?

Shortest PhD Programs student

An accelerated PhD program usually requires a dissertation, but professional doctorates such as a Doctor of Business Administration or Doctor of Education generally do not require a dissertation. Instead, you complete a capstone project.

We’ve assembled a list of doctorate degrees that don’t require a dissertation here.

What is the Fastest PhD Program Available?

fastest PhD program

The fastest PhDs available will be those that require 30 credit hours or less to complete. As noted in the guide, we selected a number of fast PhD programs which meet this requirement. Once you’ve selected a PhD that requires fewer credit hours than the norm, try to narrow your list further by selecting a university with accelerated PhD classes which generally only take 8 weeks to complete.

If you don’t absolutely have to have a PhD, you will likely find it easier to locate a professional doctorate program that meets all of these criteria with the added benefit of no dissertation requirement. For example, it will likely take you longer to complete a PhD in Business Administration with 36 credit hours and a dissertation than it will to complete a Doctor of Business Administration of the same length without the dissertation requirement.

If speed is the most important factor for you, than a professional or applied doctorate such as an online Doctor of Business Administration, Doctor of Psychology, or Doctorate of Education will likely be the fastest online doctorate you can find.

Looking For the Fastest Doctorate Programs?

Accelerated PhD Programs

Whether you’re trying to get your doctorate in one year or you’re just looking for the fastest doctorate degrees available from accredited universities, the first step is decide how much you’re willing to compromise in the name of speed.

Yes, there are accredited online doctoral programs that can be completed in less time than traditional campus-based programs. The key is finding the shortest doctoral program that’s offering the exact program you’re seeking.

In your search for efficiency, focusing on programs with short completion times and fewer course requirements can be a strategic choice.

This guide is a good place to start:

  • We only included accredited universities with the shortest doctoral and Ph.D. requirements (measured by the smallest number of classes required)
  • Accelerated doctorate courses are available online
  • A growing number of online doctoral degree programs don’t require a dissertation (especially professional doctorate degree programs)

Choosing a fast-track online Ph.D. or doctorate program with minimal required courses, accelerated online classes, and no dissertation requirements could be a smart move towards achieving your academic goals more efficiently.

what is the quickest and easiest phd to get

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Top 30 Easiest PhD online programs

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Easy Accredited Online Ph.D Programs

What is the benefit of easy phd programs.

easy online PhD programs

Enroll in one of our top easy accredited online Ph.D. programs . 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, easy PhD, you don’t need to put your life on pause to gain the credential of a doctorate degree.

Featured Programs

Online doctoral programs are ideal for students deeply invested in their academic studies. Beyond satisfying your own intellectual itch, your doctoral research can forever change the way people think about your field. 

From a money standpoint, advancing your education is a wise investment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that weekly earnings rise the higher your education level. It found that, on average, workers with doctoral degrees make 30% more than those with only a bachelor’s degree.

See Also: Easy Online Master’s Degree Programs

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

Before we look at the 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. Ph.D. programs require a dissertation. They are designed for those who want to teach at a four-year university. A dissertation is a large research project that focuses on a big idea in your field. 

Professional doctorates are ideal for those who want to advance their careers. Doctorates are available in business, education, and nursing. This is just a few examples, though.

In a professional doctorate, you might focus more on applied research. Usually, you’ll do a capstone project to offer a solution to a problem within your organization, for example.

See Also: Top 15 Accredited Online PhD Programs

Can I Really Earn a Doctoral Degree Online?

Yes, you can get a doctorate degree online! That’s why we have this ranking of the easiest PhD programs.

Fully online doctoral degree programs exist. However, for most programs, expect a few in-person requirements.

If you are considering a doctorate degree, you may consider online doctorate degrees. Online doctoral degree programs are a flexible and convenient way to further your education.

See Also: Financial Aid Tips for Online College

What Are the Best Online Doctoral Degrees?

You want to know about online doctoral degree programs. You’re in the right place to learn about the easiest PhD to get!

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. This is done to determine the final score you see by each ranking.

Accredited Online College considers many factors. This includes the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. To learn more about our online programs, visit our methodology page. 

Narrow down your school search with these easiest online PhD programs!

1. capella university.

capella logo vertical RGB 2

Some universities focus more on undergraduate studies.But more than 60% of Capella University students are earning graduate-level degrees. This fully online institution has 18 online doctoral degrees . These degrees include social work, human services, 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 doctoral programs, you are assigned a faculty mentor. This mentor will guide you through your studies and help with your dissertation or capstone project.

Capella’s programs are already affordable. However, if you get a doctorate degree in behavior analysis, business or psychology, you might be able to eligible for a $20,000 scholarship. The Capella Progress Reward is a scholarship granted to new students in these programs. You must show good academic standing and pass your first course on the first try to qualify.

This is a great chance to pursue one the easy doctorate degrees while saving money.

Online DBA program focuses:

  • DBA in General Management
  • DBA in Organizational Leadership and Development
  • DBA in Strategy and Innovation

Examples of the PhD programs:

  • PhD Psychology
  • PhD Counselor Education and Supervision
  • PhD Business Management

Learn more about the easiest doctorate at Capella University here .

2. Walden University


Walden University’s mission is to provide working professionals with a flexible pathway to a Ph.D. Today, Walden offers 25 online doctoral degrees. There are Ph.D. and professional doctorate programs. You can choose from areas like psychology, public health, and social work. 

At Walden, you’ll connect with a peer mentor. This mentor is a fellow doctoral student. They will be further along in their studies than you. 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. They recognize that many students need to bring their families with them for any in-person requirements. As an easiest doctorate degree, you might have time to enjoy with your family, too.

If you are curious about the dissertation process, check out more here .

Examples of doctorate program:

  • PhD Developmental Psychology
  • PhD Education
  • PhD Forensic Psychology
  • PhD Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

Learn more about doctoral programs at Walden University here .

3. University of Florida

University of Florida

U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Florida at No. 34 on its Best National Universities. It is also at No. 7 on its Top Public Schools.

UF is one of the most well-respected universities in the country. Its distance learning classes create more access to the Gators’ leading academic programs.

UF offers six online doctoral degrees . They are 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. You can also choose higher education or educational technology. An additional specialization allows you to examine the role of teachers and schools in society. Doing so allows you to use your research to address a specific problem within your school. If you are considering a doctorate degree online UF is a solid choice.

Doctorate Degree Programs include:

  • Classic Civilization
  • Computer Science Education
  • Nursing Practice
  • Teachers, School and Society

Learn more about doctoral programs at University of Florida here .

4. Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University is not new to distance learning. In the 1980s, this faith-based university started expanding the reach of its Lynchburg campus. It did so 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 these programs have several options.

For example, Liberty’s Doctor of Business Administration includes 14 specializations. They range from international business to real estate development.

Some of Liberty’s online doctorates can be earned entirely online. Any in-person requirements are done through on-campus visits. These visits are offered several times throughout the year. This is to accommodate students’ schedules. Coursework is divided into 8-week units. Liberty’s programs have eight start dates throughout the year.

Liberty’s mission is to train “Champions for Christ.” As such, this university has several faith-based programs. There is a Doctor of Ministry. There is also a Doctor of Worship Studies. You can get a Ph.D. in theology and apologetics. A doctorate degree online from LU is definitely one to consider.

Doctorate Degree Programs that can be completed online include:

  • DMin (Doctor of Ministry)
  • EdD (Doctor of Education
  • PhD Criminal Justice

Learn more about doctoral programs at Liberty University here .

5. University of North Dakota

university of north dakota

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 really set itself apart in engineering, aviation, and medicine. Interested engineering students have several options in online doctoral programs at UND. Here, you can choose to pursue a doctorate degree such as:

  • environmental
  • 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. This ranges from three to seven years. A doctorate degree online from UND offers a range of possibilities!

Learn more about online doctorate programs at University of North Dakota here .

6. Northcentral University

Northcentral University

As a doctoral student, you’ll want guidance from someone who has done the same 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, you’ll join 95% of students that are pursuing an advanced degree.

Northcentral has more than 20 online doctoral degrees in disciplines like:

  • education programs
  • criminal justice

NCU employs a one-to-one learning model.

Here, you’ll get individualized support. 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. They also work with you on your dissertation.

NCU’s cost-effective doctoral program tuition rates can be further reduced with its “2020 Vision” scholarship. The university awards six full-tuition scholarships to students with the best essays. These essays describe how their degrees will help them achieve a lifelong goal.

If you are considering a doctorate degree, you may decide to apply for that scholarship. Financial aid is a great way to reduce the cost of doctoral programs.

Learn more about the online doctorate programs at Northcentral University here.

7. East Carolina University

East Carolina University

When looking at your doctorate degree, you can become an ECU Pirate. ECU is located in Greenville, North Carolina. It’s just a short drive from the ocean. It has a national reputation as the No. 109 school on U.S. News & World Report ’s Top Public Schools. ECU is also 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. They are 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. 

The online distance learning format makes it easy to complete doctorate degrees anywhere.

Learn more about online doctorate programs at East Carolina University here .

8. University of Missouri

University of Missouri

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 for a doctorate degree, 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 these doctorate degrees are from 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. This includes pediatric nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology, and family nurse practitioner. 

Educators have two online doctorate choices in education programs at Mizzou. There is 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. That’s a lot of doctorate degrees from which to choose!

Learn more about online doctorate programs at University of Missouri here .

9. Indiana State University

Indiana State University

Indiana State University is based in Terre Haute, Indiana. This school is all about applied learning. All of its programs require experiential learning. This is part of ISU’s vision to be 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 on-campus meetings guarantee that 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. 

Learn more about online doctorate programs at Indiana State University here .

10. University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas

Become a University of Arkansas Razorback!

Arkansas holds the No. 72 spot on U.S. News & World Report ’s Top Public Schools. The University of Arkansas also 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. It also considers 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. These are 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 among its doctorate degrees. 

All doctorate degree programs are in the same academic departments that serve on-campus students. This means you’ll have the same access to faculty as on-campus students. 

Check out the doctor of nursing practice information here .

Learn more about accredited online PhD programs at University of Arkansas here .

11. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is based in Phoenix, Arizona. GCU is a Christian institution with more than 60,000 online learners. A growing percentage of these students are pursuing graduate-level degrees. Currently, about half (47%) are graduate students. 

GCU offers five online Ph.D. programs , all in psychology. You can focus on:

  • Performance psychology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Industrial/organizational psychology

You can also specialize in counselor education or technology, learning, and psychology. All of these doctorate degree programs emphasize research. You begin working on your dissertations in your first course.

A series of courses will keep you on track to complete your dissertation. This helps you with steps in the process like developing a proposal and gathering data for your research. 

Learn more about the doctoral degree program at Grand Canyon University here .

12. Nova Southeastern University


Nova Southeastern University is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 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 doctoral program, NSU has more than 16 online doctoral programs . These online doctoral programs include many academic disciplines. Examples are:

  • Criminal justice
  • Occupational therapy
  • Cybersecurity management
  • 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. They are researching solutions to issues like coral reef deterioration. Other research is on chronic fatigue syndrome and cardiovascular disease.  

Other Online Doctorate Degrees include:

  • computer science
  • health sciences
  • information systems

Learn more about online doctoral degree program at Nova Southeastern University here .

13. California Intercontinental University

California Intercontinental University

California Intercontinental University is an online university. It is located in Irvine. The school is committed to graduating business leaders. At the doctoral level, CIU has just one doctoral program. It’s a doctorate of business administration. If you are considering an online doctorate program in business, CIU might have what you need.

You might consider this program if you want to improve your organization through scholarly research. Likewise, you can become a thought leader in global economics, e-commerce, or consumer behavior. CIU’s graduates have gone on to work at Fortune 500 companies. Many others have started their own businesses.

CIU’s DBA candidates choose between four specializations:

  • Global business and leadership
  • Entrepreneurship and business management
  • Healthcare management and leadership
  • Information systems and enterprise resource management.

The DBA program requires 60 credits. You’ll write a dissertation as your final project. You’ll also take a comprehensive exam. This is done to ensure a firm grasp of the material covered in your courses.

Learn more about the doctoral degree program at California Intercontinental University here .

14. Colorado State University

Colorado State

Colorado State University is the No. 79 university on U.S. News & World Report ’s Top Public Schools. Colorado State also boasts the title of the nation’s most sustainable campus. Nearly all (90%) of CSU’s departments are conducting sustainability-related research.  

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. You’ll examine complex systems and discover innovative solutions to improve how they work.

Candidates come from diverse engineering experience. Students might have experience in aerospace, clean energy, or the automotive industry. 

CSU also has an online doctorate program in higher education. This program is for students who aim to teach at a college or university. 

Learn more about a doctorate degree from Colorado State University here .

15. University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus has served the U.S. armed forces for more than 70 years. UMGC has locations across the state of Maryland. They are also 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. The program is geared toward executive-level professionals. This degree finishes with a dissertation. There are required courses in data analytics and evidence-based research as well.

UMGC also has a Doctor of Management in community college policy and administration. This online doctorate is designed for those who want to successfully lead a community college. You will conduct research that will improve institutional operations across the country in this program. 

Both of UMGC’s doctoral degree programs utilize a cohort model. You’ll start and finish the online doctorate program with the same group of students.

Learn more about online doctorate degrees at University of Maryland University College here.

16. Trident University


Trident University International is based in Cypress, California. It is a 100% online institution.

The university is dedicated to adult learners. Most of Trident’s students are over the age of 30. 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, you can work on either a Ph.D. or a professional doctorate . These degree programs are in three areas:

  • Business administration
  • Educational leadership
  • Health services

All of these programs can be earned entirely online. There are no in-person visits. 

As a Trident student, you’ll complete about nine to 12 self-paced courses to graduate. Trident’s Career Services Center is available to help you. They will assist you with applying for jobs that fit your new credentials.  

Learn more about a doctorate degree at Trident University International here .

17. University of Tennessee is in Knoxville

Become a Tennessee Volunteer by enrolling at the state’s flagship university.

University of Tennessee Knoxville

The University of Tennessee is in Knoxville. UT ranks at No. 44 on U.S. News & World Report ’s Top Public Schools. Through Vols Online, you can get a doctoral degree without stepping foot in the Volunteer State. 

The doctoral programs offered through Vols Online center include many disciplines. For example, you can get 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. The program has flexible asynchronous online coursework. There are also real-time, interactive videos. This helps professionals like you to advance your education while continuing to help your clients. 

Lastly, UT has an online Ph.D. program in industrial and systems engineering. This degree program has an optional engineering management concentration.

Learn more about a doctorate degree at University of Tennessee – Knoxville here .

18. Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University Chicago started in 1864. It began as a teacher’s college. The university is grounded in the Lutheran faith.

This private school 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. There is an 11:1 graduate student-to-faculty ratio. 

CUC has three options for online doctoral candidates. You can earn a Doctor of Business Administration in as little as three years. This 60-credit-hour program has four specializations:

  • Health care
  • Human resources

At CUC, educators can earn either a Doctor of Education or a Ph.D. Several specializations are available. This includes 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, though. You simply have to maintain continuous enrollment in your degree program. 

Learn more about this online doctorate degree program at Concordia University Chicago here .

19. Lamar University

Lamar University

Lamar University is based in Beaumont, Texas. It’s a public university. It’s also 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 these students are pursuing graduate-level degrees. 

Through LU Online, you can be part of 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. 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. This ensures that you learn from experts with terminal degrees in the field throughout your degree program.  

Learn more about online learning at Lamar University here .

20. Keiser University

Keiser University

Keiser University is based in Fort Lauderdale. It also has locations across Florida

The university has more than ten online doctoral degrees. Keiser is focused on adult learners who continue to work as they study in their degree programs. More than 75% of its students work full- or part-time while enrolled in their degree programs. 

At Keiser, you’ll complete coursework that is designed by more than leaders in academia. Keiser maintains advisory boards with professional experts. Statewide community leaders are involved, too. This ensures that the school’s standards are informed by the industry’s specific needs and competencies.

Keiser’s doctoral degrees span academic disciplines. You can pursue a degree program in business or education. Psychology and nursing are other options. This university even offers a Doctor of Business Administration in Spanish. This kind of program gives you the chance to gain advanced business knowledge in your first or preferred language.

Additionally, unique among Keiser’s programs is a Doctor of Chiropractic. Though coursework is administered online, this degree program does require in-person clinical training. 

Learn more about the doctorate degree at Keiser University here .

21. Pittsburg State University

Pittsburg State University

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 more 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. It has a long tradition in educational studies.

Doctoral students have one doctorate degree online option at this university. That degree program is an Educational Specialist degree in advanced studies in leadership. 

While there aren’t multiple degree programs, you still get variety. Pitt State’s EdS candidates can either pursue specializations in elementary or secondary school administration. Special education is also an option.

This degree’s 36-credit-hour curriculum builds on your master’s degree coursework. It also might serve as a stepping stone to a Doctor of Education.

Learn more about the doctorate degree at Pittsburg State University here .

22. Bowling Green State University


Bowling Green State University is near Toledo. It holds the No. 119 spot on U.S. News & World Report ’s Top Public Schools.

BGSU offers one online doctoral degree program. That program is 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
  • quality systems

In addition to the required research and core technology courses, you’ll complete nine hours of professional studies. Online students might need to include an internship, too.

Learn more about the doctorate degree at Bowling Green State University here .

23. Johnson University

Johnson University is a Christian school. It has campuses in Knoxville, Tennessee and Kissimmee, Florida.

Johnson has one online Ph.D. program in leadership studies. This program is in the university’s Center for Global Studies. This department is 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:

Additionally, you will study a chosen specialization. There are three concentrations available in educational leadership. You can choose among organizational leadership, the philosophy and theology of leadership, and missional leadership.  

Coursework is completed entirely online. Your work is done in an asynchronous format. Classes last seven weeks. You get a one-week break before focusing on a new topic. Research summits provide you 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.

Learn more about the doctoral program at Johnson University here.

24. Hampton University

Hampton University

Founded in 1868, Hampton University is a historically black university. It is located near Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay.

Enrolling just over 4,000 students, Hampton has ten colleges. Most of its students pursue degrees in liberal arts, education, science, and business. 

Hampton U Online expands the reach of this university. There are several fully online degree programs. Doctoral students can earn a Ph.D. in business administration. This requires 61 credit hours in online coursework. It also includes summer on-campus residencies.

For educators, Hampton offers a Ph.D. in educational management. There are counselor education and supervision options, too. You can also choose to earn an educational specialist in counseling. 

Lastly, Hampton has a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. This degree requires 33 credit hours and 500 clinical hours. Classes are delivered online. However, you can expect three in-person residencies. 

Learn more about this doctorate degree at Hampton University here .

25. Maryville University of St. Louis

Maryville University

Maryville University is near St. Louis, MO. It enrolls just over 10,000 students. More than half of students study online.

This university is focused on the jobs of tomorrow. It partners with companies like Boeing and Edward Jones. Doing so allows Maryville to predict jobs 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. These focus areas include pediatrics, gerontology, and psychiatric mental health. As a DNP candidate, you’ll complete coursework online. Your clinical training is done 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 for this doctorate degree takes as few as 32 months and can be earned entirely online. 

Learn more this doctorate degree at Maryville University of St. Louis here .

26. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


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. It also ranks No. 29 in National Universities.

This school has an impressive 13:1 student to faculty ratio. This proves it continues to provide students with personalized attention.

UNC has one online doctoral degree option. That program is a transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy, or tDPT.  This program is 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. It’s designed to allow therapists to continue their practices. As a tDPT candidate, you’ll take 12 courses and complete a case study capstone project. 

Learn more about a doctorate degree from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill here .

27. Faulkner University

Faulkner University

Faulkner University is in Montgomery, AL. It is a Christian, liberal arts university. It has 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. It is 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 to finish. It is also highly customizable. You can choose to focus your dissertation on an author, an idea, or even a historical era.  

Learn more about online learning at Faulkner University here .

28. Regis University

regis University

Regis University is located in Denver, CO. It’s a Jesuit Catholic university. This Catholic order’s motto is “men and women in service of others.” As a result, you’ll find a strong tradition of service-learning at Regis. 

Fittingly, Regis’ sole fully online doctoral degree program is in nursing. Regis’ Doctor of Nursing Practice offers two tracks. There is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse or an advanced leadership in health care specialization. 

Regis’ DNP takes either two or three years to earn. Classes for a doctorate degree are organized into 8-week units. The program ends with a capstone project. This project helps to better your nursing practice.

Candidates typically choose to focus this final project on a problem within their organizations. You might use your research to determine a solution and offer steps to initiate it.

Students pursuing doctorate degrees should check out Regis University here .

29. University of the Southwest

University of the Southwest

The University of the Southwest is based in Hobbs, New Mexico. It is a non-denominational Christian university. Its mission is to “mold the next generation of leaders through Christ-centered values.” All of USW’s graduate programs are delivered online. 

Here, you can get a Doctor of Business Administration. You get a free laptop. All course material is covered by your tuition costs as well.

USW’s DBA is a three-year, part-time program. There are no in-person residencies. You can focus on strategy and innovation. Likewise, you can study leadership and organizational development.

Alternatively, you can choose a self-design track. If you do, you’ll work with your dissertation committee to tailor your studies to your specific career goals. 

Learn more about a doctorate degree at University of the Southwest here.

30. University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina – Beaufort

The University of South Carolina has the No. 44 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools. Additionally, it 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. 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. You can further specialize your studies in educational technology, STEM education, or curriculum studies. The curriculum studies concentration focuses on social justice issues within education. You will learn how 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 should also be expected.

Learn more about a doctorate degree at University of South Carolina here .

Doctoral Program: Frequently Asked Questions

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 Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education ensure that schools within their regions are meeting higher educational standards across all programs. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission ( SACSCOC ) accredits degrees for higher education in the southern states.

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. 

When looking at PhD programs, check for accreditation.

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.

And regardless of which easiest doctoral degree you pursue, you can likely find many different places to work.

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. 

If you’re wondering, “what is the easiest doctorate degree?”, one without a dissertation is a good place to start.

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. 

It’s important not to just consider “what is the easiest PhD to get.” Instead, find your passion, too. If you’re interested in what you’re studying, the learning will be much easier!

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Shortest Doctoral Programs Online

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In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, the pursuit of doctoral degrees has become increasingly accessible through online platforms. The year 2024 marks a significant leap in offering diverse and flexible doctoral programs online, catering to professionals seeking advanced degrees without the traditional time commitment. This guide delves into the easiest and shortest online doctoral programs, including Ph.D. degrees, highlighting key features such as accelerated paths, reduced residency requirements, and flexible learning options.

Understanding Doctorate and Ph.D. Programs

Before exploring specific programs, it’s crucial to distinguish between a Doctorate Degree and a Ph.D. While both are esteemed achievements, they cater to different academic and professional pursuits. Ph.D. programs, or Doctor of Philosophy degrees, are heavily research-oriented, focusing on theoretical and abstract aspects of various fields. They are ideal for those interested in academic, research, or theoretical applications of their study area.

In contrast, Doctorate programs tend to be more practice-oriented, emphasizing the application of knowledge in professional settings. These programs are tailored for individuals aiming to advance to the forefront of their fields, often in more hands-on roles.

The programs listed below are all online phd programs for working professionals .

Easiest and Shortest Online Doctoral & Ph.D. Programs

1-year ph.d. programs online.

  • Chatham University: Offers a 1-year online DNP program, designed for nurses aspiring for leadership roles.
  • Breyer State Theology University: Provides a unique 1-year online Ph.D. in Grief Counseling.
  • American International Theism University: Features accelerated doctoral degrees in various disciplines, all achievable within a year.

15-18 Month Doctorate Programs Without Dissertation

  • Boston University: A Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree, completed in 18 months.
  • Frontier Nursing University: Offers a Doctor of Nursing (DNP) program that spans 18 to 20 months.
  • Maryville University: Provides various online doctoral degrees in fields like Nursing Practice and Health Administration, achievable within 18 months.

24 Month Doctorate Programs

  • University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill: Offers a range of online doctoral programs including a Ph.D. in Nursing and a Transitional Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy.
  • Grand Canyon University: Features over a dozen online doctoral degrees in areas such as Organizational Leadership and K-12 Leadership.
  • Liberty University: Offers a Doctor of Education degree program that can be completed in 30 months.

Ease of Ph.D. Programs

While no Ph.D. program can be deemed ‘easy,’ certain fields are considered more accessible than others, such as education, humanities, and social sciences. Factors like reduced residency requirements, credit transfers, and integrated dissertation colloquia can make some programs more attainable.

Financial Aspects of Online Doctoral Programs

The cost of pursuing an online doctoral degree varies widely among institutions. While online courses might be more affordable than on-campus ones, they still require a significant financial investment. Prospective students should consider tuition, materials, and other expenses while making their decision.

FAQs: Easiest PhD and Shortest Doctoral Programs Online 2024

Q1: What is the difference between a Ph.D. and a Doctorate Degree?

  • A1: A Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy, focuses more on theoretical and abstract aspects of a field, emphasizing research and academic pursuits. In contrast, a Doctorate degree is often more practice-oriented, focusing on the application of knowledge in professional settings.

Q2: Can I complete a doctoral program online in one year?

  • A2: Yes, there are institutions that offer 1-year doctoral programs online. For example, Chatham University offers a 1-year online DNP program for nurses, and Breyer State Theology University provides a 1-year online Ph.D. in Grief Counseling.

Q3: Are there doctoral programs available that do not require a dissertation?

  • A3: Yes, some doctoral programs, like the Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy at Boston University, do not require a dissertation but may have other project requirements.

Q4: What are some examples of 24-month doctoral programs?

  • A4: The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill offers a Transitional Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy that can be completed in 24 months, and Grand Canyon University has various 24-month online doctoral degrees in areas like Organizational Leadership.

Q5: What fields are considered easier for pursuing a Ph.D.?

  • A5: Generally, fields like education, humanities, and social sciences are considered easier for pursuing Ph.D. degrees, due to factors like reduced residency requirements and flexible coursework.

Q6: How much can an online doctoral program cost?

  • A6: The cost varies widely among institutions. For reference, annual tuition rates can range from about $9,400 at public institutions to $37,600 at private not-for-profit institutions.

Q7: How do I choose an online doctoral program?

  • A7: Consider factors such as the program’s marketability, cost, difficulty, your interest in the subject, and how well it aligns with your career goals. Research and compare different programs to find the best fit for you.

Q8: How long does it typically take to complete a Ph.D. program?

  • A8: The length varies by country and program. In the U.S., it typically takes 5 to 6 years, while in the UK and many European countries, it takes about 3 to 4 years. Part-time programs may take longer.

Q9: Are there fully funded online Ph.D. programs available?

  • A9: Yes, some institutions offer fully funded online Ph.D. programs. Examples include Brown University’s Ph.D. program in computer science and Emory University’s online Ph.D. program in economics.

Q10: What are some of the best Ph.D. programs in the U.S.?

  • A10: According to, some of the best Ph.D. programs include those at Cornell University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, and the University of California in Berkeley.

The landscape of online doctoral programs in 2024 offers diverse and flexible options for professionals seeking advanced degrees. From accelerated Ph.D. programs to practical doctorates without dissertations, these online offerings cater to a range of academic and professional needs. As the demand for higher qualifications grows, these programs provide a viable path for many to achieve their academic and career aspirations.

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The Easiest PhD Programs to Get into

The Easiest PhD Programs to Get into

Should you pursue a masters or a PhD , it will still take several years to complete your degree, even if you are accepted to one of the easiest PhD programs to get into. You could be spending up to seven or eight years of your life pursuing a PhD, only to end up scratching your head thinking about how to transition from academia to industry or how to get a job after grad school . However, if you’re convinced you have the passion, patience, time, and resources to pursue a PhD and see it as a way to advance your career or professional ambitions, then you should read this article to find out more about how to find a postdoc , the easiest PhD programs to get into and how to apply.

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Easiest phd programs to get into, 1. adams state university – doctor of philosophy (phd) in counselor education and supervision (ce&s).

This is an online program offered by Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. Students must complete 6 credit hours per semester, for up to 3 to 4 years. The entirety of the course is done online, but students are also required to participate in a one-week summer residency every year of their program at the Adams State University campus. This program is easy to get into because you do not need to submit GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores to be considered.

You do need to submit a letter of intent, so you would be better off reading about how to write an effective statement of intent before submitting your application. The length of the letter should be between 3–4 pages and address a series of questions like:

  • “Why are you pursuing a doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision at Adams State University?”
  • “What personal and professional dispositions are essential for future counselor educators and supervisors?”
  •  “Describe your professional plans with a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, post-graduation.”

Want to learn top strategies you can use when writing your grad school statement of purpose? Watch this video:

You will also be asked to submit reference letters and a CV; all graduate students should know how to write a CV for grad school , as it is a common requirement for entry into graduate programs. Applicants with a master’s degree in counseling who also hold state certification to work as a counselor in their home state are given preference.

Admission Requirements

  • A master’s degree from an accredited university or college
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 (must be maintained throughout the four years)
  • Minimum two years of professional experience as a counselor post-grad

UTEP offers several doctorate programs in areas such as biosciences, civil engineering, and business administration, but those programs have several high-level admissions requirements like submitting GRE scores and mastery of complicated subjects like statistics and mathematics. However, the PhD in English Rhetoric and Composition only requires either:

  • A bachelor’s degree in English or
  • A master’s degree in English

Students who apply with only a bachelor’s degree must first complete the Master of English Rhetoric and Composition at UTEP. They need to complete the six-credit course requirement and present a master’s thesis. After completing their master’s, they continue to complete the PhD program requirements.

Successful students are given up to eight years to complete the degree, but they may receive their PhD sooner as long as they satisfy the 45–51 credit hours required to obtain the degree. What makes this degree attractive is not only the academic requirements, but the many career opportunities afforded graduates who can apply their degree to fields as diverse as education, business, and government.

  • Official transcripts of all previous work
  • Three letters of recommendation either from previous instructors or professional references 
  • A description of their educational goals
  • A description of their approach to writing and teaching
  • Two writing samples: a research paper and a personal writing sample

3. Prescott College – PhD in Sustainability Education

Prescott College is a private university in Prescott, Arizona, that has a near 99% acceptance rate for all programs, including the newly created PhD program in Sustainability Education. This near perfect acceptance rate stands in contrast to much lower medical school acceptance rates , which are often in the single digits. This PhD program is interdisciplinary and blends disciplines like pedagogy, environmental science, and social justice studies.

The other aspects of the program that make it attractive are the fact that there are few admissions requirements. Students do not have to submit any GRE or GMAT scores. Neither do they have to pay any application fees. Successful applicants can choose to take classes part-time, if they have other responsibilities, but the entire class format is online, which is another accommodation to mature or professional students.

Similar graduate sustainability education programs in the US and Canada last for up to 4 years, but Prescott College does not mention how long their program lasts. The small class size and experienced faculty also make this PhD program an option for someone who wants to pursue research in environmental sustainability, with career options ranging from becoming faculty or working as a sustainability officer for businesses and government.

Contact the program director directly to find out more about admission requirements and other information.

4. University of Michigan/Rackham Graduate School – PhD in Anthropology

The Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan offers a 7-year PhD in Anthropology that has relaxed admission requirements, like not requiring students to take or submit GRE scores or any other standardized graduate school exams. But the program has other requirements, such as the documentation listed below.

Prospective students do not need a master’s degree to apply, but they must have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, students can complete a master’s while on the PhD track. The PhD program has an acceptance rate of 4.6%, so it is one of the easier PhD programs to get into, given that prospective students do not have to take any standardized tests or have a graduate degree.

  • Application form
  • Application fee
  • Admissions Conduct Code
  • Statement of purpose (1000–1500 words)
  • Personal statement (500 words maximum)
  • Letters of recommendation (3)
  • Official transcripts 
  • Writing sample (optional, 30-page maximum)

5. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville – PhD in Sociology

UTK offers several PhD level programs, but the PhD in sociology is one of the easiest PhD programs to get into since applicants do not need to take the GRE. All successful students must choose from one of the four core concepts to complete the sociology degree, which are:

  • Criminology
  • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Environmental Sociology
  • Political Economy and Globalization

Students explore each aspect of their chosen subject, which all have their unique credit and non-credit requirements to complete the degree. Along with this first area of study, students must choose a second area of study revolving around social theory or statistics. All students must complete a minimum of 27 credits or 9 courses within each core concept and take another 12 elective credits or 4 courses in one of the other four concentrations, a foreign language course, a graduate certificate in statistics, or a science minor.

If accepted, students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 throughout the duration of the program and meet academic benchmarks established by them and the sociology department. The school does not state the length of the program, but all students must pass comprehensive exams in one of the four main concepts, write a dissertation, and present and defend it orally to complete the degree requirements.

  • Master’s or JD degree in sociology or a related field
  • Overall undergraduate and graduate GPA of 3.00 or higher
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample
  • Personal statement

6. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee – PhD in Urban Education : Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education Leadership (ACHEL)

This PhD program gives students seven years to complete all the degree requirements but does not require that they take the GRE or submit GRE scores no older than five years for admission. Some of the admissions requirements are document-based, meaning students must submit several types of writing to qualify.

All applicants must have at least a 2.75 undergraduate GPA, which is much lower than the typical 3.0 that most PhD programs require, to be considered. They must also have an undergraduate or master’s degree. The written requirements include submitting one of the following, with a maximum word count of 1500 words:

  • Master’s thesis
  • Undergraduate senior thesis
  • Technical report
  • Publication
  • Written description of a project
  • Action research project
  • Writing sample answering the question, “How would you conceptualize and analyze issues in urban education?”

Students must also submit a Reasons Statement, in which you are encouraged to talk about the entirety of your background, such as why you are pursuing a PhD, your interests and background in the field, skills and training, and academic honors or awards.

Aside from the above written samples, prospective students must also submit a graduate CV and three letters of recommendation. There are no specific requirements for who must write the letters, but the letter writers are encouraged to write about the candidate’s past experiences and how they connect to the school’s PhD program.

  • Undergraduate or master’s degree
  • Cumulative GPA of 2.75
  • 1500-word writing sample
  • Reasons Statement
  • 3 letters of recommendation

There are as many persuasive reasons to pursue a PhD as there are not to pursue one. If you want to know how to find a PhD topic or program, this article has outlined a few examples of some of the “easiest” PhD programs to get into. But completing a PhD is another matter. There are no “easy” PhD programs to complete since they all take years of hard work and dedication. Ultimately, the easiest program for you will be one you are completely immersed in and thoroughly enjoy; focusing on why the program is a great fit is a winning strategy when preparing your application materials.

One reality you have to confront is that the attrition rate for most PhDs is somewhere between 36–51% across a variety of fields and disciplines ranging from the arts and humanities to engineering and life sciences. The other thing you should know – and something all PhD admission consultants should tell you – is that pursuing a PhD is an all-encompassing commitment that will take over your life. As discussed above, program lengths are measured in years (minimum of five) and there are few guarantees that, if you do finish, you will be able to reap the rewards, at least in the short term.

Another growing demographic comprises people who complete all the requirements to obtain a PhD (coursework, credits) but fail on the most crucial element: writing and defending a dissertation. These students are known as “all but dissertation” and are forced to explain to prospective employers why they failed.

As if actually completing the degree wasn’t hard enough. the labor market is not always welcoming to PhDs either. High-level positions in government and academia often filled by PhDs are not plentiful, and other industries will require skill sets that PhD graduates typically do not have, such as managerial or organizational knowhow.

Whether you benefit from obtaining a PhD in the end depends on many factors, like your field and whether you’re an expert in an in-demand profession (computer science, bioengineering, engineering). While many graduate students enter doctorate programs to secure financial stability, other students are interested purely in acquiring knowledge and researching a topic or subject that they are passionate about. For these students, getting a PhD and all the attendant aspects (learning, investigating, writing) have an inherent value, so the less-than-stellar employment prospects or salary gains are not a priority. That’s not to suggest they are not mindful of the real-world costs of a getting a doctorate; rather, they are willing to put in the effort to fund their studies by applying for grants, working as part-time faculty or securing public or private loans, and accepting the bare-bones lifestyle of many graduate students.

Reasons to Get a PhD

More Employment Opportunities

PhDs do make more money than other degree types, like masters, but not by a lot. Some studies say PhDs earn up to $13,000 more than lower degree-holders, but it is more complicated than that. Those earnings only start to show after decades. Master’s graduates have a head-start on PhDs and enter the workforce much earlier than PhD students, so they start saving and earning more.

PhDs may have more employment opportunities open to them, in either academia or the private sector, but starting salaries for PhDs top out at $50,000. Moreover, by the time PhD graduates start looking for jobs, master’s graduates have already ascended to senior or executive positions earning six figures and more. Positions that offer starting six-figure salaries also do not often require candidates to have PhDs, giving master’s graduates yet another advantage.

Life-Long Research and Learning Opportunities

Money isn’t everything. Many PhD students are not motivated by financial gain or opportunity but are simply passionate about exploring and investigating a particular field for a lifetime. Funding this research is always a concern, but one component of becoming a PhD is learning how to write grant applications or fundraise in other ways that are essential to keeping research projects going.

Learning Valuable Skills

Skills like grant writing, fundraising, and networking are good to have if you want to know how to find a job in academia , and there are private sector companies that value them as well, but PhDs should also try to incorporate other skill sets into their toolkit. If they are interested, they can pursue dual-degree programs that pair a PhD with another degree type like an MBA or a medical degree, such as an MD-PhD program . They can also seek out professional development courses that prepare them for entering the workforce once they complete their degree, if they decide to go into the private sector.

Becoming an Expert

Some of the allure of a PhD is the authority it gives in a specific topic or subject, which means you are someone who is regularly sought out by various sectors and industries for expert advice. Being the foremost expert in a particular field can unlock many opportunities, but your specialty determines how much you can earn or what those opportunities are.

You can find that your expertise suddenly falls out of favor, like all the hundreds of Soviet physicists who had nothing to do once the USSR defunded the space program. But the opposite can also happen. Think of all the previously anonymous MDs and PhDs who became household names during the COVID-19 pandemic because they were experts in virology, immunology, or epidemiology.

The easiest PhD programs to get into are not the easiest ones to complete. Ultimately, if you are thinking about entering a PhD program, you need to weigh the benefits (potentially higher earnings, more employment opportunities, expert-level education) of pursuing the degree and the disadvantages (significant investment of time and money, uncertain job market, lost earnings). Go into the project with eyes open and a topic you want to study for many years, and your PhD experience will be much easier.

There is no easy answer. If you are someone who wants to pursue a particular line of investigation that requires years of observation and experimentation, then getting a PhD may seem like a natural path. But if you are more concerned about raising your earning potential or seeking more senior positions, in general, a master’s degree checks all those boxes without having to invest so much time and money. 

Any PhD program that does not require applicants to submit standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT) or have a master’s degree is generally easier to get into than other programs, but these programs have their own requirements, which could involve anything from writing personal statements and letters of intent to one-on-one interviews. 

All PhD programs are different, and they can variously require applicants to have a master’s degree, GRE or GMT scores above 300, and demonstrated aptitude in various fields, especially if you are pursuing a PhD in the sciences or engineering. There are also written requirements like submitting letter of intent, research resume , and a record of other notable academic or non-academic achievements. 

The answer is yes and no. Over many years, your education and training will pay off as you slowly start to pull away from other degree types in terms of salary. But it will take many years. During this time, other degree holders can attain higher positions and salaries that are comparable to yours, thereby negating any future gains. 

The duration of every PhD program is different, but the minimum length of most PhD programs is six years. Some schools have degree time limits – six or seven years, in some cases – meaning you must complete the program and present your dissertation by the time limit or be ejected. Master’s degrees, in comparison, usually take only about two years to complete. 

If you are wondering whether you need a master’s or PhD to apply to medical school s, the answer is no. However, if you are applying as a non-traditional medical school applicant who has a master’s or doctorate in another field, it can help improve your medical school application. 

The assumption is that PhD graduates generally do very well in the labor market. They do have low unemployment rates when compared to other degree holders. But one obstacle PhD graduates run into is having “surplus schooling”; in other words, they are over-qualified for a majority of positions. Only 2% of positions in the labor market require a PhD, which is one thing to remember if you are thinking about pursuing a doctorate. 

The cost of a five-year degree ranges between $150,000 and $200,000, but there are some PhD programs that provide full funding as well as a stipend. PhD students also work as teaching assistants for up to two years and can apply for grants or secure other funding sources like federal aid loans. 

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The 20 Easiest Online Doctorate Degrees 2023

Find your perfect school.

20 Easiest Doctorate Programs 2021 - featured image

If you earned an online doctorate degree from an accredited college or university, can you call yourself a “doctor”? Yes, you can, and it’s an honor that you can be proud of, too, considering how online doctorate students shed their blood, sweat, and tears! 

Easiest Online Doctorate Programs - fact

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says doctoral degrees earn $1,885/week and experience a 2.5% unemployment rate. In contrast, workers with master’s degrees earn $1,305/week (or a $580/week difference) and experience a 4.1% unemployment rate.

Quick Summarization: What exactly are online doctoral programs, a doctorate program, or a doctoral degree? From the Latin words “docere” (to teach) and “doctoratus” (teacher), a doctorate is a terminal academic degree. Being a terminal degree, each of the doctoral degrees is considered the highest possible academic degree earned or awarded. Online doctoral students get access to finances and land some of the most lucrative careers!


When we started looking at doctorate degrees, we kept in mind that earning a doctorate demands a significant investment!  But since we were looking for the easiest doctorate degrees, we considered the following factors in our selection: 

  • The degree requirements for online doctoral students must be easy enough that a working professional can meet them on a timely basis. Most of these programs have a dissertation requirement, but their respective schools provide appropriate student support. You will have an easier time meeting dissertation requirements with the assistance of your professors.  
  • The curriculum and coursework for an online program emphasize math, science, technology subjects, and quantitative research. Instead, online doctoral students focus more on their field of specialization, soft skills, and qualitative research. You won’t have to struggle with complicated math and science subjects, but be prepared for math and science work. 
  • The online PhD programs class schedules should ideally be convenient and flexible. While there are always start and end dates for every course, students must also fulfill their personal and professional duties. Asynchronous delivery, 24/7 access to the learning materials, and the opportunity to take as many or as few classes are among the features we looked for. Many of these doctoral degree programs have short-term residency requirements, too. 

When choosing the featured schools in the list, we looked at the following factors. 

  • The college or university and their online PhD programs must be accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education. Accreditation is a must to ensure academic quality, including the faculty’s credentials and the relevance of the curriculum. Being accredited also means that the education programs of the institution meet the standards related to its facilities, finances, financial aid, administrative practices, and student support services and satisfaction. 

We considered both doctoral degree institutional and program accreditation whenever present. We also considered the schools’ overall reputation in the academic community and their specific communities. 

  • The doctoral degree online programs should fulfill certification or licensure requirements, as necessary, for the field of study. This is important for fields that require individuals to get a license or certification, such as taking national exams, to practice their profession. 
  • The doctoral degree online programs have a structure that allows their students a certain level of flexibility, as mentioned above. Students may be able to study at their own pace, access their learning materials at any time, and enjoy other benefits of asynchronous learning. But we also recognize the importance of an organized structure and thus, most of the featured programs have a specific curriculum design. For example, prerequisites must first be fulfilled, and the post-graduate courses should be sequential. 
  • The faculty members must possess the appropriate credentials, including their professional qualifications, past and current research interests, and work experiences . Student success partly rests on their shoulders, too, so their engagement in it must also be present, if not overtly manifested. 

Easiest Online Doctorate Degrees

Doctor of arts (da).

Doctor of Arts

Online students who want to become acknowledged experts in a specific field of study but with a teaching emphasis can pursue a Doctor of Arts (D.A.) degree.

Online doctoral programs in this field were created as a discipline-based terminal degree and an alternative to the education-based Doctor of Education (EdD) and the research-centric Doctor of Philosophy.

Upon graduation, online students of EdD programs proceed with work in the academe, usually in teaching positions in colleges and universities. Many learners in these online programs also pursue leadership careers in other industries.

Holy Family University

Holy Family University

3206 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19134

The 100% online D.A. program offers its online students with outstanding flexibility and convenience that working professionals appreciate. Students from around the country can be admitted into the program, and the technology requirements are reasonable.. 

Online students must complete the academic requirements for 60 credits with the option to submit a dissertation or not; the doctoral thesis is recommended in such online doctorate programs but not required. The online learning program needs to be completed within two years.

Murray State University 

Murray State University

DA – English Pedagogy

102 Curris Center, Murray, Kentucky 42071  (800) 272-4678

Teachers who are currently teaching English and its related studies at the secondary and post-secondary levels will find the D.A. English Pedagogy online doctorate program an excellent fit.

Students can choose from four specializations – Literacy, Language, Literature, and Writing – although academic explorations beyond their chosen specializations are strongly encouraged in these online doctorate programs.

There are also routes to choose from: 

  • The traditional D.A. path is designed for students with a master’s degree, and it has 48 semester hours in the curriculum. 
  • The accelerated M.A.-to-D.A. route consists of 72 semester hours, and it’s designed for students with only a bachelor’s degree. Students earn both a Master’s in English and a D.A. in English Pedagogy (Literature) after completion.

Doctor of Design (DDes)

Doctor of Design

Professionals seeking to conduct intensive and rigorous research into design-related subjects should look into the Doctor of Design (DDes) programs.

While the curricula in online doctoral degree programs of this type are different between schools, this online program emphasizes applied research. The applied research in these online doctorate programs covers a wide range of topics from building design and urban planning to product design.

The multidisciplinary approach in DDes doctoral programs focusing on applied research combines theoretical, technological, and applied topics.

North Carolina State University Online

North Carolina State University Online

Campus Box 7113, Raleigh, NC 27695-7555 (919) 515-9030

Design practitioners with a deep desire to create new knowledge and applications in design and a transformative educational experience are welcome to apply to this program. Students in these online doctorate programs pursue design research that will create the environment, structures, and systems for the future of design.

DDes doctoral programs introduce their students to research design and its methods the first year of the program; they then turn their attention to independent inquiry. A detailed design research proposal is drafted early in the second year of this 54-credit program, and students prepare for the preliminary exam. Finally, in the final years, original research is conducted toward the final dissertation process in design research .

Florida International University 

Florida International University

11200 SW 8th Street P.C.A. – 280 Miami, Florida 33199 (305) 348-1323

FIU designed its DDes doctoral programs to produce a generation of architects ready to meet the rigorous challenges of their profession and field. This is a two-year online program with minimal residency requirements. Doctoral students are encouraged to do so through a combination of research, scholarly activities, and innovation. 

The program accepts as many as 15 master-level transfer credits so that eligible students can earn their DDes degree in two years. The 60-credit program welcomes working professionals who are either teaching or aspire to teach architecture. The curriculum in these online doctorate programs usually cover the latest computer technology, digital fabrication, robotics, and advanced visualization tools.

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Doctor of Education

Doctoral students who want to work in government, non-profit organizations, and the K-12 system can apply to the Doctor of Education programs (Ed.D.) These online doctoral degree programs are different from the Doctor of Philosophy in Education or programs since these are designed to: 

  • Develop leadership and administrative skills
  • Equip students with practical skills instead of philosophical abilities 
  • Enable education students to research on the practical implications of policy and practice

Students of EdD programs work full-time while pursuing the terminal degree. In contrast, a Ph.D. in Education is for education students who want a career in the academe, such as post-secondary teachers.

Walden University 

Walden University

7065 Samuel Morse Drive Columbia, MD 21046 (866) 492-5336

Walden has established a reputation for being the Educator of Educators for more than 50 years, Education students in this doctoral program mostly specialize in Early Childhood Education, Community College Leadership, Educational Technology, Higher Education and Adult Learning, P-20 Education, and Special Education.

Doctoral programs like this typically require students to submit a research capstone project. Education students can rely on the school’s Doctoral Support Services.

Maryville University

Maryville University

EdD – Higher Education Leadership

650 Maryville University Drive St. Louis, MO 63141 (888) 266-0574

Education students earning this doctorate degree become future-focused, responsive, and reflective leaders in the field. With the program’s focus on exploring leadership theory and practice for higher education settings, students gain actionable insights into policy, governance, and finances.

This Doctor of Education (EDD) is a 48-credit program that takes 32 months. Graduates of these online doctorate programs can become leaders in their workplaces, such as presidents, deans, or provosts.

Doctor of Hebrew Letters (DHL)

Doctor of Hebrew Letters

Rabbis are the typical online students of Doctor of Hebrew Studies (DHL) programs. This widely considered unconventional degree encourages doctoral students to pursue individualized learning. 

Students for these online doctoral programs exercise their analytical and critical thinking skills related to the Jewish faith. The online coursework covers the Talmud and its codes and commentaries and the Bible, the Midrash and Hasidic work.

Jewish Theological Seminary

Jewish Theological Seminary

Doctor of Hebrew Literature

3080 Broadway, New York, NY 10027 (212) 678-8000

Offered at the Gershon Kekst Graduate School, the Doctor of Hebrew Literature (DHL) program is offered in these concentrations:

  • Ancient Jewish Studies
  • Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Studies
  • Jewish History
  • Jewish Thought 
  • Modern Jewish 
  • Midrash 

Students in this kind of online doctoral programs typically pursue advanced academic work but don’t seek to establish a traditional academic career.

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Doctor of Hebrew Letters

1299 Church Road, Wyncote, PA 19095 (215) 576-0800

Students at R.R.C.’s DHL program learn the deeper connections between contemporary and traditional Jewish faith. In these online doctorate programs, most are practicing rabbis who have already completed the doctoral dissertation process at other institutions. 

The program consists of three distinct learning phases: 

  • Mekhinah Year, a preparatory year 
  • Years 1-3, a Core Program phase 
  • Years 4-5, also a Core Program phase

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)

Doctor of Musical Arts

The Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) is less research-oriented than Ph.D. degrees in musical arts. The typical D.M.A. online doctorate programs combine post-graduate academic study and advanced applied studies in an area of specialization.

Graduates of D.M.A. doctoral programs become professional conductors, composers, and performers and work in teaching positions. Specializations in these types of accredited online PhD programs include voice pedagogy, instrument pedagogy, and music literature. (If you want doctoral training in music theory, music therapy, or musicology, consider a Ph.D. program instead).  

Boston University 

Boston University

D.M.A. in Music Education

855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215 (617) 353-3350

BU’s D.M.A. in Music Education program welcomes students who want to boost their teaching careers, keep their musician skills in tiptop shape, and develop their scholarly skills. The university itself is a highly respected institution that has produced many of the country’s best teachers, performers, and musicians! 

Candidates in these online doctoral programs should have at least three years of experience teaching music, demonstrate leadership in the education sector, and a minimum of 3.0 GPA.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University


33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (848) 932-9360

Offered at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers’ D.M.A. program is considered the best because of its exceptional academic and practical training. Students for these online doctorate programs choose from three concentrations: 

  • Choral Conducting 
  • Instrumental/Wind Conducting 
  • Orchestral Conducting 

Each concentration requires performances in selected venues along with academic online coursework. Students also get weekly, hour-long lessons with their teachers during the 12-week semester.

Doctor of Health Administration (D.H.A.)

Doctor of Health Administration

Being a leader in healthcare settings is a tough job! While work experience is a must, higher education comes in handy, too. Doctor of Health Administration or D.H.A. graduates become clinical directors, health service managers, and health or nursing program managers in hospitals, nursing homes, and other settings. 

Students can choose from specializations or tracks, such as an executive track focusing on practical leadership skillsets and internships. The common courses include: 

  • Healthcare finance
  • Healthcare system administration
  • Healthcare policy
  • Health economics
  • Organizational theory and behavior

Franklin University

Franklin University

201 S Grant Ave., Columbus, OH 43215  (614) 797-4700

Franklin’s D.H.A. program consists of 58 semester hours divided into: 

  • 16 hours of research core 
  • 20 hours of major area courses 
  • 12 hours of electives 
  • 10 hours of dissertation 

The best thing about it: You can finish it in approximately three years! You may even finish it in less time, provided that you have at least 24 transferable credits. 

Medical University of South Carolina

Medical University of South Carolina

151-A Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29425 (843) 792-2536

Healthcare practitioners and professionals who want to use their clinical and administrative experiences for better career opportunities can take the first step by enrolling in MUSC’s D.H.A. program. Graduates become eligible for teaching positions in colleges and universities and leaders in public policy organizations, among others.

A new cohort of the DHA program begins every fall and consists of 56 hours and delivered in a blended format. There are two tracks – the Health Administrator and the Health Professional tracks. 

Doctor of Health Education (DHeD)

Doctor of Health Education

Healthcare educators, practicing clinicians, and leaders in the healthcare industry will find DHed programs a boost to their careers and crucial for their professional development. Here, students sharpen their leadership, communication, critical thinking skills, and teaching and research skill sets.

Plus, these programs generally don’t require a dissertation. Instead, students complete a Doctoral Research Project (D.R.P.), a written document published in peer-reviewed journals. Students also choose from several concentrations, including: 

  • Public Nutrition 
  • Epidemiology 
  • Health Education Administration 
  • Behavioral Theory 
  • Health Policy 
  • Health Services Planning 

A.T. Still University 

A.T. Still University

800 W. Jefferson Street, Kirksville, MO 63501 (660) 626-2121

The DHeD program at ATSU consists of 55 hours or 15 courses, with each core course equivalent to three credit hours. Students complete a Doctoral Research Project (D.R.P.) consisting of five 5-hour courses.

You’ll learn about traditional and emerging pedagogical and andragogical methods. A number of topics will be discussed, including student-centered learning, heutagogy, pedagogy 2.0 and 3.0, as well as problem-based learning and transformative learning. Teaching and learning will be focused on hybrid, online, and face-to-face environments.

Logan University 

Logan University

Doctor of Health Professions Education (DHPE)

1851 Schoettler Rd., Chesterfield, MO 63017 (800) 782-3344

Logan’s DHPE program is a 100% online program that allows students the benefits of self-paced study. Students can even complete their practicum and applied research projects in the comfort of their homes! Earning a doctorate without putting your life and work on hold has never been easier! 

Students are encouraged to apply their clinical experience, education skill set, and content expertise to become excellent professionals. Full-time and part-time status in this kind of doctoral programs enable students to complete the doctorate on their own time. 

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Doctor of Philosophy

The beauty of Ph.D. programs partly lies in the sheer number of concentrations offered! It’s safe to say that there’s a Ph.D. program in every possible area of study, from the sciences to the arts. The actual coursework depends on the specific area of study, but the curriculum consists of academic coursework and a dissertation. 

Since Ph.D. or doctoral programs are heavy on research, most graduates become professors, researchers, and post-doctoral fellows. The academe has a strong pull among Ph.D. graduates because it’s where their advanced teaching and research abilities can be showcased.

Faulkner University 

Faulkner University

Ph.D.  in Humanities

5345 Atlanta Highway, Montgomery, AL 36109 (800) 879-9816

The Ph.D. in Humanities program at Faulkner combines a worldly perspective with a Christian education , which results in challenging and engaging discussions. The 100% online program includes an effective online learning platform and several courses, including: 

  • A foundation course in the philosophy and history of the humanities 
  • Seven core courses 
  • Two dissertation courses 
  • Two interdisciplinary seminar courses
  • Three independent tutorials in a specific area of interest 

Students can complete doctoral programs like this in three to five years, depending on their status and dissertation process completion. Credits may be transferred – up to six hours – upon the director’s approval. 

Amridge University 

Amridge University

Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies

1200 Taylor Road, Montgomery, AL 36117 (888) 790-8080

Students choose numerous courses across multiple disciplines, including Marriage and Family Therapy, Counselling, and Biblical Studies. Their stay in the program is marked by an individualized plan of study, outstanding instruction from professors and mentors, and ample student support services. 

These doctoral programs consists of 51 semester hours, consisting of research, academic areas, dissertation process, and comprehensive exam courses. Combining these courses means that students gain specialized yet multidisciplinary knowledge and skills.

  • Doctor of Public Health (D.P.H.)

Doctor of Public Health

Most D.H.P. programs require 3-4 years of study that includes academic work in education, business, and public health. Students may be required to pass an approved dissertation and pass a comprehensive oral and written exam, perhaps a short-term residency program. Graduate students can choose specializations in global health, occupational health, and environmental epidemiology. The coursework includes: 

  • Health psychology
  • Data and statistical analysis
  • Quantitative and qualitative research issues
  • Pharmacoeconomics
  • Ecological toxicology
  • Epidemiology

Johns Hopkins University 

Johns Hopkins University

3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 (410) 516-8000

Early to mid-career public health practitioners flock to J.H.U.’s top-notch D.P.H. program because it’s considered a golden ticket to executive-level positions in national and international public health organizations. Indeed, the Johns Hopkins reputation precedes it!

Students choose from several concentrations. The program itself trains its students for these positions through intensive education in: 

  • Leadership and communication 
  • Policy and program design 
  • Management and ethics 
  • Data and analytical skills 

This program demands long-term commitment, too – full-time students complete it in 5-7 years while part-time students have nine years for completion.

University of South Florida 

University of South Florida

4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33620, U.S.A. (813) 974-2011

The U.S.F.’s D.P.H. program offers two concentrations: 

  • Advanced Practice Leadership in Public Health 
  • Public Health, Clinical Laboratory Science and Practice

Both have 43 credits for completion, consisting of core, concentration, and elective courses and a doctoral project as a culminating requirement. Students must finish 13 credit hours at the 7000 levels. Candidates may request a maximum of 12 post-master credit hours. 

Students in this type of doctoral programs gain skill sets in management and leadership, community engagement, and evidence-based public health and education.

Doctor of Theology (ThD)/Ph.D. in Theology

what is the quickest and easiest phd to get

The current ThD programs are regarded as a cross between Ph.D. and Doctor of Ministry (DMin) programs. While the Ph.D. programs are intensive and research-focused and the DMin programs are less intensive and application-oriented, the ThD programs have a balanced approach. These are research-oriented but with more focus on practical applications, particularly toward the improvement of practice. 

Experienced theology practitioners who want a more expansive theological foundation upon which innovations can be created will benefit the most from ThD programs.

Regent University

Regent University

Ph.D. in Renewal Theology

1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464 (800) 373-5504

Regent’s Ph.D. in Renewal Theology is a low-residency program that requires students to attend on-campus, two-week residency sessions every semester. These face-to-face sessions include in-seat class time, orientations, and academic and fellowship opportunities. The rest of the semester, however, is spent online. 

Pastors, missionaries, and educators are the typical students in the doctoral programs. This 60-week program includes these concentrations: 

  • Biblical Studies
  • Christian Theology
  • Church History
  • Practical Theology

Pontifex University 

Pontifex University

4465 Northside Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30327 (404) 252-4513

The ThD program at Pontifex University is a research-focused one where students must complete a lengthy scholarly dissertation But the dissertation process is easier and can be completed online.

Candidates must demonstrate satisfactory moral theology, systematic theology, Old and New Testament, and ecclesiastical history, among other subjects. If the candidate successfully completes the eight core study areas, he or she will receive a Diploma in Theological Foundation, which, when combined with a graduate degree, may be considered an acceptable basis for applying to a ThD program.

Ph.D. in Recreation

Ph.D. in Recreation

Students enrolled in Ph.D. in Recreation doctoral programs can spend between three and five years on their studies, depending on their enrollment status. Their graduate-level academic coursework is complemented by comprehensive examinations and a dissertation project, common graduation requirements. The choices in concentration include: 

  • Recreational Behavior and Cultural Studies 
  • Recreation and Leisure Administration 
  • Resources for Recreational and Leisure Activities 

Core classes vary between programs, but the most common are: 

  • Contemporary issues in the field of recreation 
  • Resources, policies, and emerging trends in recreation 
  • Work, health, and safety in leisure 
  • Qualitative and quantitative research data analysis 

Clemson University 

Clemson University

Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

263 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0735 (864) 656-3400 

Students have greater flexibility in determining their coursework within Clemson’s program, but there are general rules regarding the program of study. These include completing the academic requirements of at least 30 credit hours with the coursework, including Philosophical Foundations, Behavioral Aspects of PRTM, and Research Seminar.

A comprehensive exam and a final doctoral oral exam are also a must for graduation purposes as part of the final dissertation defense in this kind of doctoral programs. Both of these aspects test the student’s general and specialized knowledge and his/her knowledge of his/her research topic. 

Troy University 

Troy University

Ph.D. in Sports Management

600 University Ave, Troy, AL 36082 (800) 551-9716

Troy’s Ph.D. program welcomes sport management educators and sports practitioners who want to contribute to the body of knowledge in recreation, leisure, and sports management. Students are provided with plenty of amazing opportunities to produce new, innovative, and theoretical knowledge with possible practical applications. This is a research-oriented online doctoral degree program.

Students of this type of doctoral programs learn about sports management and develop their advanced skills in data analysis, statistics, and other soft skills for the workplace. Graduates become fit for leadership and executive roles in higher education, sports research, and athletics. 

Doctor of Church Music (D.C.M.)

Doctor of Church Music

The D.C.M. doctoral programs are considered easy because of their emphasis on musicianship skills in preparation for careers as professional composers, conductors, and performers of church music. Since students already have proficient music skills through education and experience, the requirements are fairly easy. 

The typical curriculum of this online doctoral degree includes training in musical instruments, such as the church organ, and a survey of past and current liturgical music. Most programs have a three-year duration. 

Graduate Theological Foundation 

Graduate Theological Foundation

Doctor of Sacred Music (D.S.M.)

116 E Sheridan Ave, Ste 207, Oklahoma City, OK 73104 (800) 423-5983

The D.S.M. program consists of two parts – 30 credits of 10 courses and six credits with the choice between an exit project or a non-project option. The exit project can be in the form of one of three tracks with the choice belonging to the student and with the guidance of an advisor, including: 

  • The academic track consists of a traditional thesis with 35,000-40,000 words 
  • The performance tracking can be a recital or a lecture with a recital; an instrumental or choral performance; or composition and performance of original works 
  • The administrative or ministerial track, featuring hymnody or workshops combined with a thesis  

Individuals with experience in parish music ministries and a master’s degree in music are welcome to apply to such doctoral programs.

Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University

Doctor of Pastoral Music (D.P.M.)

S.M.U. Perkins School of Theology, P.O. Box 750133, Dallas, TX 75275-0133 (214) 768-8436 

The 30-credit-hour D.P.M. online doctoral degree program at S.M.U. enables church music practitioners to become even better at their vocation. The curriculum consists of: 

  • Vocation and leadership courses (9 hours) including The Person and Role of a Leader in Ministry and Vocation, Leadership, and Community
  • Concentration courses (15 hours) with classes on Music and Arts in Missional Ministry, Applied Studies in Church Music, and Music in Worship and Renewal
  • Elective courses (3 hours) with choices like Directed Studies in Pastoral Music and Contextual Analysis
  • Project, practicum, and thesis (12 hours) 

Candidates must have a Master’s in Sacred Music or its equivalent and suitable experience as church musicians and a passion for pastoral music. 

  • Juris Doctor (JD)

Juris Doctor

Formerly known as a Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.), the Juris Doctor (JD) is a three-year professional degree that requires its holders to pass a state bar exam before becoming law practitioners. There are accelerated online doctoral degree or J.D. programs with a two-year duration. Fordham, Columbia, Rutgers, and Drexel are among the foremost universities that offer the shorter option. 

While holders of other doctorate degrees can call themselves “Doctor,” individuals with a J.D. degree don’t because it isn’t a research doctorate. But J.D. holders who passed their state’s respective bar exam can practice law or become law professors. 

If you’re interested in a law-related research degree, you can look into two options. First, a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree and, second, a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D./J.S.D.) degree. The LL.M. degree requires a J.D. degree as a prerequisite, while an S.J.D. degree has LL.M. degree as a prerequisite. 

New York University

New York University

40 Washington Sq. South, New York, NY 10012.    (212) 998-6100

NYU’s J.D. program is known for its outstanding quality of instruction, where students learn an extensive range of subjects in legal studies. Students whose professional trajectory includes business and law will find an excellent outlet for their passions in the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership Program.

With N.Y.U. Law’s reputation for being the best in the business, students benefit from the intensive law coursework complemented by corporate skills. Students also benefit from collaborations with non-law students, particularly business students, which expand their perspective about law’s importance. 

Abraham Lincoln University

Abraham Lincoln University

Galleria Office Tower, 100 W. Broadway, Ste 600, Glendale, CA 91210 (213) 252-5100

ALU’s J.D. program provides a conducive environment for working professionals and other non-traditional students who want to plunge into the diverse careers that a J.D. degree opens. Students learn the laws of the land and conduct legal research, apply advanced thinking skills, and create legal documents during their training. 

This is a 140-quarter unit online doctoral degree program that includes core courses in criminal law, contracts and obligations, constitutional law, criminal procedure, and advanced legal research and writing.

Doctor of Criminal Justice (D.C.J.)

Doctor of Criminal Justice

Holders of the D.C.J. degree have the skillset to become effective professionals in the academe, research industry, and administrative units in public and private organizations. Keep in mind that, like all doctorate degrees, it’s a professional terminal degree emphasizing applied research. 

In contrast, the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice or Criminology focuses on theoretical research. Both doctorate degrees, nonetheless, have overlapping functions considering that theoretical and applied research may overlap. But if you’re looking for such doctoral programs, you will gain the skillset to solve current issues using existing knowledge.

California University of Pennsylvania 

California University of Pennsylvania

250 University Ave., California, PA 15419 (724) 938-4000

Cal U’s D.C.J. program was the first regionally accredited program of its kind in the country, and, through the years, it has established a reputation for being one of the best. Students learn from the experts about applying existing knowledge in responding to and addressing the current issues of the criminal justice system.

This is a 42-credit online doctoral degree program in Criminal Justice with a two-year completion timeline, including part-time enrollment. Students must study well, nonetheless, because the coursework can be demanding. The curriculum includes the completion of a doctoral research portfolio and passing a comprehensive exam. 

Saint Leo University 

Saint Leo University

33701 State Road 52, St. Leo, FL 33574 (800) 334-5532

Saint Leo offered the second accredited D.C.J. program in the U.S., and, like Cal U, it has improved its curriculum and other aspects of instruction through the years. This is a 30-credit Criminal Justice program that can be completed in three-and-a-half years with full-time enrollment in the fall, spring, and summer terms.

Online doctoral degree graduates and students of this Criminal Justice degree online enjoy outstanding student support services, including effective partnerships between students and dissertation chairs. The Criminal Justice coursework can be customized depending on your personal and professional schedules.

Doctor of Liberal Studies (D.L.S.) 

Online doctoral degree programs in liberal studies are a consistent presence in lists of the easiest degrees because of their generalist approach, including the lack of advanced math and science courses. This is true for the D.L.S. degree programs, emphasizing the humanities, including history, art, and social sciences. 

These doctoral programs are the best fit for accomplished professionals who want a rigorous interdisciplinary program that will boost their expertise in their field. Indeed, most doctoral programs require students to meet the competitive admission process with small cohort sizes and comprehensive coursework. 

University of Memphis Global 

University of Memphis Global

Memphis, TN 38152 (901) 678-2000

Offered at the College of Professional and Liberal Studies, the D.L.S. online doctoral degree program allows students to follow a customized course of study with the guidance of academic advisors. Both parties work toward developing a curriculum proposal that meets the Graduate School’s graduation requirements and the student’s interdisciplinary goals. 

Students must submit their respective Coordinated Study grid, a planning document that identifies their proposed classes, before admission into the program. The program requires 33 hours of coordinated study courses and 21 hours of core requirements or 54 hours at the 7000 to 8000 level. Comprehensive exams and a dissertation process are also necessary for graduation. 

Washington University in Saint Louis 

Washington University in Saint Louis

11 N. Jackson Ave, Suite 1000, St. Louis, MO 63105-2153 (314) 935-6700

WashU Saint Louis’ DLA online doctoral degree program consists of 45 credits with nine credits dedicated for thesis and research. This is designed for working professionals and other adult learners with extensive experience with a passion for lifelong learning. It’s a rigorous interdisciplinary program that’s easy because it’s liberal studies but difficult because of the breadth of topics. 

Part-time students can complete the program in four years but must dedicate 1-2 years more for the comprehensive exams and thesis. Students work closely with academic advisors to ensure thesis completion and approval. 

Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.) 

All D.P.A. or doctoral programs of this kind offer a unique approach, curriculum, and graduation requirements that must be evaluated based on their merit. Most programs consist of at least 40 credit hours with academic coursework and dissertation process components and take 2-3 years to complete.

Many programs offer concentrations, such as ethical leadership, public management, and non-profit management, which allow for a specific field of study. 

Career opportunities are as varied as the D.P.A. programs, with popular examples being financial managers, college professors, political scientists, social service managers, urban and regional planners, and consultants.

Capella University 

Capella University 

Capella’s D.P.A. program is a breeding ground for future community leaders and advocates of effective public policy! Students get the crucial education through academic coursework, soft skills development, and community engagement.

Aside from earning a relevant D.P.A. degree, students also deepen their passion for public service and strengthen their cultural awareness and ethics. The blended doctoral programs features relevant courses like Theories and Concepts in Public Administration, Public Sector Policy Analysis, and Operational Strategic Management and Planning. 

National University 

what is the quickest and easiest phd to get

The 54-credit online doctoral degree program provides students with a solid foundation in applied research concerning public administration, including its policies, principles, and practices. While there’s a research component, it’s geared more toward practical applications than theoretical implications.

Students in these doctoral programs will learn how to use research methods and literature to apply their knowledge. NU’s curriculum provides online learning students with skills to evaluate theories and practices in the field.

Doctor of Information Technology (D.I.T.)

The D.I.T. degree is a professional doctoral degree with a strong applied research orientation. Graduates of these programs can call themselves “Doctor” and attach the post-nominals “D.I.T.” to their names. This degree is at the same level as a Ph.D. in I.T., but the latter has a more theoretical framework. 

Concentrations for this online doctoral degree are available, including software engineering, information systems, and information security. Candidates for doctoral programs admission generally have bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in I.T. or related disciplines, a must since I.T. is also a specialized field.

The common requirements for completing this online doctoral degree are academic coursework, original research and dissertation with an oral defense, and comprehensive exam. 

Walden University

Walden’s D.I.T. program requires its candidates to possess a master’s degree in information systems, information technology, or cybersecurity, among other related disciplines. For online doctoral degree candidates without a technical master’s degree, at least three years of relevant technical work experience must be admitted.

The concentrations offered are Applied Information Technology and Information Technology Leadership.

City University of Seattle 

City University of Seattle

521 Wall St., Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98121 (800) 426-5596/(206) 239-4500

When you complete the D.I.T. program at CityU, you can become a “change agent in the I.T. industry” due to your interdisciplinary training. This online doctoral degree is a 90-credit program designed for I.T. practitioners who want to gain advanced skillsets in educational technology and computing. The concentrations offered are Cybersecurity, Computer Science, and Data Science. 

Online doctoral degree students in this field get intensive training in various topics to prepare them for senior-level or executive-level positions in public and private sectors. The curriculum consists of up-to-date courses in cloud computing, data science, and artificial intelligence.

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Becoming a well-respected ministry researcher or professor can start with earning a Dmin degree from an accredited university. Aside from the well-paying jobs, graduates can also look forward to becoming influential religious leaders, religious counselors, founders of churches, and chaplains.

Most DMin programs allow their students to customize their program of study. Concentrations in these doctoral programs are aplenty, too, including: 

  • Biblical Studies 
  • Applied Theology 
  • Children’s Ministry 
  • Pastoral Counselling 
  • Theological Research 

Duke University 

Duke University

Duke Divinity School, 407 Chapel Drive, Duke Box #90968, Durham, NC 27708-0968 (919) 660-3400

Duke is among the world’s top research universities, and its enviable reputation extends to its Duke Divinity School, which offers a top-notch DMIn program. This is a hybrid online doctoral degree program with five-week-long, on-campus residential seminars over the three-year program’s duration. The residencies are complemented by eight-week periods.

In order to complete the DMin, practical ministry experience is combined with structured theological reflection. As the Scriptures and traditions of the church are studied alongside contemporary leadership theory and practice, the course grows an understanding of the nature, source, and characteristics of authentic Christian leadership .

Emory University 

Emory University


Rita Anne Rollins Building, 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30322  (404) 727-6322

Offered at the Candler School of Theology, the DMin program consists of 32 credit hours that can be completed in three years. The hybrid delivery for this online doctoral degree means a combination of online instruction and on-campus residency, albeit short-term stays. The residency requirement consists of four stays, once for each year of the first two years and then twice in the third year. 

Experienced ministers are typical online doctoral degree students, and their training enables them to strengthen their understanding of the relationship between theology and ministry. Students choose between two concentrations – first, Church Leadership and Community Witness and Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation. The final capstone project in this online doctoral degree must combine academic study and practical applications in ministry. 

Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc)/Ph.D. in Health Sciences

The Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) and Ph.D. in Health Sciences are academic doctorate degrees that combine academic coursework, clinical practice, and research. Both doctoral programs also require master’s credentials and work experience for admission, and both can open career opportunities in academic and non-academic settings.

Due to their advanced nature, this online doctoral degree should lead to leadership or executive positions where high-level thinking abilities are a must. 

Bay Path University 

Bay Path University

588 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA 01106 (800) 782-7284

Experienced practitioners in healthcare-related occupations who want to assume leadership roles in their fields find B.P.U.’s DHSc program an excellent credential. The intensive online doctoral degree training provides them with a new way of looking at real-world issues and finding viable solutions for these problems. 

Students pursuing doctorate degrees in this field must complete the requirements for 48 credits, or 16 courses, regardless of their chosen concentration. The available tracks in this online doctoral degree are: 

  • Health Informatics Management
  • Organizational Excellence in Healthcare
  • Online Teaching
  • Productive Aging
  • Advanced Occupational Therapy Practice

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences

414 E. Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069 (877) 269-6837

The interprofessional Ph.D. in Health Sciences program prepares its students for leadership positions in health and human services, research, and the academe. Working professionals are at the heart of this online doctoral degree program, and candidates must have sufficient relevant experience to be considered for admission. 

The doctoral programs have four core components – teaching, scholarship, leadership, and advanced practice. Students in this online doctoral degree benefit from the convenience of online course delivery with minimal residency requirements.

Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.)/Ph.D. in Social Work  

Professionals with a doctorate in social work, whether a Ph.D. or a doctoral degree, as well as several years of experience and state licensure, have more rewarding career opportunities. Their advanced skillset is the most qualified for executive-level positions in organizations, including schools, non-profits, and research firms. 

The common courses in Ph.D. and doctorate of social work programs include:

  • Social science theories 
  • Advanced research methods and statistics 
  • Teaching in higher education programs 
  • Grant writing
  • Social welfare policy and practice analysis 

University of Buffalo

University of Buffalo

685 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260 (716) 645-3381

The 39-credit D.S.W. doctorate program welcomes experienced licensed social workers with a master’s degree in social work or a related discipline who want to improve their career opportunities. Students can choose to be on full-time or part-time enrollment; if you choose the latter, you can finish the program in three years or seven semesters.

Doctoral programs candidates must have access to willing clients or client populations as part of the admission process. This online doctoral degree is based on U.B.’s trauma-informed and human rights viewpoint. The online coursework includes organizational characteristics, concepts in implementation science, and technology and human behavior. 

Baylor University 

Baylor University

Ph.D. in Social Work  

811 Washington Ave., Waco, TX 76701 (254) 710-6400

Graduates of Baylor’s Ph.D. in Social Work program have an excellent shot at becoming leaders and educators in the field of social work. Baylor provides top-notch training that transforms them into visionary leaders and educators!

The coursework for this online doctoral degree includes research and analysis methods, leadership and administration, and religious and cultural diversity. Even the faculty is actively involved in research, ranging from child welfare and adoption to grief and loss. Upon earning this online doctoral degree, you will be prepared to pursue licensure as a social worker.

Doctorate Degrees Types 

The Doctor of Philosophy are research-oriented doctorate degrees, emphasizing original research, evaluation of theory, and data analysis. These are designed for professionals in pursuit of knowledge, including theoretical and applied research activities. The common Ph.D. programs include: 

  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
  • Doctor of Business Management (Ph.D.)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Doctor of Theology (Th.D.)

All Ph.D. or doctoral programs have dissertation requirements due to the emphasis on new research. The final stage is the oral defense before a committee or panel.

Professional doctoral programs are also known as the terminal doctorate or the applied doctorate offering practical solutions or effective practices in response to complex issues.

Who Should Pursue An Online Doctorate Program

Students who pursue professional doctorate programs typically include those who want to: 

  • Pursue career advancement 
  • Establish teaching authority or credibility 
  • Meet the professional requirements for executive-level jobs in the corporate world 
  • Build a consultancy business 

The most common professional doctorate degrees include: 

  • Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)
  • Doctor of Professional Studies – Instructional Design Leadership
  • Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.)
  • Doctor of Healthcare Administration (D.H.A.)
  • Doctor of Finance (D.P.H.)

Unlike Ph.D. programs, professional doctorate programs may or may not have a dissertation requirement. Each is a online doctoral degree that isn’t academia-focused post-graduate or doctoral programs but are instead programs that encourage doctoral students to tackle real-world issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

The answer depends on the chosen path of the doctoral student who opts for the online distance learning format. Doctorate degrees require between 60 and 120 semester credit hours, translating to approximately between 20 and 40 courses. In general, applied doctoral programs are at the 60 credit mark but nowhere near the 120-mark. But Ph.D. programs typically require 120 semester credit hours.

Applied doctoral programs can be earned in 4-6 years, while a Ph.D. may take eight. Doctoral students can decide on taking either a shorter or longer time depending on the online doctorate, your status as a student (part-time or full-time), and completion of graduation requirements.

Your total costs will depend on where the doctoral students are enrolled, what financial aid options you took, and your time spent.

The tuition and fees for an online doctoral degree vary depending on where you live. Schools may or may not have different rates for in-state and out-of-state students in online programs.

Doctoral students can spend between $11,900+ per year to upwards of $62,000 per year depending on the doctoral degrees being pursued. A financial aid program can help augment this burden.

Keep in mind that doctorate programs tend to have competitive admission requirements, such as:

  • GRE or GMAT scores may be required depending on the program’s requirements
  • Letters of recommendation 
  • Portfolio/resume 
  • Personal statement or essay 
  • Official transcripts 
  • Prerequisite courses 

Most doctoral programs also require candidate interviews, and evaluation for financial aid qualification. 

There are four stages of coursework in typical doctoral programs. 

  • The research core in online doctorate programs consists of classes that establish your foundational skills in advanced writing, applied statistics, research methodology, and qualitative and quantitative research and analysis.
  • The focus courses are specific to your course of studies.
  • The electives in online doctoral programs teach skills that may or may not be specific to your chosen field.
  • The dissertation is typically the last stage in doctoral programs.

Key Takeaways

Indeed, even the 20 easiest doctorate degrees offered online aren’t as easy as they sound! Doctoral students must submit themselves to the rigorous coursework of such doctoral programs, including class discussions, examinations, and research in an advanced degree.

Once you have achieved your online doctoral degree, you can call yourself a doctor and prove that you are an authority in your field. Pursue different career routes depending on your professional goals and the type of online doctoral degree programs you complete!

Malcolm Peralty Chief Editor

Grad School Center

15 Fastest Online Ph.D. and Doctorate Degrees

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: March 11, 2024 , Reading time: 30 minutes

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Many professionals pursue doctorate degrees because of their fairly strong employment prospects ! About 70% of the 2020 new PhD holders reported “definite commitments” from prospective employers from academia and industries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, doctorate holders earned the highest median weekly pay ($1,885) and the lowest unemployment rate (2.5%) among bachelor’s and master’s degree holders.

Fastest Online Ph.D. and Doctorate Degrees

But we all know that the path to higher education isn’t all roses! Candidates in PhD and doctorate programs take between four and eight years to earn their degrees, and spend $114,300 on average . With the cost of attendance comes student loan debts that can reach $108,400 on average, and it can be as high as $159,625 for PhD holders .

No wonder individuals interested in enjoying the benefits of a doctorate look for the fastest programs and fields of study!

Quick audio summary:

Fastest online ph.d. and doctorate degrees, doctor of audiology.

Hearing issues have adverse effects on an individual’s quality of life and, thus, preventing and addressing these issues is crucial. This is where audiologists come in through their expertise in diagnosing, preventing, and treating hearing issues. Note that hearing issues also affect balance and, thus, audiologists empower their patients to enjoy daily activities better. 

Aside from prescribing medical devices, audiologists also provide counseling services for their patients in dealing with their hearing and balance issues. Their job also includes providing reliable and relevant information to family members, caregivers, and the community. 

Audiologists must possess a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree and a state license. The AuD degree can be earned in four years, but accelerated three-year programs are the fastest. The shortened curriculum in accelerated programs doesn’t mean lower academic quality – it just means the courses have been compressed aside from being fast-paced. Students must be 100% committed to earning the degree within the three-year timetable. 

Students progress through the foundational courses in:

  • Physiology,
  • Normal and Abnormal Communication Development,
  • Pharmacology in Audiology,
  • and Diagnosis and Treatment of Hearing and Balance Issues. 

The curriculum also includes internships in hospitals, clinics and outpatient facilities where students develop their clinical skills in healthcare settings. Students observe licensed audiologists in action and have direct patient interactions through patient consultations. The hands-on experience strengthens the theories learned in the virtual or blended classroom. 

Audiologists find gainful employment in healthcare settings and other industries. Industrial audiologists, for example, prevent hearing issues by developing safety protocols while educational audiologists work with children with hearing issues. 

Median Pay: $81,030 per year

Job Outlook: 16% 

Job Opportunities: Audiologists 

Best Schools: Western Michigan University , Salus University , and University of Cincinnati  

Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering

The typical time-to-completion among PhD in Biomedical Engineering is 5-6 years, but accelerated programs decrease it to 3-4 years. Of course, your time-to-completion will be determined by your commitment, enrolment status and compliance with the scheduled milestones. The third-year mark, for example, is typically dedicated to the completion of the dissertation, fulfillment of teaching and a research assistantship, and compliance with remaining academic requirements.

Accelerated programs are hands-on learning experiences for candidates who must be 100% committed to their post-graduate studies, including their research and teaching assistantships. Candidates progress through the fast-paced, rigorous programs of study that integrate didactic coursework with world-class independent research. Close collaborations with faculty members in faculty-led research projects are also typical, and these allow candidates to develop their interdisciplinary skills and establish professional networks.  

Admission requirements vary, but most accelerated programs require applicants to possess a master’s degree in biomedical engineering or other related fields. Minimum GRE/GMAT scores and cumulative graduate GPA are also common requirements:

  • a personal statement,
  • letters of reference,
  • and statement of purpose.

Admission is competitive in accelerated PhD in Biomedical Engineering programs due to their above-average rigorousness, not to mention that universities benefit from a track record of high year-to-year completion rates.  

Candidates usually undergo several stages in their PhD journey, from acceptance into the program to pass the qualifying exams, making their dissertation proposals and passing the approval stage. Teaching and research assistantships are required, too, which pays for part of their tuition cost and develops their teaching and research skills. 

Holders of the PhD in Biomedical Engineering degree work in the healthcare, industrial and commercial manufacturing, engineering sectors, and academia. 

Median Pay: $106,919 per year 

Job Outlook: 6% 

Job Opportunities: Biomedical engineering director, biomedical engineering educators and researchers, and biomedical research scientists  

Best Schools: University of North Dakota and Boise State University  

Doctor of Business Administration

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a professional doctorate and terminal degree in business administration that enables its holders to become business professors, researchers and professionals. Many programs offer it as a standalone degree, while others offer it with technology-related fields of study. Holders of the DBA degree may represent themselves with the academic title doctor and attach the post-nominal DBA letters, too. 

Like its equivalent PhD in Business Administration, the DBA degree is also considered a research degree by the National Science Foundation (NSF). As such, its holders are qualified to perform research projects related to business topics and perform management roles in government agencies, corporations and nonprofit organizations. Many occupy senior-level positions, such as organizational development directors and chief executive officers. 

Candidates in non-accelerated DBA programs earn 54-60 credits in 3-5 years. Accelerated programs with compressed coursework enable candidates to earn the degree in three years, but it’s crucial to hit the milestones as scheduled. Many, if not most, students don’t have external employment but work as teaching and/or research assistants. 

Accelerated programs may offer human resources, international business, and global supply chain management concentrations. Choosing a concentration may involve taking three additional courses and the core coursework. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of business administration, the DBA coursework includes:

  • business research,
  • statistics,
  • international business
  • and accounting. 

On-site residences or internships may be required in addition to the culminating project. The latter requirement can be a dissertation or a special project highlighting the candidate’s DBA-related insights and interests. 

Median Pay: $146,600 per year 

Job Outlook: 12%

Job Opportunities: Business researchers/fellows and university professors 

Best Schools: Baker College , University of Wisconsin Whitewater , and Bellevue University  

Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership

Community colleges are crucial to the American education system because of their inclusive approach resulting in diverse student bodies, among other roles. But there are unique challenges, too, in their management that demands appropriate formal education and training in addition to work experience. The EdD in Community College Leadership degree is the best for the education and training part! 

Candidates in accelerated EdD in Community College Leadership programs learn essential competencies identified by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC):

  • communication,
  • organizational strategy,
  • collaboration,
  • fundraising,
  • institutional finance,
  • community college advocacy,
  • and resource management.

Candidates become qualified for leadership positions at two-year colleges upon graduation with their knowledge and skills. Their future roles and responsibilities include overseeing the academic curriculum, student support services, business operations, and human resources of community colleges. 

Many EdD in Community College Leadership programs is standalone programs, while many are specializations within the EdD generalist programs. Both, nonetheless, are excellent educational preparations for roles as presidents, provosts and deans at community colleges. 

Between 50-66 post-master’s credits are required in accelerated programs, meaning a three-year time-to-completion. The curriculum consists of core and concentration courses, electives and dissertations; the first two years may be spent on the academic aspect, while the third year is for the dissertation. The core courses include:

  • qualitative and quantitative research methods,
  • advanced learning theory,
  • leadership and ethics,
  • and program development and evaluation.

Fiscal responsibility, student and faculty relations, and workforce training are common courses. 

Median Pay: $241,727 

Job Outlook: 8% 

Job Opportunities: Community college presidents, academic deans, and admissions directors 

Best Schools: New Jersey City University , Old Dominion University , and Mississippi State University

Doctor of Computer Science 

Individuals interested in gainful employment in the fast-growing computer and information technology field may want to consider the Doctor of Computer Science (DCS) degree! With a projected growth rate of 13% (2020-2030) and the highest median pay at $126,830 per year, it’s a degree that’s well worth the time, energy and money. With public and private organizations recognizing the need to use digital technologies in data management, DCS degree holders will have plenty of work waiting for them. 

Non-accelerated online programs have a six- to seven-year time-to-completion, but accelerated programs cut the time in half! Candidates can complete an accelerated program in three years but must be fully committed to achieving the milestones as recommended. 

Many programs have a minimum of 60 post-master’s credits to complete before the DCS degree is awarded. The first two years focus on the didactic coursework, while the last year is spent on completing the dissertation. The fast-paced coursework is rivaled only by the fast-paced progress through the dissertation, which usually takes 2-3 years for completion. But fast-paced doesn’t mean rushed and reduced quality – candidates must still meet high academic standards! 

Note that the DCS degree isn’t equivalent to the Doctor of Science in Computer Science (DSc) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Computer Science! The DCS degree is suitable for professionals whose main career goals include making meaningful contributions to the existing body of theories, principles and practices of computing. The DSc and PhD degrees are more suitable for professionals who want to teach in academia as professors and researchers. 

Median Pay: $126,830 per year

Job Outlook: 22%

Job Opportunities: Computer scientists, computer and information systems managers, and computer network architects 

Best Schools: University of North Dakota , Aspen University , and Colorado Technical University  

Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor in Grief Counseling

Licensed psychologists pursue either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a Doctor in Grief Counseling for career advancement and personal fulfillment. With the degree, their public or private practice can be expanded in terms of types of patients and professional scope resulting in more impact. Indeed, a doctorate in grief counseling degree holders has numerous paths possible, from becoming well-recognized published researchers to well-respected grief counselors with pioneering therapy techniques. 

Many also pursue successful careers in academia, such as university professors training future psychologists and grief counselors. The opportunity for scholarly activities is also a come-on for candidates in doctorate programs. There’s also the possible increase of their median annual salary by as much as 50%! 

A doctorate in Grief Counseling can be earned in 1-5 years. But a 3-year time-to-completion is more realistic if you want a good work-life-studies balance. In accelerated programs, students tackle a compressed curriculum that includes:

  • research methodologies,
  • and psychotherapy techniques.  

Candidates also gain a professional understanding of grief and bereavement in several situations, from job loss to divorce and death. Psychological first aid is an essential topic, too, along with loss and trauma. Since an entire community can also grieve, candidates also learn about community grief and crisis counseling, emphasizing multiculturalism and group counseling. 

Grief counselors work in a wide variety of settings, including the public and private sectors. Many are in private practice, while others are in hospitals, mental health facilities, and retirement communities, as well as the military. As professors and guidance counselors, being in academia is also a lucrative career path. 

Median Pay: $51,340 per year

Job Outlook: 15% 

Job Opportunities: Grief counselors, family and marriage therapists, and mental health counselors 

Best Schools: Regent University , Breyer State Theology University , and American International Theism University

Doctor of Health Sciences

The Doctor of Health Science (DHS) is an academic terminal degree for professionals interested in leadership positions in health sciences, including healthcare delivery systems. The leadership positions cover:

  • clinical practice,
  • applied research,
  • professorship,
  • conceptual,
  • critical thinking
  • and analytical thinking skills. 

The ideal candidates for DHS programs are allied health professionals, who must be either duly licensed or certified in their respective professions and want to advance their careers. Healthcare managers, practice clinicians, health science teachers and professors are common in accelerated DHS online programs. 

Candidates develop the knowledge and skills vital in finding solutions to issues based on evidence, applying the principles and best practices in healthcare management, and building their positive impact on healthcare systems. The DHS coursework then includes courses on:

  • leadership,
  • advocacy and ethics;
  • strategies for improving healthcare services;
  • organizational strategies for healthcare leadership;
  • and equity, inclusivity and diversity in healthcare systems. 

Internships, research and teaching assistantships, and even community immersions are part of the graduation requirements in DHS programs. These hands-on experiences strengthen the candidates’ professional proficiency and dissertation, the typical culminating requirement. The dissertation is undoubtedly the most challenging aspect of accelerated DHS programs, which have a three-year time-to-completion due to the extensive research necessary. 

Upon graduation, DHS degree holders can pursue leadership positions that allow them to initiate positive changes in their workplaces and the healthcare industry. The opportunities to shape or influence public healthcare policy, support best practices in clinical settings, and conduct breakthrough research are also in their future. Many also become top-level healthcare managers, consultants, and community advocates. 

Median Pay: $104,280 per year

Job Outlook: 32% 

Job Opportunities: Healthcare administrator, health sciences researcher, university professor 

Best Schools: George Washington University , Drexel University , and Bay Path University

Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies

Both PhD and EdD in Leadership Studies degrees emphasize the interdisciplinary characteristic of effective leadership in public and private organizations. These degrees are also versatile in the career paths that these can be applied in, from academia to business and industry, including healthcare, engineering and social work. Many holders, particularly the PhD in Leadership Studies degree, also become prolific researchers-scholars whose leadership studies advance its theories, principles and practices. 

The coursework is divided into:

  • core and major courses,
  • concentration courses,
  • dissertation-related courses,
  • internships,
  • research/teaching assistantships,
  • and community activities.

The typical curriculum has a specific sequence, particularly for cohort-based accelerated programs, meaning candidates should ideally hit their milestones based on the recommended timeline. Completing the degree in three years is, thus, possible. 

The courses usually include leadership-centric topics like leadership theories and intra- and inter-organizational leadership; applied leadership courses like communication, management, law and ethics; and policy development and implementation. As doctorate degrees, there’s an emphasis on generating original, perhaps thought-provoking, research with the dissertation as the culmination project. Leadership research courses, such as intermediate and advanced research methods, statistics, and experimental design, are part of the curriculum for this reason. 

Graduates can write, present and defend their research projects in a scholarly manner; demonstrate a proficient understanding of leadership studies in the personal, organizational and international perspectives; and foster positive relationships as part of their leadership. 

Median Pay: $97,500 per year

Job Outlook: 8%

Job Opportunities: School administrators, university professors, executive coaches and leaders 

Best Schools: Ashland University , Hofstra University , and Gonzaga University  

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Candidates in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are planning on pursuing advanced leadership roles in nursing, but with less focus on research. The DNP degree has a more clinical focus, while the PhD in Nursing degree has a strong research emphasis. Thus, DNP degree holders have more hands-on, direct patient interactions that enable them to make an observable impact on their patients. 

Between the DNP degree and the PhD in Nursing degree, the former has a shorter time-to-completion, too. DNP degree programs have 1-4 years time-to-completion, while PhD programs typically require 3-5 years of full-time commitment. Accelerated DNP programs have three years time-to-completion with the assumption of full-time studies, no failing grades, and hitting the milestones on time. 

The DNP degree opens opportunities for jobs as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), among other leadership positions. The DNP degree is currently considered the minimum educational requirement for entry-level APRNs in many healthcare institutions. Since it’s also a terminal degree, there’s no higher educational level available for aspiring APRNs, too. 

Accredited online DNP programs must cover eight essentials identified by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, namely: 

  • Scientific foundation for practice 
  • Organizational and systems leadership concerning systems thinking and quality improvement 
  • Essentials for evidence-based practice including analytical methods and clinical scholarship 
  • Information technology and systems for the improvement of quality of services and transformation of the healthcare system 
  • Healthcare policy and advocacy 
  • Improvement of patient and population health outcomes through interprofessional collaborations 
  • Population health and clinical prevention concerning improvement in national health 
  • Advanced nursing practice 

These essentials are covered through didactic courses, internships, clinical experiences, and a culminating project. Direct care and indirect care concentrations are also offered. 

Median Pay: $117,670 per year

Job Outlook: 45% 

Job Opportunities: Nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives 

Best Schools: Gwynedd Mercy University , University of Texas Arlington , and Maryville University  

Doctor of Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists perform vital roles in improving the quality of life among patients with illnesses, injuries, and disabilities that prevent them from enjoying everyday activities in a normal manner. Their expert assistance enables patients to recover, improve, develop and maintain occupational skills necessary for daily working and living. Their patients include people with cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome, and patients who have physical disabilities caused by illness and injury, such as stroke. 

The minimum educational requirement for occupational therapists is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree in addition to their license. The OTD degree is a post-professional degree, meaning candidates usually have a master’s degree, a license in occupational therapy, and sufficient work experience. The standard OTD doctorate programs take 3.5 years to complete, but accelerated online programs cut the time to completion in half! For example, Boston University’s OTD program can be completed in 18 months. 

The coursework for post-professional OTD programs includes:

  • clinical kinesiology,
  • psychology,
  • and therapeutic techniques in contemporary practice.

Concentrations are available in some programs, with prime examples being mental health and productive aging. 

There are also PhD in Occupational Therapy or Occupational Science programs, which are research-centric in contrast with the practice-based approach of OTD programs. The PhD programs are more suitable for professionals who want careers in research and academia, which may take up to six years. 

Occupational therapists must also possess soft skills to provide excellent patient care and work well with others. Adaptability, effective communication and interpersonal skills, and patience and compassion are desirable traits. 

Median Pay: $86,280 per year

Job Outlook: 17%

Job Opportunities: Occupational therapists, rehabilitation counselors, and university professors and researchers in occupational therapy

Best Schools: Boston University , Quinnipiac University , and St. Catherine University

Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership

While there are differences in the curriculum requirements among PhD in Organizational Leadership programs, their candidates develop the right knowledge, skills and mindset vital in their success as leaders. The combination is the result of core, major and elective coursework on the one hand and significant internship, research, and teaching experiences. These experiences are considered among the culminating projects that include an approved, publication-worthy dissertation. 

Most online doctorate programs have 3-5 years time-to-completion depending on the candidate’s enrolment status. But accelerated programs enable students to earn the degree in three years, tops, with the first two years for coursework and the last year for the dissertation. There are even shorter programs, but these can be extremely challenging in course load and other demands. 

A master’s degree in organizational leadership or related discipline, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation are common admission requirements. Many programs also require applicants to present relevant work experience, even research experience, because of the research focus. In-person and virtual interviews are also used to determine an applicant’s suitability for the program of study and its learning outcomes. 

Once accepted, candidates in PhD programs tackle interdisciplinary coursework that covers:

  • organizational design and leadership,
  • law and finance in education,
  • and ethics in leadership.

Learners also gain the theoretical framework and practical foundation for organizational leadership in government agencies and for-profit and nonprofit organizations. 

Concentrations are offered in many programs, too, including missional leadership, educational leadership, and healthcare leadership. International consulting and entrepreneurial leadership are popular among business-focused candidates. 

Median Pay: $121,220 per year

Job Outlook: 9%

Job Opportunities: Human resource managers, organizational development consultants, organizational development directors, and 

Best Schools: Regent University , University of Arizona , and National University  

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Online Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs have a three-year time-to-completion, on average, but full-time students can earn the degree in less time. Accelerated programs can compress the coursework and internship components even more! But students must be aware of the increased demands on their minds and bodies in accelerated programs, starting with full-time engagement. 

DPT curriculum varies between programs, but just the same, students learn the essential knowledge and skills vital for their professional success. Said success starts with passing the licensure exam for physical therapists, but there’s no end to it either, as licensed physical therapists must have a passion for lifelong learning. Physical therapists with sufficient work experience may also pursue board certification in their desired clinical specialty, such as geriatrics, sports or orthopedics. 

Diagnostic imaging, pharmacology, and motor control are among the career-specific courses in DPT programs. Research methods, including statistical analysis, are also discussed in-depth in preparation for a culminating research project, if necessary. Students apply their learning in life sciences and promote research in physical therapy. 

Residency programs are typical experiences among physical therapists after they graduate from DPT programs. These are typically one-year programs that provide residents with additional hands-on training, which comes in handy for specialization. 

During their practice, licensed physical therapists assist people with illnesses or injuries that affect their movement and pain management capacity. Preventive care, treatment and management, and recovery and rehabilitation among patients form a significant part of their healthcare services. Their job also includes interprofessional collaborations with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses and the family members and caregivers of patients. 

Median Pay: $91,010 per year

Job Outlook: 21% 

Job Opportunities: Physical therapists, sports clinical specialists, and geriatric specialists  

Best Schools: University of North Carolina , University of Southern California , and Northeastern University  

Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Social Work 

Candidates in Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programs prepared for clinical careers with direct client interactions and clinical research (i.e., practice-based). For candidates in PhD in Social Work programs, their training emphasizes teaching and theory, meaning their focus is on original, if not innovative, multidisciplinary research. 

Both DSW and PhD in Social Work candidates can choose a concentration if their respective programs offer specializations, such as:

  • advanced clinical practice,
  • social work education,
  • and mental health.

However, note that DSW candidates usually undergo more advanced internships than their PhD counterparts, mainly because of their practice-based focus. 

Candidates can take 4-6 years to complete a standard online program, but there are programs with an accelerated format, meaning candidates earn the degree in three years. The compressed coursework is complemented by the shorter periods between milestones, particularly in the dissertation phase. Both standard and accelerated programs have 45-60 post-master’s credits for candidates to complete. 

Regardless of their differences, both programs enable candidates to further develop their knowledge and skills in making a positive difference in others. Along with deeper insights into social work and its corresponding theories and principles, candidates also learn leadership and advanced research methodologies. The typical courses include:

  • public policy issues,
  • financial management in social work,
  • psychopharmacology
  • and psychopathology. 

Holders of a doctorate in social work degree may also choose to pursue continuing education for career advancement and personal fulfillment. Possible paths include an MBA that will enable effective leadership in nonprofit settings, a doctorate in psychology, and advanced certifications related to social work. Pursuing a license, such as a licensed master of social work, is also popular. 

Median Pay: $69,600 per year

Job Opportunities: Community service administration managers, clinical social workers, and university professors or researchers 

Best Schools: Baylor University , University at Buffalo , and University of Pennsylvania  

Doctor of Philosophy in Sports Management

The typical candidates in PhD in Sports Management programs have a keen interest in the business aspects of sports and recreation and relevant educational attainment and work experience. Their extensive training includes principles and practices in sports organizations and teams’ day-to-day operations and overall direction. 

These include:

  • overall administration,
  • finance and accounting,
  • human resources,
  • law and ethics,
  • and consumer behavior.

The coursework may include:

  • sports facility and event management,
  • sports communication,
  • and public policy concerning the sports and recreation industry. 

While a master’s degree in sports management may be an advantage, it isn’t a must-have requirement in most online accelerated programs. But it pays to possess relevant work experience in sports management since it will add a deeper dimension to your rigorous doctorate training! 

Concentrations may be offered by colleges and universities, thus, allowing candidates to gain specialist skills that can be used in niche aspects in sports and recreation. Examples of specializations are marketing, finance and facilities and events management. 

While PhD programs have a research-centric approach, some PhD in Sports Management programs may have other culminating projects instead of a dissertation. These include practical capstone projects identifying issues and offering viable solutions to current sports concerns. 

Candidates also develop the important qualities that will contribute to their success as sports coaches, researchers and directors. Effective communication, analytical and problem-solving skills are prioritized, followed by decision-making, organizational and motivational skills. Add creativity and thinking out of the box, particularly for marketing purposes, and you’re on your way to success! 

Median Pay: $141,490 per year

Job Outlook: 10% 

Job Opportunities: Sports promoters or sports agents, marketing directors, and university professors 

Best Schools: Troy University and East Tennessee State University

Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management

The field of technology management is concerned with the design, development and applications of technological products and services to numerous organizations. These products and services are intended to deliver excellent value, increase effectiveness and efficiency, and promote the organizations’ respective goals. These technological products and services include software programs, hardware devices, and communication and network systems specific to the organization’s needs. 

Candidates in PhD in Technology Management programs must have an interdisciplinary perspective since technology management draws from diverse fields. These include:

  • computer science and information technology,
  • business intelligence and analysis,
  • strategic and innovation management,
  • and user experience design.

More often than not, organizational issues can be resolved by combining several disciplines and using them in creative ways. 

The extensive PhD training is more practice-based, but it also has a strong research component. Candidates prepare for leadership positions in for-profit and nonprofit organizations, government agencies, community institutions, and academia. Their doctorate-level skills include research methodologies and instructional processes, thus, their professional value in these sectors. 

Concentrations are offered in some programs, too, with popular ones including:

  • digital communication systems,
  • construction management systems,
  • and manufacturing and quality systems.

Regardless of concentration, candidates are usually required to submit an approved dissertation and undergo an intensive residency/internship. Candidates gain hands-on experience while also strengthening their professional network, a crucial aspect of landing viable jobs. 

Median Pay: $151,150 per year

Job Outlook: 11% 

Job Opportunities: Business information manager, network administrator, and e-business developer 

Best Schools: Indiana State University , Bowling Green State University , and National University  


What does it mean to be an online phd and doctorate program.

One-year doctorate programs are rare because very few fields of study lend themselves well to such a short-term period. The more common time-to-completion for the fastest doctorate degrees is 2-3 years, significantly shorter than the 4-8 years average. These programs will demand more of your time, effort, and energy and demand more in terms of academic background, thesis exposure, and work experience than the typical programs. The common formats are: 

  • Accelerated programs usually have fast-paced coursework with courses spanning 6-8 weeks and multiple start dates and required full-time enrollment for all terms, including summers. Candidates must meet the scheduled milestones to meet the time-to-completion. 
  • Practical doctorate programs don’t have a dissertation requirement but require candidates to engage in “dissertation in practice.” Since there’s no dissertation, candidates can complete the graduation requirements in less time; the typical dissertation can take at least a year to complete. 
  • Programs that allow master’s degree credits to be transferred to the doctorate program in the same or similar field mean faster completion time, too. 

But these programs don’t have much wiggle room for error – candidates shouldn’t fail their classes, or they won’t meet the scheduled milestones on time. 

Are these fastest online doctorate programs as good as the standard programs?

Yes, these accelerated online doctorate programs provide world-class post-graduate education and training! Accelerated and standard programs have valid accreditation, credentialed faculty members, and a contemporary curriculum that meets educational standards. When they earn their degrees, candidates in these programs reap the rewards of their labors, particularly improved employability and quality of life. 

Of course, candidates must also make deliberate decisions and actions that will maximize the potential of their doctorate degrees! These include immersing themselves in the didactic coursework, applying the lessons learned in their workplaces, and ensuring that their dissertations, or other culminating projects, have a unique value. 

What factors must affect a student’s choice of the fastest online doctorate programs?

  • The accreditation must be from one of the regional accreditation agencies that, in turn, should be recognized by the US Department of Education. These include the Higher Learning Commissions, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and WASC Senior College and University Commission. This must be the first thing to look for when considering online programs! 
  • The program must have applied coursework, meaning that candidates have opportunities to apply their doctoral-level knowledge and skills in real-world situations. The applied coursework is of particular importance to working professionals, most candidates in post-graduate programs. 
  • There must be a wide range of satisfactory academic resources and support available to the candidates. Pursuing a doctorate isn’t a walk in the park, and there’s no sense in doing it alone! Ask about the quality of academic resources available, such as faculty advisors, library systems and access, and assistantships and financial aid. 
  • The curriculum should comply with the current standards and reflect the current needs of the industry where the doctorate will be applied. Take a look at the courses and their descriptions to determine their suitability for your career goals. 
  • The faculty members must possess top credentials in their field of expertise. Look at the program’s website where faculty members are featured, perhaps going the extra mile to research the faculty members’ professional profiles. 

Read students’ actual experiences in the program and reach out to the faculty members. The latter is strongly recommended for future doctorate students, too, since it’s vital to their success to choose a faculty advisor as early as possible. Most programs require candidates to choose and connect with their respective faculty advisor on the first term. 

Even if you’re planning on an online program, you may want to make an on-campus visit, if only once, before you submit your application for admission. The on-campus visit will open your eyes to the universities’ unique academic environment, including its research resources and facilities. 

What factors affect the time to completion in these accelerated programs?

The primary factors are: 

  • The approach and methodology used for the dissertation is significant factor in the time-to-completion since it’s the culminating requirement. Most programs allot 1-3 years for the dissertation phase due to the complex and conscientious nature of writing a post-graduate research project. Accelerated programs, however, typically set a one-year timeline for the dissertation. 
  • The credits that can be transferred into the doctorate program from a master’s degree and life and work experiences. Look for MS-to-PhD programs that allow overlapping of credits between the degrees. 
  • The number of credits taken every term with candidates classified either part-time or full-time. Candidates who want to earn their degree in 2-3 years take on a full-time course load every term, including summers. 
  • The delivery mode of the courses, which can be in-person, online or hybrid, is also a significant factor as it influences the pace of study. Online programs are popular because they provide flexible scheduling for working professionals, including accelerating the courses. But accelerated programs demand diligence, drive and determination among candidates so that they can stay on track. 

In the end, your commitment to earning a doctorate from an online accelerated program is the biggest influence in your time-to-completion. 

What traits make for a successful doctorate candidate in an online accelerated program?

Remember that a doctorate is neither about rote memorization nor about rehashing existing knowledge! Instead, it’s about your ability to create new knowledge via your dissertation, research project, or special project in your field of study. Your academic coursework, seminars and assistantships culminate in your dissertation or its equivalent, and your newly acquired knowledge and skillsets are highlighted in it. 

With that being said, you must be strongly passionate about the field of study and its specialized area that you’ve chosen to pursue as a doctorate student. The dissertation process is extremely challenging, and without your strong personal passion and professional commitment, you won’t be able to complete it. 

 Other traits that effective doctorate candidates possess are: 

  • Openness to new knowledge and skills combined with a strong sense of curiosity, creativity and flexibility 
  • The ability for independent work while also being able to work with a team, such as in research projects 
  • Skill in designing your work plan from start to finish and being able to carry it out as planned 
  • Personal accountability both to yourself and others 
  • Willingness to ask for assistance, including when, how and from whom, as well as the willingness to provide assistance 

What’s the value of a doctorate?

The best one: A doctorate can open doors of opportunities! A terminal degree is a must for leadership positions in many fields of study since it demonstrates expertise in relevant knowledge and skills. This is particularly true for leadership positions in academia, such as university presidents, provosts and deans, and university professors. 

For certain industries, a doctorate is a strong competitive edge. The pharmaceutical and medical industries are prime examples because of their emphasis on research and new products and processes. There are also occupations where a doctorate is a must for licensure and career advancements, such as physical therapy and audiology. 

Indeed, the shorter the time spent on their doctorate studies, the lower the cost of attendance and the faster you can compete in the job marketplace. But, of course, you don’t want to earn a doctorate only to discover later on that it doesn’t meet the standards of potential employers – no accreditation, prestige and usefulness in the contemporary workplace, among other reasons. The best among the fastest PhD and doctorate programs must have valid accreditation and be recognized by academia and industries due to their useful functions.

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5 routes to getting a Doctorate

While most of those studying for a PhD take the PhD by thesis pathway, there are five viable routes to achieving a Doctorate degree

PhD by thesis

This is the most common means of getting a Doctorate degree. Over the three or four years of research at university, your PhD supervisor will support you as you aim to produce a thesis based on your research proposal .

A thesis is typically 60,000-90,000 words in length - although this can vary between institutions. For instance, the University of Glasgow's College of Social Sciences expects a thesis to be 70,000-100,000 words including references, bibliography and appendices, while the University of Cambridge has set an upper limit of 80,000 words.

Once completed, you'll need to defend your PhD thesis in front of a panel of examiners during your viva voce .

PhD by publication

This route involves submitting previously published work - such as books, book chapters and journal articles, which together form a coherent body of work and show evidence of an original contribution to a particular field of study.

It's often taken by mid-career academics that haven't had the opportunity to undertake a standard Doctorate degree.

Generally, a minimum of five to eight published pieces are required, but this varies between institutions and depends on their length. The published work will be assessed to the same rigorous standards as a traditional PhD by thesis.

You must also provide a written supporting statement, which can range from 5,000 to 20,000 words, and present your work to an academic committee. A supervisor will assist you with selecting which publications to submit and with the supporting statement.

Some universities accept only their own graduates for a PhD by publication, while others restrict this route to their academic staff. In general, you should have graduated from your first degree at least seven years ago to be eligible.

For example, The University of Manchester has published its own Guidance for the PhD By Published Work , with eligibility only extending to current members of staff.

Professional Doctorate

Geared primarily towards current professionals in vocational sectors such as healthcare , teaching and education , and engineering and manufacturing , this type of Doctorate degree includes a significant taught component and a smaller research project.

Professional Doctorates are often taken on a part-time basis and can last between two and eight years. Like their standard PhD counterparts, they usually begin in October or January.

While you won't typically be looking to get an academic job , your research is expected to contribute to theory as well as professional practice. Projects often revolve around a real-life issue that affects your employer.

Several professional Doctorates, such as the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy), are accredited by a professional body - for instance, the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and The British Psychological Society (BPS) - and may also lead to a professional qualification .

Common titles for graduates of professional Doctorate degrees include:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Engineering (EngD)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD).

Unlike many professional Doctorates, the EngD is typically offered as a full-time course and is aimed at young engineering graduates with little or no professional experience.

Explore what's currently available at Find a Professional Doctorate .

Integrated PhD

This four-year qualification, also known as the New Route PhD, involves studying a one-year research Masters degree (MRes) before progressing onto a three-year PhD.

Offered by a select number of universities across the UK, integrated PhDs are supported by the government and the British Council through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) . Visit Research Council funding for further information on research and funding for different types of PhD.

The integrated PhD involves a combination of taught materials, practical experience and advanced research. This allows you to learn subject-specific methodologies, while building the transferable skills that will enable you to become a leader in your chosen profession.

Institutions can also develop personalised integrated PhD programmes to meet each student's needs. For example, universities may offer you the opportunity to gain a postgraduate certificate (PGCert) in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education - perfect if you're considering a career as a higher education lecturer .

As PhDs are based primarily on independent research rather than time spent in lectures and seminars, distance learning has always been a viable route for many Doctoral students.

PhDs by distance learning offered by course providers such as The Open University are therefore a good option to consider if you've got family or work commitments or are an international student - as this gives you the chance to undertake Doctoral research without having to live close to your chosen institution. It's also a suitable mode of study if your subject requires you to be based in a specific location away from the university.

For the most part, you'll be in touch with your supervisor by phone, email or Skype/Zoom. You'll need to bear in mind that even if you opt for this form of research, you'll generally still need to attend university for one or two weeks of each academic year for meetings and to receive research skills training. Your final examination may be undertaken either face-to-face or virtually.

With online PhDs, you can usually register as a full or part-time student. The level of fees you pay varies between institutions - some charge the same as for a standard PhD while others offer a reduced rate.

Check that any funding you plan to apply for is available to distance learning students, as this isn't always the case.

Search for distance learning PhDs .

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Top 8 Fastest Accelerated Online Psychology Doctorates (PhDs)

what is the quickest and easiest phd to get

Are you looking for a career boost and want a doctoral degree as quickly as possible? We rank the fastest online PhD doctoral programs in psychology.

Earning a PhD in psychology can open doors to prestigious career opportunities, but the long time commitment often deters busy professionals. For those looking to expedite the process, there are accelerated online doctoral programs that allow you to obtain your psychology PhD faster without sacrificing rigor or quality.

We’ve done the research to rank the top accelerated online psychology doctorates focused on speed, flexibility, academic excellence, and value - allowing you to further your career on your own time.

Key Takeaways

  • The average time to earn a PhD in psychology through online doctoral programs is six to ten years.
  • Accelerated online doctoral degree programs in psychology can take as little as two to four years!
  • While accelerated online doctoral degree programs take less time to finish than traditional ones, they do require students to carry a heavier workload.

Featured Programs

The fastest accelerated online psychology doctorate degrees.

Below are the fastest online PsyD programs you can apply to. They’re all excellent schools offering online psychology programs that you can remotely attend.

TLDR? If you’re the best PsyD program that you can complete the fastest online, Alliant International University is going to be the best choice for you. You can get a Doctor of Psychology in Educational Psychology in two years, which is very fast to earn a PhD in psychology .

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Alliant International University

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Career Outlook for Psychology degree at Alliant International University

Alliant International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Social Work
  • Political Science
  • Computer Science

Most Influential Alumni

  • Maulana Karenga
  • Barry Black
  • John Barrowman
  • Yvonne Sanchez

Alliant International University offers various undergraduate and graduate degree programs that help students obtain the skills and knowledge necessary for their fields. Alliant is mainly known for its graduate and online degree programs. Additionally, Alliant emphasizes hands-on learning through internships, practicals, consulting, and community service initiatives to help students receive the professional practice they need.

One of Alliant’s vastly known online doctoral programs is the accelerated  Doctor of Psychology in Educational Psychology.  With only two years of average completion time, this PsyD is one, if not the shortest, online doctoral program. This program has an 8-week calendar with 11 terms and 4 phases. The second year offers the PsyD project’s Final Phase, and students are expected to complete it by the end of their second year.

Only those with a master’s degree in psychology or a closely related field will be eligible for this fast and accelerated online PsyD program. Additionally, applicants with a license or certification in school psychology can obtain the School Psychology Track.

  • Required Credits: 50
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online

What we love about Alliant International University

Alliant’s recognition as one of the country’s most military-friendly universities and being a top provider of graduate degrees for minorities for the past six years.

Alliant International University is great for students who:

Want diversity but still be able to attend small-sized classes.

Alliant International University might not be the best fit for students who:

Wish to have plenty of time for Greek life.

University of Arizona Global Campus

Career outlook for psychology degree at university of arizona global campus.

University of Arizona Global Campus’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Anthropology
  • Engineering

The University of Arizona’s Global Campus is among the biggest and most progressive online campuses in the United States. UAGC has expanded into a national online organization dedicated to assisting adult learners in achieving their personal and professional goals from a small, traditional college. UAGC is mainly known for its accelerated 5- to 6-week courses, which fit students who want to earn their degrees faster but with the same curriculum and rigor.

UAGC’s Doctor of Psychology is among the fastest online doctoral programs. Students are expected to follow a 4-year term, complete all coursework by the end of their third year, and focus on the Applied Doctoral Project during their fourth year. This accelerated online program is designed for students who can fully commit to their studies and aspire to become practitioners who desire to serve the community by enhancing their clients’ emotional and mental health.

This program offers three specializations: Criminology and Justice Studies, Health and Wellness Psychology, and Sport and Performance Psychology. Applicants, however, must note that this is not a licensure program. Prospective online students outside Arizona should confirm with their state if this online program’s curriculum meets their state licensure examination requirements.

  • Required Credits: 62
  • Completion time: 4 years

What we love about the University of Arizona - Global Campus

The opportunities to attend on-campus networking and other social events.

The University of Arizona - Global Campus is great for students who:

Are focused and committed to their studies.

The University of Arizona - Global Campus might not be the best fit for students who:

Do not have the determination and capacities to keep up with fast-paced courses.

Walden University

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Career Outlook for Psychology degree at Walden University

Walden University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • John Antonakis
  • Eboni Edmonson Haynes

Walden University is a top-ranked institution for offering comprehensive online degree programs and allowing students to choose between Course-Based Learning and Tempo Learning formats. Students looking for more flexible ways to earn a degree often choose the Tempo Learning format, while those who prefer a fast-paced and more engaging curriculum prefer Course-Based Learning.

Walden offers a hybrid PhD in Psychology with a fast-track option. Unlike the traditional 2 courses per term plan, online doctoral students who enroll in the fast-track option should follow a strict 3 courses per term plan. This accelerated degree program aims to cut the average completion time to half; traditional students complete the PhD program in eight years, while those in the fast-track doctoral program can complete all coursework in four years.

Eligible online students can choose from six tracks/concentrations: Educational Psychology, Health Psychology, Research in Psychology, Self-Designed, Social Psychology , or Teaching in Psychology.

  • Required Credits: 65
  • Format: Hybrid

What we love about Walden University

Walden is greatly known for offering opportunities for busy working adult students to earn a flexible and affordable degree.

Walden University is great for students who:

Are busy with their personal or professional lives and have no time for traditional classes.

Walden University might not be the best fit for students who:

Want a traditional college experience, such as Greek life, living in a dorm, and on-campus classes.

Liberty University

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  • #12 Best Online Master's in Project Management
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  • #12 Most Affordable Online Applied Behavioral Analysis PhD Programs
  • #13 Best Online Bachelor’s of Homeland Security Degree Programs for 2024
  • #13 20 Fastest Accelerated Online English Doctorates (PhDs) 2024
  • #14 Best Online Bachelor's in Sports Management Degree Programs for 2024
  • #14 Best Online Bachelor's of Healthcare Administration Degree Programs for 2024
  • #14 Top 18 Most Affordable No GRE Online PhD Degree Programs
  • #15 Best Online Christian Colleges and Universities for Master's Degrees
  • #16 Best Online Associate in Criminal Justice
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  • #17 Most Affordable Online Criminology Doctorate Programs (PhDs)
  • #18 Top 20 Most Affordable Online Doctorate of Education (PhDs)
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  • #6 10 Best Accelerated Online PhD Programs Ranked for Students in 2024
  • #6 How to Earn Your Master's Degree Without Your Bachelor's Degree
  • #6 Best College Majors that Offer Accelerated Degree Programs

Career Outlook for Psychology degree at Liberty University

Liberty University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Religious Studies
  • Communications
  • Ravi Zacharias
  • Susan Wise Bauer
  • Michael R. Licona
  • Robert H. Smith
  • Michael Tait
  • Jerry Falwell Jr.

Liberty University  is one of the most prominent Christian liberal arts colleges that emphasizes faith and competitive learning and is a pioneer in online education. On the other hand, non-Christian students can also apply for Liberty’s degree programs. The institution offers over 700 academic majors and degree programs with cutting-edge technology and esteemed faculty.

Liberty is also known to offer fast-paced online doctorate programs, one being the online  PhD in Psychology  designed for graduate students who want a better grasp of psychology and human behavior. Students can transfer up to 50% of their previous credit hours to the PhD program to help them finish their online doctorate faster than the program’s 3-year average completion time.

This online accelerated online PhD doctoral degree program specializes in Behavioral Health Leadership, Developmental Psychology, General Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Social Psychology, and Theology. Online graduate students have optional on-campus intensives to meet with peers and faculty for better engagement.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 3 years

What we love about Liberty University

The doctoral programs that help students simultaneously strengthen their faith and obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for their chosen field

Liberty University is great for students who:

Want to put Christ in the middle of their learning.

Liberty University might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer not to get involved in religion.

Male psychologist speaking to a child

George Mason University

  • #2 Best Colleges in Virginia 2024
  • #2 Best Grad Schools in Virginia 2024
  • #4 The Most Influential Universities and Colleges Ranked by State 2024
  • #14 Best Research Universities for Criminal Justice Degrees
  • #1 Best Online History Doctorate Degree Programs (PhDs) 2024
  • #2 Top 15 Most Affordable Online Information Technology PhD Programs
  • #4 10 Fastest Accelerated Online Master's of Accounting Programs
  • #5 Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity in Virginia
  • #5 Top 3 Best Online Economics PhD Degree Programs (Doctorates)

Median SAT/ACT

Career Outlook for Psychology degree at George Mason University

George Mason University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Earth Sciences
  • Tyler Cowen
  • Peter Boettke
  • Stephen Moore
  • Steven Horwitz
  • Alex Tabarrok
  • Peter Leeson
  • Fred Foldvary
  • Stephen Blair Hedges
  • Jon Gettman
  • Richard Bausch
  • Ivan Katchanovski

George Mason University is Virginia’s most diverse public research institution, offering over 200 majors that lead to bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees. GMU is known to prepare students to pursue fulfilling lives and prosperous careers through a well-rounded curriculum and engaging campus community. Its on-campus degrees are also famous for offering fast and accelerated courses for students in doctoral programs that can be completed quickly.

GMU offers one of the shortest on-campus doctoral programs in psychology. The PhD in Psychology allows students to transfer up to 30 credit hours from their master’s degree in psychology, which will help them approach their final projects faster and graduate earlier. Doctoral students obtain expertise in the fundamental areas of psychology and receive hands-on experience to help address issues in relationships, the workplace, and education.

The program’s concentrations include Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Human Factors/Applied Cognition, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, and Applied Developmental Psychology.

  • Required Credits: 72-79
  • Format: On-campus

What we love about George Mason University

Diversity and inclusivity.

George Mason University is great for students who:

Want to live in a busy city and campus.

George Mason University might not be the best fit for students who:

Thrive with individualized attention and one-on-one interactions with advisors.

Pepperdine University

  • #1 Best Online MBA Programs in California
  • #3 Best Online Colleges in California 2024
  • #3 Most Unusual Doctoral Degrees You Can Earn Online (PhDs)
  • #4 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources
  • #5 Best Online Master's Programs in California 2024
  • #11 Fastest Online Bachelor's Degrees Ranked for 2024
  • #23 Best Online MBA Degree Programs for 2024 with No GMAT Required

Career Outlook for Psychology degree at Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Michael Shermer
  • Molefi Kete Asante
  • Christine Blasey Ford
  • Mike Cernovich
  • James Tabor
  • Steven Barnes
  • John Lasseter
  • Michelle Fields
  • Mike Aamodt
  • Dennis Johnson
  • Richard de Mille
  • J. Richard Chase

Pepperdine University , a Christian university, is dedicated to offering the highest academic performance standards and Christian principles. Because Pepperdine is also a liberal arts university, its 45 majors and 47 minors include liberal arts foundational courses and courses related to Christianity. Pepperdine, however, is one of the most expensive institutions.

Nevertheless, many students still choose to enroll at the university because of the supportive faculty and rigorous academic programs.

The on-campus  PsyD in Clinical Psychology  at Pepperdine University has an average graduation time of 4 years—half the average completion time of most doctoral programs. This psychology online doctorate degree program uses a practitioner-scholar paradigm, combining academic study, clinical practice, and research.

Doctoral students must follow the program’s strict timetable and complete coursework within three years and internship and clinical dissertation within a year.

This fast PysD is best suited for students who can fully commit all their time and effort to the program. Students have four university-based clinics serving as practical training locations and three external training rotations around southern California. The extensive hands-on training will prepare students to become licensed psychologists.

  • Required Credits: 82

What we love about Pepperdine University

The beautiful campus and supportive faculty. Faculty members offer individualized attention to each student and guide them toward success.

Pepperdine University is great for students who:

Thrive in a small, tight-knit campus community.

Pepperdine University might not be the best fit for students who:

Want to explore diverse curricular offerings and thrive in large-sized campuses with many school parties.

Bearded patient speaking to a male psychologist

George Washington University

  • #2 Best Colleges in DC 2024
  • #6 Best Research Universities for Criminal Justice Degrees
  • #9 Best Research Universities for Social Work Degrees
  • #16 Best Research Universities for Communications Degrees
  • #20 Best Research Universities for Nursing Degrees
  • #21 Best Research Universities for Business Degrees
  • #1 Best Online MBA Programs in DC
  • #2 Best Online Master's Programs in DC 2024
  • #3 Best Research Universities with Online Doctorates (PhDs) 2024
  • #3 Top 10 Best Online Master's of Public Relations Ranked 2024
  • #5 Top 18 Most Affordable No GRE Online PhD Degree Programs
  • #6 Most Unusual Doctoral Degrees You Can Earn Online (PhDs)
  • #6 Best Online MBA Degree Programs for 2024 with No GMAT Required
  • #10 Top 50 Best No GRE Online PhD Degree Programs (Doctorates)

Career Outlook for Psychology degree at George Washington University

George Washington University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • J. Edgar Hoover
  • L. Ron Hubbard
  • Glenn Greenwald
  • Bob Woodward
  • Allen Dulles
  • George Armitage Miller
  • Juan Guaidó
  • Roger Stone
  • James E. Webb
  • Michael D. Griffin
  • Lester Frank Ward
  • Brian Williams

Because of its campus location, academic rigor, and distinguished faculty, George Washington University confidently offers students a global-impacting education. GWU gives students learning opportunities inside and outside the classrooms, thanks to its partnership with the community and access to start-up and Fortune 500 firms. Additionally, GWU provides various funding options to support unpaid internships to help students have the best GW experience without worrying much about their educational costs.

Additionally, GWU’s PsyD in Clinical Psychology is an on-campus degree designed to help students earn a doctorate faster. Students will complete four years of clinical psychology education and training, which includes three years of focusing on coursework and a year of internship. Students without a master’s degree in psychology can earn one while earning a doctorate.

The school’s accelerated programs, like the PsyD doctoral program focuses on equipping students with the necessary skills and information to assess and manage psychopathology and seek employment in various professional settings. During their second year, students will choose one of the program’s three tracks as a major area of study: Adult, Assessment, or Child and Adolescent.

  • Required Credits: 83

What we love about George Washington University

The location is the best thing about GWU. Students have access to thousands of internship opportunities, which can help them obtain employment immediately after graduation.

George Washington University is great for students who:

Want to live in a fast-paced environment and become active in school and social activities.

George Washington University might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a quiet campus and one that offers more affordable psychology degree programs .

Saint Louis University

  • #3 Best Grad Schools in Missouri 2024
  • #3 The Most Influential Universities and Colleges Ranked by State 2024
  • #3 Best Research Universities in Missouri 2024
  • #3 Best Colleges in Missouri 2024
  • #1 Best Online Bachelor's of Cybersecurity Degree Programs in Missouri
  • #2 Best Online Bachelor’s of Data Science and Analytics Degree Programs for 2024
  • #2 Best Online Master's Programs in Missouri 2024
  • #3 The Best Online Christian Colleges and Universities for Bachelor's Degrees
  • #4 Best Online Master's in Project Management
  • #4 Best Online Colleges in Missouri 2024
  • #5 Top 20 Most Affordable Online Bachelor's of Cybersecurity
  • #5 Best Online Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership Degree Programs
  • #5 Top 8 Best Online Applied Behavioral Analysis PhDs (Doctorates)
  • #6 Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity
  • #6 Best Online Master's in Organizational Leadership
  • #7 Best Online Christian Colleges and Universities for Master's Degrees
  • #8 Best Online Bachelor's in Social Work Degree Programs Ranked for 2024
  • #12 Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Administration Degree Programs
  • #14 Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity
  • #17 The Best Online Colleges Ranked for Students in 2024

Career Outlook for Psychology degree at Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Garry Wills
  • Walter J. Ong
  • Marilyn vos Savant
  • Harvey Itano
  • Walter Brueggemann
  • Elizabeth Bates
  • Gary Gutting
  • Imogene King
  • Frederick K. Goodwin
  • Richard Kieckhefer
  • Robert J. Richards
  • Walter Halloran

St. Louis University is the first Catholic university in the US and one of the only 15 Catholic universities to receive a very high classification for research from the Carnegie Foundation. In addition to its ground-breaking research, SLU is known for fostering deep dedication to faith and service and having more than 1.6 million hours of volunteer work annually.

SLU’s PhD in Clinical Psychology offers a fast four-year curriculum for students who enter the degree program with a master’s degree. While this PhD program primarily focuses on adult clinical psychology, students can choose their major study area. Specializations include Clinical Child Psychology, Trauma Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Health Psychology, Or Sports Psychology.

There is a required on-campus training in psychological assessment by the Psychological Services Center. Additionally, students can receive training in health psychology, pediatric and clinical child psychology, academic psychology, and neuropsychology.

  • Required Credits: 78

What we love about St. Louis University

The individualized teaching style that helps students reach their full academic potential.

St. Louis University is great for students who:

Thrive in a close-knit community and enjoy studying with other people.

St. Louis University might not be the best fit for students who:

Avoid social interactions. SLU encourages students to participate in school activities and form lifelong bonds.

Career Outlook for Students with Psychology Degree

Degree level: doctorate.

  • Location: The U.S. (Private Schools)
  • Avg. Starting Salary*: $65,225
  • Avg. Salary after 4 Years*: $90,375
  • * denotes ‘annually’

Career Salaries

Average career salaries, promising job markets, top industries, why are accelerated online doctoral programs in psychology a good option.

For most working professionals, especially those who want opportunities for a tenure track in academia, PhD doctoral programs are the ultimate goal. However, traditional and most online programs take a long time to complete.

Unfortunately, many students don’t have the time or financial resources to enroll in traditional doctorate degree programs.

According to U.S. News & World Report data, the average time for completing a PhD is six to ten years. The curriculum in a traditional psychology PhD doctoral program involves up to 100 credits of advanced seminars, dissertation work, and research assistantships.

According to a report, the rate of students actually completing all coursework for their PhD doctoral programs in ten years is only 56.6%.

Bottom Line: A traditional doctorate degree program in psychology is a huge time and financial commitment to complete. On the other hand, an online doctoral degree in psychology can be completed in less time and potentially for a lower total investment.

Psychologist speaking to a patient

PsyD Doctorate Degree vs. PhD Doctoral Program in Psychology

The most significant distinction between a PhD doctoral program in psychology and a Doctor of Psychology is the focus. Psychology PhDs focus on the theoretical and abstract aspects of psychology. On the other hand, PsyD programs typically concentrate on the application of information.

While both the PhD and PsyD in psychology are respected and rigorous advanced degrees, they cater to different career paths and interests within psychology. Prospective students should consider their long-term career goals, interest in research versus clinical practice, and the type of impact they wish to have when choosing between these two paths.

Educational Focus and Curriculum

Phd in psychology.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology is deeply rooted in the science of psychology, emphasizing research methodology, statistical analysis, and the contribution of new knowledge to the field.

PhD programs often require students to engage in extensive research projects, culminating in a dissertation that contributes original academic research to the field. The curriculum typically includes a blend of coursework in advanced psychological theories, research methods, and statistical analysis, alongside teaching and research assistantships.

PsyD (Doctor of Psychology)

In contrast, the PsyD focuses more on the practical application of psychological knowledge to clinical settings. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for practice-oriented careers, with a stronger emphasis on clinical skills, assessments, interventions, and psychological testing.

PsyD programs still require research, but the projects often aim to inform clinical practice directly rather than advance theoretical knowledge. The dissertation may take a more applied form, focusing on case studies, program evaluations, or action research that has direct implications for practice.

Career Outcomes

Graduates are typically prepared for academia, research, and high-level consulting careers. They may become professors, lead researchers in government or private sectors, or specialists in advanced psychological assessment and intervention strategies. A PhD is often preferred for those seeking tenure-track faculty positions or roles that prioritize research and theoretical knowledge.

PsyD graduates are likelier to pursue careers in clinical settings, such as private practices, hospitals, mental health centers, and school districts. They are trained to be practitioners who apply psychological knowledge to diagnose, treat, and support individuals with mental health issues.

While PsyD holders can also engage in research, their primary focus tends to be on delivering psychological services directly to clients.

Research Component

Phd programs.

This requires a significant research component, with students expected to complete a dissertation based on original research that advances the field of psychology. The rigorous research process involves experimental design, data collection and analysis, and substantial literature review.

PsyD Programs

While research is still a component of PsyD programs, it is generally more applied, focusing on practical issues in clinical practice. The dissertation may involve empirical research but is often more focused on outcomes relevant to clinical settings.

Man talking to his patient during a counseling session

Nature of Coursework

Phd coursework.

It tends to be more theoretical, focusing on the foundations of psychological science, research methodologies, and statistical analysis. Students may also engage in teaching, further preparing them for academic roles.

PsyD Coursework

It is more clinically oriented, emphasizing developing therapeutic skills, understanding diagnostic criteria, and applying psychological theories to clinical practice. PsyD students often spend more time in practicum placements or internships to gain direct clinical experience.

What Do We Mean by the Fastest Accelerated Doctorate and PhD Programs in Psychology?

Psychology doctorate degrees, especially PhDs, can take up to ten years to complete. Students who enroll in traditional coursework and follow the suggested course sequencing graduate within four to six years.

Accelerated online doctorate degree programs in psychology provide a quicker route to a degree for individuals who want to finish their studies sooner. These programs typically take from two to four years to complete.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Fast Accelerated Online Doctorates and PhD Programs

Many colleges offer accelerated PhD programs that guarantee faster degree completion. Prospective students with other important obligations may consider an accelerated degree program as they start selecting the best curriculum.

But just because accelerated online programs have a significant advantage, they still come with a cost.

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of fast, accelerated online doctorate degree programs in psychology before enrolling in one.

  • Time Efficiency:  Accelerated programs allow students to complete their doctorate degrees in significantly less time than traditional programs, which is ideal for professionals eager to advance their careers without a lengthy educational hiatus.
  • Flexibility:  Online formats offer the flexibility to study from anywhere, accommodating students with work, family, or other commitments that make attending on-campus classes challenging.
  • Cost-Effectiveness:  Completing a degree in a shorter timeframe can result in lower tuition fees and related costs, making it a financially attractive option for many students.
  • Intensive Learning:  Accelerated programs are often more intensive, providing a rigorous curriculum that can quickly build advanced knowledge and skills.
  • Career Advancement:  Graduates can enter or advance in the workforce sooner, potentially achieving professional goals and increasing earnings more quickly than through traditional routes.


  • Workload Intensity:  The accelerated pace means a heavier workload and less time to absorb and understand the material, which can be stressful and challenging for some students.
  • Limited Networking Opportunities:  Online formats may offer fewer opportunities for in-person networking with peers and faculty, which can be a drawback for building professional relationships and collaborations.
  • Reduced Research Opportunities:  Some accelerated programs may offer limited time for in-depth research, potentially impacting the quality or scope of the dissertation project.
  • Quality Concerns:  There is a perception that accelerated programs may not provide the same depth of learning or prestige as traditional doctoral programs, which could affect post-graduation opportunities.
  • Self-Discipline Requirement:  Success in accelerated online programs requires a high level of self-discipline and motivation due to the fast pace and the nature of remote learning.
  • Limited Specialization:  Accelerated programs may offer fewer specialization options, making it difficult for students with niche interests to find a program that fits their specific research goals.

Prospective students should weigh these advantages and disadvantages when considering an accelerated online doctorate degree in psychology. The decision should align with their career objectives, learning style, and personal circumstances to ensure the best possible outcome from their educational investment.

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Laptop and coffee mug on top of a desk table

What Is the Workload in an Accelerated Doctoral Degree Program in Psychology?

The shortest doctoral program online in psychology typically attracts non-traditional students with other obligations. These prospective students either have family and work commitments or want a faster way to get that career boost.

The Heavy Workload of Accelerated Programs

For these students, attending six to ten years of graduate school is just not realistic.

While the prospect of obtaining a degree more quickly can be quite alluring, if the student is unprepared for the time commitment, the fast pace can become too much and resulting in failing and/or dropping out.

In accelerated doctorate degree programs, students must finish the coursework in a condensed amount of time. This means that students will take on a much heavier workload compared to obtaining a doctorate degree through a traditional program.

Meeting the Challenges of Accelerated Programs

So, instead of enrolling in the usual 2 courses per term, students usually enroll in at least 3 courses per term. Or the length of a term may be condensed.

According to the Carnegie Unit Report , a traditional 14-week course equates to at least 3 hours of weekly student involvement and 6 hours for a 7-week course, essentially doubling the workload.

The Journal of Continuing Higher Education published the result of their qualitative study of accelerated degree programs. Some faculty and critics of the study found that these programs hinder the information transfer process and prevent the content from moving to the student’s long-term memory.

In contrast, one professor in the same qualitative study stated that the increased pace of the accelerated classes raised attendance rates. Additionally, the fast-paced courses helped the students stay on task and prepare for class.

Using Competency-Based Course Completion Models

Many colleges that provide graduate degrees online have switched to competency-based course completion models. The capacity of a student to complete a course is independent of when they started.

Students must instead demonstrate proficiency in key knowledge and/or skill areas. They can now advance at their own pace as a result. Through quick mastery and progression, highly driven students can breeze through classes and save critical time.

Even better, accelerated degree programs frequently incur lower costs because you spend less time in school. Many students also choose online programs because they save money by forgoing some expenses and fees related to on-campus study.

Male psychologist with glasses in a blue suit

Learning Methods in Accelerated Online Psychology PhD Programs

Synchronous learning occurs when all of the students in a class are actively engaged in the learning process at the same time while listening to a lecture.

Asynchronous learning is learning on a student’s own time. They listen to pre-recorded lectures or complete guided projects or independent research.

Professors can choose synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid learning environments. In many accelerated online doctorate degree programs, professors often choose synchronous learning because of the rigid schedule.

A live lecture, live chat room, conference call, video conference, or Google Hangout are all used for synchronous learning.

Benefits of synchronous learning include:

  • Students can ask their professors questions in real-time.
  • Students develop a better sense of community and connection with peers and advisors.
  • Students feel more engaged.
  • Students develop enhanced collaboration skills.

Students can access recorded lectures, PowerPoint presentations, or reading assignments for asynchronous study at their convenience.

Benefits of asynchronous learning include:

  • Students can move forward with their education whenever, in whatever order, and at whatever speed they choose.
  • There is more time for students to consider what they have learned.
  • Shy or introverted students will feel more comfortable and feel less pressure talking with their professors or peers.
  • Students can participate in the same activities regardless of their location or time zone.

For students enrolled in remote education, the most significant disadvantage of synchronous learning is the need to be online at a specific time. This indicates that students are not free to access content whenever they wish. This can be a challenge for college students who have full-time jobs and other commitments like family.

Bottom Line: While synchronous learning is more engaging, asynchronous learning helps students engage with the material more deeply.

Why Choose an Accelerated Online Doctoral Degree in Psychology

Accelerated online doctorate degree programs could appeal to people who wish to enter the workforce sooner rather than later. Most prospective students are already employed and want to change or develop careers.

Some students may want to finish a degree program they started in the past or pursue an advanced degree. Some people consider an accelerated degree a quick method to switch careers.

Those who want to complete their education relatively quickly should be certain of their major and long-term objectives. Students pursuing an accelerated online doctoral degree boost their chances of success if they have a strong work ethic and the ability to encourage themselves, regardless of their educational background or experience.

Female psychologist smiling at a patient

Getting Started with an Accelerated Online Doctoral Degree in Psychology

Pursuing an accelerated PhD in psychology doctoral degree program is one of the hardest decisions in your life. Choosing the wrong program or university can cost you a fortune. So, it’s very important to do your research first.

Many universities claim that their accelerated online programs offer a comprehensive curriculum. This can only be proven through accreditation. The US Department of Education-approved accrediting agencies grant accreditation to the top colleges.

The following accrediting agencies grant regional accreditation in the United States:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Key Point: A college or university must be accredited in order to be eligible to offer financial aid to their students, even those in an online program. Visit the Federal Student Aid website for more information on applying for financial aid.

When considering online PhD programs, you can also see if the college or university is good by checking the following:

  • University’s name, history, and reputation
  • Student services and resources
  • Faculty credentials
  • Alumni network

If you have researched psychology online doctorate programs and have several on your wishlist, here are a few factors to include when comparing which university best suits your needs:

  • Admission requirements
  • Learning format
  • Online courses available
  • Specializations
  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • Tuition and financial aid
  • Residency, internship, or practical requirements
  • Transfer credits

Male psychologist listening to a female psychologist

Earning a doctoral degree in psychology opens rewarding career opportunities in many settings. Those who obtain a PhD or PsyD in psychology are trained for careers in research, counseling, consulting, teaching, and more. These psychology doctorate holders are qualified to work in healthcare organizations, schools and universities, government agencies, private companies, and nonprofit organizations.

Specifically, having a psychology doctorate degree enables individuals to work in advanced clinical positions as psychologists and counselors/therapists. A doctorate allows them to diagnose, assess, provide therapy, and treat patients across the lifespan.

Those with doctorates can work in private or group practice, hospitals, community health centers, schools, prisons, research facilities, and other settings. In addition, they may conduct psychological research or teach psychology at the university level.

Demand for these positions is projected to grow above average over the coming decade. Other occupations where a psychology doctorate is preferred include positions as sports psychologists, industrial-organizational consultants, cognitive/perception scientists, and forensic psychologists supporting the legal system.

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Related Questions

What is the shortest phd in psychology program.

The shortest PhD in Psychology programs available online are designed to be completed in a significantly reduced timeframe compared to traditional doctoral programs. These accelerated programs can often be completed in 2-4 years, depending on the student’s pace, the structure of the program, and prior academic credits that may apply.

They combine intensive coursework with practical research and dissertation work, offering a fast track to achieving a doctoral level of education in psychology. This expedited route particularly appeals to professionals looking to advance their careers without the time commitment required by traditional PhD programs.

Can You Skip a Masters and Get a PhD in Psychology?

Yes, it is possible to skip a master’s degree and directly pursue a PhD in Psychology in some programs. These integrated programs are designed to take students from undergraduate to doctoral level studies in psychology , combining the coursework and research requirements of both a master’s and a PhD into a single streamlined program.

This pathway allows motivated and qualified students to accelerate their academic and professional careers in psychology. However, admission into such programs can be highly competitive, and candidates may need to demonstrate exceptional academic achievements, research experience, and readiness for advanced study.

Is It Possible to Get a PhD in Psychology in 1 Year?

Completing a PhD in Psychology in just 1 year is highly improbable. PhD programs in psychology typically require extensive coursework, comprehensive exams, and a significant amount of original research leading to a dissertation.

The process is designed to ensure a deep level of expertise and competency in the field, which cannot feasibly be achieved in such a short timeframe. While you can complete some programs in 2 years, most accredited PhD programs in psychology take at least 4 to 6 years to complete, even with accelerated options.

Choosing a career path in psychology can be a lot of work yet rewarding. If you’re looking for online psychology doctorate programs that you can quickly finish, we recommend checking out one of the ones we’ve shared.

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7 “Easiest” Types of Doctor to Become + How to Get There

What’s covered:, how to become a doctor, least competitive medical specialties, best pre-med schools.

Becoming a doctor is not an easy task. It involves hard work, extensive preparation, and a certain level of intensity. That being said, there are some specialties that are more or less competitive than others.

In this post, we’ll go over the steps to becoming a doctor, including the process of specializing. We’ll also rank the “easiest” types of doctor to become and what each of those specialties entails.

High School

If you can’t be pre-med in high school, how do you prepare for your future medical career? The answer is to strategically navigate the college application and admissions process. Keep your goal of becoming a doctor in mind as you decide which universities to apply to. You will want to consider the rigor of each school’s science classes, the effectiveness of pre-med advising, how research would factor into your college career, whether hospitals are accessible, and the financial viability of each university.

Undergraduate Studies

Your time in college is critical to your medical career because your undergraduate years are when you complete your pre-med requirements and bolster your medical school application. Medical school has extensive requirements to be completed as part of your undergraduate studies. These requirements generally include multiple semesters of biology, physics, chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and math.

While you do need to complete all the pre-med prerequisites to apply to medical school, medical schools will also heavily consider your success on the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) in their decisions. Preparing for the MCAT should be high on your priority list during your undergraduate studies.

Medical School

In medical school, you will have intensive coursework in a variety of subjects—including anatomy, pathology, pharmacology, and more—which will be supplemented by hands-on experience. This includes exploring different specialties through clinical rotations so that you can confidently select your specialty when applying for residency.

After finishing medical school, you will be a doctor (sort of)! You will still need to spend three to seven years working as a resident under more experienced doctors. This is where you will become an expert in your specialty. You must pass a board exam in your specialty before you can begin practicing on your own.

Learn more about the steps to becoming a doctor in our blog post.

When Do Doctors Specialize?

During the first two years of medical school, students do preclinical training and are advised to keep an open mind toward different specialties. In the same way that undergraduates have the freedom to change their major early in their college career, medical students are not locked into their specialty right away.

Usually, at the beginning of the third year of medical school, students start clinical rotations. This is when students shadow physicians and residents, interact with patients, and see the applications of their coursework. You can choose to clerk for doctors in different areas, such as general surgery, gynecology, internal medicine, or orthopedics. Some people also view clinical rotations as networking opportunities and informal interviews.

Clinical rotations exert a major influence on the specialties chosen by medical students. Sometimes they reinforce the long-standing desires of students, and other times they expose students to new and interesting paths. When doing rotations, it’s important to think about what you want to get out of your job and what you want to achieve during your future career. Some factors that influence a doctor’s specialty choice include:

  • Work-life balance
  • Income expectations
  • Personality of other doctors in a particular specialty
  • Length of residency
  • Amount of contact with patients
  • Time in a hospital vs. time in an office
  • Competitiveness

When applying for your residency, you finally decide on your specialty. Residency applications are typically submitted in the fall of your fourth year of medical school. If you need more time to decide your specialty, there are subinternship opportunities, or you can take an extra year.

Competitiveness is often rated as an important factor for students who are deciding on their specialty. Using the average United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 scores —which assess the foundational medical knowledge of medical school students—and the average number of abstracts, publications, and presentations of first-year residents by specialty in 2020-21, we’ve created a list of least competitive specialties.

1. Family Medicine

Average Step 1 Score: 216.1

Average Number of Publications: 2.8

Family medicine practitioners are trained in pediatrics and adult care (including gynecology and gastroenterology) so that they can treat every member of the family. Their work involves comprehensive care and requires an understanding of most ailments. Family medicine doctors typically engage more in office-based work—such as “well” and “sick” visits—than hospital-based work.

2. Psychiatry

Average Step 1 Score: 223.1

Average Number of Publications: 5.0

Psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, as well as substance abuse disorders. Diagnosis typically involves conversations with patients and common treatments include psychotherapy and medication.

3. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Average Step 1 Score: 224.2

Average Number of Publications: 4.7

Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians work with patients who have physical impairments or disabilities (from disease, condition, or injury) to improve their ability to function and their quality of life. PM&R uses physical therapy and pain management, and it attempts to avoid surgical operations whenever possible.

4. Pediatrics

Average Step 1 Score: 226.4

Pediatricians focus on children exclusively. They are concerned with the variety of physical, mental, social, and behavioral health factors that affect children until the age of 18. Pediatricians must understand the typical development of children to ensure that their patients are developing healthily.

5. Emergency Medicine

Average Step 1 Score: 231.1

Average Number of Publications: 3.9

Emergency medicine doctors treat patients in the emergency room. EM doctors are truly the jack of all trades, as they see a wide range of patients, ranging from people with everyday illnesses to trauma victims.

6. Internal Medicine (Categorical)

Average Step 1 Score: 231.4

Average Number of Publications: 5.2

Internal medicine exclusively focuses on adults and adult health conditions. These physicians—called internists—prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases and conditions that affect any part of the adult body. They are involved in health maintenance and disease screening, and they often make referrals to other specialists.

7. Anesthesiology

Average Step 1 Score: 232.7

Average Number of Publications: 5.3

Anesthesiologists specialize in the administration of anesthetics during surgeries and other procedures. They help to ensure that you feel a minimal amount of pain or remain asleep during operations. Anesthesiologists can also provide pain relief and care outside of the operating room to patients with chronic conditions such as cancer.

If you are interested in any of these specialties, or any others, check out CollegeVine’s comprehensive review of medical specialties , which includes details about each specialty’s duties and salaries.

It’s a common misconception that pre-med is a major—at most schools, it is actually a “track” that students follow to fulfill the prerequisites for applying to medical school. Find out more about pre-med requirements here .

Some colleges that are known for their pre-med advising, access to medical opportunities, rigorous STEM courses, and high medical school acceptance rates include:

1. Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA

Undergrad Enrollment: 13,100

Acceptance Rate: 4%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1480-1580 SAT/33-36 ACT

Graduating from a prestigious and historic institution like Harvard is sure to give a boost to any student’s odds of getting into medical school. A 2013 article from The Harvard Crimson estimates that 17% of a given Harvard class will apply to medical school, and in 2012, Harvard pre-med applicants with a 3.5 GPA or higher had a 93% acceptance rate to medical school.

There are a variety of resources available to Harvard pre-med students. The school’s Office of Career Services provides advisors for students pursuing health-related fields, and publishes a newsletter containing information about items like upcoming workshops and medical school visits. There are also a number of groups that are beneficial to students interested in medical careers, including the Harvard Pre-Medical Society and Harvard Alumni in Healthcare .

2. Duke University

Location: Durhan, NC

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,000

Acceptance Rate: 5.8%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1490-1560 SAT/33-35 ACT

While Duke doesn’t offer a specific pre-med path, it does provide all the classes required for students who are planning on applying to medical school—and it even suggests courses for students interested in health-related careers. Duke also offers advisors especially focused on assisting pre-health students. According to Duke , between 70% and 80% of its students are accepted into medical school—a considerably higher percentage than the national average.

Outside of the classroom, students will find numerous opportunities to prepare themselves for a career in medicine, from conducting research to volunteering at local hospitals and health centers to shadowing healthcare professionals. On campus, students will also find groups that support pre-med students, such as the American Medical Women’s Association and Duke Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students .

3. University of Pennsylvania | UPenn

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Undergrad Enrollment: 13,000

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1480-1570 SAT/33-35 ACT

There are a lot of qualities that attract pre-med students to UPenn, such as its Ivy League bona fides and access to the Perelman School of Medicine—founded in 1765, it’s the oldest medical school in the country. Another attractive factor of UPenn is the acceptance of its students into medical school; 82% of UPenn students and alumni who applied to begin medical school in 2022 were accepted—that’s nearly twice the national average (43%)!

UPenn accommodates a broad swath of pre-med students. Its Pre-Health Core Studies program is aimed at helping students with little scientific background get up to speed, while its Pre-Health Specialized Studies program can help students with scientific backgrounds bolster their academic credentials and become more competitive medical school candidates. 

UPenn offers pre-health advising from professionals with significant healthcare, life-science research, and higher education experience who can assist students with everything from course selection to application preparation to interviewing.

4. Washington University in St. Louis | WashU

Location: St. Louis, MO

More students apply to medical school from WashU than from any other college on this list—a staggering 372 WashU students applied to medical school in 2022-2023. It’s not just that WashU generates a lot of applicants; it also has successful applicants—between 2017 and 2021, their first-time acceptance rate to medical school was 76% .

The MedPrep Program is unique to WashU. This two-part program begins with a lecture series detailing the educational pathway to becoming a doctor and concludes with students getting real-world experience in medicine by shadowing for four hours every other week at the Charles F. Knight Emergency and Trauma Center of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

WashU provides an abundance of research opportunities to pre-med students as well as programs like the Washington University Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (BioSURF) , which offers an excellent way to improve your med school application while earning funding.

5. Rice University

Location: Houston, TX

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,300

Acceptance Rate: 9.48%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1490-1570 SAT/34-35 ACT

Rice University is an extremely popular destination for students with an interest in pursuing health-related careers— between 30% and 40% of incoming students indicate an interest in pre-health studies . Helping push Rice to the top of many pre-med students’ lists is its proximity to the Texas Medical Center , the world’s largest medical complex, which is home to the world’s largest children’s hospital and world’s largest cancer hospital.

Rice pre-med students will find no shortage of support on campus. Specialized advising is available to pre-health students and offers guidance on everything from course selection to applying to medical school. The Rice Pre-Medical Society (RPMS) is an undergraduate organization that provides resources, advice, and opportunities to students interested in health professions. The RPMS also provides the Big Owl/Little Owl Program (BOP) , which connects Rice undergraduates with medical students, physicians, and residents.

6. Stanford University

Location: Stanford, CA

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,800

Acceptance Rate: 3.6%

  • 94.4% scored between 1400 and 1600 on the SAT
  • 96.1% scored between 30 and 36 on the ACT

Graduating from a prestigious college like Stanford is a feather in the cap of any student hoping to attend medical school. Stanford doesn’t have a pre-med major (like most colleges), but it does provide extensive resources for students interested in health-related careers.

The college provides pre-med advisors to assist students in picking out courses, planning for long-term objectives, and gaining valuable experience. In autumn, the former Assistant Director of Admissions at Stanford University School of Medicine makes herself available to meet with students to discuss the medical school application process, school selection, and preparation for interviews.

Pre-med students at Stanford will find a myriad of application-boosting opportunities on and off campus, from physician shadowing to volunteering to research.

7. Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Undergrad Enrollment: 9,900

Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

SAT/ACT: 1490-1550 SAT/33-35 ACT

In recent years, Northwestern has sent students on to some of the best medical schools in the nation , including Harvard, NYU, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and UPenn. The college provides Health Professions Advising (HPA), which assists students in understanding the various pathways to medical school, required courses, and the application process. Also helping Northwestern students on the path to a career in health-related fields is the Pre-Health Professional Student Group , which is dedicated to the successful admission of its members into programs that lead to careers in medicine, health, and veterinary practice.

The Northwestern Undergraduate Premedical Scholars Program (NUPSP) is a program unique to Northwestern. The program provides early MD acceptance to Northwestern students who have completed two full years of undergraduate study and are committed to attending Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. NUPSP doesn’t require students to take the MCAT examination and accepts between six and eight students annually.

8. Brown University

Location: Providence, RI

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,100

Acceptance Rate: 5.5%

SAT/ACT: 1470-1550 SAT/33-35 ACT

Between 130 and 150 Brown students and recent graduates apply to medical school annually and frequently boast acceptance rates of over 80% . In 2021, 81% of Brown students and recent graduates gained acceptance into medical school. Brown offers healthcare career advising, along with health career peer advisors (HCPA) who offer first-year students the opportunity to speak with current undergraduates about their experience as health career students.

Brown is most notable for its Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME)—an eight-year program that combines an undergraduate degree with medical school—and the only program of its kind in the Ivy League. Nearly one-third (32%) of Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School class of 2026 were admitted through the PLME program . Students enter the PLME program directly from high school and can pursue undergraduate degrees in a wide variety of fields ranging from the sciences to the humanities.

9. Amherst College

Location: Amherst, MA

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,800

Acceptance Rate: 7.2%

SAT/ACT: 1450-1520 SAT/33-34 ACT

The only liberal arts school on our list, Amherst College has a proven track record of getting its students into medical school—on average, the college enjoys between a 75% and 80% acceptance rate .

The school provides pre-health advising and mentoring throughout a student’s undergraduate years and beyond. Amherst College emphasizes a holistic approach to pre-med paths, encouraging students to follow their interests and be themselves rather than merely checking boxes on the track to a medical career.

Amherst College supports pre-med students in a number of ways, like publishing pre-health guides and a bi-weekly newsletter, hosting small group advising sessions, and providing mentors. It also offers a variety of research, volunteer, and physician shadowing opportunities.

10. Case Western Reserve University

Location: Cleveland, OH

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,500

Acceptance Rate: 27%

SAT/ACT: 1420-1520 SAT/32-33 ACT

Nationally ranked hospitals within walking distance, easy access to healthcare professionals, and an abundance of available research opportunities are just a few factors that attract pre-med students to Case Western. Another impressive advantage of a Case Western education is the 64% medical school acceptance rate its undergraduates have enjoyed over the last five years—significantly higher than the 42% national average. Recent graduates have matriculated at top medical schools like Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and NYU.

The Pre-Professional Scholars Program (PPSP) is something that catches the eye of many pre-med students. Up to 20 first-year applicants annually are accepted into this extremely competitive eight-year program, in which students earn an undergraduate degree and go on to study at the School of Medicine. Just how hard is it to get into the PPSP? In 2021, Forbes reported it had an acceptance rate of just 1% !

View more top pre-med schools to get an idea of where you might want to apply. And to get an idea of your chances of admission at various universities, we recommend using our free admissions calculator . By inputting your grades, extracurriculars, and more, we’ll estimate your odds of acceptance, and help you improve your candidate profile.

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