35 Shortest Doctoral Program Online & Accelerated PhD Programs [2023 Guide]

We’ve ranked 35 Shortest Doctoral Program Online for 2023. Explore Accelerated PhD Programs & Doctorates for the fastest online degree programs.

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.

Shortest Doctoral Programs Online

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.

Online PhD in Accounting

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 – DBA & PhD

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.

Online PhD in Counseling

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.

Potential career paths include 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.

Online PhD in Criminal Justice & Homeland Security

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.

Online Doctorate in Education – EdD & PhD

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, such as becoming a headteacher. Others 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.

Online PhD in Finance

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.

Online PhD in Human Services

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.

Online PhD in Information Systems or Technology

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.

Online PhD in Management

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.

Online Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) or Theology

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 – PhD & DNP

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.

Online Doctor of Public Administration

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 PhD 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 the shortest 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 3 years. Some people may be able to complete the degree in less time, of course. This is simply an average.

For those of you pursuing a PhD, the dissertation requirement significantly impacts your completion time. Generally speaking, it takes most students 3 years to 5 years for degree completion.

What is the Shortest Doctoral Program Online?

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 1 Year Online Doctoral Programs?

1 year online doctoral programs

Although a number of universities offer accelerated doctoral programs online, there are no accredited universities that advertise the shortest 1 year PhD programs online. That being said, there are quite a few universities with 30-credit doctorate degrees which could possibly be completed within a year if you have no dissertation requirement.

You can earn your doctorate online at a fairly fast pace if you enroll in accelerated classes, have transfer credits, choose one of the shortest doctoral programs in terms of credit hours, and select 100% online doctoral programs that do not require a dissertation (which is time-consuming).

Instead, go for a program that offers a capstone project. Although research is still required, it takes far less time to complete a capstone project than it does a dissertation.

Do All the Shortest PhD Programs Require 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.

Are there any 1 year PhD programs online?

In most cases, a PhD will take 3 to 5 years to complete unless you select a program without a dissertation, though there may be an occasional 2 year PhD program available. Very few doctorates do not require a dissertation and they tend to be professional doctorates like the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), Doctor of Education (EdD), and similar professionally-oriented programs.

If your aim is to find the fastest PhD program, you can complete one in less than 3 years if you opt for a short program (fewer credit hours), accelerated doctoral courses, and no dissertation requirement.

Together, these three factors will go a long way in helping you find the fastest online PhD program and speeding up your time to completion.

What is the fastest PhD program available?

fastest PhD program

The fastest PhD programs 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 doctorate such as a DBA, PsyD, or EdD will likely be the fastest online doctorate you can find.

a clock image with years

The shortest doctoral program online is an accelerated program that caters to professional students who are seeking to expand their career opportunities into research and higher education teaching fields while still working full-time.

The primary way in which a doctorate program is accelerated is through 8-week online courses.

Some programs even allow you to begin with only a bachelor’s degree, allowing you to complete a master’s degree as part of your doctorate course work.

This can potentially shave off as much as 2 years from your completion time because you won’t have to complete a master’s degree before even considering applying for a doctorate program. It also helps if you enroll in a PhD program without a GRE requirement.

To explore typical salary ranges and career opportunities for a wide range of doctoral programs, check out our in-depth look at all the top online PhD programs .

35 Shortest Doctoral Programs Online


For universities to be included in our guide, we looked at a number of criteria including 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.

Check each university’s tuition costs, graduation requirements, and course offerings before applying.

Boston University campus

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

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

Colorado Christian University campus

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

Colorado Christian University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Concordia University Chicago campus

  • 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.

Duquesne University campus

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

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

Drexel University campus

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

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

East Carolina University campus

  • 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.

Frontier Nursing University campus

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

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

Grand Canyon University campus

  • DNP in Educational Leadership (Online) – 45

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

Gwynedd Mercy University campus

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

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

Hampton University campus

  • 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.

Indiana State University campus

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

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

Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus

  • 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.

Liberty University campus

  • 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.

Monmouth University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership (Hybrid) – 54

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

National University campus

  • 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.

Nova Southeastern University campus

  • 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.

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.

Regent University campus

  • 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.

Seton Hall University campus

  • 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.

University at Buffalo campus

  • 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.

University of Alabama Huntsville campus

  • 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.

University of Arkansas campus

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

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

University of Bridgeport campus

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

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

University of Colorado Denver campus

  • 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.

University of Florida campus

  • 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.

University of Michigan - Flint campus

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

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

University of Minnesota campus

  • 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.

University of Missouri campus

  • 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.

University of Montana campus

  • 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).

University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus

  • 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.

University of North Dakota campus

  • 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.

University of Northern Colorado campus

  • 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).

University of Tennessee - Knoxville campus

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

University of Texas at Tyler campus

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

Wilmington University campus

  • 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.

What’s next?

Accelerated PhD Programs

Whether you’re trying to get your doctorate in one year or you’re just looking for the shortest PhD programs 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 one that’s offering the exact program you’re seeking.

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)

When you select a fast track online Ph.D. or doctorate program with the smallest number of required courses, accelerated online classes, and no dissertation requirements, you’re on the right track.

You’ll soon discover that these factors make for the shortest doctoral programs online and offer the most flexibility with the smallest number of requirements.

shortest science phd

Accelerated Online Doctoral Degrees to Get Quickly [Shortest Ph.D. Programs in 2023]

portrait of Doug Wintemute

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When envisioning a doctorate, people think of long years of intensive study. But that's not always the case. In fact, many disciplines offer accelerated doctoral programs that let you earn a terminal degree much quicker than you might imagine.

Throughout this page, we go through the shortest Ph.D. programs and the fastest doctorate degrees for various fields .

Featured Online Doctorate Degrees

Fastest doctorate degrees to get online quickly.

The shortest doctoral programs typically award professional degrees. While Ph.D. programs often require extensive research and lengthy dissertations, professional degrees have more practical and career-based studies.

Below we highlight fast doctoral programs for each discipline on this list.

Check out these 20 fast doctoral programs:

  • Business Administration
  • Business Management
  • Counseling and Therapy
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Data Science
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Human Services
  • Information Systems and Technology
  • Media Communication
  • Ministry and Theology
  • Project Management
  • Public Administration
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy

1. Fast Online Accounting Doctorate Programs

Online accounting programs at the doctoral level examine complex issues in ethics, auditing, and taxation. You learn to apply advanced theory to solve common problems or improve processes and policies.

With an accounting doctorate, you can pursue upper management and executive positions.

Featured Accounting Doctorate Programs

While a Ph.D. can often take up to five years, a DBA in accounting can take less than three years.

2. Fast Online Business Administration Programs [Ph.D. and DBA]

At the doctoral level, online business administration programs teach you to confront the biggest challenges in business. You'll discover ways to evaluate and analyze research and combine theory and practice.

Doctoral graduates can take on leadership and executive positions in various organizations or become an entrepreneur.

Featured Business Administration Doctorate Programs

The shortest doctoral programs in business are DBAs, which usually take around three years to complete.

3. Fast Online Business Management Doctorate Programs

Schools may offer online management programs with two practical degree types: a DBA in management and a doctor of management (DM).

These two professional degrees have similar components and outcomes, but the DM includes more research analysis. The DBA has more market analysis.

Featured Business Management Doctorate Programs

You can often complete both accelerated doctoral programs in management in less than three years. But a DBA may require more professional experience than a DM.

4. Fast Online Counseling and Therapy Doctorate Programs

Online counseling programs delve into the latest research and theories in counseling and therapy. You'll learn to apply your findings to improve counseling techniques, awareness, and leadership while furthering research and scholarship in the field.

With a doctorate in counseling and therapy, you can access counseling and postsecondary teaching positions.

Featured Counseling and Therapy Doctorate Programs

The shortest doctoral programs in counseling typically last between 3-4 years. However, the timeline may depend on how long it takes you to complete your dissertation.

5. Fast Online Computer Science Doctorate Programs

Doctoral students in online computer science programs typically pursue highly specialized or interdisciplinary studies. You'll research underserved or emerging fields to develop an innovative application or add to computing discussions.

Doctoral candidates typically pursue research, teaching, or industrial careers.

Featured Computer Science Doctorate Programs

While study times depend on the extent of your research, the shortest doctoral programs in computer science take about four years.

6. Fast Online Criminal Justice Doctorate Programs

You have several online criminal justice programs to choose from at the doctoral level, including a Ph.D., Psy.D., or doctor of criminal justice (DCJ). The DCJ was designed for experienced criminal justice professionals seeking leadership, policy, and administrative roles.

Featured Criminal Justice Doctorate Programs

As one of the most accelerated doctoral programs available, DCJ programs take 2-3 years to complete.

7. Fast Online Data Science Doctorate Programs

Data science doctoral programs examine the tools and techniques for managing, analyzing, and applying data. These programs empower you to develop new innovations and methods for using data to solve practical problems.

You can go on to developmental and analytical careers in data science .

Featured Data Science Doctorate Programs

The shortest doctoral programs in data science usually take between 3-5 years, but that time may vary depending on the dissertation process.

8. Fast Online Education Doctorate Programs

A doctorate in education helps you understand and improve educational policies, laws, technologies, and outcomes. You may specialize in curriculum, leadership, or teaching strategies.

Career paths vary, but Ph.D. graduates often pursue research and teaching careers. Ed.D. graduates often pursue administrator and policymaker roles.

Featured Education Doctorate Programs

The fastest doctorate in education may take between 2-3 years and award an Ed.D.

9. Fast Online Finance Doctorate Programs

Online finance degrees at the doctoral level typically result in a Ph.D. or a DBA. A Ph.D. program focuses more on research. It equips you with the knowledge to understand and analyze financial markets from a theoretical viewpoint.

A DBA in finance explores financial markets and questions from a practical and problem-solving perspective.

Featured Finance Doctorate Programs

DBAs in finance are usually more accelerated than Ph.D. programs and last between 3-4 years.

10. Fast Online Healthcare Administration Doctorate Programs

In a doctorate in healthcare administration program, you often have two options: a research-focused Ph.D. or a practical doctor of healthcare administration (DHA).

While the Ph.D. encourages you to find new research areas, the DHA pushes for new applications for research. As a result, Ph.D. graduates often go into academia, and DHA graduates may enter leadership positions in healthcare organizations.

Featured Healthcare Administration Doctorate Programs

Study times can vary, but the shortest doctorates in this field are DHA programs that take about three years to complete.

11. Fast Online Human Services Doctorate Programs

Doctoral human services programs typically come in two forms: a Ph.D. and a doctor of human services (DHS). The Ph.D. program takes a research and theoretical approach and prepares you more for roles in academia.

The DHS explores new and improved applications for evidence-based practices, leading to policy development and program and system director careers.

Featured Human Services Doctorate Programs

The DHS is the fastest doctorate degree of the two degree types, and you can complete it in less than three years.

12. Fast Online Information Systems and Technology Doctorate Programs

As in many fields, online information technology degrees are research-focused or professional-focused. A doctor of information technology (DIT) has a more practical approach and a shorter timeline than a Ph.D.

DIT programs equip you with the skills to innovate and find new uses for IT.

Featured Information Technology Doctorate Programs

While program lengths depend on the school, DIT programs often take between 3-4 years to complete.

13. Fast Online Media Communication Doctorate Programs

Online media communication programs investigate the media industry's technologies, institutions, and practices. You'll analyze the methods and means of communication and how it impacts people, organizations, and industries.

Graduates of these programs can enter organizational executive or academic roles.

Featured Media Communication Doctorate Programs

Media communication has some of the most accelerated doctoral programs, with many programs taking about 3-4 years to complete.

14. Fast Online Ministry and Theology Doctorate Programs

Online ministry programs give you a better understanding of biblical teachings, more diverse communication strategies, and enhanced outreach capabilities.

These programs often provide specialization and practical training opportunities in teaching, ministry leadership, and church management. Awarded with a doctor of ministry degree (DMin), you can pursue a role as a church leader or advance theological scholarship.

Featured Ministry/Theology Doctorate Programs

As one of the shortest doctoral programs, DMin programs may only take two years to complete.

15. Fast Online Nursing Doctorate Programs

A nursing Ph.D . and a doctor of nurse practice (DNP) program take you down different paths. Ph.D. students study nursing literature and theory to advance their understanding of illness and care.

DNP students strive to translate that research into more effective practices and systems.

Featured Nursing Doctorate Programs

Of the two degree types, DNP programs offer the fastest doctorate degree, taking 2-3 years.

16. Fast Online Project Management Doctorate Programs

Much like business degrees, project management doctorates usually come in Ph.D. and DBA forms. These programs focus on the theory and practice of managing projects. They cover topics in ethics, organizational theory, human resources, and communication.

With one of these degrees, you can pursue executive roles or help teach future business leaders.

Featured Project Management Doctorate Programs

The shortest doctoral programs in this discipline are DBA degrees, which usually last three years.

17. Fast Online Psychology Doctorate Programs

Online psychology programs at the doctoral level focus on research (Ph.D.) or professional practice (Psy.D.). Both degrees can lead to licensure for academia or clinical psychologist roles, but they typically have different formats.

For example, Ph.D. programs often require you to complete a dissertation, while Psy.D. programs may require a practical project and an internship.

Featured Psychology Doctorate Programs

While most Psy.D. and Ph.D. in psychology programs take five years to complete, you may find accelerated doctoral programs that take less than four years.

18. Fast Online Public Administration Doctorate Programs

An online doctorate in public administration (DPA) can prepare you for academia or executive leadership roles in public service. The DPA prepares you to use research and data-driven evidence to improve public program development, strategic planning, and community management.

Featured Public Administration Doctorate Programs

You can complete a DPA program in 2-3 years, making it the most accelerated doctoral program in this discipline.

19. Fast Online Public Health Doctorate Programs

You have two types of online doctorates in public health available to you: a Ph.D. research degree or a doctor of public health (DrPH) practitioner degree. A DrPH program focuses on interdisciplinary leadership and management skills for public health professionals.

You can pursue positions in the government and healthcare systems, developing and applying improved policies and programs.

Featured Public Health Doctorate Programs

The most accelerated doctoral programs in this field typically take at least three years to complete.

20. Fast Online Public Policy Doctorate Programs

You may pursue a Ph.D. in public policy or a doctor of public policy (DPP). In a DPP program, you learn to analyze, make, and implement public policy. You'll also learn to lead effectively at the top levels of government and other public service organizations.

Featured Public Policy Doctorate Programs

The fastest doctoral program of the two options, the DPP, allows you to graduate in about three years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Accelerated Online Doctorate Degrees

What is the quickest online doctoral program.

A DM in program might be the fastest doctorate overall, with some programs taking only two years to finish.

But the fastest doctoral degree varies depending on the school and student. The shortest doctoral programs take 2-3 years to complete, whereas the shortest Ph.D. programs take 3-4 years.

How quickly can I get a doctorate?

Study times for doctorates depend on the type of degree. Most Ph.D. programs take about five years, while professional doctorates take 3-4 years. Many schools offer accelerated doctoral programs that allow you to shave a year or so off of that timeline.

You should note that with accelerated programs come more condensed classes and more intensive study requirements.

Do all accelerated Ph.D. programs require a dissertation?

The answer to this depends on the program. In many cases, Ph.D. programs require a dissertation , regardless of whether they are accelerated. Some Ph.D. programs have alternative requirements, such as a project or a publishing requirement.

Professional doctorates often ask you to complete a project rather than a dissertation. As a result, these are often the shortest doctoral programs available.

Explore More College Resources

Online doctorate degrees program guide, best doctorate programs.

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Easiest phd and shortest doctoral programs online 2024.

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 Best-Universities.net .

  • 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 Study.com.

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

Lisa Marlin

Table of Contents

The easiest phd majors, walden university, the richard w. riley college of education and human sciences, capella university, the university of florida, department of classics, faulkner university, regent university.

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

The University of Tennessee Knoxville, College of Social Work

New york university, school of law, north carolina state university, college of design, frontier nursing university, what’s the difference between a professional degree and a doctorate, which phd is the easiest to get, which subject is easy for a phd, final thoughts.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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shortest science phd

Shortest Doctoral Programs: What You Need To Know

No matter what doctoral program you choose, earning your doctorate is a significant commitment. Accelerated programs can offer a way to earn your doctorate in less time, but completing a rigorous doctoral program at a faster pace will take dedication and hard work.

If you’re looking to earn a doctorate degree to advance your career, here are some of the main considerations when evaluating program duration.

What Are The Different Types of Doctoral Programs and How Long Do They Take?

There are two main types of doctorate degrees: a Ph.D. and an applied doctorate.

  • Ph.D. programs focus on conducting academic research to expand the discipline
  • Applied doctorate programs focus on improving the practice of your discipline using existing research

Ph.D. programs take an average 8.2 years to complete. They also focus more on theory than application. For these reasons, applied doctorate programs continue to increase in popularity, especially with working professionals.

Earning a doctorate is challenging and rewarding, but do you know what to really expect? Download this free guide for tips and insights to help you prepare for success.  

Online Applied Doctorate Programs

Another consideration when choosing a doctoral program is the instruction method. Many working adults look for online programs that provide flexibility and can be tailored to their schedules. If you manage your time well, online programs are typically faster to complete.

However, all online doctoral programs are not created equal. Some programs offer doctorates in as little as a year. At face value, the reduced time to graduation is appealing, but are these programs worth the investment? The answer is most likely no. The quality of education and reputation of these programs won’t pay off in the long run.

Reputable online programs can offer you a doctoral degree in about three years and provide a rigorous education that will deepen your knowledge, improve your critical thinking and leadership skills and open new doors in your career.

graphic describing traditional ph.d. versus professional doctorate

If you’re going to spend the time, energy, and money it takes to earn a doctorate, you need to ensure you’re getting a high-quality education to match.

What Affects The Overall Time It Takes to Complete A Doctorate?

There are a variety of factors that influence the length of time it takes to earn a doctorate. Program requirements, instruction methods, and personal commitment all impact how long it will take you to graduate.

Here are some of the top considerations when evaluating the length of a doctoral program:

  • Dissertation Methodology and Approach: The culmination of your doctoral degree is your dissertation. In traditional programs, it often takes a year or two just to choose a topic for your dissertation. With integrated programming and support, some accelerated programs can help you complete your dissertation in a year.
  • Part-time vs. Full-time Enrollment: While a part-time program may offer more flexibility than a full-time program, it will also take longer to graduate. Whichever way you decide to pursue your degree, the total time commitment is significant.
  • Transfer Credit Eligibility: By getting credit for completed courses or professional experience, you can make the most of your previous experience and decrease your time to graduation. Look for programs that make it easy to transfer credit and get a jump start on your doctorate.
  • In-person vs. Online Classes: The strict scheduling of in-person classes can make it more difficult to get the credits you need in a timely fashion, especially if you’re taking courses while working. Online classes give you the flexibility to complete courses around your schedule but require diligence to stay on-track for graduation.

Perhaps the biggest influence on the time it takes to complete your doctoral program is personal commitment. You need to take a full course load, conduct research, and write your dissertation, all while balancing your personal and professional life with your degree.

How Can I Identify a Top-Quality Accelerated Doctoral Program?

Many options exist that can help you reduce the time it takes to earn your doctorate. However, program quality varies widely. Research the program to determine how the university builds its curriculum, the university’s accreditation status, and the recognition of the institution in your industry.

Outside of accelerated coursework, here are some of the hallmarks of high-quality online professional doctoral programs:

  • Applied Coursework: If you’re a working professional, you need to find a program that helps you apply doctoral-level thinking, research and communication skills to applicable real-world problems.
  • Academic Support: Undertaking a doctoral program isn’t something you should have to accomplish alone. Look for programs that provide faculty advisors, graduate advisors and other support services to help you succeed.
  • Academic Resources: Doctoral programs are heavily research-based. Make sure a program will offer you access to their library system and librarians or research assistants who can help you find what you need.

While time to completion may be a top factor in your decision, without the proper resources and support you may not finish your degree on time, or you may be tempted to quit your program before completing your degree.

Is a Doctoral Program Right For You?

There are many reasons you may consider pursuing your doctorate. While many professionals want to increase advancement opportunities and earning potential, these motivators alone may not make you a successful doctoral student.

In fact, 50% of doctoral students quit before they finish their degree.

To make sure you aren’t one of them, you should identify your goals and expectations so you choose the right program, for the right reasons. Here are some of the attributes that make some students more successful than others when completing a doctoral program.

Want to Know If You’re Set Up For Success? Ask Yourself

  • Am I truly passionate about my course of study? Passion is key to success in doctoral programs. You need to have an intense curiosity and desire to learn about your topic because the coursework and process is difficult. If you don’t sincerely enjoy what you’re studying, it will be more tempting to quit when the going gets tough.
  • Am I motivated to learn new concepts and ideas? This may seem like a no-brainer, but your willingness to open your mind and evolve can make or break your pursuit of a doctorate. If you’re simply looking for an update to your résumé, rather than a diligent effort to learn and grow, you may want to consider other avenues for advancement.
  • Can I commit the time, energy and headspace? Balancing a career and your personal life can be challenging in itself. Adding a doctoral program into the mix means you will need to protect and schedule time to complete your coursework, as well as research, write and edit your dissertation. You need to make sure getting your doctorate is a priority and have a detailed plan to finish your program.

Ready to Pursue Your Doctorate? Start Your Search For The Right Program.

If you’re ready to invest the time and hard work it takes to get your doctorate, finding the right program is your next step. You need to evaluate programs holistically to determine if they’re the right fit for your professional goals, learning style and personal life.

At Franklin University, our goal is to make a doctoral degree more attainable for highly motivated students. We’ve built our programs around the needs of working professionals, so you can not only get your degree, but apply your learnings in real time to your career.

From the moment you enroll, we support your success through our academic approach. We offer applied curriculum, dedicated faculty and an innovative dissertation methodology, plus all of the support and resources you need along the way.

Explore Franklin University’s Doctoral Degree programs to decide if one of our programs could be the right fit for you.

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Shortest PhD Programs 2023: Top 18 Doctoral Programs

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Completing a PhD is no child’s play. It requires deep dedication and a will to complete the prerequisites. However, once you get your PhD, you will get the scholarly prestige that comes with holding the highest level of academic achievement. You will be making significant contributions to your profession and society at large with a doctorate.

Shortest PHD Programs

You will feel extremely fulfilled and gratified as you add to the corpus of knowledge in your profession by completing an accelerated PhD program. If you are looking for one, this article lists some of the shortest PhD programs offered by the top universities in the United States.

Tips to Consider While Choosing the Shortest phD Programs

Shortest Doctoral Programs

If you are thinking about getting a PhD degree or enrolling in a doctoral program, here are some tips to consider while choosing.

Do Your Research

Before choosing a PhD program, think in-depth about what you want to do and conduct thorough research on the topic you want to get your PhD in. Your career goals, interests, and topics that touch deep are all factors you should consider.

Choose a Research Area in Your Field

Explore choices within the research field you wish to pursue. Some programs might provide superior chances for research, mentoring, networking, funding, and professional development. To select a PhD program that fits your research interests and professional objectives, it is crucial to know what to look for.

Look for Reputable Institutions

Knowing the reputation of the university you are thinking about attending for your PhD is crucial. Investigating the institution’s academic accomplishments, faculty members’ areas of specialty, the availability of resources, the cultural climate, and its ranking are some of the aspects you should look out for.

Seek Advice

Consult with peers and possible supervisors about your suggested subject and research goals can help you make the right choice. Supervisors with experience in your field of study can provide you insightful advice on how to proceed with your research as well as on the potential of your work and how effectively it solves knowledge gaps.

Choose a PhD Program with Funding Options

Looking at the financing options is one of the most important factors to take into account while deciding on a PhD program. It can be costly to earn a PhD Due to this, many students rely on financial aid, scholarships, grants, or fellowships to pay for their tuition, living expenses, and research expenditures. Picking a PhD program that provides suitable financial choices can help ease the expenses.

Top 18 Shortest PhD Programs

shortest doctoral program online

Here is a list of the top shortest PhD programs that you can choose from depending on your specialty.

1. Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Science: Sargent College – Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PP-OTD) program

With an emphasis on flexibility and a strong mentorship approach, the Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PP-OTD) program at Sargent College is created to offer the highest level of quality education. Each student in the PP-OTD program is partnered with a faculty member who offers them individualized support during the course of the program. Graduates will have better career possibilities to create, execute, evaluate, and sustain innovative programs after finishing the program.

Students learn to promote inclusive, varied, and occupationally fair communities and society. The program teaches to expand possibilities for occupational therapy practitioners in practice, education, and scholarship through increasing awareness of the field. Students contribute to the literature and teaching materials using evidence in occupational therapy and impacting the world’s health. Graduates expand the professional network’s boundaries by concentrating on community-based practice and new practice areas.

All matriculated post-professional students are eligible for merit scholarships along with a cost of $895 per credit. Only an online format is used to deliver the PP-OTD program. Occupational therapists with a BS and MS in occupational therapy from an ACOTE or WFOT-accredited degree program or those who can present a National Government Recognition document of their occupational therapy program are eligible to apply.

2. University of North Carolina School of Medicine – Transitional DPT

Physical therapists with a license who want to earn a doctorate as well as further knowledge and skills can enroll in the Transitional DPT, or tDPT, program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine . The course blends current clinical applications with online learning and distance education. The degree’s main emphasis is clinical competence and skill, with the option of specializing in the student’s desired field of practice.

Graduates are encouraged to go on with their clinical practice, participate in community leadership and policy-making, and pursue teaching positions that align with their career objectives. Clinical Foundation Core, Clinical Practise Core, and Specialty Practise Core are the three interactive core components that make up the program. A professional entry-level degree plus an additional 27 credits of the authorized curriculum must be completed to receive a degree.

12 courses in the curriculum lay the groundwork for generalist practice while also providing plenty of room for independent study in subjects of a student’s choosing. This course is only offered part-time, and it lasts for two years. Scholarships, employee benefits, payment plans, and other financial aid are offered to students.

3. Liberty University – Doctor of Education degree

Liberty University offers a Doctor of Education degree with a specialization in various fields. The program is delivered completely online with flexible 8-week courses. Students can earn their Ed.D. in 2.5 years on average. You get the advanced information you need to have a positive impact on the educational field by enrolling in one of the online Ed.D. programs that include education administration, curriculum creation, learning theory, and the most recent research.

Available programs include administration and supervision, curriculum and instruction, educational psychology , elementary education, instructional design and technology, middle grades education, online teaching and learning, secondary education, special education, educational leadership, assessment and evaluation, and organizational leadership.

With a capstone project, you will undertake your study to offer useful answers to problems in the field of education. Graduates can improve their chances of succeeding as senior-level educational leaders, university professors, or educational policymakers. The cost of the programs is $595 per credit hour. The school offers military benefits.

4. Breyer State Theology University (BSTU) – Ethereal Doctor of Psychology in Greif Counseling Program

Breyer State Theology University (BSTU) offers an accelerated online doctorate in grief counseling that students can finish in one year. The Ethereal Doctor of Psychology in Greif Counseling program teaches students to recognize the facets of bereavement and grief counseling. To help you succeed as a counseling practitioner, the program offers both academic understanding and hands-on training.

You will get a deeper knowledge of sorrow via this program, investigate the numerous ways it may impact people’s lives, and discover how to support individuals who are grieving. Students also learn to determine the phases of grief and the best ways to deal with and overcome the problems caused by it. In addition, students work with traumatized individuals and create methods for assisting them through their grief.

After completing the program, graduates will leave with the abilities and expertise required to work as successful grief counselors. The cost of this degree is $4,500. Students who have a master’s degree in grief counseling or any related field can apply for this program. Students have free access to the extensive Study Tactics and Resources Centre, which contains links to websites, online databases, articles, and research assistance for various subjects.

5. Baylor University – Doctor of Education in Learning and Organisational Change (EdD)

The Doctor of Education in Learning and Organisational Change (EdD) online program at Baylor University enables seasoned professionals and business executives to influence the learning environment in any setting. It is a 54-credit hour program that students can complete in 36 months and includes two immersions. Students can also choose to earn their degrees on a flexible schedule.

Graduates are equipped to address cross-functional challenges, identify and take advantage of growth opportunities, and foster productive learning environments based on data-driven processes through a combination of interactive coursework, cooperative group projects, and face-to-face online classes. Students will be prepared to become transformational leaders with experience in curriculum, organizational change , and teaching and learning through practitioner-oriented courses.

Learning foundations courses, courses on organizational transformation, courses on research methodology, and a Problem of Practice (PoP) dissertation make up the program. Two in-person immersions provide students the chance to specifically apply the new skills they gained in the virtual classroom to their line of work.

6. Frontier Nursing University – Post-Master’s DNP Degree Program

Registered nurses who desire to further their careers as nurses, develop their leadership abilities, and expand their clinical knowledge can choose Frontier Nursing University ’s Post-master’s DNP degree program. With a flexible approach that offers every course, and every term to match your life and professional aspirations, the program offers a full-immersion campus experience. Students can finish the 30-credit online program in 15 or 18 months.

The program includes a three-day stay on campus. You learn to initiate and oversee a quick cycle quality improvement initiative with your clinical site. The 30-credit Post-master’s DNP degree program is intended for certified nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners and is available to those with an MSN. The Post-master’s DNP program is an option for students who have completed the Post-Graduate Certificate (PGC) program.

The DNP program offers an education centered on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership. All these aspects give nurses the clinical knowledge and leadership skills they need to serve at the highest clinical levels. Every three terms, FNU grants and renews its financial aid programs. The expected net amount of financial help per term is $6,761 for a student who decides to borrow the maximum gross amount of $20,500 for the academic year.

7. Maryville University – Doctor of Nursing Practise (DNP) Program

The online Doctor of Nursing Practise (DNP) program at Maryivlle University is perfect for seasoned nurses who wish to get ready for professional advancement by obtaining the highest certification in nursing practice education. 100% of the curriculum is available online, so campus visits are not necessary. The program includes 11 courses with 33 credit hours.

The courses in the program include principles of epidemiology and biostatistics, integrating and synthesizing research, advanced healthcare policy, ethics for advanced nursing practice, quality, and patient safety in advanced nursing practice, clinical inquiry, organizational theory and systems, and more.

If you are a nurse practitioner already, you might complete your DNP in just 20 months. You can also add one of five nurse practitioner concentrations of your choosing to become a highly sought-after DNP-NP in as little as 36 months. As your career progresses, you will acquire the abilities, know-how, and experience you need to become a leader in the fields of evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership.

8. Capella University – Ph.D. Program in Counselor Education And Supervision

You may grow as a practitioner, leader, clinical supervisor, educator, and researcher with a Ph.D. program in counselor education and supervision at Capella University . With the help of practical training from your practicum and internship courses, this program allows you to put ideas into practice. Your abilities in counseling, instruction, research, administration, advocacy, and leadership will improve. The program is CACREP recognized and takes 60 program credits to complete the degree.

In addition to the prerequisites for the dissertation, practicum, and internship, you must finish 12 core courses. The course includes a thorough examination of doctoral-level education in advanced counseling practice/therapy, counseling supervision, research, teaching, advocacy, and leadership. The tuition cost of the program is $730 per credit hour. Students can apply for federal grants, employer & association discounts, and a $5k scholarship Capellar Progress Reward to fund the degree.

Graduates of this program are qualified to work in academic and clinical settings as advanced practitioners, leaders, clinical supervisors, researchers, and counselor educators. Graduates of the program become capable of applying guiding principles for both professional and personal growth while setting an excellent example. They can conduct research that is ethical, valid, and reliable to advance our understanding of counselor education and supervision.

9. Walden University – PhD Program In Clinical Psychology – Forensic Psychology Specialization

Students who enroll in a PhD program in forensic psychology at Walden University are academically prepared to serve as advisers, thought leaders, and authors in this rapidly developing subject. The biological, psychological, and social elements that might influence criminal behavior will be examined in greater detail in the program. Specialised training that focuses solely on forensic psychology will give you a competitive edge.

Regular webinars and optional four-day intensives that are focused on important themes might help you extend your study outside the classroom. Upon fulfillment of specific program criteria, you may also be eligible for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree. Unless they request an extension, Walden students have up to 8 years to finish their PhD program. Students often remain enrolled in the dissertation/doctoral studies course until their capstone project is finished and accepted.

The program comes in Track I and Track II options with tuition of $610 per quarter hour. Track I consist of 60 quarter credits, and Track II has 90 quarter credits. Students also have the option to choose the Fast-Track Option to accelerate their program completion by taking more courses and starting their dissertations earlier. It consists of four terms, and the tuition per term is $7,180.

10. University of Dayton – Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) In Leadership For Organisations Program

The School of Education and Health Sciences (SEHS) at the University of Dayton offers an online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership for Organisations program. The program enables you to implement constructive change from the top-down via service-based leadership. With an emphasis on research, cooperation, social justice, and applied practice, the online Ed.D. in Leadership for Organisations program is made for professionals with a master’s degree or above. The program takes 36 months to finish and has 60 credits.

The program will help you successfully lead mission-driven organizations. You will learn to lead organizations using service-based and social justice ideas as a student in an intensive online program. You will also learn to create a scholarly practice via investigation, study, and practical application that you will use right away. You will delve deeply into organizational leadership in a dissertation-in-practice.

During the program, you will build a strong network of like-minded peers by working together in person over two on-campus immersions with classmates and teachers. Attend weekly sessions that are streamed life and feature HD video and compact breakout spaces. You will be using a mobile-friendly, interactive online classroom to access education and conduct polls and surveys, share screens, and work together to edit documents. For two in-person immersions during the program, you will meet with your classmates and professors on campus.

11. Gwynedd Mercy University – Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Education

You can earn your 54-credit Online Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Education from Gwynedd Mercy University in less than three years, and the program provides you with a supportive learning environment where you can acquire the abilities, information, and attitudes required to lead and transform educational institutions. It takes at least 54 credits to graduate from the online Accelerated Executive EdD program.

To reform and enhance systems in general education, special education, and organizations that deal with education, such as governmental agencies, consulting firms, and for-profit businesses, the degree places a strong emphasis on transformational leadership . Starting from day 1, this program includes help for dissertations from the faculty.

You can select from one of four areas of interest, including teaching and learning in higher education, leadership in PreK–12 schools and school districts, leadership in higher education, and leadership in special education. You need to possess a master’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above in a discipline related to your chosen area of emphasis from a college or university with Middle States Association accreditation or equivalent accreditation for the degree.

12. Bowling State University – PhD in Technology Management

By providing academically demanding coursework and experience through remote education, the Ph.D. in Technology Management at Bowling State University is an online program created to satisfy the demands of today’s technology workers. Students enroll in the program to pursue more senior roles with technology-based companies or to switch to a higher education vocation.

Students can choose to specialize in any of the five options, including construction management, digital communication, human resource development and training, manufacturing systems, and quality systems. Four areas of study are necessary for the 66 credit hours PhD in Technology Management program. These include technical specialization,  professional studies, research core, and general technology core.

Internships can be created to give doctoral students a chance to test and experiment in business, research institutions, governmental organizations, and other suitable experiential ventures related to technology utilization, transfer, and innovation with the express goal of advancing knowledge in the specialty.

13. Indiana University of Pennsylvania – PhD In Safety Sciences Program

The PhD in Safety Sciences program at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) offers you the possibility to hone your practical research abilities while concentrating on current workplace safety issues. It allows you to move from management to academics, from business to academia, and it allows you to pass on your knowledge to the upcoming generation of safety sciences experts.

The online PhD in Safety Sciences is intended for people with full-time jobs at the moment. It is a dissertation-required 54-credit distance education program, including summer workshops that can be finished in three to seven years. 18 credits must be earned through six one-week summer workshop courses taken on the IUP campus over three summers, and the remaining 24 credits must be earned through distance education courses.

The dissertation will require 12 credits from the students. The dissertation committee will hear an oral defense of your dissertation proposal from you. You must next perform an oral dissertation defense after finishing your written dissertation. A master’s degree in a field that is directly connected to safety, such as industrial hygiene, occupational safety, or the social sciences, is a requirement to enroll in the program.

14. Hampton University – Accelerated Online PhD In Education Management

With Hampton University ‘s accelerated online PhD in Education Management, you may earn a graduate degree while advancing organizations to the top of their sector and gaining the knowledge and expertise necessary to adapt to the rapidly changing educational environment. The expedited 60-credit Educational Management PhD program aims to provide students with the necessary experience while offering specialized teaching.

The program gives a cutting-edge education that focuses on current issues and topics in executive educational leadership. It highlights the fundamental leadership skills, character traits, and practical knowledge that executive educational leaders need to possess to be successful in educational contexts. The programs give students a chance to center their dissertation on genuine issues facing educational institutions, making the work relevant and useful and fostering organizational support.

In addition, students gain access to a network of organizations and successful educational leaders to support their professional, academic, and career development. Higher education and pre-K–12 education are available as specializations for the degree. It is a 60-credit program with 8 weeks course length that students can finish in 2 years. The cost of the program is $695 per credit. Hampton University is located in Virginia . The school offers financial aid to qualified students. Interested students must have academic training, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education.

15. Duquesne University School of Nursing – Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree

You will have the power to influence nursing practice’s future with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at Duqusne University School of Nursing . It is a completely online program where you will get the chance to learn from one of the top-ranked nursing faculty members at Duquesne as an online DNP student.

Two online DNP concentrations are available from Duquesne University, which include Clinical Leadership and Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management. After completing the Executive Nurse Leadership DNP program, you will be qualified to work with senior executives and leaders from a range of healthcare specialties to identify issues, provide suggestions, and bring about change for the benefit of healthcare systems as a whole.

The Clinical Leadership DNP program can teach you how to use evidence-based practice to affect patient outcomes and raise the standard of care in clinical settings. The Clinical Leadership DNP program has 35 credits total, which includes nine 3-credit courses and two 4-credit courses. You can complete the program in just two years. Tuition discounts are available for the program.

16. The College of St. Scholastica – Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

The College of St. Scholastica ’s Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program is a distance learning education program created to increase knowledge in the topic area introduced to the entry-level DPT program but may not have been covered in bachelor’s or master’s degree curricula. It was specifically created for practicing clinicians.

The courses are offered online with the option of interacting with the instructors and other students. The main goal is to increase one’s theoretical knowledge to develop one’s practice, career, and interactions with other professionals. The program consists of six courses totaling 16 credits that include topics such as pharmacology , evidence-based practice, diagnostic imaging, differential diagnosis, health care policy, and clinical experience.

The program is offered fully online, including a streamlined curriculum created with the requirements of working physical therapists in mind. The course instructors may maintain more individualized, one-on-one interaction with remote students and foster a sense of community among students in a virtual classroom by capping registration at 24 students. Every semester, each subject is given, enabling a personalized study plan. The tuition fee for the program is $775 per credit.

17. Georgia State University – Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Ed.D. in C&I) program

The Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Ed.D. in C&I) program at Georgia State University helps you gain knowledge in pedagogical leadership, curriculum theory, and advocacy for equity in teaching and learning. The program prepares master teachers to work as instructional leaders and curriculum specialists in schools and/or school systems.

The program follows a three-year, flexible cohort approach, which is typical of highly regarded, top-notch professional doctoral programs in the country. The program requires 54 hours in total, consisting of 45 hours of coursework and 9 hours of dissertation preparation.  The majority of the program will be delivered at the downtown campus year-round in the summer, spring, and fall semesters through evening sessions.

It provides an interdisciplinary approach throughout Secondary levels in a variety of subject areas, including Art, Mathematics, Language and Literacy, Middle Level, Music, Foreign Language, Social Studies, and Science.

18. The University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Social Work ­- Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in Clinical Practice and Leadership Program

The Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in Clinical Practice and Leadership program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Social Work trains students for advanced clinical practice and leadership. The DSW is a rigorous accelerated program designed for working professionals that enables students to complete all degree requirements in three years without interfering with their careers.

A program for advanced clinical social work is available, with an emphasis on applied research, clinical leadership, clinical science, and evidence-based practice. Students will be ready for advanced clinical practice and advanced practice leadership through this program. Students who are full-time employed as clinical social workers can maintain their ongoing clinical practice while pursuing their Ph.D., thanks to the school’s online program.

The DSW program consists of two courses per semester over eight semesters of demanding coursework. Students can apply for College of Social Work Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA), departmental scholarships, graduate assistantships, federal work-study, scholarships, graduate fellowships, summer aid, veteran student services, Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program, and others to fund the PhD program.

As students look for PhD programs with the fewest requirements and the shortest lengths, accelerated programs are becoming more and more popular. The list highlights some of the top PhD programs offered through distance learning and online format, which can benefit current working professionals and those who want to pursue a PhD in their free time.

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Steve is a strong believe in vocational schools and study. He is an ex-teacher and currently on a mission to improve the skillset of students across America.

The 20 Fastest Ph.D. Programs in 2023

Find your perfect school.

fastest phd programs

Updated by Chief Editor, Malcolm Peralty | 9 min read

Are you searching for one of the fastest Ph.D. programs to complete so you can get that job promotion you’ve been working towards? Finishing a Ph.D. program is the crowning achievement for ambitious scholars seeking the uppermost echelon of academic, government, clinical, and private-sector leadership jobs.

The US News states the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree can take between six or more years on average to complete. Traditional Ph.D. curricula involve nearly 100 credits of advanced seminars, research assistantships, and hefty dissertation work. In fact, Statisticsolutions.com reported that just 56.6 percent of PhDs actually graduate in 10 years.

Featured Schools

Fortunately, online learning has promoted the creation of Ph.D. shortcuts at many legitimate universities. Shortening the Ph.D. length can increase your chance of graduating and save you from the high $84,000 or more average debt reported by credible.com . Therefore, this article is devoted to finding the fastest Ph.D. programs that will accelerate your path to higher education’s most prestigious degree!

Quick Jumps to the schools that made our list along with the fast Ph.D. programs they offer!

  • Columbia University – PhD in Computer Science
  • University of North Dakota – PhD in Biomedical Engineering
  • University of Missouri – PhD in Nursing
  • Hampton University – PhD in Educational Management
  • American University – PhD in Communication
  • Old Dominion University – PhD in Instructional Design and Technology
  • Lesley University – PhD in Expressive Therapies
  • Colorado State University – PhD in Systems Engineering
  • Mississippi State University – PhD in Community College Leadership
  • Nova Southeastern University – PhD in Criminal Justice
  • Clemson University – PhD in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
  • Oregon State University – PhD in Counseling
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania – PhD in Safety Sciences
  • University of Northern Colorado – PhD in Special Education
  • Union Institute & University – PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Indiana State University – PhD in Technology Management
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – PhD in Aviation
  • Liberty University – PhD in Public Policy
  • University of South Carolina – PhD in Nuclear Engineering
  • Indiana Wesleyan University – PhD in Organizational Leadership


  • First, our team used Peterson’s database to collect data on 618 online graduate schools that offer doctorates. This list was narrowed by eliminating programs that didn’t specifically confer a Ph.D. In other words, we nixed Ph.D. alternatives like the Doctor of Business Administration and Doctor of Education.
  • Next, we judged each doctorate’s academic quality by removing those lacking regional accreditation . Only not-for-profit colleges with traditional campuses for doctoral resources were chosen.
  • Then, we looked for accelerated Ph.D. paths that could take three years or less. Searching for shorter courses, post-master’s tracks, multiple start times, and ample credit transfers was our goal to accelerate.
  • We also picked PhDs in wide-ranging fields and diverse prices to list something for everyone on any budget.

Ranked by estimated duration, these are our 20 Fastest Ph.D. Programs where graduation could be only 36 instead of 108 months away. For more information, see our Methodology page!

The 20 Fastest Ph.D. Programs

Columbia university.

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Computer Science

Ranked 12th by the U.S. News & World Report, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science at Columbia University provides a fast-track Ph.D. in Computer Science for its MS graduates with a minimum of 3.3 GPAs.

The 30-credit doctorate chaired by Dr. Rocco Servedio starts each Spring or Fall with 4000-level Columbia Video Network courses and one-on-one research advising.

Available specializations, including:

  • Machine Learning,
  • Network Security,
  • and Computational Biology, take only two years.

Learn more about Columbia University’s Fast Ph.D. degree program in Computer Science.

University of North Dakota

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Biomedical Engineering

The College of Engineering & Mines at the University of North Dakota, America’s 185th top research institute on Forbes, logs into Blackboard for a quick Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering overseen by Dr. Hesham El-Rewini.

Open until August 1st, December 1st, or May 1st, the 60-credit, post-master’s program meets ABET standards for medical device innovation.

Within just two years, graduates can advance at Siemens, Baxter International, Pfizer, Philips, and others for a median $82,000 salary.

Would you like more information about the University of North Dakota’s Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering program? Take a look!

University of Missouri

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Nursing

Founded in 1901, the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri ranks 108th nationally on Niche for seven degrees, including the accelerated Ph.D. in Nursing that enhances clinical research skills.

The 56-credit, post-MSN program administered by Dr. Sarah Thompson takes registered nurses only two years full-time.

Canvas courses focused on:

  • Population Wellness,
  • Health Systems Innovation,
  • or Symptom & Behavior Science are paired with two four-day Columbia intensives annually.

To learn more about the PhD Programs at the University of Missouri, check out their Ph.D. in Nursing.

Hampton University

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Educational Management

Chaired by Dr. Linda Malone-Colon, the School of Liberal Arts & Education at Hampton University, Times Higher Education’s 191st top pick, offers Blackboard access to a speedy Ph.D. in Educational Management lasting 2.5 years.

The 66-credit, CAEP-accredited curriculum immerses certified teachers in four concentrations:

  • Higher Education,
  • PreK-12 Education,
  • STEM Leadership,
  • or Special Education.

Apply before January 15th with GRE scores above 150 to begin accelerated, nine-week courses on school reform methods.

Learn more about Hampton University’s Ph.D. Program offering a graduate degree in Educational Management.

American University

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Communication

Named America’s #1 most politically active on The Princeton Review, American University started the Three-Year Ph.D. in Communication in 2011 within the ACEJMC-accredited School of Communication.

The 54-credit, full-time program organized by Dr. Kathryn Montgomery accepts post-master’s candidates until December 15th yearly.

Blended courses in DC and on Blackboard follow an 11-month calendar year for three fast emphases:

  • Public Engagement,
  • Media Institutions,
  • or Media Technology & Culture.

Do you need an accelerated Ph.D. in Communications? See American University’s fast Ph.D. Programs.

Old Dominion University

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Instructional Design & Technology

Old Dominion University grants a 60-credit Ph.D. in Instructional Design & Technology online via the Darden College of Education, which ranks 105th on the U.S. News & World Report with 580 graduates enrolled.

Headed by Dr. Jane Bray, the 2008 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, the post-master’s option logs into Monarch Key accounts for live meetings.

Interactive Web courses like Distance Education and Learning Assessment end with a dissertation in as little as three years.

Learn more about the Ph.D. programs at Old Dominion University. They offer an exceptional Ph.D. program in Instructional Design and Technology.

Lesley University

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Expressive Therapies

The Graduate School of Arts & Social Sciences at Lesley University, Washington Monthly’s 129th best institution, created the Low-Residency Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies for counselors integrating the arts in mental health practice.

Managed by Dr. Michele Forinash, LMHC, the 45-credit program totaling $57,475 takes around 36 months for art therapists with 3-5 years of professional experience.

Courses are primarily on Blackboard with only one three-week Cambridge trip each summer.

Are you interested in earning a graduate degree in Expressive Therapies? Take a look at Lesley University’s Ph.D. degree program.

Colorado State University

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Systems Engineering

Placed 216th for research influence by the CWUR, Colorado State University-Fort Collins awards 49 doctorates, including the Online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering, from the ABET-accredited Walter Scott Jr. College yearly.

This 72-credit degree outlined by Dr. David McLean transfers 30 master’s credits for accelerating toward dissertation completion in three years.

On-demand Canvas lectures like Energy Networks and IT Project Management are designed with input from 600+ industry leaders.

Learn more about Colorado State University’s Ph.D. in Systems Engineering degree program.

Mississippi State University

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Community College Leadership

On Blackboard Learn 9.1, Mississippi State University awards the Ph.D. in Community College Leadership quickly via America’s 60th best College of Education on Niche for post-master’s teachers with cumulative GPAs above 3.3.

The 61-credit, CAEP-accredited curriculum overseen by Dr. Richard Blackbourn minimizes Starkville trips during courses like Personnel Diversity and Educational Data.

Individuals applying by October 1st or March 1st could enter junior institution administrative roles in as little as 36 months.

Mississippi State University has an excellent accelerated Ph.D. program in Community College Leadership. Check it out!

Nova Southeastern University

fastest Ph.D. programs

PhD in Criminal Justice

Bestowed the 2011 IAP Distance Education Award, the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at Nova Southeastern University ranks 41st on the U.S. News & World Report for its three-year Ph.D. in Criminal Justice on Canvas.

The 60-credit program chaired by Dr. Kimberly Durham admits post-master’s Fall cohorts until May 22nd.

Graduates take two courses each 14-week trimester to accelerate three concentrations:

  • Behavioral Sciences,
  • Juvenile Justice,
  • or Organizational Leadership.

Learn more about the accelerated Ph.D. Programs at Nova Southeastern University, particularly… their Ph.D. in Criminal Justice!

Clemson University

 Clemson University

PhD in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Attracting 61 doctoral candidates, the Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management has gone digital after a 35-year, COAPRT-accredited history in the Graduate School at Clemson University, America’s 72nd best value in Money magazine.

The three-year plan devised by Dr. Wayne Freimund has 60 credits, including dissertation work, primarily on Canvas.

Applying for this fast doctorate requires a master’s GPAs over 3.0, at least 2,000 hours of recreation therapy experience, and NCTRC certification.

Do you have a passion for Tourism? See Clemson University’s Ph.D. program in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management .

Oregon State University

Oregon State University

PhD in Counseling

The Oregon State University Ecampus connects to the CACREP-accredited College of Education, which places 130th nationally on the U.S. News & World Report, for three-year Ph.D. in Counseling cohorts ready to resolve human suffering.

Directed by Dr. Lisa Schulz, the 150-credit, the scholar-practitioner program has four 11-week quarters yearly for quick completion.

Master’s entrants with 600 previous internship hours apply by January 31st to begin Blackboard courses and two Wilsonville residencies per term.

Learn more about the Fastest Ph.D. in Counseling Program at Oregon State University.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

PhD in Safety Sciences

Crowned Forbes’ 238th best public school, Indiana University of Pennsylvania utilizes Blackboard Web conferencing in the ABET-accredited Engineering Department to award an Online Ph.D. in Safety Sciences within just three years.

The 54-credit degree managed by Dr. Jan Wachter enforces OSHA occupational health regulations in accelerated cohorts.

Post-master’s candidates with minimum “B” averages access courses like Epidemiological Analysis digitally with one-week summer workshops in Johnson Hall.

Learn more about the Ph.D. in Safety Sciences Program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Take a look!

University of Northern Colorado

University of Northern Colorado

PhD in Special Education

Given CAEP “Nationally Recognized” status, the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado landed 150th on the U.S. News & World Report for enrolling 888 online post-grads with a median 153 GRE score.

Particularly, the 77-credit Ph.D. in Special Education run by Dr. Silvia Correa-Torres takes as few as three years on the Extended Campus.

Certified P-12 teachers deepen disability awareness with nine fast courses like Law of Exceptionalities, an externship, and the dissertation.

Check out more about the Fastest PhD Programs at the University of Northern Colorado. They offer a great Ph.D. program in Special Education.

Union Institute & University

Union Institute & University

PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies

Union Institute & University, America’s 87th most diverse school on College Factual, utilizes its University Without Walls division to confer a 66-credit PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies Online in as little as 36 months.

Advised by Dr. Anuradha Mitra, the 2011 Greater Cincinnati Teacher of the Year, the HLC-accredited program requires just two residencies in January and July each year.

Students choose concentrations in Educational Studies, Ethical & Creative Leadership, Social Change, or Humanities & Culture.

Does your career require a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies? You’re in luck… Check out the Union Institute & University’s fast Ph.D. program.

Indiana State University

Indiana State University

PhD in Technology Management

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the ABET-accredited College of Technology at Indiana State University, Forbes’ 164th best Midwest institution, signs into Blackboard for seven graduate options like the Ph.D. in Technology Management.

This 66-credit degree headed by Dr. Nesli Alp helps STEM master’s holders advance in three years full-time or 4.5 years part-time.

Meeting the 3.5 GPA benchmark allows entry into tracks for Digital Communication, Quality Systems, Industrial Training, and Manufacturing Systems.

Learn more about Indiana State University’s Ph.D. in Technology Management degree program!

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

PhD in Aviation

In 2016, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University launched the United States’ first Ph.D. in Aviation as the #1 most tech-savvy college on Online School Center to quickly produce research scholars studying the skies.

The College of Aeronautics led by Dr. Bruce Conway offers Aviation Safety & Human Factors, Operations, or Interdisciplinary tracks to this 60-credit, SACS-accredited major.

Apply before February 1st to start 12-week online Blackboard courses that require only three-week-long Daytona Beach visits total.

Are you ready to earn your wings? Check out this fast Ph.D. Program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University focused on Aviation!

Liberty University

Liberty University

PhD in Public Policy

Chosen for the NACCU 25th Annual Award in 2018, Liberty University is Niche’s #2 best online college countrywide that utilizes Blackboard to speedily confer the Christ-centered Ph.D. in Public Policy through its Helms School of Government.

The 60-credit major coordinated by Dr. Ron Miller accepts 15 transfer credits and has eight-week courses to finish in three years on average.

Virtual courses are tailored in:

  • Economic Policy,
  • Education Policy,
  • Foreign Policy,
  • National Security Policy,
  • and Social Policy concentrations.

Will a fast Ph.D. degree in Public Policy help your career? Of course, it will. Check out Liberty University’s fast programs.

University of South Carolina

 University of South Carolina

PhD in Nuclear Engineering

Designated the 97th best by the U.S. News & World Report, the College of Engineering & Computing in Swearingen Center lets University of South Carolina students attend the Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering online via Blackboard.

The 48-credit, ABET-accredited curriculum administered by Dr. Hossein Haj-Hariri helps master energy production methods within three years for $104,000 median pay.

Few online courses, such as:

  • Radiation Shielding,
  • Thermal Hydraulic Design,
  • and Waste Management, involve Columbia residencies.

Learn more about the quickest PhD Programs at the University of South Carolina. They offer a Ph.D. program in Nuclear Engineering!

Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University

PhD in Organizational Leadership

Formed in 1983, the College of Adult & Professional Studies at Indiana Wesleyan University, the 83rd best private value in Kiplinger’s, approaches the Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from a Christian perspective with fast, three-year graduation.

The 60-credit hybrid degree managed by Dr. Mark Rennaker integrates lock-step courses like:

  • Stewardship,
  • Entrepreneurship,
  • and Organization Theory.

Each 12-week term, graduates log onto Blackboard asynchronously and attend three Saturday sessions in Indianapolis.

Take a look at Indiana Wesleyan University’s Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program. Check it out!

Frequently Asked Questions

fastest phd programs

Typically, how long does it take to earn a Ph.D. degree?

In general, the typical Ph.D. program will take up to four years to complete; however, depending on the subject matter, it could take up to eight to ten years.

How fast can I earn a Ph.D. degree through an accelerated program?

Accelerated Ph.D. programs are based on the premise that instead of spending years earning a doctorate degree , you can possibly earn your degree in three, or possibly two years!

How is earning a Ph.D. degree so fast beneficial to me?

For most who are entertaining the thought of earning a Ph.D., they have already established a career. Within their career, often people hit a roadblock when they have topped out at the best pay or have been promoted to the highest position that is allowed. However… if you had additional credentials to add to your resume, could you obtain a management or leadership position and earn more money? If so, earning a Ph.D. is for you!

Will earning a Ph.D. fast take up more of my time than a traditional program?

Yes, of course, it will. After all, you are combining four years’ worth of work into two years, right? Pure dedication will get you through this awesome task, but be prepared to work extra, extra hard!

Can I earn an accelerated Ph.D. degree in any subject matter?

No, obviously, accelerated Ph.D. programs are only offered in topics that don’t require as much training, research, or internship experience. Business-related or education-related subjects are the most popular topics that offer accelerated doctoral degree programs .

See: Also: 50 Life Hacks for Online Graduate Students

Related Article: The 15 Most Affordable Online Doctorate Programs

Malcolm Peralty | Chief Editor, PremiumSchools.org

Malcolm Peralty has been a writer for over sixteen years with thousands of articles to his name online. He has co-hosted a wide number of podcasts and been a guest on many more. As a college graduate in Computer Networking… [ Read full bio ]

Malcolm Peralty Chief Editor


What is the shortest time to get a PhD?

A select group of students complete their PhDs in two years, while a tiny number of elite students can get it done in 12 months. It’s hard to overstate how rare and impressive this is, but it is always a possibility. The key to a fast-track PhD is building up a strong academic CV before you even start.

Is PhD in biology easy?

From my experience the PhD is not hard intellectually, but the entire process of the PhD is quite hard mentally and emotionally. Additionally, if you are pursuing a PhD in a foreign country far from your home, family, and friends, then there is an additional emotional burden.

Does a PhD take 12 years?

On average, a Ph. D. may take up to eight years to complete. A doctorate degree typically takes four to six years to complete—however, this timing depends on the program design, the subject area you’re studying, and the institution offering the program.

What is the job after PhD in Biology?

Career options: The career options after earning a degree in PhD Biology is unlimited. One can work as Research Associate, Research Biologist, Environmental Staff Scientist, Clinical Lab Scientist, Sr. Microbiologist, Product Manager, Natural Science Manager and more.

How do I make 6 figures with a Biology degree?

  • Health communications specialist. National average salary: $57,530 per year.
  • Microbiologist. National average salary: $64,925 per year.
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative.
  • Respiratory therapist.
  • Environmental scientist.
  • Registered nurse.
  • Physical therapist assistant.
  • Genetic counselor.

Which PhD pays most?

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) PhDs tend to pay the most, according to research conducted by Payscale. Electrical & computer engineering is America’s most lucrative PhD, with early career pay reported to be approximately $102,000.

Is a PhD in the sciences worth it?

A PhD can hurt your finances, sink you in debt, and leave you with no clear path to success in some fields. But PhDs statistically earn more than their and have lower unemployment rates. A PhD also gives you a world-class mind, a global network, and a skill set that can go just about anywhere.

What is the easiest PhD to earn?

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

How long is a PhD after a Masters?

In the rest of the world, students normally have a master’s degree before beginning the PhD, so they proceed directly to the research stage and complete a PhD in 3–5 years.

Can I do a PhD in 2 years?

For most PhD in politics and economics, your thesis is all you need to do. When you finish it and passed your viva, you get your PhD. So, if you are productive, you can finish it in 2 years. However, only a very very small minority of candidates can do that faster than 3 years.

Is 30 too old to get a PhD?

You are never too old, in years, to start a Doctoral program or to otherwise extend your education.

How old is the average PhD student?

In 2020, the average age of a graduate from a PhD program in the United States was 33. However, 6% of the graduates were over 45. When people ask what the average age of a PhD student is, many times they’re really asking, “Am I too old to get a PhD?” The answer is almost always no.

Can I get a PhD without a Masters?

Can You Get a PhD Without a Masters? Yes, you can get a PhD without first obtaining a master’s degree. A number of universities offer direct entry to PhD programs from undergraduate or bachelor degree studies. In some cases, specific schools or programs may prefer that applicants hold a master’s degree.

Are biology PhDs in demand?

Life science PhDs are actually in high demand outside of academia and there are many opportunities available to them. Academia just fails to make PhDs aware of these industry opportunities. As a life science PhD, you must take it upon yourself to learn about these alternative industry biocareers.

Where will a biology PhD take you?

  • Bioinformatics Scientist.
  • Microbiologist.
  • Biological Science Teacher, Postsecondary.
  • Environmental Scientist.
  • Medical Scientist.
  • Natural Sciences Manager.
  • Molecular and Cellular Biologist.
  • Zoological and Wildlife Biologist.

How do I get a PhD in biology?

  • Undergraduate. Acquiring the appropriate experience and knowledge as an undergraduate is key to gaining entrance into your graduate school of choice.
  • Research Programs.
  • Apply to a Program.
  • The Doctoral Program.
  • Dissertation.

What is the best PhD to get?

  • #8 – PhD in Physics.
  • #7 – PhD in Engineering.
  • #6 – PhD in Physical Chemistry.
  • #5 – PhD in Pharmacology.
  • #4 – PhD Electrical Engineering.
  • #3 – PhD in Computer Science.
  • #2 – PhD in Organic Chemistry.
  • #1 – PhD in Chemical Engineering. Early Career Salary: $96,100.

Do biologists get paid well?

Yes, biologists get paid well. The average salary for a biologist in the United States is around $69,000 in a year. The bottom 10% of biologists may only make $40,000 a year in the role; however, the top 10% of biologists make over $120,000 in a year.

Is a Masters in biology worth it?

Master’s in biology programs may be a better choice if you’re looking to work in a field other than academia. A master’s in biology is great preparation for working in industry and business, or if you want to pursue an additional professional degree in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, or other applied fields.

What is the best career in biology?

  • Pharmacist.
  • Medical scientist.
  • Veterinarian.
  • Forensic science technician. Median salary (2020): $60,590.
  • Registered nurse. Median salary (2020): $75,330.
  • Zoologist or wildlife biologist. Median salary (2020): $66,350.
  • High school biology teacher. Median salary (2020): $62,870.

What is the most difficult PhD to earn?

1. Boarded Medical Doctor: After spending about eight years to earn your first degree, you are faced with between three and six years of residency. This is the most competitive field in education which means you must have passed through a very rigorous process to earn this certificate.

How old is the youngest PhD holder in the world?

The youngest person to be awarded a PhD is the German child prodigy Johann Heinrich Friedrich Karl Witte (born 10 July 1800; better known simply as Karl Witte), who received his doctorate from the University of Giessen, Germany, on 10 April 1814 at the age of 13 years 283 days.

What’s the difference between a PhD and a doctorate?

A PhD is an academic degree focused on original research, data analysis, and the evaluation of theory. A professional doctorate focuses on applying research to practical problems, formulating solutions to complex issues, and designing effective professional practices within your field.

Does a PhD increase salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020, doctoral degree holders earned a median weekly salary over 20% higher than those with a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree salaries were also significantly higher—over 18% greater than those who stopped their higher education at the bachelor’s level.

Does PhD students get paid?

The good news is that you get paid while pursuing a PhD. The typical stipend is about ₹ 25,000-28,000 per month with free accommodation included sometimes. This is on par with what IT services companies pay to freshers. Fellowships are provided by companies such as Microsoft Research and Google.

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What Is The Average Time to Obtain a Ph.D.?

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Pursuing a Doctorate Degree

Making the decision to pursue a Ph.D can be an exciting time. Those seeking terminal degrees are often exhilarated by the thought of spending years immersed in research pertaining to their field of interest, having the opportunity to teach classes, and publishing academic articles. Before embarking on the long educational journey, most learners wonder how long the process will take.

Explore Online PhD Programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online PhD degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online PhD programs.

The 5 Year Ph.D

In previous years, it was common to finish a master's degree and then for those who wished to continue in their studies, the next five years would be spent working towards a doctoral degree. Those five years were spent learning new materials, teaching undergraduates, working as a lab assistant, and doing research for a dissertation. According to the  science and communications blog  Figure One, a decade ago it was very rare for a dissertation program to take longer than seven years. Today however, a person entering a doctoral program can expect to spend at least six or seven years earning that degree.

Averages by Field of Study

According to Joseph Berger of the  New York Times , the average length of a dissertation program today is 8.2 years (2). Terminal degrees in the hard sciences typically take a slightly shorter time to complete than do degrees in education and the humanities. The field of physics has a current average of five years. The psychology field averages five to seven years. New doctoral students in the fields of history or english can expect to spend eight years completing the degree. Some fields of study require a significantly longer degree process. For example, in the field of education, the current average is 13 years.

Why Does a Ph.D Take So Long?

Today's doctoral students have significantly more demands placed on them than ever before. Most students today are earning their degrees while raising a family and working full time. The first two to three years of the doctoral program will likely be spent taking required and elective classes. Many of these courses have research components that can cause those courses to be time consuming. Students are often working a second job as a teaching assistant or research assistant during this phase of the program. Some fields of study, like teaching and psychology, can also require a residency or internship during the doctoral process.

Following the coursework, students must then study for and pass a comprehensive examination. This exam allows the faculty to ensure that the students have met all academic criteria needed to gain expertise in the field of study. This process can take several months to complete.

Once the comprehensive exam has been passed, Ph.D candidates begin the research and dissertation phase. In some fields of study, this can be accomplished in a year or eighteen months. However, many areas of research demand a dissertation process that is three years long or longer due to more intensive Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements, study design, and data analysis. Today's doctoral students are also expected to participate as an assistant in research to be published in journals during their Ph.D process.

The Bottom Line

When deciding to pursue an advanced degree, it is essential that the student considers the significant investment of both money and time. Today's doctoral student can expect to spend almost a decade studying and researching to become experts in the field. This highly demanding process can also be immensely rewarding at the end of the process when you finally earn the title of "doctor".

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30 Fully Funded Ph.D. Programs

These fully funded Ph.D. programs are in fields like business, computer science, education and nursing.

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(Getty Images)

Many Ph.D. programs are fully funded.

Students interested in graduate research in various fields, from public health and English to computer science and engineering, have numerous options for Ph.D. programs that offer full funding. These programs typically provide waived tuition and fees and an annual stipend. Some also offer health insurance and other benefits. Gaining admittance into these small cohorts can be highly competitive, and the programs can be time-consuming . Here are 30 fully funded Ph.D. programs at U.S. colleges and universities. Keep in mind this is not a comprehensive list – there are others out there.

A man handling papers from the Hulton Archives, wearing white gloves.

  • Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Chicago

Anthropology Ph.D. students at the University of Chicago can receive funding for up to eight years of study, assuming they are in good standing at the university. During that time, they will receive a full-tuition scholarship plus health insurance and a living stipend – which equated to $33,000 for the 2022-2023 school year – and can apply for external fellowships.

Radcliffe Quad undergrad housing at Harvard University in Fall in Cambridge, MA, USA on November 2, 2013.

Ph.D. in biological sciences in public health at Harvard University (MA)

Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston offers a Ph.D. in biological sciences in public health that aims to provide students with expertise in disease prevention and treatment. This program includes tuition, a stipend and health insurance for five years as long as the student maintains satisfactory academic progress. International students receive the same benefits. Current research in the school's laboratories involves diseases like AIDS, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, malaria and tuberculosis.

MIT, a private university

(Dominick Reuter)

  • Ph.D. in business at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Students enrolled in the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can study a range of fields like organization studies, accounting and information technology. Those pursuing a Ph.D. will receive a full-tuition scholarship plus a monthly stipend of $4,267, capped at $51,204. They will also receive medical insurance, new laptops at the beginning of their first and fourth years of study and $4,500 over five years for conference travel expenses.

Rice University

(Tommy Lavergne/Rice University)

Ph.D. in business at Rice University (TX)

At the Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business in Texas, students enjoy full financial assistance upon admission to the Ph.D. program. Aiming to prepare students to teach in fields like accounting, finance, organizational behavior and strategic management, the program provides students with a research or teaching assistantship. Students receive a tuition waiver and a $40,000 annual stipend contingent on making satisfactory academic progress and maintaining full-time student status.

shortest science phd

Office of Strategic Communication/University of Iowa

  • Ph.D. in business at the University of Iowa

The University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business offers Ph.D. degrees in fields such as accounting, economics, business analytics and marketing. The college says it provides full funding to "virtually all admitted students." This includes tuition and fees, a minimum nine-month stipend of about $20,000 with annual adjustments and comprehensive health insurance covered at 90%. Some departments offer funding for research presentations at major conferences, summer fellowships and paid time off for independent research.

Cornell University buildings viewed from McGraw Tower

Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Cornell University (NY)

According to Cornell University 's website, all students admitted to the chemical engineering Ph.D. program at the New York school receive a full tuition waiver, health insurance and a stipend. This funding can come from a teaching assistantship, research assistantship or fellowship, and full stipends are granted for nine months with the likelihood of additional aid in the summer.

shortest science phd

Chris Taggart/Columbia University

Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Columbia University (NY)

Students enrolled in Columbia University 's Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at the Teachers College in New York receive fully funded tuition and a $25,000 stipend annually for three years. The stipend also carries into a student's fourth year. These doctoral fellows "may be expected to serve" as graduate teaching or research assistants. Students typically complete the mentor-matched program, which includes a full-year internship, in five to seven years.

Unidentified individuals, and University Hall  on the campus of Brown University.

Ph.D. in computer science at Brown University (RI)

Brown University 's Ph.D. students in computer science have access to "full financial support while completing the degree," plus the option to take classes at nearby schools without incurring additional costs, according to the school's website. In fact, doctoral students in any program at the Rhode Island university are guaranteed five years of financial support, which includes tuition remission, a stipend, health services fees and a subsidy for health insurance.

shortest science phd

Georgetown University

Ph.D. in computer science at Georgetown University (DC)

Georgetown University 's Ph.D. program in computer science provides scholarships and assistantships that cover full tuition at the Washington, D.C., school and include a stipend and health insurance for the first five years. Once enrolled in the program, students must complete the Apprenticeship in Teaching Program and ultimately write and defend a full research dissertation in a seminar open to the public.

Cherry trees in bloom in the campus of Washington university in springtime

Ph.D. in computer science at Washington University in St. Louis

Ph.D. students in the computer science or computer engineering program at Washington University in St. Louis receive full tuition support and health insurance. According to the university's website: "As a doctoral candidate, you will also receive a generous stipend to cover living expenses and a new, high-end Apple laptop computer. This support is guaranteed as you continue to make satisfactory progress towards your degree." Doctoral students may also qualify for one of three fellowships.

shortest science phd

Jeff Miller/UW-Madison

  • Ph.D. in counseling psychology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison

Incoming Ph.D. students at the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin—Madison are guaranteed full funding for the duration of the time that they are expected on campus, according to the university's department of counseling psychology website. Doctoral students also receive a benefits package that includes health insurance. Funding may come from financial aid, fellowships, assistantships and/or traineeships.

shortest science phd

Emory University

Ph.D. in economics at Emory University (GA)

Students enrolled in the economics Ph.D. program at Emory University typically receive full funding, according to the Georgia university's website. The stipend provided to students is $36,376 per year for five years, starting in fall 2023, and the full tuition scholarship is worth $70,200 per year. Funding for admitted students also includes a $4,370 annual subsidy that covers 100% of a student's cost of health insurance. First-year students have no stipend-related work requirements.

New York City, New York, USA - September 13, 2013: Street view of New York University NYU in Greenwich Village Manhattan. There are people visible in this image.

  • Ph.D. in education at New York University

New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development offers more than 30 degree programs. Many can be pursued on campus or online. Ph.D. degrees are offered in areas like developmental psychology, educational leadership and childhood education. Full-time NYU Steinhardt Ph.D. students are eligible for a funding package that includes an annual stipend – $32,000 for the 2022-2023 academic year – tuition coverage for required coursework and student health insurance for five years.

shortest science phd

L.A. Cicero, Stanford News Service

Ph.D. in education at Stanford University (CA)

Stanford University's Graduate School of Education allows students numerous fellowship and assistantship opportunities at the California school, along with a "five-year funding guarantee that provides tuition aid, fellowship stipend, and assistantship salary, and covers the standard cost of attendance," the program website reads. At the Graduate School of Education, doctoral students can choose from a range of academic areas like curriculum studies and teacher education, and developmental and psychological sciences.

Two friends working in a public library, using a computer to find some specific books for their studies together.

  • Ph.D. in education at the University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education provides full funding to Ph.D. students as part of a fellowship and research apprenticeship package. This funding includes a living stipend, health insurance and coverage of tuition and fees for up to four years if the student maintains full-time enrollment. Some students may also qualify for additional summer funding.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA - November, 20 2010: The Computer Science and Engineering Building on the University of Michigan's North Campus has an eco-friendly design.

  • Ph.D. in engineering at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

Doctoral students in engineering at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor can choose from numerous areas of specialization under umbrella categories like aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, macromolecular science and engineering, and robotics. All engineering doctoral students are guaranteed full funding, a monthly living stipend and health insurance. The exact amount can vary, according to the program's website, and funding comes from a range of sources, including graduate student instructor positions and fellowships.

shortest science phd

Boston University Photography

  • Ph.D. in English at Boston University

Annually, doctoral students studying English at Boston University receive a stipend plus full tuition, fees and basic health insurance. This funding is guaranteed for at least five years, with two of those years typically free from teaching requirements. Funding can sometimes be extended up to seven years, according to the university's website, but it's not guaranteed. Students may also apply for various prizes, fellowships and short-term research and travel grants.

shortest science phd

(Stephanie Diani)

  • Ph.D. in English at the University of California—Los Angeles

Applicants to the Ph.D. in English program at the University of California—Los Angeles are automatically considered for various funding options. A six-year funding package includes "a minimum of two years of full fellowship, four years of summer stipend support and up to four years of teaching assistantships," according to the school website. Beyond tuition, fees and health insurance are also covered.

shortest science phd

Ph.D. in international relations at American University (DC)

American University offers doctoral students in its international relations program who do not have external funding a renewable four-year Dean's Fellowship that is contingent on making satisfactory academic progress. The fellowship includes the cost of tuition, fees and a stipend that must be earned via a part-time role as a teaching or research assistant. Students also must "demonstrate competency in a modern foreign language" before graduating.

shortest science phd

Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University

  • Ph.D. in management at Binghamton University—SUNY

All students admitted to the interdisciplinary management Ph.D. program at the Binghamton University—SUNY School of Management in New York receive a combination of a full-tuition scholarship and a teaching or research assistantship for each academic year, up to four years. This STEM-designated business doctoral degree prepares students for careers in academia and work in the public and private sectors, and has a student-faculty ratio of 1-to-1, according to the university's website.

shortest science phd

Duke University Communications

Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Duke University (NC)

Doctoral students at Duke University in North Carolina studying materials science and engineering generally receive full tuition, a stipend and fee support for the first five years. Students also receive up to six years of health insurance if they are on the university's student medical insurance plan. The doctoral program aims to help students publish with a faculty adviser and develop research skills, with the opportunity to present research at professional conferences.

shortest science phd

Homewood Photography/JHU

Ph.D. in nursing at Johns Hopkins University (MD)

The School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland provides most doctoral students with three fully funded years of study. Available financial aid includes graduate assistantships, targeted fellowships and nursing-specific funding. The university aims to "advance the theoretical foundation of nursing practice and healthcare delivery" with the degree, its website reads. "By graduation, most Hopkins nurse scholars have been awarded grants that continue their research and set them well on their way to a successful career."

"The Lawn in late afternoon at the historic University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Virginia. The lawn was part of Thomas Jefferson's campus design."

  • Ph.D. in nursing at the University of Virginia

All students admitted to the University of Virginia 's Ph.D. in Nursing program are eligible for four years of scholarship funding to cover tuition, insurance and fees, as well as annual stipends. To receive certain aid, students must work 10 hours per week as a graduate teaching assistant. With a heavy research focus, students can expect courses in qualitative, quantitative and historical research, and will have to submit a research proposal for peer review.

Yale University

Ph.D. in nursing at Yale University (CT)

At Yale University in Connecticut, the School of Nursing offers full funding to its Ph.D. students. They receive a monthly stipend for four years in addition to paid tuition and health care. The program allows students to gain in-depth knowledge in a particular area of study. Every incoming Ph.D. student gets paired with a faculty adviser "whose area of expertise and active research most closely matches with the student’s scholarly interest," according to the school's website.

shortest science phd

University of Minnesota

  • Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program to study psychology at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities are guaranteed full funding for five years as long as they maintain satisfactory performance and degree progress. This funding includes full-time tuition, a nine-month stipend and subsidized health insurance. Funding comes from some combination of teaching assistantships, traineeships, research assistantships and fellowships. Students in the program can specialize in areas like cognitive and brain sciences, industrial-organizational psychology and social psychology.

shortest science phd

Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

Ph.D. within the Romance languages and literatures department at the University of Notre Dame (IN)

University of Notre Dame doctoral students who focus on French and Francophone studies, Iberian and Latin American studies or Italian studies are guaranteed five years of funding. Funding includes a full scholarship, including tuition and fees, plus a stipend and health insurance. Anyone who completes the Ph.D. degree requirements at the Indiana university within five years will automatically receive a one-year postdoctoral fellowship via the university's 5+1 Program. Fellows will have a teaching load limited to one course per semester.

shortest science phd

Ph.D. in social work at Bryn Mawr College (PA)

Students admitted to Bryn Mawr College 's Ph.D. program in social work receive full tuition waivers and "substantial stipends" toward living expenses. The Pennsylvania college's website says: "Consistent with our model, all Ph.D. students are funded equally, and do not compete for basic financial support during coursework." The program's cohorts typically include only three or four students each year. According to the college, it awarded the first Ph.D. degree in social work in the U.S. in 1920.

shortest science phd

Vanderbilt University

Ph.D. in special education at Vanderbilt University (TN)

Funding is guaranteed for all admitted doctoral students enrolled in the special education Ph.D. program at the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. This includes full tuition, a "competitive" monthly stipend and health insurance for up to four years. Students may also be nominated for additional honor scholarships and fellowships. Areas of focus within the Ph.D. program include high-incidence disabilities and early childhood education.

Chicago, Illinois in the United States. Entrance to Northwestern University - School of Law.

Ph.D. in theatre and drama at Northwestern University (IL)

This interdisciplinary Ph.D. program at Northwestern University in Illinois combines coursework in humanities, social science and the visual arts. The program's students receive a five-year full-tuition scholarship plus an annual living stipend. Ph.D students enrolling at this program in fall 2022 will receive a living stipend of at least $36,960 during the 2023-2024 school year. Stipend amounts may change from year to year. Students can apply for subsidies to facilitate conference travel and summer language study.

COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 4:   Testudo is pictured on the University of Maryland Campus. The University of Maryland announced a transformative investment of $219486,000 in the university on October 4. In a first of its kind announcement, university and government officials unveiled the investment in a celebration event for the campus community.

(Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

  • Ph.D. in women, gender and sexuality studies at University of Maryland

At the University of Maryland 's Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Ph.D. students without a master's degree usually have five years of guaranteed funding. Those with a master's degree usually are funded four years, with awards stemming from a mix of departmental fellowships and graduate teaching assistantships. Since the program's establishment in 1999, the department has granted 36 Ph.Ds, according to UMD's website.

shortest science phd

Learn more about paying for graduate school.

Finding a fully funded program isn't the only option to offset the costs of graduate school. See these seven strategies to pay for graduate school to learn more. Check out the latest Best Graduate Schools rankings to see the country's top business, medicine and law programs – and more. For additional grad school tips, follow U.S. News Education on Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn .

Locust Walk with students in fall, University of Pennsylvania, University City area, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Ph.D. programs that are fully funded

  • Ph.D. in biological sciences in public health at Harvard University
  • Ph.D. in business at Rice University
  • Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Cornell University
  • Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Columbia University
  • Ph.D. in computer science at Brown University
  • Ph.D. in computer science at Georgetown University
  • Ph.D. in computer science at Washington University—St. Louis
  • Ph.D. in economics at Emory University
  • Ph.D. in education at Stanford University
  • Ph.D. in international relations at American University
  • Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Duke University
  • Ph.D. in nursing at Johns Hopkins University
  • Ph.D. in nursing at Yale University
  • Ph.D. within the romance languages and literatures department at the University of Notre Dame
  • Ph.D. in social work at Bryn Mawr College
  • Ph.D. in special education at Vanderbilt University
  • Ph.D. in theatre and drama at Northwestern University

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Psychology Graduate Program

  • Psychology Department

The Clinical Psychology Program adheres to a clinical science model of training, and is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science.  We are committed to training clinical psychologists whose research advances scientific knowledge of psychopathology and its treatment, and who are capable of applying evidence-based methods of assessment and clinical intervention. The main emphasis of the program is research, especially on severe psychopathology. The program includes research, course work, and clinical practica, and usually takes five years to complete. Students typically complete assessment and treatment practica during their second and third years in the program, and they must fulfill all departmental requirements prior to beginning their one-year internship. The curriculum meets requirements for licensure in Massachusetts, and is accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS) and by the American Psychological Association (APA).  PCSAS re-accredited the program on December 15, 2022 for a 10-year term. APA most recently accredited the program on April 28, 2015 for a seven-year term. 


Required courses and training experiences fulfill requirements for clinical psychology licensure in Massachusetts as well as meet APA criteria for the accreditation of clinical psychology programs.  In addition to these courses, further training experiences are required in accordance with the American Psychological Association’s guidelines for the accreditation of clinical psychology programs (e.g., clinical practica [e.g., PSY 3050 Clinical Practicum, PSY 3080 Practicum in Neuropsychological Assessment]; clinical internship).

Students in the clinical psychology program are required to take the following courses:

  • PSY 3900 Professional Ethics
  • PSY 2445 Psychotherapy Research
  • PSY 3800, Psychometric Theory or 2070 Psychometric Theory and Method Using R
  • PSY 2430 Cultural, Racial, and Ethnic Bases of Behavior
  • PSY 3250 Psychological Testing
  • PSY 2050 History of Psychology
  • PSY 1951 Intermediate Quantitative Methods
  • PSY 1952 Multivariate Analysis in Psychology
  • PSY 2040 Contemporary Topics in Psychopathology
  • PSY 2460 Diagnostic Interviewing
  • PSY 2420 Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Psychological Disorders

Clinical students must also take one course in each of the following substantive areas: biological bases of behavior (e.g., PSY 1202 Modern Neuroanatomy; PSY 1352 Foundations of Cognitive Neuroscience Research; PSY 1355 The Adolescent Brain); social bases of behavior (e.g., PSY 2500 Proseminar in Social Psychology); cognitive-affective bases of behavior (e.g., PSY 2400 Cognitive Psychology and Emotional Disorders); and individual differences (Required course PSY 2040 Contemporary Topics in Psychopathology fulfills the individual differences requirement for Massachusetts licensure). In accordance with American Psychological Association guidelines for the accreditation of clinical psychology programs, clinical students also receive consultation and supervision within the context of clinical practica in psychological assessment and treatment beginning in their second semester of their first year and running through their third year. They receive further exposure to additional topics (e.g., human development) in the Developmental Psychopathology seminar and in the twice-monthly clinical psychology “brown bag” speaker series. Finally, students complete a year-long clinical internship. Students are responsible for making sure that they take courses in all the relevant and required areas listed above. Students wishing to substitute one required course for another should seek advice from their advisor and from the director of clinical training prior to registering. During the first year, students are advised to get in as many requirements as possible. Many requirements can be completed before the deadlines stated below. First-year project:  Under the guidance of a faculty member who serves as a mentor, students participate in a research project and write a formal report on their research progress. Due by May of first year. Second-year project:  Original research project leading to a written report in the style of an APA journal article. A ten-minute oral presentation is also required. Due by May of second year. General exam:  A six-hour exam covering the literature of the field. To be taken in September before the start of the third year. Thesis prospectus:  A written description of the research proposed must be approved by a prospectus committee appointed by the CHD. Due at the beginning of the fourth year. Thesis and oral defense:  Ordinarily this would be completed by the end of the fourth year. Clinical internship:  Ordinarily this would occur in the fifth year. Students must have completed their thesis research prior to going on internship.

Credit for Prior Graduate Work

 A PhD student who has completed at least one full term of satisfactory work in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences may file an application at the Registrar’s Office requesting that work done in a graduate program elsewhere be counted toward the academic residence requirement. Forms are available  online .

No more than the equivalent of eight half-courses may be so counted for the PhD.

An application for academic credit for work done elsewhere must contain a list of the courses, with grades, for which the student is seeking credit, and must be approved by the student’s department. In order for credit to be granted, official transcripts showing the courses for which credit is sought must be submitted to the registrar, unless they are already on file with the Graduate School. No guarantee is given in advance that such an application will be granted. 

Only courses taken in a Harvard AB-AM or AB-SM program, in Harvard Summer School, as a GSAS Special Student or FAS courses taken as an employee under the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) may be counted toward the minimum academic residence requirements for a Master’s degree.

Academic and financial credit for courses taken as a GSAS Special Student or FAS courses taken as a Harvard employee prior to admission to a degree program may be granted for a maximum of four half-courses toward a one-year Master’s and eight half-courses toward a two-year Master’s or the PhD degree.

Applications for academic and financial credit must be approved by the student’s department and should then be submitted to the Registrar’s Office.

Student Admissions, Outcomes, and other data  

1. Time to Completion

Time to completion

Students can petition the program faculty to receive credit for prior graduate coursework, but it does not markedly reduce their expected time to complete the program.

2. Program Costs

Program costs

3. Internships 

Internship placement Table 1

4. Attrition


5. Licensure


Standard Financial Aid Award, Students Entering 2022  

The financial aid package for Ph.D. students entering in 2022 will include tuition and health fees support for years one through four, or five, if needed; stipend support in years one and two; a summer research grant equal to two months stipend at the end of years one through four; teaching fellowship support in years three and four guaranteed by the Psychology Department; and a dissertation completion grant consisting of tuition and stipend support in the appropriate year. Typically students will not be allowed to teach while receiving a stipend in years one and two or during the dissertation completion year.    

Year 1 (2022-23) and Year 2 (2023- 24)  Tuition & Health Fees:                             Paid in Full  Academic Year Stipend:                           $33,850 (10 months)  Summer Research Award:                       $6,770 (2 months)

Year 3 (2024-25) & Year 4 (2025- 26) Tuition & Health Fees:                             Paid in Full Living Expenses:                                       $33,850 (Teaching Fellowship plus supplement, if eligible)  Summer Research Award:                       $6,770 (2 months)

Year 5 (2026-27) - if needed; may not be taken after the Dissertation Completion year Tuition & Health Fees:                             Paid in Full

Dissertation Completion Year (normally year 5, occasionally year 6) Tuition & Health Fees:                             Paid in Full  Stipend for Living Expenses:                    $33,850  

The academic year stipend is for the ten-month period September through June. The first stipend payment will be made available at the start of the fall term with subsequent disbursements on the first of each month. The summer research award is intended for use in July and August following the first four academic years.

In the third and fourth years, the guaranteed income of $33,850 includes four sections of teaching and, if necessary, a small supplement from the Graduate School. Your teaching fellowship is guaranteed by the Department provided you have passed the General Examination or equivalent and met any other department criteria. Students are required to take a teacher training course in the first year of teaching.

The dissertation completion year fellowship will be available as soon as you are prepared to finish your dissertation, ordinarily in the fifth year. Applications for the completion fellowship must be submitted in February of the year prior to utilizing the award. Dissertation completion fellowships are not guaranteed after the seventh year. Please note that registration in the Graduate School is always subject to your maintaining satisfactory progress toward the degree.

GSAS students are strongly encouraged to apply for appropriate Harvard and outside fellowships throughout their enrollment. All students who receive funds from an outside source are expected to accept the award in place of the above Harvard award. In such cases, students may be eligible to receive a GSAS award of up to $4,000 for each academic year of external funding secured or defer up to one year of GSAS stipend support.

For additional information, please refer to the Financial Support section of the GSAS website ( gsas.harvard.edu/financial-support ).

Registration and Financial Aid in the Graduate School are always subject to maintaining satisfactory progress toward the degree.

Psychology students are eligible to apply for generous research and travel grants from the Department.

The figures quoted above are estimates provided by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and are subject to change.

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation American Psychological Association 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002 Phone: (202) 336-5979 E-mail:  [email protected]   www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

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How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD?

A PhD program typically takes four to seven years, but a variety of factors can impact that timeline.

[Featured Image] A woman in a library is holding a pen to her temple and looking at her laptop.

A PhD, or doctorate degree, is the highest level of degree you can earn in certain disciplines, such as psychology, engineering, education, and mathematics. As such, it often takes longer to earn than a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

While many PhD programs are designed to be finished in four or five years, the average time to completion is actually much longer when you factor in the time it takes to research and write a dissertation. In 2020, doctoral students took between six and twelve years to complete their PhD [ 1 ]. By comparison, you can complete a master's degree in one to three years.

Let’s explore the requirements of a PhD, what often ends up adding to the length of time, and important factors you should consider when deciding whether it’s the right choice for you. 

PhD requirements + general timeline

Doctoral programs typically include taking advanced courses, passing a comprehensive exam (sometimes called "comps"), and producing an original body of research, such as a dissertation. You may also be expected to fulfill a teaching assistantship or research assistantship, both of which are meant to prepare you for a career in academia or research.

PhD requirements

Advanced coursework: Graduate-level coursework that explores a number of advanced sub-topics related to your field  

Comprehensive exam: An exam that requires you to show knowledge of your field, such as its history, important figures, major theories or research, and more

Dissertation: An original body of research you contribute to your field 

PhD timeline

The specifics of a PhD program vary by college and university, but the following estimates give you an idea of what to expect during your time in graduate school:

Year 1: Complete advanced coursework.

Year 2: Complete advanced coursework and begin preparing for your comprehensive exams.

Year 3: Study, take, and defend your comprehensive exams. Begin researching your dissertation proposal.

Year 4: Submit your dissertation proposal to your committee chair, and, once approved, begin working on your dissertation.

Year 5: Finish writing your dissertation and submit for committee approval. Defend your dissertation and apply for graduation.

Read more: Should You Go Back to School? 7 Things to Consider 

PhD timelines by focus

Some PhD programs take longer to complete than others. For example, earning a doctorate in a science and engineering field typically takes less time than earning a doctorate in the arts or humanities, according to data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) [ 1 ]. The list below shows the median length of time it took doctorate students to earn their degree in 2020:

Physical and earth sciences: 6.3 

Engineering: 6.8 years

Life sciences: 6.9 years

Mathematics and computer science: 7 years

Psychology and social sciences: 7.9 years

Humanities and arts: 9.6 years

Education: 12 years

Learn more: What Is a Terminal Degree and Do I Need One?

Why does it take so long to complete a PhD? 

There are a few reasons why it takes more time to complete a PhD compared to other advanced degrees. 


Once a doctoral student has successfully passed their comps, they are considered “All But Dissertation” or “ABD.” Yet, the number of students who successfully complete their PhD program remains low—estimates show that nearly 50 percent of students drop out, often after reaching the dissertation phase [ 2 ].

The dissertation phase can often take much longer to complete than the other requirements of a PhD. Researching and writing a dissertation takes significant time because students are expected to make an original and notable contribution to their field.

Assistantship obligations

Teaching assistantships and research assistantships are beneficial in that they can help pay for a PhD program, but they may also take time away from working on your dissertation. Some students are expected to teach at least one class per semester on top of their other obligations as graduate students.

For universities that reduce the teaching or research load students have as part of their assistantship, the times to completion tend to improve. Humanities students at Princeton University began finishing their degree in 6.4 years (compared to 7.5 years) thanks to the financial support the institution offered and the reduced number of classes students taught [ 3 ].

Other responsibilities 

Doctoral students tend to be older. Graduate students pursuing a PhD in science or engineering were an average of 31.6 years old by the time they earned their degree in 2016, according to the National Science Foundation [ 4 ]. As such, some PhD students may have competing obligations, such as family. If a student’s funding has run out, and they have to find full-time work, it also may affect the time they can dedicate to writing their dissertation.  

Is a PhD right for you?

People pursue PhDs for various reasons: Some want a job that requires the degree, such as teaching at a university, while others want the challenges or intellectual engagement that a graduate program offers. Identifying why you want to earn a PhD can help indicate whether it’s the best choice for you.

If your career aspirations don't require a PhD then it might be better if you focus on gaining professional experience. Or if you're interested in an advanced education, a master's degree may be a better option. It takes less time to complete than a PhD and can lead to more career opportunities and larger salaries than a bachelor's degree. 

Learn more: Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?

Benefits of a PhD 

The primary advantage of earning a PhD is your increased demand and marketability in the workforce. In 2018, less than 5 percent of the United States population had a doctorate degree, compared to about 48 percent with a bachelor's degree and 21 percent with a master's degree, according to the US Census Bureau [ 5 ]. As a member of this elite group, the potential for advanced roles, promotions, or pay raises may be greater.

Even before you have a degree in hand, working toward a PhD gives you opportunities to hone valuable skills , including writing, research, and data analysis. Furthermore, completing a PhD program can demonstrate to potential employers that you have specialized knowledge—as well as the fortitude to finish such an advanced degree.

Costs of a PhD

Beyond the time they take to complete, PhD programs can be expensive. The average cost of a PhD program in the United States is just under $100,000. At some schools, the cost of a PhD can exceed $200,000 [ 6 ]. While many institutions offer funding support in the form of assistantships or scholarships, many PhD students still graduate with student loan debt. In 2021, the average student loan debt for PhD was $159,625 [ 7 ].

Another factor to consider is the loss of income you might incur while you're working toward your degree. Some graduate students accept teaching or research assistantships to help fund the cost of their program, but these may not pay as much as full-time positions. Working on your education may also mean pausing the professional experience you’d gain in the workforce—and potentially losing out on promotions and raises. However, it’s worth noting that graduate degree holders earn much more over the course of their lifetime than bachelor’s degree holders, according to the US Social Security Administration [ 8 ].

Set yourself up for success  

A PhD is a major accomplishment. As you think about your long-term goals and whether a PhD will help you achieve them, it's important to understand ways you can set yourself up for success. According to the University of Georgia, success in a PhD program often means [ 9 ]:

Understanding the demands and expectations of the program

Receiving adequate program orientation

Getting support from peers and faculty

Feeling a sense of belonging as a member of an academic community

These conditions underscore the importance of choosing the right program and school to fit your personal and professional goals. Take time to research the ways your potential institution offers financial support, mental health support, and career placement support, among other program features.

Next steps 

An advanced degree can be a lucrative credential. You can earn your master’s in a number of in-demand fields from top universities on Coursera. Earn a degree in computer science , business , management , or public health , all while enjoying greater flexibility than an in-person degree program tends to offer. Earning your master's can also help you discern whether a PhD makes sense for your larger objectives.  

Related articles

 What Is a Professional Degree? 

 What Is a Terminal Degree and Do You Need One? 

 How Long Does It Take to Get a Business Degree? 

 What Is a Major in College? 

Article sources

1. Survey of Earned Doctorates. " Path to the doctorate , https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf22300/report/path-to-the-doctorate." Accessed January 20, 2022.

2. International Journal of Higher Education. “ Who Are the Doctoral Students Who Drop Out? , https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1188721.pdf.” Accessed January 20, 2022.

3. The New York Times. " Exploring Ways to Shorten the Ascent to a PhD , https://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/03/education/03education.html." Accessed January 20, 2022.

4. National Science Foundation. " Science and Engineering Doctorates , https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2018/nsf18304/report/age-at-doctorate-award-what-are-the-overall-trends-and-characteristics/characteristics-of-doctorate-recipients-sex.cfm." Accessed January 20, 2022.

5. US Census Bureau. " About 13.1 Percent Have a Master’s, Professional Degree or Doctorate , https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/02/number-of-people-with-masters-and-phd-degrees-double-since-2000.html." Accessed January 3, 2022.

6. Education Data Initiative. " Average Cost of a Doctorate Degree , https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-a-doctorate-degree." Accessed January 3, 2022.

7. Education Data Initiative. " Average Graduate Student Loan Debt , https://educationdata.org/average-graduate-student-loan-debt." Accessed January 20, 2022.

8. Social Security Administration. " Education and Lifetime Earnings , https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/research-summaries/education-earnings.html." Accessed January 20, 2022. 

9. A Data-Driven Approach to Improving Doctoral Completion. " Chapter 2: Description of Projects , https://cgsnet.org/cgs-occasional-paper-series/university-georgia/chapter-2." Accessed January 3, 2022.

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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Online Doctoral Programs

Become a leader in your field with an online doctoral degree from liberty university, discover what online doctoral programs liberty has to offer.

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If you’re considering an online doctoral degree, then your career goals probably include a role in leadership, research, or education. Doctoral, postgraduate, and specialist programs are all excellent ways for you to advance in your career and become a subject matter expert, a professor, or a professional researcher. With 75+ doctoral, postgraduate, and specialist degrees to choose from, Liberty can help make your aspirations a reality.

We offer each of our online PhD programs, professional doctorates, and postgraduate degrees in an online format, and most can be completed 100% online. This allows you to stay active in your career, with your family, and in your community while reaching the pinnacle of academic achievement. We also primarily offer courses in an 8-week format with 8 different start dates each year and no set login times, so you have the opportunity to complete your classes at your own pace and on your schedule.

Additionally, some programs may require on-campus intensives, so you can explore our campus while connecting in-person with your classmates and professors. Some degree programs also have required practicums or internships that allow you to gain hands-on experience in your own community.

At Liberty, our mission is to Train Champions for Christ . We want to help prepare you to influence the world as a leader, educator, and expert. As you partner with us to reach your career goals, we’ll seek to provide you with the knowledge, tools, and resources you need to meet those goals.

Compare Liberty to the Competition

Liberty University’s award-winning, flexible, and low-cost programs give you the best value for your time and money. Find out how Liberty compares to the competition!

Learn more >

What Sets Liberty Apart?

Here are just some of the benefits of choosing Liberty for your online degree:

  • Affordability | Your success is our success, which is why we’re committed to providing quality academics at an affordable tuition rate. While other colleges are increasing their tuition, we have frozen tuition rates for our undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs for the past 8 years — and counting.
  • Credibility | Liberty University is regionally accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges ( SACSCOC ) and holds some of the highest programmatic accreditation for the   School of Nursing (CCNE), School of Business (ACBSP), School of Music (NASM), Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), and School of Behavioral Sciences (CACREP).
  • Flexibility | Liberty’s online courses are mainly offered in a flexible, 8-week course format with 8 different start dates throughout the year.
  • Expert Instructors | Our faculty have years of experience in their fields, and they are committed to helping you thrive spiritually, academically, and professionally. With their guidance, you’ll receive real-world knowledge and experience in your virtual classroom.
  • Student Support | Academic advisors and a technical support team are here to assist you from day one. We’ll be available to you from the admission process through graduation.

Popular Online Doctorates and Postgraduate Degrees at Liberty University

View all available online postgraduate and doctoral programs , or check out some of our most popular degrees below:

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) – a degree that is designed to help make you an expert in business and a leader in the field

Doctor of Education (EdD) – a degree that can help you hone your leadership skills and advance in the areas of education , counseling , or Christian leadership

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) – a ministry degree that helps you advance in your specialized area of ministry or theology

Doctor of Music Education (DME) – a credential that can provide you with a terminal degree in music education as well as the skills needed to pursue this profession with confidence through practical, hands-on experience

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) – an advanced nursing degree that can help give you the skills and knowledge you need to take on a position of leadership or conduct ground-breaking research

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – research-based, online PhD degrees that allow you to study topics like history , public policy , psychology , education , criminal justice , and Bible exposition while teaching you the skills needed to work in higher education

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) – an advanced public administration degree that can help give you the skills needed to step into a leadership role in government or politics

Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL) – an advanced leadership degree with a business focus

Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS) – a worship degree that can help give you the tools needed to become an expert and leader in ministry and worship

Education Specialist (EdS) – a specialist degree that can help you advance your career in education or counseling while preparing for an EdD program

Master of Theology (ThM) – a postgraduate degree designed to prepare you for leadership in ministry or for a doctoral degree in theology

Available Doctoral Degrees Online

Aeronautics, arts and sciences.

History (PhD)

Behavioral Sciences

Community Care and Counseling (EdD)

  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Pastoral Care and Counseling
  • Traumatology

Community Care and Counseling (EdS)

Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)

Psychology (PhD)

  • Behavioral Health Leadership
  • Developmental Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Executive Coaching
  • Supply Chain and Logistics

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

  • Healthcare Management
  • Human Resources
  • International Business
  • Nonprofit Leadership and Management
  • Real Estate Development
  • Strategic Management
  • Strategic Media and Digital Content
  • Supply Chain Management and Logistics
  • Tourism Management

Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL)

Organization and Management (PhD)

Communication and the Arts

Communication (PhD)

Strategic Media (PhD)

Applied Apologetics (PhD)

Bible Exposition (PhD)

Christian Leadership (EdD)

  • Church Revitalization
  • Digital Discipleship
  • Ministry Leadership
  • Next Generation Ministry
  • Spiritual Formation
  • Strategic Christian Ministry
  • Faith-Based Consulting

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

  • Discipleship
  • Evangelism and Church Planting
  • Expository Preaching and Teaching
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Theology and Apologetics
  • Urban Ministry

Master of Theology (ThM)

  • Christian Apologetics
  • Church History
  • Global Studies

Practical Theology (PhD)

Advanced Educational Studies (PhD)

  • Educational Leadership
  • Instructional Design and Technology

Doctor of Education (EdD)

  • Administration and Supervision – Educational Leadership
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Educational Psychology
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Elementary Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction – General
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Instructional Design and Technology
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Middle Grades Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Online Teaching and Learning
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Secondary Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Special Education
  • Higher Education Administration – Assessment and Evaluation
  • Higher Education Administration – Educational Leadership
  • Higher Education Administration – Organizational Leadership
  • Higher Education Administration – Student Affairs

Education (PhD)

  • Educational Law
  • Organizational Leadership

Education Specialist (EdS)

  • Curriculum and Instruction – Elementary Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Middle Grades Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Secondary Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Special Education
  • Higher Education Administration

Higher Education Administration (PhD)

  • Assessment and Evaluation
  • Student Affairs

Criminal Justice (DCJ)

  • Homeland Security

Criminal Justice (PhD)

Doctor of Law and Policy (DLP)

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

Public Administration (PhD)

Public Policy (PhD)

  • Chinese Affairs
  • Economic Policy
  • Education Policy
  • Foreign Policy
  • National Security Policy
  • Social Policy

Health Sciences

Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc) – General

Health Sciences (PhD)

  • Exercise and Sport Science
  • Trauma-Informed Care

Christian Worship (PhD)

Doctor of Music Education (DME)

Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS)

  • Ethnomusicology

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (Post-BSN)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Post-BSN)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Post-MSN)

Nursing – Nursing Education (PhD)

Why Pursue a Doctoral Program Online?

Earning a terminal degree is both an invaluable experience and a rewarding investment. Throughout your program, you can learn advanced techniques and knowledge within your field to help you excel professionally while leading others. Additionally, hands-on experience is available in most of our programs, and you’ll have the opportunity to complete independent research, making you a subject matter expert. Take a look below to find out why you should pursue your doctorate.

Return on Investment

What are the rewards? With a doctoral degree, you could receive a median salary that’s 22% higher than your professional counterparts with only a master’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* What may initially feel like a sacrifice is actually a wise investment that could increase your potential for earning an advanced position, a leadership role, and/or a higher salary.

PhD degrees online and other doctoral degrees are an investment of both time and money — but obtaining one can help enrich your life. While you spend time studying, researching, and writing throughout your degree, you can find great personal and professional satisfaction along the way.

Employment Opportunities

If the purpose of pursuing your doctoral degree is to gain new employment, you’re on the right track. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates an 8.9% increase in entry-level positions that require applicants to have a doctoral degree by the year 2030.** Plus, your doctoral degree can help make you a more qualified candidate than someone with a master’s.

If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry. Liberty University offers 75+ online doctoral degrees in a variety of areas and career fields. Our doctoral programs are designed to help give you a professional edge — whatever your calling may be.


Chances are you’re a working professional with a home, a family, and an active social life. What if you could pursue your degree while still working full time? Or take classes without moving your family across the country or the globe?

By earning your doctorate online, you’ll have the opportunity to reap all the benefits of higher education, advanced training, and scholarly research without pausing your life. You can complete classes on your own time and at your own pace while maintaining your professional and social relationships.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, at Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment, 2020 (viewed online Sept. 10, 2021). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.

**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, at Employment, wages, and projected change in employment by typical entry-level education (viewed online Sept. 10, 2021). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Why Choose One of Liberty University’s Online PhD Programs, Professional Doctorates Online, or Postgraduate Degrees?

You believe in leadership excellence. So do we. That’s why at Liberty University, we can help you become an essential contributor to your field and the kind of leader who inspires others. By pursuing one of Liberty’s online doctoral programs, you can prepare to impact your profession as an innovative thinker, industry leader, and respected expert.

If you’ve already earned an accredited master’s degree and want to flourish at the top of your career field, then one of Liberty University’s online doctoral programs or postgraduate degrees may be right for you. You’ll find that an online PhD, EdD, DNP, DBA, or other advanced degree may not only increase your salary potential — it could also help boost your job performance. Whether you’re in academia or the private sector, Liberty offers numerous accredited online doctoral programs that can help you become a leader in your field.

As a university committed to both excellence and integrity, Liberty University is one of the premier colleges offering online degrees. We understand that life doesn’t stop when you go back to school, so our online doctoral programs vary in format, depending on your degree. Most of our doctoral and postgraduate degrees are 100% online, and only a few require on-campus visits.

Most of the on-campus requirements are completed through one or more intensives — week-long classes held on our beautiful Lynchburg, Va., campus — that supplement your online classes. Intensives are rich opportunities for you to network, connect with your professors and classmates, and enjoy all the benefits of being a Liberty University student on campus. Intensives are typically offered multiple times per year for your convenience.

Highlights of Liberty’s PhD Online Programs and Professional Doctoral Degree Programs

  • We are recognized by multiple institutions for our academic quality, affordability, and accessibility . Our commitment to excellence also helped us rank among Niche.com’s top 3 online schools in America . Earning your online doctoral degree from a nonprofit university with this kind of recognition can help set you apart from others in your field.
  • Tuition for all undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs has not increased in 8 years.* While many other online colleges have raised tuition, Liberty has been able to keep costs low as a nonprofit university.
  • Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges ( SACSCOC ).
  • Our online PhD programs and other doctorates are primarily offered in 8-week courses with 8 different start dates each year and no set login times.
  • Most of our doctoral programs are 100% online. Some programs also have required residential intensives, which provide opportunities for you to visit our beautiful campus, study in our state-of-the-art facilities, and build your professional network.
  • Depending on the particular degree you choose, our online doctoral programs can be completed in just 2-3 years.

*Please note: Beginning Spring 2022, tuition rates for Liberty’s PMHNP programs will increase. Current students who have already matriculated may be eligible for   grandfathered rates. For questions, please contact Academic Advising.

Liberty’s Online Program Awards

Our online doctoral degrees are widely recognized for their academic quality. Here are just some of the awards our programs have received:

What Will You Learn in Our Online Doctoral Programs?

By pursuing one of Liberty’s online PhD programs or doctoral degrees, you can learn how to solve problems and recognize potential growth opportunities in your field. Every postgraduate and doctoral program — from counseling and education to nursing and divinity — can help strengthen your skills in research, data analysis, writing, and the application of theory to real-world scenarios.

At Liberty, we strive to be one of the most affordable online colleges in the world, and our reputation for upholding rigorous academic standards is widely recognized. You’ll work hard for your doctorate degree — and be glad that you did.

What Can an Online Doctoral Degree Program Do for Your Career?

A doctoral degree is a terminal degree — the highest level of education for a particular area of study. Completing a PhD program or one of our other doctoral degrees can give you a level of discipline and specialized knowledge that can not only help equip you for a leadership position in fields like education, counseling, business, and ministry, but can also help make you an attractive hire to many employers.

In highly competitive fields, certain positions go exclusively to applicants with doctoral degrees. As more and more employers seek candidates with terminal degrees to fill top positions, the demand for quality, flexible education is growing. You no longer have to choose between becoming one of those candidates and maintaining your current work-life balance — you can start one of our doctoral programs without leaving home. Liberty’s online doctoral programs allow you to further your career without putting your life on hold.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can i get a doctoral degree online.

Yes! At Liberty University, we offer 75+ postgraduate degrees, professional doctorates, and PhD programs online. Most of these programs are available 100% online with no set login times. That means you can stay invested in your family, job, and community while working toward your degree. As long as your assignments are completed by their respective due dates, you can complete your coursework on your schedule — whenever it’s most convenient for you.

Liberty has been a pioneer in distance learning since 1985, so we know what it takes to create online degrees that blend flexibility, accessibility, and high-quality academics. Throughout your online doctoral program, you’ll have easy access to textbooks, syllabi, videos, and more as you complete your assignments. Our professors are also available to answer any questions you may have, and they are excited to partner with you as you take this next step in your academic journey.

While the majority of our doctorates are offered 100% online, some programs — such as our post-BSN DNP in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and DNP in Family Nurse Practitioner — also have required on-campus intensives . That means most of your courses will be completed online, and you’ll travel to our campus in Lynchburg, Va., for the remaining few courses.

Additionally, our PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision is an intensive-based program, which means many of the courses are on-campus intensives. Residential intensives give you the exciting opportunity to visit our campus and connect in-person with other professionals in your program.

At Liberty, we’re committed to providing degrees that meet your unique learning style. Whether you’re seeking a 100% online program or want to take some in-person courses, we have what you need!

Can I pursue a doctorate without a master’s?

Most of our doctoral degrees online require a master’s degree for admission to help ensure that you are ready for doctoral-level coursework. However, both our post-BSN DNP in Family Nurse Practitioner and our post-BSN DNP in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner allow you to apply with only a bachelor’s degree! These 2 programs cover the foundational and advanced topics needed to help you seamlessly transition from an undergraduate program to a doctoral degree.

Are online doctoral programs credible?

If you’re like many students, you’re probably wondering whether an online doctoral degree program offers the same rigor and credibility as a residential degree. As long as you select a university and/or program that is accredited, you can be confident that your online doctorate will hold weight as a respected, advanced educational credential.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges ( SACSCOC ) to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Our faculty members are well-respected leaders in their fields who use their expertise to help further your proficiency in research, examination, and application of your knowledge. Whether you pursue an online PhD, EdD, DBA, DMin, or any of our other doctoral programs, you can gain valuable knowledge as you develop into a leader of distinction.

Additionally, many of our schools have achieved programmatic accreditation, including the following:

  • Liberty University’s PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs ( CACREP ).
  • Liberty University’s School of Business is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs ( ACBSP ).
  • Liberty University’s John W. Rawlings School of Divinity is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of ATS , the Association of Theological Schools.
  • All of our School of Education initial and advanced licensure programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation ( CAEP ) .
  • Liberty University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music ( NASM ).
  • The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master’s degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and the postgraduate APRN certificate program at Liberty University School of Nursing are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).

How many years is a doctoral degree?

One question you likely have as you research doctoral programs is “How long does it take to get a doctoral degree?” That depends on the exact program you choose. Our shortest doctoral program is the Doctor of Ministry (DMin), which only has 30 credit hours, and our longest doctorate is the DNP in Family Nurse Practitioner at 78 credit hours. Additionally, our postgraduate programs (the EdS and ThM) are 30 credit hours long.

In general, our online doctoral programs can be completed in 2-3 years while our postgraduate degrees can take as little as 1 year. You can also potentially transfer in up to 50% of your postgraduate or doctoral credits — so you can finish your degree even faster! Our carefully planned, suggested course sequences can help you maximize your time and keep your total tuition costs down while ensuring that you get the most out of your classes.

What types of doctoral degrees are available?

We offer 3 main types of degrees at the doctoral level. Each is designed to help you gain the knowledge and skills that are most applicable to your career goals. Below you’ll find a list of these degrees and what they can offer you!

Postgraduate degrees – Our Education Specialist (EdS) and Master of Theology (ThM) degrees are postgraduate programs, which means they are a step above a master’s and a step below a doctorate. These programs require a completed master’s degree for admission and are a great option if you’re not ready to pursue a full doctoral program.

In some cases, you may find that a postgraduate program provides the training and skills you need to pursue your career goals without requiring you to complete a full doctorate. Our postgraduate degrees can also set you on the fast track to acquiring new expertise while equipping you to pursue a doctoral degree later on down the road.

Professional doctorates – We offer a wide variety of professional doctorates in many different subject areas — including business, government, divinity, nursing, and music. A professional doctorate is designed for working professionals who want to solve real-world problems in their field and gain new knowledge and skills that are directly applicable to their industry.

Professional doctoral programs still provide training in advanced research methods, but the focus is on how this research can be used to address practical challenges in a variety of settings. Some of the degrees that fall under this category include the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL), Doctor of Law and Policy (DLP), Doctor of Public Administration (DPA), Doctor of Ministry (DMin), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS).

Research/academic doctorates – If you’re interested in a career as a researcher or university professor, an academic doctorate may be the best path forward for you. PhDs typically fall under this category. These research-focused, theory-based degrees are ideal for those seeking roles in the world of academia. By completing an academic doctorate, you’ll have the chance to contribute to high-level scholarship, address gaps in the current literature, and add to the existing body of research in your field. Liberty offers PhDs in a wide range of subjects, including education, criminal justice, heath sciences, Bible exposition, communication, history, psychology, and more!

What if I’m not ready to pursue a full doctoral degree?

Maybe you want to take doctoral-level courses but don’t yet have time to complete a full degree. If so, we have just what you need! We offer a variety of Executive Certificates that are only 21 credit hours long. Each certificate can stand on its own as a professional development credential while also helping you build credit toward a doctoral degree. You can roll your certificate credits into the corresponding doctorate, allowing you to start a full doctoral degree whenever you’re ready.

If you’re a military student, our Executive Certificates are an especially great option for you. When you pursue an Executive Certificate, you can receive our discounted $300/credit hour military rate both during the certificate and later during a doctoral degree.*

Check out a list of our available Executive Certificates to find the best program for you!

*In order to retain the $300/credit hour rate, the doctoral degree must be started within 2 years of completing the Executive Certificate.

Do online diplomas say “online”?

No — our diplomas do not indicate whether a degree was completed online or on campus. When you complete an online doctoral program, your diploma will simply state that you earned your degree from Liberty University. This helps emphasize the fact that our online programs hold the same credibility and value as our residential programs. By earning an online degree, you’ll have the flexibility to complete your coursework on your schedule while experiencing the same rigor as you would in a traditional, on-campus doctorate.

Additionally, when you graduate from a doctoral program online at Liberty, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in our Commencement ceremony and degree presentation ceremonies. That way, you can visit our campus and walk with the rest of your class as you receive your diploma!

Military Benefits for Liberty’s Online Doctoral Programs

Liberty University is dedicated to providing world-class educational experiences to military students across the globe. Whether you are a current service member, discharged or retired from service, or the spouse of a service member or veteran, we are here to support you every step of the journey.

As a thank you for your dedication and service to our country, Liberty is honored to serve and support you in your pursuit of online education by offering the following benefits:

  • Tuition discount – $275 per credit hour for EdS/EdD programs
  • Pursuing one of our other doctoral degrees? Find out how you can earn a doctorate for only $300 per credit hour!
  • Additional discount for veterans who serve in a civilian capacity as a First Responder (less than $625 per EdS/EdD course*)
  • 8-week courses, 8 different start dates each year, and no set login times (may exclude certain courses such as practicums, internships, or field experiences)

*First Responder Discount cannot be combined with Liberty’s $300/credit hour military discount.

Admission Requirements for Our Online Doctoral Programs and Postgraduate Degrees

Admission requirements will vary depending on the particular postgraduate or doctoral degree you’re interested in. Below you’ll find links to detailed admissions-related information for each postgraduate and doctoral degree online offered at Liberty University:

PhD in Aviation

PhD in History

EdD in Community Care and Counseling

EdS in Community Care and Counseling

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

PhD in Psychology

PhD in Business Administration

Doctor of Business Administration

Doctor of Strategic Leadership

PhD in Organization and Management

PhD in Communication

PhD in Strategic Media

PhD in Applied Apologetics

PhD in Bible Exposition

EdD in Christian Leadership

PhD in Christian Leadership

Doctor of Ministry

Master of Theology

PhD in Practical Theology

PhD in Advanced Educational Studies

Doctor of Education

PhD in Education

Education Specialist

PhD in Higher Education Administration

PhD in Criminal Justice

Doctor of Criminal Justice

Doctor of Law and Policy

Doctor of Public Administration

PhD in Public Administration

PhD in Public Policy

Doctor of Health Sciences

PhD in Health Sciences

PhD in Christian Worship

Doctor of Music Education

Doctor of Worship Studies

PhD in Music Education

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Family Nurse Practitioner (Post-BSN)

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Post-BSN)

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Post-MSN)

PhD in Nursing – Nursing Education

Estimate your Cost

Cost Per Credit Hour Per Semester for 7 to 15 Credits* Per Semester for 9 to 15 Credits* i Visit the Tuition and Financing page for more information.

Additional program fees may apply. See program page for details.

Disclaimer: This calculator is a tool that provides a rough estimate of the total cost of tuition, and should not be relied upon to determine overall costs, as pricing may vary by program and tuition/fees are subject to change. Estimates are not final or binding, and do not include potential financial aid eligibility.

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For eligibility requirements for military discounts at the doctoral level, please review the online benefits page .

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You have to have a lot of self-motivation and self-discipline when you are going to school online, but the amazing thing is at Liberty you do not need to do it by yourself. You really do have resources like someone who is going to school on campus.

– Janae Fleming ’15, B.S. in Education

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UD Graduate Data Science and Analytics Open House

Article by Lisa Walenceus Photo by Eric Tommer | Illustration by Cindy Dolan September 05, 2023

Learn how UD programs support data-driven innovation in a wide variety of fields on Sept. 21

In 2010, the total amount of data generated globally was two zettabytes. By 2025, the amount of data generated is expected to exceed 200 zettabytes. To put these numbers in perspective, if one byte of data is a single grain of rice, a zettabyte of data fills the Pacific Ocean.

This astronomical increase in the amount of data available in the world, known as the “data explosion,” may be hard to wrap your head around, but it opens a wealth of opportunities for insight and innovation in industry, education, government, healthcare and research. To show prospective students how the University of Delaware can prepare them for these numerous opportunities, UD’s Graduate College and its Data Science Institute are presenting a Graduate Data Science and Analytics Open House, from 5-7 p.m., Sept. 21, at the Ammon Pinizzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center on the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus. Representatives from 16 doctoral, master’s and graduate certificate programs at UD will be on hand to chat with guests about how data science and analytics represent the future in a wide variety of fields united by the need to extract meaning and solutions from a sea of information.

It was a love for data-driven solutions that drew Nicolas Cutrona to pursue the interdisciplinary master’s of science degree in data science , one of the programs represented at the Sept. 21 event. “As an economics undergrad at UD, I took statistics and math classes that developed my passion for working with quantitative techniques to solve data-related problems,” he said. “The flexibility of my data science degree allowed me to take courses in different areas of mathematics, computer science and statistics. Because of this broad exposure I had in my master’s program, I found I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics at UD.”

With more than 60 faculty members representing more than 20 departments from colleges throughout the University, the interdisciplinary data science degree is a great example of the many UD graduate programs that allow students to explore and develop their individual interests. Cutrona is now focused on researching novel machine learning algorithms to better extract key information from data.

"I’m working on a problem in probabilistic machine learning classification to find ways to improve model performance," Cutrona said. “With my training in different departments, I believe I acquired a ‘toolbox’ to do meaningful work, make an impact on data science research and go deeper into the intricacies of the field beyond the classroom.”

UD’s commitment to interdisciplinary research and innovation in data science and analytics is supported by the work of the Data Science Institute (DSI), a collaborative effort of over 100 faculty experts to combine disparate, dynamic and distributed datasets to enable everything from predicting the future behavior of complex systems to precise medical treatments, smart energy usage, and focused educational curricula. DSI also supports the University’s data science capabilities and assets, which include the Data Intensive and Computational Sciences Core and the DARWIN High Performance Computing System, and coordinates access to data-intensive research capabilities including bioimaging , fMRI and other core research facilities. All these resources are available for graduate students and their research.

People interested in a fast-growing discipline that leads to excellent job opportunities in a variety of fields are invited to learn more about how a graduate degree in data science and analytics at UD can further their work and interests. Meet and mingle with representatives from these programs on Sept. 21:

  • M.S. Applied Statistics Online
  • Certificate in Applied Bioinformatics Online
  • M.S. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Ph.D. in Bioinformatics Data Science
  • M.S. in Business Analytics and Information Management
  • Ph.D. in Climatology
  • M.S. in Cybersecurity
  • M.S. in Data Science
  • M.S. and Ph.D. in Educational Statistics and Analytics
  • M.S. and Ph.D. in Epidemiology
  • Ph.D. in Financial Services Analytics
  • M.S. and Ph.D. in Geography
  • Certificate in Geographic Information Science
  • Ph.D. in Hospitality Business Analytics
  • M.S. and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience
  • NRT-MIDAS: Computing and Data Science for Soft Materials Certificate
  • M.S. in Statistics

Light refreshments and appetizers will be available at the open house. To register or to learn more about the event, visit https://www.udel.edu/academics/colleges/grad/prospective-students/data-science-and-analytics-open-house . For more information, please contact Jasmin Rivers at [email protected] .

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College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

News & events, geophysics ph.d. student named to inaugural cohort of uh-chevron energy graduate fellows.

September 6, 2023

Program Supports Research Efforts through a One-Year $12,000 Fellowship

Larkin Spires, a geophysics Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is one of eight University of Houston graduate students named to the inaugural cohort of UH-Chevron Energy Graduate Fellows. These students are actively involved in innovative energy-related research across the UH campus.


Funded by Chevron, the program supports graduate students’ research efforts through a one-year, $12,000 fellowship which includes mentoring by faculty experts and the opportunity to engage with subject matter experts at Chevron.

“We love that Chevron is sponsoring this group of fellows because it’s a fantastic way for us to get involved with the students who are working on some of the biggest problems we’ll face in society,” said Chevron Technology Ventures President Jim Gable.

The winners showcase a broad range of energy-related research at UH, and their work focuses on scalable innovations for transformational impact on the energy industry.

Spires doctoral research involves a semi-empirical Brown and Korringa model for fluid substitution. Fluid substitution is a practice used in the oil and gas industry to help understand what's going on beneath the Earth's surface when searching for oil and natural gas deposits. Spires also developed a way to test if her model works by 3D printing plastic rock-like samples to use in the lab. Her advisor is Professor John Castagna, professor of geophysics and the Margaret S. and Robert E. Sheriff Endowed Faculty Chair in Applied Seismology.

As someone intrigued by the world of geophysics and its intricate ties to mathematics, Spires has relevant industry experience in quantitative interpretation and post-processing of seismic data. Previously, she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in geophysics from UH.

“The UH-Chevron Energy Fellowship program is an exciting opportunity for our graduate students to research the many critical areas that impact the energy industry, our communities and our global competitiveness,” said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, UH vice president for energy and innovation. “Today’s students not only recognize the importance of energy, but they are actively driving the push for affordable, reliable, sustainable and secure energy and making choices that clearly indicate that they are meaningfully contributing to the change.”

The selected fellows will engage with Chevron subject matter experts on a quarterly basis and participate in educational and research engagements organized by UH Energy throughout the year. They will submit quarterly progress reports and may have opportunities to contribute to energy-related blogs and thought leadership pieces.

- Excerpted from a UH news article by Rashda Khan

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Ph.D. Commencement robing Martin West and Christopher Cleveland

Additional Information

  • Download the Doctoral Viewbook
  • Admissions & Aid

The Harvard Ph.D. in Education trains cutting-edge researchers who work across disciplines to generate knowledge and translate discoveries into transformative policy and practice.

Offered jointly by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the PhD in Education provides you with full access to the extraordinary resources of Harvard University and prepares you to assume meaningful roles as university faculty, researchers, senior-level education leaders, and policymakers.

As a Ph.D. candidate, you will collaborate with scholars across all Harvard graduate schools on original interdisciplinary research. In the process, you will help forge new fields of inquiry that will impact the way we teach and learn. The program’s required coursework will develop your knowledge of education and your expertise in a range of quantitative and qualitative methods needed to conduct high-quality research. Guided by the goal of making a transformative impact on education research, policy, and practice, you will focus on independent research in various domains, including human development, learning and teaching, policy analysis and evaluation, institutions and society, and instructional practice.   

Curriculum Information

The Ph.D. in Education requires five years of full-time study to complete. You will choose your individual coursework and design your original research in close consultation with your HGSE faculty adviser and dissertation committee. The requirements listed below include the three Ph.D. concentrations: Culture, Institutions, and Society; Education Policy and Program Evaluation; and Human Development, Learning and Teaching . 

We invite you to review an example course list, which is provided in two formats — one as the full list by course number and one by broad course category . These lists are subject to modification. 

Ph.D. Concentrations and Examples

Summary of Ph.D. Program

Doctoral Colloquia  In year one and two you are required to attend. The colloquia convenes weekly and features presentations of work-in-progress and completed work by Harvard faculty, faculty and researchers from outside Harvard, and Harvard doctoral students. Ph.D. students present once in the colloquia over the course of their career.

Research Apprenticeship The Research Apprenticeship is designed to provide ongoing training and mentoring to develop your research skills throughout the entire program.

Teaching Fellowships The Teaching Fellowship is an opportunity to enhance students' teaching skills, promote learning consolidation, and provide opportunities to collaborate with faculty on pedagogical development.

Comprehensive Exams  The Written Exam (year 2, spring) tests you on both general and concentration-specific knowledge. The Oral Exam (year 3, fall/winter) tests your command of your chosen field of study and your ability to design, develop, and implement an original research project.

Dissertation  Based on your original research, the dissertation process consists of three parts: the Dissertation Proposal, the writing, and an oral defense before the members of your dissertation committee.

Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS) Concentration

In CIS, you will examine the broader cultural, institutional, organizational, and social contexts relevant to education across the lifespan. What is the value and purpose of education? How do cultural, institutional, and social factors shape educational processes and outcomes? How effective are social movements and community action in education reform? How do we measure stratification and institutional inequality? In CIS, your work will be informed by theories and methods from sociology, history, political science, organizational behavior and management, philosophy, and anthropology. You can examine contexts as diverse as classrooms, families, neighborhoods, schools, colleges and universities, religious institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, and more.

Education Policy and Program Evaluation (EPPE) Concentration

In EPPE, you will research the design, implementation, and evaluation of education policy affecting early childhood, K–12, and postsecondary education in the U.S. and internationally. You will evaluate and assess individual programs and policies related to critical issues like access to education, teacher effectiveness, school finance, testing and accountability systems, school choice, financial aid, college enrollment and persistence, and more. Your work will be informed by theories and methods from economics, political science, public policy, and sociology, history, philosophy, and statistics. This concentration shares some themes with CIS, but your work with EPPE will focus on public policy and large-scale reforms.

Human Development, Learning and Teaching (HDLT) Concentration

In HDLT, you will work to advance the role of scientific research in education policy, reform, and practice. New discoveries in the science of learning and development — the integration of biological, cognitive, and social processes; the relationships between technology and learning; or the factors that influence individual variations in learning — are transforming the practice of teaching and learning in both formal and informal settings. Whether studying behavioral, cognitive, or social-emotional development in children or the design of learning technologies to maximize understanding, you will gain a strong background in human development, the science of learning, and sociocultural factors that explain variation in learning and developmental pathways. Your research will be informed by theories and methods from psychology, cognitive science, sociology and linguistics, philosophy, the biological sciences and mathematics, and organizational behavior.

Program Faculty

The most remarkable thing about the Ph.D. in Education is open access to faculty from all Harvard graduate and professional schools, including the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Learn about the full Ph.D. Faculty.

Jarvis Givens

Jarvis R. Givens

Paul Harris

Paul L. Harris

Paul Harris is interested in the early development of cognition, emotion, and imagination in children.

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson is a normative political philosopher who works at the intersection of civic education, youth empowerment, racial justice, and educational ethics. 

Luke Miratrix

Luke W. Miratrix

shortest science phd

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor studies the economics of education, with a particular interest in employer-employee interactions between schools and teachers — hiring and firing decisions, job design, training, and performance evaluation.

Paola Uccelli

Paola Uccelli

The HGSE shield over light blue.

View Ph.D. Faculty


The following is a complete listing of successful Ph.D. in Education dissertations to-date. Dissertations from November 2014 onward are publicly available in the Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH) , the online repository for Harvard scholarship.

  • 2022 Graduate Dissertations (265 KB pdf)
  • 2021 Graduate Dissertations (177 KB pdf)
  • 2020 Graduate Dissertations (121 KB pdf)
  • 2019 Graduate Dissertations (68.3 KB pdf)

Student Directory

An opt-in listing of current Ph.D. students with information about their interests, research, personal web pages, and contact information:

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Student Directory

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September 6, 2023 | Stephanie Rauch - The Graduate School

40th Annual Biomedical Science Graduate Student Research Day Features Program Alumna

The Biomedical Science Graduate Student Research Day, held this year on Wednesday, August 23rd, is an annual celebration of the research accomplishments of the students in the Biomedical Science PhD program at UConn Health.

shortest science phd

2023 GSRD Keynote Speaker Dr. Vanessa Scanlon

In 2010, when then graduate student Vanessa Scanlon (then Piccuillo) was serving as UConn Health Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Vice President, she was helping organize the schedule and keep presenters on time at the Biomedical Science program’s annual Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD). Thirteen years later, Biomedical Science Ph.D. degree in hand and now Assistant Professor in the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Skeletal Development at UConn Health, Dr. Scanlon found herself on the other side of the podium, as the invited keynote speaker for the 40th anniversary of the event.

“I was so honored to be asked to deliver the keynote lecture,” Dr. Scanlon said. “It was almost an out of body experience (giving the presentation as a junior faculty member) because it really seems like just yesterday that I was on the GSO and planning GSRD!”

shortest science phd

“This is such a special event because it really gives students an opportunity to showcase all they’ve accomplished towards their projects over the year,” Scanlon continued, “and provides a venue for us to celebrate their continued personal and professional growth.”

The Biomedical Science Graduate Student Research Day, held this year on Wednesday, August 23 rd , is an annual celebration of the research accomplishments of the students in the Biomedical Science PhD program at UConn Health. It includes a poster session and oral presentations from students across all seven Areas of Concentration (AoCs) within the Biomedical Science PhD, as well as the keynote address, and a scientific talk by the previous year’s Lepow Award winner, given this year by recent graduate Dr. Pengyu Zong.

“GSRD is a day not only for students, but about students,” incoming 2023-24 GSO President Deepa Anjan Kumar noted. “It felt wonderful to hear from fellow students about all the progress they have made in their research; it is also one of the few instances when we get to talk to students from other departments about their research.”

Additionally, it’s a great platform, Scanlon says, “for students to practice their presentation skills (a critical skill in any PhD’s toolbelt) in a safe and constructive environment.”

shortest science phd

“It was a great honor for me to receive the nomination and actually win the Osborn Award!” Dr. Wang said. “I will continue working hard with our students to pursue excellence in teaching.”

Dr. Guertin agreed: “It was an honor just to be nominated, so I was thrilled to receive the accolade. I am glad that my teaching is appreciated, and that UConn Health genuinely values graduate student teaching—this is not always the case, especially at medical schools.”

See the full list of this year’s award recipients below:

Edward G. Henderson Memorial Prize for Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis in Biomedical Science : Dr. Qinfang Liu, Neuroscience AoC, PI: Dr. Yulan Xiong

Lepow Award for Outstanding Biomedical Science PhD Student Entering the 4th Year of Study : Patricia Hare, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry AoC, PI: Dr. Wendy W.K. Mok

Lawrence G. Raisz Award for Excellent in Musculoskeletal Research : Prachi Thakore, Skeletal Biology and Regeneration AoC, PI: Dr. Anne Delany

Biomedical Science Service Award in Leadership: Rachel Gilmore, Genetics and Developmental Biology AoC, PI : Dr. Justin Cotney

Biomedical Science Service Award in Mentorship: Angela Power, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry AoC, PI: Dr. Wendy W.K. Mok

GSRD Oral Presentation Award: Skylar Wright, Combined MD/PhD student, Immunology AoC, PI : Dr. Vijay Rathinam

Poster Presentation Awards: 1st Place: Kristina Delgado, Immunology AoC, PI: Dr. Justin Radolf and Dr. Kelly Hawley 2nd Place : Corie Owen, Cell Biology AoC, PI: Dr. Laurinda Jaffe 3rd Place : Rachel Gilmore, Genetics and Developmental Biology AoC, PI: Dr. Justin Cotney

Osborn Award for Excellence in Biomedical Science Graduate Training (tie) : Dr. Michael Guertin, Systems Biology AoC and Dr. Kepeng Wang, Immunology AoC

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Safinah Ali from Personal Robots was an educator for the Science Research + Mentoring Program at the American Museum of Natural History

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Attribution 4.0 International

Safinah Ali 

by Safinah Arshad Ali

Sept. 5, 2023

  • Safinah Arshad Ali Research Assistant
  • Media Lab Research Theme: Life with AI

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Safinah Ali, a graduate student in the Personal Robots group, was a curriculum designer and educator for the 2023-2024 edition of the  SRMP Machine program (Science Research Mentoring Program)  at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) focusing on Machine Learning and AI in Scientific Research. 

Students in the SRMP Machine program learned about how data science and ML can be used in scientific research. During the four-week program, students collected natural science data such as dragonfly wings, animal skulls or trees heights around New York City. Students practiced using different ML algorithms such as linear regression, decision trees, neural networks or principal component analysis using these datasets to answer their scientific research questions. Students also discussed bias in machine learning systems and how they can be mitigated using responsible algorithm design practices. The program is an outcome of a collaboration between MIT and AMNH.  

shortest science phd

Safinah Ali, Research Assistant from the Personal Robots group, engaged with members of the American Museum of Natural History for one year to develop the SRMP Machine program's curriculum. She developed lessons, assessment materials, learning tools and participated in the 2023 edition as a classroom educator. This project is an ongoing collaboration between MIT and AMNH.

shortest science phd

The New Science of Curiosity

To, A., Ali, S., Kaufman, G. Hammer, J. (2018). Integrating Curiosity and Uncertainty in Game Design. The New Science of Curiosity (pp. 169-203). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Leveraging Social Robots as a Creativity Support Tool for Young Children

Ali, S., Moroso, T. (2019). Leveraging Social Robots as a Creativity Support Tool for Young Children. Poster. Computer Science and Learning Science Symposium 2019.

shortest science phd

Safinah Ali named as 2022 Microsoft Research PhD Fellow

Safinah Ali, a PhD student in the Personal Robots group, is among the recipients of the Microsoft PhD Fellowship for 2022.

Make-a-Thon for Middle School AI Educators

DiPaola, D., Moore, K. S., Ali, S., Perret, B., Zhou, X., Zhang, H., & Lee, I. (2023, March). Make-a-Thon for Middle School AI Educators. In Proceedings of the 54th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education V. 1 (pp. 305-311).

Graduate Fellowships Give a New PhD Program a Strong Start

Trustee peter wexler’s gift to computing & data sciences will help draw top students to bu.

Originally published in Bostonia, Aug. 8, 2023 | Author: Julie Serazio | Photography: Jackie Ricciardi

BU trustee Peter Wexler has made a leadership gift in support of graduate fellowships in Computing & Data Sciences at BU, with an eye toward the development of technologies that advance health, sustainability, and other public interests.

Image: Headshot photo of Peter Wexler, a white man with gray-brown hair wearing glasses, a light blue collared shirt, and black blazer. He smiles and poses for the camera. Headshot is overlaid over a red-orange gradient circle.

“The creation of the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences (CDS) is one of the most important moments in BU’s history,” says Wexler (Questrom’93), a California-based entrepreneur and start-up investor. “It will prepare students for the best jobs of the future, but more important, it will train those students to address really complex societal problems in a data-driven way.”

The PhD program at CDS is new—the first class started in fall 2021—and already stands out for its unique approach. It is designed for candidates who hold a degree in one of the core areas of computing and data science as well as those with backgrounds in the biological sciences, Earth and environment, journalism, business, and other fields. Graduate fellowships are awarded to PhD candidates during their first two years at CDS. During this phase, fellowships provide security and stability to students as they complete their full-time course of study, giving them the time and space to learn, to try new things, and even to develop new approaches to research. The Wexler Fellowships will be awarded annually with a preference for students pursuing transdisciplinary research with application to environmental sustainability, biomedical and health sciences, and fair and equitable sociotechnical and AI systems. Fellows can use their funds for research and other expenses related to their education.

“Because CDS deals in rapidly emerging and highly sophisticated research areas, the pool of truly outstanding students is relatively small,” says Azer Bestavros, associate provost for computing and data sciences and William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor of Computer Science. “The very best are in high demand, and we compete for them with other institutions. Named fellowships such as the Wexler Fellowships are a highly effective recruitment tool.”

Equally important, Bestavros adds, endowments like these and the fellows they support help BU achieve another strategic priority: attracting excellent tenure-track faculty. “Our faculty will be encouraged by the presence of strong PhD students who will help galvanize their research,” he says.

Wexler, who earned his MBA at Questrom School of Business, has led the development of key products that form the foundation of the internet and today’s mobile networks. He cofounded SpiderCloud Wireless and prior to that was founding VP of engineering at Juniper Networks. Along with his wife, Deborah (Questrom’93), he has served BU as a volunteer leader in many capacities and has generously supported Questrom and BU Hillel.

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