Doctorate Degrees and PhDs: Your Guide to Finding Ideal Programs

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A doctorate degree stands out as the pinnacle of academic achievement. But prospective doctoral students face two distinct challenges.

First, doctorate degrees are expensive. Total cost from enrollment to graduation can range from $30,000 to more than $100,000.

Second, doctorate programs require students to invest extensive efforts and time. The average time-to-graduate for doctoral students is between 7 to 8 years.

To meet and overcome these challenges, students must leverage their unique strengths and interests in a respected doctorate program that matches students’ strengths and interests. Additionally, students may wish to explore particular programs that are more affordable, accelerated, or the best of its kind for a particular area of study.

We provide all the resources you need to find your ideal doctorate degree program with both online and on-campus options.

Online Doctorate Degrees: Pros

Online education continues to gain popularity and mainstream acceptance as distance learning technology improves. As more reputable colleges and universities offer online doctoral degrees, prospective PhD students should at least consider an online learning track.

5 benefits of online doctorate degrees are as follows:

  1. Cost: Online doctorate programs often have less expensive tuition and fees than traditional on-campus doctoral programs, most notably because students do not have to pay for room and board or transportation costs.

  2. Variety: Because online PhD students are not limited to the programs available in their area, they will be able to choose from a large variety of programs within their area of interest.

  3. Flexibility: Online doctorate programs often allow students to complete coursework on their own schedule, which can be beneficial for those who are working or have other commitments while pursuing a PhD.

  4. Convenience: Online doctorate programs can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, so students can study from home or anywhere else that is comfortable and/convenient for them.

  5. Networking: Online doctoral programs provide an array of digital learning technologies that emphasize collaboration, communication, and teamwork which lay the foundation for a thriving academic and professional network.

Takeaway: Given the difficulty and expense associated with doctorate programs, online tracks provide much needed affordability, flexibility, and conveniences. And as distance learning technology improves, online doctoral programs come with fewer and fewer downsides–if any at all.

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On Campus Doctoral Programs: Pros

Online doctoral programs do come with some shortcomings that have the potential to disappoint some students. Because of this, on-campus doctoral programs may be the better option for some students. Consider the pros and cons of each to decide which is the better match fory you.

5 benefits of on campus doctorate degrees are as follows:

  1. Access to resources: On-campus doctorate programs provide students with access to some excellent resources, such as libraries, laboratories, and equipment for experiential learning.

  2. Access to campus services: On-campus doctoral students will have access to all the services the university provides such as counseling, recreational sports, and other student activities.

  3. In-person interaction: On-campus doctoral programs allow students to interact with their professors and peers in person, which can foster a sense of community and and create support systems.

  4. Networking opportunities: On-campus doctoral programs can provide students with opportunities to network with professionals in their field, as well as potential employers.

  5. Conferences and workshops: On-campus doctorate programs often provide students with opportunities to attend conferences, special lectures, and workshops, which can be help students to learn new skills and make professional connections.

Takeaway: Some educational experiences are most valuable in-person. So for prospective PhD students who excel in traditional classrooms where they can engage peers and instructors directly, an on-campus program may be the best option.

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Methodology of Ranking Doctoral Degree Programs

To ensure that we suggest the very best options to students, Academic Influence program rankings leverage advanced machine learning and data science in our Influence­Ranking™ Engine.

Unlike school ranking sites like US News & World Report, our methodology relies solely on objective measures. In other words, our rankings present schools and degrees without bias.

Below you will find our catalogue of rankings of doctoral degrees of every major subject and format. You will also find helpful informational guides for getting the most out of doctoral education.

Online Doctoral Degrees and PhDs Ranked for Students

When choosing to invest years one’s life into doctoral education, one should evaluate the costs, benefits, and challenges accordingly.

But the first and arguable most important step is to choose accredited doctorate programs that provide prestige and academic rigor. Especially for professions in academia, employers may scrutinize the institution from which the doctorate degree was earned.

For this reason, we rank only the best and most reputable doctorate degrees and PhDs that are fully accredited.

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Top Doctorate Degrees and PhD Programs by Institution

Online Christian Colleges for PhDs allow students to earn a pinnacle degree within a faith-based community of like-minded academics.

Online HBCU Colleges for PhDs provide students with a strong historical background and community focus on black culture while they pursue their education.

Research Universities with Online PhDs provide students with access to cutting edge research facilities and robust networks of both academics and professionals.

Online PhDs (No GRE) allow students to pursue a top tier doctoral degree without needing to take the GRE before enrollment.

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Explore Doctorate Degrees and PhD Programs by Subject

Online Applied Behavioral Analysis PhD graduates may pursue advanced careers in research, clinical practice, teaching, administration, or consulting.

Online Business Administration Doctorates open the door to many careers and professional opportunities – too many to list here. But graduates can go to work in executive roles, such as CEO or COO, where they can apply their advanced business knowledge to make strategic decisions and lead organizations to success. DBA graduates may also work as researchers and analysts, studying and analyzing different business trends and issues, and providing insights and recommendations to organizations.

Online Communications PhDs lay the foundation for a successful career in various industries and provide students with freedom to customize their career by paths depending on their chosen focus of study.

Online Counseling PhDs provide students with flexible and convenient doctoral programs that prepare students for career advancement in licensed counseling.

Online Criminal Justice PhDs open the door to a variety of professional opportunities. With this degree students can pursue careers in consulting for law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional institutions. They may also consider roles various non-profit organizations that focus on criminal justice issues such as prisoner’s rights, rehabilitation, and re-entry services.

Online Criminology PhDs provide students with the prerequisite training and education needed to occupy roles in research, legal and regulatory roles, as well as careers in management and consulting.

Online Economics PhDs prepare students to pursue careers in government agencies such as central banks, ministries of finance, and national statistics offices. Graduates may also work in business and finance as analysts, economists, or consultants, either in the private sector or in a corporate setting. work in museums, parks, historic sites, and other public venues, creating and interpreting exhibits and programs for the general public.

Online Education Doctorates open the door to positions of leadership, administration, and teaching in higher education. Students may also choose to specialize in a particular area of focus such as kindergarten to 8th grade education. Or they may choose to specialize in educational administration.

Online English PhDs provide students with the tools, training, and resources to become masters of the English language. Specifically, students explore advanced topics in literature, creative writing, and communication. Graduates may leverage these skills in a variety of career paths, though seeking employment in academia is a common choice.

Online History PhDs expose students to advanced topics in history, world events, and ancient cultures. Graduates with a PhD of History often go on to become professors of history at respected colleges and universities.

Online Information Technology PhDs can jumpstart a variety of lucrative and enticing professions. Graduates with a PhD in Information Technology can work in research and development, either in academia or industry, where they can conduct cutting-edge research in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer networks, and cybersecurity.

Online Doctorate of Nursing Practice-DNP programs prepare students to take on roles in education or administration in the medical field. Graduates of these programs can go on to educate new generations of nurses or may to choose to work in hospital administration. However, the upside of clinical positions is no different for DNP students as compared to MSN (Master’s of Nursing Science) students.

Online Organizational Leadership Doctorates train students to work at the highest level of business and organizational management. Specifically, students enrolled in such programs will learn leverage leadership skills within the context of business administration.

Online Physical Therapy Doctorates provide the prerequisite training and education for graduates to become licensed physical therapists. Students may pursue a particular specialty or area of interest depending on the concentrations offered in their chosen program.

Online Psychology Doctorates offer either specialized or general program tracks designed to prepare students for roles in research, counseling, or consulting. Curriculum varies widely from program to program, depending on the program’s available concentrations.

Online Social Work PhD graduates can work as licensed clinical social workers providing direct services to clients and families, or as managers and supervisors of social work programs. Graduates may also provide consulting services to organizations, such as government agencies and non-profit organizations, to help improve their programs and services for vulnerable populations.

Online Sociology PhDs prepare students to pursue a variety of professional paths. Graduates of these programs can work in research organizations, such as think tanks and government agencies, where they can study social phenomena and contribute to policy development. They may also choose to work in government or other organizations to develop, implement, and evaluate policies and programs, using their understanding of social phenomena to inform policy decisions

Online Public Health PhDs offer students the opportunity to build a career in fields related to public health. Graduates can work in public health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). They can also work in non-profit organizations, such as advocacy groups, where they can develop and implement health promotion and disease prevention programs.

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Accelerated Online PhD Programs

Doctoral programs require applicants to invest tremendous amounts of time and energy to complete their degree program.

Accelerated online doctoral programs offer unparalleled convenience and aim to focus practicum to only the central focus of study.

As a result, students may not be able to spend as much time exploring tangential topics. But in return they will see a much faster time-t0-graduate.

Accelerated Online Doctoral programs by Subject

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Affordable Online PhD Programs

Due to the high costs of doctoral degrees, prospective students may wish to prioritize the most affordable programs while exploring their options.

The affordability offered by these doctoral degree programs is achieved by various strategies. Some of these doctoral degree programs offer generous financial aid packages, grants, and scholarships. Other doctoral programs offer highly competitive base tuition.

Explore Affordable Doctorate Programs and PhDs by Subject

Learn more about applying to and excelling in your advanced degree program with a look at our Guide to Grad Life.

Or jump to our student resource library for tips on everything from studying to starting on your career path.