10 Best Accelerated Online PhD Programs Ranked for Students in 2023

10 Best Accelerated Online PhD Programs Ranked for Students in 2023

Interested in earning a PhD, but you want to get to the finish line as quickly as possible? We rank the 10 best accelerated PhD programs.

Key Takeaways

  • A doctorate degree, the highest educational level in many fields, is designed for students who desire to achieve the most advanced knowledge in specific subjects.

  • Most doctorate degree programs take up to seven years to complete, but accelerated versions of doctoral online programs can shorten the study period to two to three years.

  • Accelerated online doctoral programs are shorter but demand more focus and effort because it requires the same output as a regular PhD program.

Are you a working professional with a desire to raise your education to a doctorate or PhD level? Do you have the determination and capability to squeeze your studies into your busy schedule? Do you want to finish your doctorate degree in less than five years? Are you interested in the added convenience and flexibility of online doctoral program?

If you answer yes to those questions, you should look for respected schools that offer accelerated PhD or doctoral programs.

A PhD or doctorate will broaden your professional horizons. It reduces professional competition, and places you in the upper 2.1 percent of the population of US professionals.

In short, a PhD or doctorate degree makes you elite as you enjoy the benefit of achieving career goals that are not available to the majority of working professionals in your chosen field.

What are PhD accelerated online programs?

Accelerated PhD or doctorate degree programs are graduate study programs that are shorter yet made more comprehensive and intense than traditional doctorate degree programs.

They require students to accomplish the same amount of work in a shorter time frame, but they intend to provide them with the same amount of knowledge at a lesser cost. They enable students to waive two to three years of schooling to be ready for the job market more quickly.

Accelerated doctoral programs online are designed for students who want to take a shorter route toward a PhD or doctorate degree.

Regular doctorate degree programs require six to eight years to complete. The shortest doctoral program online has a study period of two or three years!

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Reasons to Choose Accelerated PhD Online Programs

Choosing accelerated online doctoral degree programs require a careful evaluation of your commitment and determination to accomplish. Because accelerated doctorate degree programs are demanding and rigorous, you need to examine yourself if you have that will and capability to exert more focus and effort to comply with its requirements.

While it is given that you may have personal reasons for taking the fast track toward a graduate degree, there are common reasons why most people prefer accelerated doctorate degree programs. One of them may be applicable to you.

  • An accelerated online program at the PhD level is suited to students who want to join the workforce as quickly and as early as possible.
  • Working adults who aspire to professional growth or want to switch careers as soon as possible will find accelerated online PhD programs an attractive option.
  • Professionals who have started a PhD program but were unable to finish it may choose to take an online PhD or doctorate degree program to attain an educational goal.
  • Taking accelerated PhD programs online provides the same learning outcome as taking classes via traditional PhD programs.
  • Taking accelerated PhD programs can provide early return on investment.

Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for accelerated online doctorate programs may vary from one school to another, but these are the general requirements:

  • A completed application form
  • Payment of application fee
  • Official transcript from previous colleges and universities attended
  • Resume
  • GMAT or GRE scores
  • Recommendation letters
  • English proficiency test

Curriculum and Courses

The curriculum and courses of different PhD or doctorate degree programs vary from school to school and from one field of study to the next. However, they are similar in certain ways.

A typical online PhD or doctorate degree, regardless of the school, consists of four phases of coursework:

  • Research and preparatory classes
  • Major courses
  • Electives, and
  • Dissertation
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What can you do with an accelerated PhD degree?

The natural next step you will take after completion of your PhD degree is to find an academic or research job. However, you are not limited to only working in academia.

With the skill sets and knowledge gained, many PhD’s have the career opportunities in numerous job sectors including:

  • Research and development
  • Market research and analysis
  • Medical Communication
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Business Development
  • Product Management
  • Management Consultancy
  • Healthcare Information Technology
  • Quantitative Analysis

Key Point: It is possible to find a career outside of academia once you have earned a PhD.

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Factors For Choosing Accelerated Doctorate Programs

If you already made up your mind about pursuing an accelerated online doctorate degree, the first big step you need to make is to choose a graduate school to enroll in. There are numerous schools that offer PhD and doctorate degree programs online. But as a prospective PhD student, it is important to know that the college is a quality place in which to earn a degree.

The following factors should be included in your decision-making process.

Accreditation

Accreditation is one of the top factors you should look for when looking for a college or university to enroll in. It means that the school’s system, programs, faculty, and facilities undergo a regular periodic review for compliance to the quality standards of the accrediting body approved by the Council for Higher Education and the Department of Education.

Accreditation signifies the quality of education the school is offering. The credits you earn from a regionally or nationally accredited institution are respected all over the country.

Faculty

The one thing you should remember when choosing a college or university offering online doctoral programs is that you’re aiming for the highest educational achievement available in any university. Get the best knowledge through expert, experienced, and respected instructors in their field.

You can check their credentials in the university website. Additionally, you may also seek instructors who foster networking opportunities.

Student Support

A school offering online accelerated programs should look after its students’ welfare, and provide them with sufficient support. It can be in the form of offering research tools, tutoring and mentoring services, library access, and networking opportunities.

Flexibility

Most students especially in online accelerated PhD programs, are already working and raising a family. For this reason, flexibility is a vital factor to will look for — to attain balance in their study, work, and family life.


Academic Doctorate (PhD) of Professional Doctorate?

While this is more about choosing a specialization than picking a university to enroll in, you need it as a part of your decision before proceeding for enrollment.

The type of doctoral degree program you choose is closely related to the career path you plan to take after graduation. The PhD and professional doctorate degree programs allow you to earn the highest level of academic achievement but they differ in many aspects.

If you plan to work as a researcher or teacher, a PhD or academic doctorate would be an ideal degree. Some examples of a PhD include:

  • PhD in Arts
  • PhD in Literature
  • PhD in Chemistry
  • PhD in Physics
  • PhD in Music
  • PhD in Nursing Science
  • PhD in Education
  • PhD in Computer Science
  • PhD in Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Administration

If you plan to become a specialist in your chosen field and use it as your profession, you may opt for the professional doctorate degree. Here are some examples:

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
  • Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
  • Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
  • Doctor of Engineering (EngD)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice (DCJ)
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

When determining the fastest doctorate degree programs that are worth investing in, consider your interests if it fits with the coursework you will study. Your interest in a subject can fuel your drive to learn.

If you want to take your master’s degree to the next level and qualify for higher positions, getting a PhD is the way to go.

If you are interested in doing a dissertation, choose the PhD program, but if you are comfortable with a capstone project or academic residency, you should do well in a professional doctorate degree program.

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10 Best Accelerated Online PhD Programs in the US

 Liberty University

Liberty University’s accelerated PhD in Public Policy is one of its most popular online degree programs. It is designed to equip learners with the competency they need to create fair, specific, legal, and goal-oriented public policy.

Credit Hours: 60

Program Duration: 3 years or less

Format: Online

What we love about Liberty University:

There are many things that make us admire Liberty University as an institution of learning. The most prominent, however, is its commitment to provide affordable, flexible, and quality online education.

Liberty University is ideal for students who:

Believe in a Christian-centered education, with online courses that are designed in conformity with Christian teachings.

Liberty University might not be the best fit for students who:

Do not conform to teaching from a biblical point of view.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Lynchburg, VA
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Admission Rate: 50.1%
  • Graduation Rate: 20%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 110,000
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Liberty University.

 Southern New Hampshire University

The PhD in International Business at Southern New Hampshire University is designed to increase your theoretical knowledge and sharpen your analytical skills in global business operations.

This accelerated online doctorate degree program exposes you to international trade seminars, provides you with interactive experiential learning, and molds you into an expert in international business theories.

Credit Hours: 46

Program Duration: 4 years

Format: On campus, Hybrid

What we love about Southern New Hampshire University:

SNHU offers three elements that make its students grateful to be a part of the university. These are a supportive community, affordability, and an accessible faculty.

Southern New Hampshire University is ideal for students who:

Have an open mind about diversity and are willing to take part in diverse campus or classroom activities.

Southern New Hampshire University may not be ideal for students who:

Do not feel comfortable in a diverse learning environment.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Admission Rate: 93.5%
  • Graduation Rate: 32.7%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 80,000+
  • Accreditation: NECHE-New England Commission of Higher Education

Learn More about Southern New Hampshire University.

 Hampton University

Hampton University’s PhD in Educational Management is an accelerated online doctorate degree program designed to mold you into a leader in a dynamic educational environment. It also enhances your educational leadership abilities and strengthens your confidence to create and implement educational strategies to make things happen in the educational landscape.

Credit Hours: 60

Program Duration: 2 years

Format: Online

What we love about Hampton University:

We love Hampton University’s openness to diversity and multiculturalism despite being a historically black institution.

Hampton University is ideal for students who:

Are comfortable being in a multicultural and holistic educational environment.

Hampton University might not be the best fit for students who:

Don’t have an open mind about multiculturalism and diversity.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Hampton, VA
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Admission Rate: 36%
  • Graduation Rate: 59.2%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 387
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Hampton University.

 University of North Dakota

The PhD in Biomedical Engineering of the University of North Dakota’s College of Engineering & Mines is an accelerated online doctorate degree program dedicated to providing you with research skills and specialized technical expertise for the development of advanced medical devices that play huge roles in saving and improving lives on an extensive scale.

Credit Hours: 90

Program Duration: 3+ Years

Format: Online, On Campus

What we love about the University of North Dakota:

We love UND’s passion for educational excellence, affordable education, and outstanding career outcomes, especially in the fields of science and engineering.

The University of North Dakota is ideal for students who:

Aspire to become a leader of the future in engineering, medicine, science, and aviation.

The University of North Dakota might not be the best fit for students who:

Are not passionate about research to discover new knowledge and develop new devices for the benefit of mankind.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Admission Rate: 86.8%
  • Graduation Rate: 54.4%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 4,466
  • Accreditation: HLC-Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about the University of North Dakota.

 Bowling Green State University

The accelerated PhD in Technology Management offered at Bowling Green State University is a unique accelerated online doctorate degree program. It is not designed for students who seek mentoring positions in the academe.

Rather, it is intended to prepare students for leadership positions in technology-based organizations. The program offers specializations in construction management, digital communications, manufacturing systems, quality systems, and human resources development and training.

Credit Hours: 66

Program Duration: 2.5 to 3 Years

Format: Online

What we love about Bowling Green State University:

We appreciate BGSU’s commitment to foster research and use public education to produce outstanding and successful technological professionals.

Bowling Green State University is ideal for students who:

Have a vision and desire to consistently move forward to promote public welfare.

Bowling Green State University may not be ideal for students who:

Are content to be led and dependent on leaders to solve problems for them.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Admission Rate: 75.3%
  • Graduation Rate: 55.7%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 14,465 (2021 total student enrollment)
  • Accreditation: HLC-Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Bowling Green State University.


 Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University’s PhD in Criminal Justice teaches you the three essential elements of crime-busting: Identifying patterns of criminal behavior, developing solutions to control crime, and addressing internal problems in the criminal justice system.

It is a flexible program that prepares you for upper-level careers in law enforcement, crime prevention, and public service. This doctoral degree offers three areas of concentration: Behavioral science, juvenile justice, and organizational leadership.

Credit Hours: 60

Program Duration: 2.5 Years

Format: Online, On Campus, Hybrid

What we love about Nova Southeastern University:

We love NSU’s commitment to providing students with technology-rich education by way of traditional, online, and blended learning.

Nova Southeastern University is ideal for students who:

Have the desire to lead and introduce change in diverse communities without compromising fairness, social responsibility, and cultural values.

Nova Southeastern University might not be the best fit for students who:

Lack concern and a desire to make their community a safer, better, and happier place.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Admission Rate: 76.2%
  • Graduation Rate: 65.4%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 10,423 students in at least one online class
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC-Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Nova Southeastern University.

 East Carolina University

East Carolina University offers the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing to equip nurses with advanced research knowledge, skills, and methodologies to help strengthen the science of nursing. It is an accelerated online doctorate degree program that aims to serve as a key for graduates to explore possibilities for new knowledge, techniques and theories applicable in the nursing profession.

Credit Hours: 54

Program Duration: 3 - 4 Years

Format: Online

What we love about East Carolina University:

We commend ECU’s passion to promote nursing and medical education. It is the number one producer of allied health professionals in the state of North Carolina.

East Carolina University is ideal for students who:

Have a passion to earn knowledge, learn skills, and have a drive to succeed in a diverse, multicultural society.

East Carolina University might not be the best fit for students who:

Do not have a positive outlook towards change, innovation, and continuous improvement.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Greenville, NC
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Admission Rate: 87.9%
  • Graduation Rate: 64.4%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 8,261
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC-Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about East Carolina University.

 Trident University International

Trident University International offers its PhD in Business Administration as an accelerated online doctoral degree program. It intends to provide you with rich academic knowledge and experience through extensive research of your area of interest, and transform you into a world-class business educator.

Credit Hours: 56

Program Duration: 2.5 Years

Format: Online

What we love about Trident University International:

We love Trident University’s commitment to providing quality education while keeping its tuition low. It manifests the university’s desire to support its students’ aspirations for educational and professional success.

Trident University International is ideal for students who:

Need a flexible, fully online curriculum to help them earn their targeted degree without compromising their existing work and family commitments.

Trident University International might not be the best fit for students who:

Don’t have the commitment, self-discipline, and reliability to study in a self-paced online institution.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Chandler, AZ
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Admission Rate: 49%
  • Graduation Rate: 11%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 6,861
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Trident University International.

 University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, offered thru the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing, is a flexible, highly individualized accelerated online doctorate degree program designed to groom clinical educators, scholars, and researchers for leadership positions in industrial, academic, or healthcare environments.

Credit Hours: 56

Program Duration: 3 Years or less

Format: Online, On Campus

What we love about University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing:

We favor the University of Missouri’s policy of classifying health-related research as a non-discipline specific endeavor. And because its PhD in Nursing doesn’t require a prior nursing degree, it allows students from other disciplines like health education, occupational therapy, and social work to qualify for enrollment in the university’s academic doctorate degree in nursing.

The University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing is ideal for students who:

Desire to become part of a community advocating to improve the health of the Missouri community through practice, teaching, and discovery.

The University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing might not be ideal for students who:

Are interested in pursuing fields other than nursing and healthcare.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Columbia, MO
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Admission Rate: 61.0%
  • Graduation Rate: 68.7%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 229 (Total graduate nursing enrollment)
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Learn More about the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing.

 Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The PhD in Safety Sciences of Indiana University of Pennsylvania is designed to provide you with the capability to develop and hone your research skills while you are working. If you desire to transform your career from business to academia or from an industrial staff to professor, this accelerated online doctorate degree from IUP is your key to attain it.

Credit Hours: 54

Program Duration: 3 Years

Format: Online (Synchronous), Hybrid

What we love about Indiana University of Pennsylvania:

We love IUP’s commitment to support its students and ensure that they will flourish academically.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is ideal for students who:

Desire academic growth through a supportive faculty, experiential learning opportunities, and excellent online and classroom curricula.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania may not be ideal for students who:

Have the tendency to get spoiled by the university’s assurance of personalized guidance and support. It can result in complacency and loss of student drive to work harder.

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Indiana, PA
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Admission Rate: 93.1%
  • Graduation Rate: 55.8%
  • Online Student Enrollment: 5,393
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Learn More about Indiana University of Pennsylvania.