In this article, we profile the 10 best value colleges and universities for doctorate degree online programs.
While online doctorate degree programs still aren’t as commonplace, more online colleges are taking the plunge, offering creative ways for students to complete all the traditional requirements, from literature reviews to dissertation defenses, without stepping foot on campus. We researched the best value doctorate degree online programs.
Doctorate Degree Online: 10 Best Values Methodology
We gathered 28 colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered doctorate degree online programs. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: Accreditation by reputable governing bodies, at least one doctorate degree online program available, rankings with major publications like U.S. News and World Report, and graduate tuition listed by College Navigator of less than $60,000 per year. We then listed the top 10 best value programs according to raw affordability.
Below is our list of the 10 best values for doctorate degree online programs for 2020.
#10 – Johns Hopkins University
Online Doctoral Degrees in Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Education, Public Health
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $55,816
One of the most comprehensive arrays of doctorate degree online programs is found at Johns Hopkins University. Graduate students have the option of pursuing doctoral degrees in areas such as computer science, education, environmental health sciences, health policy and management, nursing and public health. Most of the programs either offer online delivery or a hybrid format of in-person and online classes. In some programs, students are required to meet in person for dissertation defense, but the majority of class requirements may be met online. U.S. News and World Report ranks Johns Hopkins #10 in best national universities and #18 in best value schools. Also, several graduate online programs have received top 10 rankings.
#9 – Keiser University
Online Doctoral Degrees in Business Administration
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $28,272
Keiser University offers an online doctorate degree in business administration, or DBA. The degree may be completed entirely online and is available in Spanish for non-English speaking students. The program is designed to equip students with business and management skills needed for leadership business roles. Students must select a specialty in business designed to help tailor their career goals. These specializations include global business or global organization leadership. U.S. News and World Report ranks Keiser #56 in best regional universities in the South. Also, several online graduate programs, including business, rank among the top 100 programs.
#8 – Andrews University
Online Doctoral Degrees in Curriculum & Instruction, Educational Leadership, Nursing
Berrien Springs, Michigan
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $27,324
Andrews University’s doctorate degree online programs include education, educational leadership, higher education administration, leadership, and nursing. Programs may be completed entirely online with classes taught by esteemed Andrews University professors. In addition, there may be minimal on-campus requirements where students must meet face-to-face, though classes are typically offered exclusively online. The online programming is ideal for working students. U.S. News and World Report ranks Andrews #194 in best national universities. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #186, and the online graduate business programs rank #202 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs. Andrews offers affordable tuition and is fully accredited.
#7 – University of Illinois
Online Doctoral Degrees in Diversity & Equity in Education, Global Studies in Education, HR Development, Learning Design
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,126
The University of Illinois offers several online doctorate degree programs designed for working professionals and students seeking convenient ways to complete a doctoral degree. Available doctoral programs include diversity and equity in education, global studies in education, human resource development, learning design and leadership, and technology specialist. The school offers a total of eight online doctorate degree programs. Classes are delivered entirely online and taught by the institution’s esteemed faculty. Also, U.S. News and World Report ranks the institution #46 in best national universities. The graduate education online programs rank #16. University of Illinois offers affordable options for doctoral students.
#6 – University of Florida
Online Doctoral Degrees in Classical Civilization, Education Leadership, Nursing Practice
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,737
University of Florida offers eight online doctoral degrees designed to accommodate the needs of busy professionals seeking advanced education. A total of eight online doctoral degree programs are offered. These programs include Ed.D., Ph.D., and DNP degrees. Students may earn Ed.D. degrees in educational leadership, educational technology, higher education administration, or teachers, schools, and society. In addition, a doctoral program in nursing practice, pharmacy, classical civilization, and Latin and Roman studies is also offered. University of Florida is ranked by U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the school ranks #35 in best national universities and #91 in best value schools.
#5 – University of North Carolina
Online Doctoral Degrees in Physical Therapy
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,212
University of North Carolina’s doctorate degree online programs consist of a transitional doctoral program in physical therapy through the Allied Health Sciences Center. While the school offers a limited selection of online doctoral degrees, those interested in physical therapy can earn a degree that transitions students from a master’s to a doctorate. The program is not fully online, though minimal face-to-face meetings are required. Most classes are delivered in an online format and self-paced. UNC is a top ranked public institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #30 in best national universities. Also, several of the online graduate programs have received top 5 rankings out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed.
#4 – Indiana Wesleyan University
Online Doctoral Degrees in Business Administration, Organizational Leadership
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,563
Indiana Wesleyan University’s online doctorate degree programs consist of a Doctor of Business Administration and PhD in Organizational Leadership. The online DBA offers three concentrations so that doctoral students may tailor their degree toward areas of interest or to meet specific career goals. These concentrations include accounting, healthcare administration, and management. The DBA is designed to complete in just three years. The PhD in organizational leadership takes as little as 40 months to complete. Indiana Wesleyan is a regionally ranked university. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #32 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #67 in best value schools.
#3 – Liberty University
Online Doctoral Degrees in Business Administration, Communication, Education, History, Public Policy
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,333
For individuals seeking doctorate degree online programs, Liberty University offers a wide number of options. Available Ph.D., Ed.D., and DBA programs are available as online doctoral degrees. Options include doctorates in business administration, business, communication, counselor education and supervision, education, nursing, and public policy. Liberty has one of the widest selections of doctoral programs on our list. Classes are taught by respected leaders in their field of expertise who are equipped to assist doctoral candidates with research, examination, and application of knowledge taught through the program. Also, Liberty is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 230th-301st best national university in the country.
#2 – Union University
Online Doctoral Degrees in Education, Education Specialist, and Nursing Practice
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,220
Union University offers three doctorate degree online programs designed for working professionals. These online doctoral degrees include a Doctor of Education, Educational Specialist, and Doctor of Nursing Practice. The online programs are ideal for busy professionals whose work or travel schedules prevent traditional class attendance. Classes are taught and programs led by esteemed Union faculty who are considered to be leaders in their fields of expertise. Also, Union ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #152 in best national universities. In addition to the national ranking, the online graduate nursing programs rank #47 and the online graduate education programs rank #210 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
#1 – University of Nebraska
Online Doctoral Degrees in Educational Leadership and Higher Education, P-12 School Leadership
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,588
University of Nebraska’s doctorate degree online programs are ideal for educators and professionals seeking education-related online doctorate degrees. The school offers three unique education doctorates. The Ed.D. or Ph.D. in educational leadership and higher education and the Ed.D. in P-12 school leadership are offered as online programs. While classes are delivered online, the Ph.D. requires six hours of on-campus research seminars. Also, the Ed.D. in P-12 school leadership requires on-campus seminars during summer sessions in the first three years of study. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of Nebraska as a top institution. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #129 in best national universities and #95 in best value schools. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #9 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do by earning a doctorate degree online?
The main reason to earn a doctoral degree online is to further your career or secure a position within a career of interest. By earning a doctorate degree online, you will become an expert in your chosen field of study. Doctoral students develop advanced skills in critical thinking, leadership, project management, research and analysis, and oral and written communication.
Some of the careers that can be acquired with a doctorate degree online include the following:
Research scientist: A research scientist can work in any field or academic setting. Research scientists are highly trained professionals and subject matter experts. They conduct research, evaluate processes, analyze data, and synthesize results. Having an online doctorate degree prepares students for this level of expertise. These highly trained individuals are qualified to work in academic settings or private industries. They work as facility directors, program and project managers, or research scientists in laboratory settings.
University professor: To educate the minds of students, a university professor must be an expert in the field they teach. University or college professors typically hold doctoral degrees. Faculty members, such as the university professor, do more than teach in the classroom or online. Professors conduct ongoing research, supervise student research, and acquire funding for the institution. Having a doctorate degree online helps secure faculty roles at reputable schools.
What should I look for when exploring the best online PhD programs?
There are several factors to consider when choosing a doctorate degree online program. To narrow your search, consider the following:
Program focus: This seems like a no-brainer. You will only search programs that appeal to your educational and career goals. But there is more to choosing an area of interest. Some doctorate degree online programs offer part-time or full-time enrollment, while others offer concentrations outside the focus area. To help tailor your degree and give you the best options that are conducive to your schedule, researching programs is a must.
Accreditation: If you are interested in teaching once you’ve acquired a doctorate degree online, accreditation matters. Also, if your employer offers tuition assistance, the doctoral program must be accredited. Employers, especially universities filling faculty positions, require employees with doctoral degrees to have earned their credentials from regionally accredited programs.
Admission requirements: In order to be accepted to a doctorate degree online program, you must meet the admission requirements. Standard admission criteria include undergraduate GPA, graduate GPA, GRE or GMAT scores, and work-related experience. Some programs also require the completion of certain classes prior to admission.
Program length: From how many credits are required to complete the program to part-time completion options, program length varies. Consider programs that adhere to your work or life obligations. If you require part-time enrollment, find programs that offer these options.
How long does it take to earn a doctorate degree online?
Time to completion of a doctorate degree online varies by field of study, research focus, and enrollment status. Also, your schedule and motivation impact the time it takes to earn an online doctorate. Overall, curriculum includes coursework, exams, and research projects. It takes time to complete all that is required of the doctorate degree, but online programs add flexibility and convenience to your education and life.
The total number of courses required for a doctoral program impacts the time it takes to earn the advanced degree. Program requirements range from 36-90 or more credits. Also, the completion of a dissertation takes longer than programs with research components that require no dissertation or defense. Most of the dissertation programs take four to six years to complete, while online doctorate degrees with no dissertation requirement take three to five years. Accelerated tracks are out there. These programs allow students to work at their own pace, finishing their degree in record time. For the most part, these programs do not use the cohort approach, but offer independent study.
It is important to evaluate your work-life schedule and availability to attend classes and meet degree requirements before enrolling in any doctorate degree online program to ensure your educational and personal needs are met.
What are the admission requirements for doctoral degree online programs?
Each institution has different admission requirements for doctoral degree online programs. It is important to visit your school of choice online to verify admission requirements. Most programs offer a checklist of items required.
After reviewing the schools and doctorate degree online programs on our list, we found overarching admission criteria. Most of the programs listed above ask for an earned master’s degree before application. The master’s degree must be earned from a regionally accredited college or university and be earned prior to enrollment. Schools will ask for official transcripts that showcase graduate and undergraduate performance.
In addition to transcripts and degrees, satisfactory GPA and test scores may also be required. Top programs ask for strong undergraduate and graduate academic performance. In some cases, a 3.0 or 3.5 GPA may be necessary for admission. GRE and GMAT scores may also be needed for acceptance to doctorate degree online programs. These test scores do not need to be current, though many schools will not accept scores older than five years.
Other admission requirements include letters of recommendation, relevant work or professional experience, and the submission of a personal statement or essay. In some cases, prerequisite courses must be taken for admission.
Is it cheaper to earn a doctorate degree online or in-person?
The costs related to earning a doctorate degree online versus on-campus have narrowed over the years. In fact, most of the online programs on our list offer very similar degrees and costs as their traditional on-campus counterparts. However, being an online student offers financial advantages for various reasons.
When learning online, as opposed to visiting campus and meeting regularly for in-person classes, the commute is eliminated. Online students will not acquire commuting costs, such as gas and parking. Online learners require a reliable computer and internet service and may acquire costs for attending in-person seminars or completing residencies, but day-to-day classes require no travel.
Paying for a doctoral degree as an online student means relying on several available sources. On-campus students often teach, acquire graduate assistantships, and conduct research. These opportunities provide stipends and tuition waivers. Online students may not receive the same opportunities, though other programs are available to offset the cost of earning a doctorate degree online. Loans, grants, and work-study programs may be offered. In addition to these types of programs, many online students work while earning their degree. A doctorate degree online has its benefits, including the freedom to work while attending school.
Updated December 2019
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