In this article, we profile the top 10 online doctorates in training and development.
The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the employment of training and development managers should grow by ten percent by 2026. Job prospects in this field should be favorable due to the continuous need for education and training in the workforce. Earning an online PhD or doctorate in training and development shows employers you have the highest skill set in the industry. To help qualify for management roles, top institutions offer PhD in training and development online or on-campus.
Top 10 Online PhD Training and Development Methodology
We looked at approximately 30 doctorates or PhDs in training and development online listed by reputable internet sources and the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. We reviewed hybrid or fully online doctorates in training and development, or closely related degree programs. To narrow our original pool of schools, we applied the following criteria: Accreditation from a reputable governing body, school or program rankings with a major publication like U.S. News and World Report, and raw affordability of graduate tuition and fees. We then listed the programs according to raw affordability.
Below is our list of the top 10 online programs for a doctorate or PhD in training and development.
Note: This ranking/article was originally published in April 2019 and was last updated in June 2022. The 2022 tuition updates may affect the ranking order, but the list has not been re-ordered.
#10 – University of Illinois
Online EdD in Human Resource Development
The University of Illinois offers one of the best doctorate programs in training and development online on our list. The EdD in HRD consists of 64 credit hours, a dissertation proposal, and thesis research. Classes include:
- adult and professional education
- instructional and training system design
- learning on the job
- organizational development
The program focuses on the preparation of scholar-practitioners and requires the completion of a dissertation and thesis. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Illinois #46 among the best national universities.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,823
#9 – Northcentral University
Online PhD in Global Training and Development
La Jolla, California
Northcentral University’s online PhD in training and development is designed to prepare tomorrow’s leaders in the field of training and performance improvement. A total of 60 credits are required. Enrolled students take 20 classes that can be completed over the course of 45 months. The program offers unique flexibility, unlike most PhD programs. Weekly course starts, no scheduled lecture hours, no group assignments, and the ability to schedule courses around personal and professional obligations make the program convenient for working professionals. Also, the program provides 100% doctoral faculty so that students are mentored by the most knowledgeable instructors. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Northcentral among the top national universities.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,207
#8 – Sullivan University
Online PhD in Management
One of the top PhD in training and development online is the doctorate in management from Sullivan University. This fully online PhD program prepares doctoral candidates through courses, relevant and original research opportunities, and extensive opportunities in teaching or management training. Students may choose from four concentrations to tailor their degree. These concentrations include:
- conflict management
- human resource leadership
- information technology management
- strategic management
Some of the online courses offered are:
- advanced qualitative and quantitative research
- organizations and external environments
- research design and analysis
Admission requires three references, official transcripts, and a current resume. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Sullivan among the best regional universities in the South.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,840
#7 – Ashford University
Online PhD in Organizational Development and Leadership
San Diego, California
One of the best online PhD programs in training and development on our list is the PhD in organizational development and leadership at Ashford University. This doctorate requires the completion of 62 credits with classes that run six to nine weeks in length. Classes cover topics in assessment tools for organizational leadership, professional and business ethics in organizational leadership, and the psychology of leadership. There are also four specializations offered that allow students to tailor their degree to fit with career goals. These concentrations include:
- innovation and entrepreneurship
- organizational diversity
- standard organizational development and leadership
- training and e-learning
Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Ashford as a top regional university in the West.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,664
#6 – Colorado State University
Online PhD in Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change
Fort Collins, Colorado
Colorado State University’s doctorate in training and development online is among the most affordable on our list. The program is designed for working executives, researchers, and academics. Classes meet following a unique structure of bi-weekly Saturday meetings held face-to-face in downtown Denver, though some classes may be delivered partially online. Classes include:
- evaluation and assessment in OLPC
- foundations of educational research
- systems leadership
- theory and practice change
- workforce development
Admission requirements include an undergraduate and master’s degree from a regionally accredited post-secondary institution, a minimum 3.00 GPA, ten to twelve years of advanced experience in a related discipline, and satisfactory GRE or GMAT scores from the past five years. U.S. News and World Report ranks CSU #140 in best national universities and #141 in best value schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,000
#5 – Indiana Wesleyan University
Online PhD in Organizational Leadership
One of the top PhD programs in training and development online on our list is the PhD in organizational leadership at Indiana Wesleyan University. The program is offered online or in a blended format if enrolled in the on-campus program. Degree candidates can finish the program in as little as 40 months. If enrolled in the online PhD, a residency requirement must be met. The residency consists of living on campus during three one-week-long Summer Institutes. Students must attend classes, workshops, and events during the Summer Institutes. Online courses include advanced leadership theory, leadership and personal development, organization theory and design, and statistical research design. Admission to the program is selective. Applicants must hold a master’s degree from an accredited college or university, have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher, and have worked in a leadership role for at least five years. U.S. News and World Report ranks Indiana Wesleyan #32 among the best regional universities in the Midwest and #67 in best value schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,440
#4 – University of Idaho
Online PhD in Adult Organizational Learning and Leadership
The University of Idaho offers one of the top online PhD programs in training and development on our list. The program is designed for working professionals who want to enhance their skills in organizational leadership and teach professional development in the workplace or in an academic setting. It is not a fully online program, most classes take place on campus. However, some coursework may be completed online. The program’s core classes include:
- adult and transformational learning
- foundations of human resource development
- future of education and work
- organizational development
Degree candidates can choose between the thesis pathway or the non-thesis option, depending on career goals. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Idaho #165 among the best national universities and #87 in top public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,912
#3 – Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Online EdD in Adult Learning and Development
Through the Northwestern State University of Louisiana, students may earn doctorate in training and development online degrees, such as the EdD in adult learning and development. This uniquely designed degree prepares practitioners to work with adult learners and workforce development. The program offers two concentrations: Community college leadership and adult learning and workforce development. Classes are delivered online and structured to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. Admission requirements include an earned master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, satisfactory GRE scores, and a completed application. The GRE requirement may be waived if the applicant earned a master’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #107-#141 in the best regional universities in the South.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,614
#2 – University of Arkansas
Online EdD in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education
The University of Arkansas offers a type of online PhD in training and development that is ideal for working professionals. The online EdD in human resource and workforce development education can be completed 100% online and allows seven years to satisfy degree requirements. To graduate, degree candidates must complete online courses, a candidacy examination, and a dissertation. Applicants must take the GRE to qualify for admission. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Arkansas #152 in the best national universities and #78 in top public schools. Also, several of the online graduate programs have earned rankings among the top 20 and top 50 programs surveyed by U.S. News.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,018
#1 – Liberty University
Online DBA in Human Resources
The most affordable PhD in training and development online program is the flexible business and HR degree from Liberty University. Liberty University offers a variation of this kind of degree. The DBA in human resources consists of 60 credit hours and takes three years, on average, to complete. Courses include:
- advanced business research methods
- contemporary issues in human resource management
- human resource development
- organizational and executive coaching, and strategic allocation of financial resources
Admission requires a nationally accredited master’s degree with a 3.0 or above GPA. Liberty is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #230-#301 in the best national institutions.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,630
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with an online PhD in training and development?
Online PhD programs in training and development are designed to prepare and educate tomorrow’s leaders and experts in the field of training and performance improvement. Jobs for individuals with online PhD in training and development or closely related degrees vary by industry. However, jobs in academia or non-academic careers are among the most common roles for people with this type of degree.
So, what can you do with an online PhD in training and development? If you desire research as a potential career choice, then pursuing jobs in academia will be the route to take. Research jobs in academia require extensive scholarly research. If you’ve completed a dissertation, then you have extensive research experience that can be showcased when applying for a job. If you opted not to complete a dissertation, or your program did not push scholarly research, then you will likely find work outside academia.
Non-academic careers for PhD in training and development online degree holders include human development jobs in healthcare services and administration and human resources, among other industries. As organizations expand, training and development of existing employees and current employees will be needed. Experts in training and development will oversee training teams and meet the development needs of the organization.
How much will I earn with an online PhD in training and development?
We examined reputable salary reporting research agencies to gather information on earnings for individuals working in training and development.
According to PayScale, a global compensation research organization that collects salary data, the average salary for training and development managers is $74,351. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the average salary for training and development managers in 2017 is $108,250. While there is a considerable difference between the two reporting averages, industry and experience impact the number.
BLS reports high wages for training and development managers working in top industries. The five top-paying industries include professional, scientific, and technical services; management of companies and enterprises; finance and insurance; educational services at the state, local, and private level; and healthcare and social assistance. The highest reporting industry was professional, scientific, and technical services. Training and development managers in this industry earned an average salary of $118,140.
Experience impacts earnings, so individuals should expect higher pay according to the time spent working as a training and development manager. An individual with five to ten years of experience in this role will typically earn $10,000 to $15,000 more than an individual with one to two years of experience.
How long will it take to earn an online PhD in training and development degree?
The overall completion time varies by online PhD in training and development program. However, according to our list of programs and schools, the average completion time for a PhD is 60 months. While some programs require less or more time, many online programs are flexible and allow students to work at their own pace.
Several factors impact the length of time it takes to earn an online PhD in training and development or closely related degree. Enrollment makes the biggest impact on length of time a program requires. Part-time enrollment generally requires less time in the classroom, though takes longer to complete degree requirements. Students enrolled part-time do not take more than one or two classes at a time. Some of the PhD programs on our list that offer part-time pathways to earning the degree require students to take only one class at a time. Full-time enrollment requires more time spent on coursework and in classes, but the length of time it takes to earn a PhD is compressed.
Another factor that impacts time spent working toward your degree is research. Often, research-intensive programs require more time than non-research-intensive degrees. A PhD generally takes longer to earn than an EdD due to research requirements. Some programs require a dissertation, while others do not. If your career path does not require extensive research, then you might consider a non-thesis or less research-based program.
What are the admission requirements for online PhD in training and development degree programs?
Admission requirements for online PhD in training and development programs vary. Selective and top-ranked schools may ask for requirements such as high GRE scores, while lesser ranked institutions might waive the scores if undergraduate performance is above average. Overall, admission boards desire academic promise and pay close attention to certain criteria when examining applications.
To outshine competition, applicants should showcase a strong undergraduate or graduate performance with an outstanding GPA. Some schools require undergraduate GPAs to be above a certain threshold. Top-tier schools require a strong GPA of at least 3.0 or 3.5, while other schools may consider an applicant with a lower GPA. Schools that waive the GRE requirement may do so if an applicant’s GPA is higher than 3.0. Again, some top-ranked schools may also waive the GRE but only if the applicant holds a 3.5 or better.
Official transcripts from all schools attended are required by admission boards. Be prepared to have your school submit scores electronically. This submission may require a small fee in addition to the cost of the application.
Other admission requirements vary by program. However, most online PhD in training and development programs require letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, writing samples, and research experience.
Are there specializations or licenses associated with online PhD in training and development?
The majority of online PhD degrees in training and development on our list do not offer specializations or licensing credentials, since the degree itself is highly focused. However, a select number of schools that landed in our research pool do offer concentrations in human development or education development.
Human development, one of the available concentrations, offers insight into how individuals develop biologically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. By electing the human development concentration as part of the PhD program in training and development, additional research may be required. Through studying concepts and theories in human development, degree candidates gain knowledge they can bring into any field. From human resources to curriculum development in schools, the study of human development can be useful.
In some EdD programs on our list, candidates may elect to focus their studies on areas such as education development or curriculum development. These concentrations are designed for individuals seeking leadership roles in education. Adult learning and training is another common concentration or specialization that can be selected during your PhD studies, if available within your program.
For those seeking human resources careers, some PhD programs will offer specific HR classes, or even concentrations, to emphasize interest in this specialized area of training and development.
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