A doctorate degree, the highest attainable degree in most educational systems, is also considered the peak of academic challenge. We often hear how this prestigious post-graduate achievement requires long-term effort to define, develop, and complete original and significant research in their area of expertise.
A 2017 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development indicates that the United States produces the most number of Ph.D. graduates. Most scholars are awarded doctorates in the STEM fields. Doctorate degree students are expected to possess a high literacy level, advanced research and communication skills, and a competent level of understanding of complex material.
These days, earning a Ph.D. is made easier with distance learning schemes. As opposed to keeping strictly fixed study schedules and spending a considerable amount of time, money, and effort on campus under the close supervision of research mentors, online doctorate students comply with doctoral course requirements and conduct research work in virtual classrooms.
An easy doctorate that is earned online enhances your capacity to earn and raises your eligibility for top-level careers in your area of expertise. Doctorate degrees prepare students for leadership positions and highly skilled professions in various sectors, as well as university-level professorships.
Methodology OSC Used to Build This List of the Easiest Online Doctorate Degree Programs for 2019:
The list we compiled was done so by researching publicly available data from various sources, but, mainly from our own methodology as stated below, in order to derive a useful tool for prospective students. Our editors have made use of the following criteria in deriving program rankings:
PROGRAM CRITERIA – 50%
- What percentage of this program can be done online?
- How is the delivery of the online program? Easy to use program, asynchronous, flexible, etc.?
- What are the retention rates of the program as a whole, online or campus?
ANCILLARY SERVICES – 30%
- Does the program offer any “extras” versus another similar school program?
- How are the programs career services? ie, do they offer job finding tools, career counselors, etc?
- How does the post-graduation job placement rate from this program compare to others?
SCHOOL CRITERIA – 20%
- School accreditation/s and other outside recognition?
- Is there variety and breadth of the curriculum?
- What is the acceptance rate of the school and program?
- How much experience do the professors have in teaching?
We help you take the easy route to your Ph.D. On this list are 30 online schools in the country that welcome advanced scholars to their easy online doctorate programs. We feature each of the school’s doctorate curricula and highlight how the flexibility in schedule and self-paced formats translate to convenience in completing the program.
Located in Denver, Colorado, Regent University offers easy online doctorate degree programs such as Ph.D. in Communication, Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies, and Ph.D. in Adult Education. Another easy online doctorate degree is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. This program is ideal for nurses seeking advanced expertise and career advancement in the field. The 51- to 60-credit program curriculum is composed of courses that aim to enhance students’ skills. Learning is made easier through the university’s virtual mentoring for the whole span of the dissertation research. The program has 2-year and 3-year summer options on an eight-week coursework format. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota offers easy online doctorate programs such as Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, Ph.D. in Nursing, and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology. It accepts the transfer of 55 credits for easier completion in two to three years, featuring highly accessible online resources. Walden University has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Situated in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University offers easy online doctorate degree programs like Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, Ph.D. in Theology & Apologetics, and Ph.D. in Worship Studies. Another doctorate degree which is purely online in format is the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program. Doctoral students can hone their ministry skills and acquire an effective understanding of biblical principles required to land pastoral roles. Students also engage with known church leaders while pursuing their doctorate. The 33-credit curriculum is composed of a nine-hour credit thesis and six transferable credits. Utilizing the Blackboard platform, Liberty Flames accepts 45 to 70 credits. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and allows for completion of the online Ph.D. program within two to three years.
Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia offers easy online doctorate degree programs such as Ph.D. in Business Administration, Ph.D. in Educational Management, and Ph.D. in Nursing. These degree programs can be easily completed through professional life experience credits, more interesting coursework, and hands-on training in 36 months or less. Hampton University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Nova Southeastern University
Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University offers easy online doctorate degree programs such as Ph.D. in Health Sciences, Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis & Resolution, and Post-Professional Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy. Online coursework is readily accessible 24/7. Learning is also easier through the Blackboard program and the university’s summer sessions. Online doctorate students can choose from three majors, which can all be completed in two to three years. The university is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Keiser University at Fort Lauderdale, Florida features 11 easy online Ph.D. programs such as Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, Ph.D. in Business Administration, and Ph.D. in General Psychology. Learning is convenient through the Blackboard program, particularly for dissertation research. Keiser University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Tennessee – Knoxville
Situated at Knoxville, Tennessee, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville offers an online Doctor of Social Work in Clinical Practice and Leadership (DSW) program under the College of Social Work. Because of its fast-track format, students can quickly complete the doctorate in three years. They attend three-credit hour courses every semester over eight continuous semesters including during the summer. The 48-credit coursework is delivered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois offers two easy alternatives to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree online. First is the DNP – Leadership Track (MSN Entry), which can be completed in three years. Those who started with the BSN pathway towards a DNP usually finish the program in four years. The DNP- Leadership Track is composed of 39 credit hours and takes typically nine semesters to complete. What makes this doctorate easy to earn is that it does not require residency; instead, students need to accomplish a clinical practicum and a clinical project. Students can also be easily admitted into the degree program three times a year. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
West Long Branch, New Jersey is home to Monmouth University, an academic institution that offers the online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program. This program is ideal for practicing nursing professionals who desire career advancement. The 36-credit hour online program allows students to choose one or two courses every semester during the summer, spring, or fall. The online doctorate program emphasizes organizational or systems leadership and scholarship. Earning the doctorate is also easier through practical immersion experiences. The university has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Maryville University of St. Louis
Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Maryville University offers an online Doctor of Nursing (DNP) program. Its 33-credit hour curriculum is ideal for working nurses who want to take higher courses for career advancement. Easy completion is attained in 20 months. On the other hand, the Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership is regarded as an easy doctorate as it features personalized coaching in a cohort learning model-based online setting. This degree can be completed in less than 32 months. Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University at South Orange, New Jersey, offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program for students and working adults who want to acquire the highest clinical degree in the nursing field. Students learn advanced knowledge in population health, business and evidence-based approaches, and healthcare systems.
Accredited by the university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Seton Hall University’s DNP doctorate program features two pathways, namely the BSN to DNP pathway with 73 to 79 credits, and the MSN to DNP pathway which has 32 to 33 credits. Easy completion of the degree program can be expected through a final scholarly project that mainly focuses on quality improvement and translational science for the advancement of care systems, safety, and patient outcomes. On the other hand, the Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management and Policy has only 45 credits, with topics that develop students’ research-based administrative and supervisory skills. There are two unique areas of focus, namely Management and Administration, and College Teaching that can be completed in three years or less.
University of Florida
The University of Florida offers doctoral students an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program under the College of Nursing. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is regarded as one of the state’s pioneer doctorate programs. There are two doctorate tracks for this discipline, namely the BSN to DNP and the MSN to DNP tracks that are delivered online with minimal attendance required on campus. The 35-credit doctorate program can be completed in five semesters or two and a half years. Acquiring practical knowledge without the hassle of research projects is made easier through this DNP doctorate program. Meanwhile, the BSN to DNP program requires 75 credits and can take around eight semesters or three years to be completed. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
College of St. Scholastica
Located in Duluth, Minnesota, the College of St. Scholastica features and online Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program. This tDPT program is designed for practicing therapists. Learning is easier since the program curriculum is condensed into six, 16-credit-hour classes. The doctorate is expected to be completed in two years. The doctorate is geared towards intensive career preparation and hands-on experiences in the field of physical therapy. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Duquesne University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program. This program is ideal for doctoral students who are prepared for career advancement. What is makes this program easy to take is that each student can connect and interact with one faculty member and work on a one-on-one study plan. The 35-credit hour program is delivered entirely online and is divided into nine three-credit courses and two four-credit courses. Learning is much easier since the program is geared toward offering students with advanced knowledge and preparation while learning more on themselves and how they can contribute to the academic community. Students also may benefit from the 14:1 student-to-faculty online ratio. Students can easily complete the program in two years or less. There is no GRE required, and opportunities to study abroad are also available. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Gwynedd Mercy University
In Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, Gwynedd Mercy University offers an easy, accelerated Executive Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership ABD completion program. This completion program is ideal for those who were able to complete their coursework in the same field but need to work on their dissertation. What makes this program an easy one to take is that it does not focus on completed dissertation as the university itself permits students to leave their ABD (All But Dissertation) status and still obtain a doctorate in education. In 18 months, students can complete 27 to 54 credit hours of coursework and practical experience. Students can also complete their doctorate through comprehensive research, school administration or policy analysis. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts offers an online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program under the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. The 33 to 37-credit program curriculum is composed of 10 courses. Aside from this, students can also complete six foundation courses, depending on past educational experiences before taking up a doctorate. Learning is easier because online students can take two courses every semester, with each semester lasting seven weeks.
Frontier Nursing University
Situated in Hyden, Kentucky, Frontier Nursing University offers the online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. The DNP program is ideal for registered nurses who wish to take their careers and knowledge to the next level. Two pathways exist for an easy completion, namely a Post Master’s DNP and an MSN or Post-Graduate Certificate (PGC) leading to a DNP. Easy completion of the doctorate can be attributed to the fact that students have the option to earn a DNP in 12, 15, or 18 months. Online classes consist of only 20 to 25 students. The MSN pathway requires 28 credit hours for completion. While mostly online, the doctorate program at Frontier Nursing University also features an interesting three-day-on-campus experience. The university received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina features online doctorate degree programs in the health sciences such as Ph.D. in Nursing, Master of Public Health to Doctor of Pharmacy and Transitional Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy degrees. On a part-time basis, the DPT program can be easily completed in two years. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Southern California
Located in Los Angeles, California, the University of Southern California offers the online Doctor of Social Work and Global Executive Doctor of Education degree programs. The Doctor of Social Work can be easily completed in two to three years through numerous specializations. The coursework can be accomplished with full-time pacing and students can access an open virtual community through the Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. As for the Global Executive Doctor of Education, students are given the opportunity to travel abroad for 25 months. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota offers online students easy doctorate programs such as Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D. in Nursing, DNP – Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, DNP-Family Nurse Practitioner. DNP-Nurse Anesthesia, and DNP-Nursing Practice.
Six various specializations are offered to students for them to choose as majors, and these take three years or less to complete with full-time and part-time attendance options. Students are also given the opportunity to interact with their professors and peers through the university’s virtual environment. The university has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University offers easy online doctorate programs such as Doctor of Health Science, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Management degree programs with nine fields of specialization. The coursework can be quickly completed in four 10-week quarters a year, allowing students to take more courses within a short timeframe. This Ed.D. program can be completed in three to five years. It does not require residency, and all coursework and dissertation requirements can be completed online. Students also become part of cohort systems, exposing them to academic network opportunities. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Bridgeport
The University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut features an easy online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership degree program and the D.H.Sc. Health Sciences degree program. Students may specialize in International Education wherein they can master the principles of educational leadership and integrate multi-cultural global concerns into organizational settings. In the D.H.Sc. Hybrid program, students can focus on education and curriculum enhancement, public health, evidence-based care delivery, and research. The flexible coursework allows for quick degree attainment in three years or less. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited the University of Bridgeport.
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jefferson University offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. Learning is easier for these two online doctorate programs since the goal of the university is to allow students to engage in an interactive online community, where there is an open exchange of ideas and creativity is given more significance. For the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program, nurses can easily adapt to changes in the healthcare industry due to intensive, yet enjoyable hands-on training. As for the Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, students are prepared for an intensive career in the field of occupational therapy. This university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas has two easy online doctorate programs, namely, Doctor of Education in Adult and Lifelong Leadership and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. The Adult and Lifelong Leadership online doctorate can be completed in 30 months, while the Educational Leadership doctorate can be completed in 36. The university has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
California Intercontinental University
Based in Diamond Bar, California, California Intercontinental University offers an easy and accelerated online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree program. It provides numerous opportunities for online Ph.D. scholars to major in a specific area that is most appropriate for their research and career objectives. Some specializations include Entrepreneurship and Business Management, Global Business and Leadership, Healthcare Management and Leadership, and Information Systems and Enterprise Resource Management.
The online DBA program features state-of-the-art online resources for convenient learning. It is ideal for veterans, working professionals, Department of Defense employees, as well as military service members and their families. The degree program can be completed in 24 months. California Intercontinental University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Bowling Green State University
The Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio features a convenient online Ph.D. in Technology Management degree program. This doctorate program is designed for working adults who already have a competitive edge in technology management. Students can easily choose from five areas, namely Construction Management, Digital Communications, Human Resource Development and Training, Manufacturing Systems, and Quality Systems for their Ph.D. research focus. Degree completion takes two and a half years. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
The Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, features an online Ph.D. in Safety Sciences degree program. The program features six-week-long summer workshops in the university’s laboratories. The university takes pride in its strong online dissertation support and mentorship program. The 24-credit hour coursework can be completed in three years.
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona features accelerated online doctorate programs such as Ph.D. in General Psychology degree program that covers numerous topics such as social cognition, evaluation, and the establishment and assessment of learning outcomes. Learning is also easier because the 60-credit coursework is delivered in eight-week terms. Degree completion is 39 months. The university has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Concordia University- Chicago
Located in River Forest, Illinois, Concordia University- Chicago offers 14 easy online doctorate programs including Ph.D. in Gerontology, Ph.D. in Sports Leadership, and a Doctorate in Business Administration with emphasis on Innovation in Healthcare and Leadership and Innovation. Online courses are flexible and are delivered in eight-week terms for speedy degree completion in three to four years. Students can readily coordinate with their online mentors for dissertation consultations towards the end of their third year. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Maryland University College
The University of Maryland University College in Adelphi, Maryland offers an easy online doctorate program such as the Ph.D. in Community College Policy and Administration featuring 24/7 flexibility, online dissertation support, and short on-campus visits. The 48-credit hour Ph.D. in Community College Policy and Administration degree can be easily earned in three to four years with a cohort system, short residencies, top-notch scholarships, and intensive dissertation support. The university has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
What are the types of online doctorate degree programs?
The types of doctorate degrees that can be completed online include the following:
- Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) – immerses students in coursework, practical experience, and research in education
- Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – focuses on research theories and design, together with specific academic disciplines like Engineering, Biology, Psychology, Mathematics, History, and Sociology
- Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) – focuses on research of theological concepts and principles like denominational history, hermeneutics, theological practices, mission studies, liturgy, and ethical values.
- Medical Doctorate (M.D.) – after earning the degree, students pursue careers in medicine
- Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A) – focuses on conceptual research with business and management concentrations
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) – involves practical knowledge in the field
How much does an online doctorate degree cost?
Cost is every student’s primary consideration in earning an online doctorate degree. Doctorate degrees are generally more expensive than master’s degree programs because they require more credit hours. The tuition per credit hour ranges typically from $500 to $1500 depending on the doctorate degree program.
What are the careers that require a doctoral degree?
When it comes to career advancement, an online doctoral degree is a feather in your cap. Most careers that require a Ph.D. or present more significant opportunities for Ph.D. holders are in the health industry. However, doctorates are also required in higher education, scientific research, and legal sectors. Some of the most common professions that make doctorate degrees are professors of higher education, senior research scientists, engineers, psychiatrists, hospital pharmacy directors, and veterinarians.