Pursuing a Ph.D. program requires a focused commitment and a profound interest in research for a particular area of study. Post-graduate students acknowledge the amount of hard work that a doctorate program entails—and faster attainment of their desired Ph.D. degree is becoming their common objective. With online doctorate degrees that you can complete at a rapid rate, you gain more opportunities for advancement and are taken closer to your academic and career goals.
The usual timeframe for Ph.D. programs is at least five years and up to eight, but the speed of an online Ph.D. program is highly dependent on the academic path that a student chooses. Post-graduate students can combine their master’s and doctorate courses to earn a Ph.D. immediately. There are also accelerated online Ph.D. programs offered in accredited colleges and universities that reduce this study timeline (and lower schooling costs in the process). Some of these fast Ph.D. programs can be completed within three to five years on a full-time or part-time basis, and either online or through a hybrid format. There are also a few Ph.D. programs that can be completed briefly in two to three years based on previous academic records or graduate-level credits.
Methodology Used In Choosing 30 Fast Accredited Online Schools for Ph.D. Degrees of 2021:
This website will aid in that first step in preparing you for your path towards selecting an online college that works for you and your needs. Perusing each schools’ website yourself and requesting information to be sent to you for your evaluation is highly recommended and encouraged.
Below is our profiled list of 30 accredited online schools that offer accelerated Ph.D. programs. We provide a glimpse into the coursework in the specific doctorate, the school’s credit transfer program, and the quality of instruction. Importantly, we mention the approximate duration of degree completion for each of the programs, as detailed on their official websites. Other factors considered for this ranking include schools that:
- Offers 100% Online or Hybrid degree Ph.D. programs through an accelerated timeframe,
- Displays proper accreditation,
- Provides a comprehensive degree program within the scope of work allowable within a limited period of time,
- Typically can be completed within three to five years, as opposed to earning a traditional Ph.D. taking upwards of eight years to complete,
- Allows graduates the opportunity to enter the job market sooner than average through a fast-paced Ph.D. program,
- Grants reduced tuition costs, compared to the usual full term Doctoral degree program,
- Promotes time management, critical thinking, and communication skills needed to excel in an accelerated Ph.D. program,
- Often combines Online Master’s and Doctoral degree programs to reduce time earning your degree,
- Provides Financial Aid availability.
To learn more, check out our Methodology page.
Liberty University at Lynchburg Virginia features accelerated online doctoral degree programs such as Ph.D. in Public Policy and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. Students have access to massive online resources, amenities, extracurricular opportunities, and competent faculty members. The online doctoral degree programs offer the same challenges and distinction as the on-campus degrees and can be completed in two to three years. Students can globally acquire the highest conceivable scholarly status without hindering their career and personal growth, and improve their skills in a short timeframe through the university’s accelerated online Ph.D. programs. Liberty University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Southern New Hampshire University
Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University offers fast, online doctorate degrees such as the Ph.D. in International Business degree program. The 46-credit hour program curriculum is relatively flexible and self-paced to help guide online students in their doctorate dissertation colloquium through its 24/7 virtual mentoring accessibility. Classes are conducted three hours weekly online, and a dissertation and comprehensive exam are also required. For full-time students, the Ph.D. degree can be completed in two to two and a half years. For part-time students, degree completion takes three years. The university is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
In Hampton, Virginia, Hampton University features online fast-track degree programs such as the Ph.D. in Educational Management program. The goal of the entire program is to introduce online students to create educational approaches for career advancement. This fast-track degree program emphasizes on relevant topics in educational leadership. Students may select from one of four specialization areas, namely, pre-K12, higher education, special education, or STEM. The 66-credit hour program can be completed in two and a half years. The university has received accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of North Dakota
Situated in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the University of North Dakota offers accelerated, online Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and Ph.D. in Nursing degree programs. The doctorate in nursing can be completed in less than three years while the Biomedical Engineering doctorate takes two years to be completed. These exceptionally proficient, fast-track, online programs offer students full-time and low maintenance choices to finish their coursework. These competent doctorate programs help enhance appropriate, hands-on abilities. Students learn in online classes that support dynamic interactions among teachers and students. People graduating from the accelerated programs proceed to contribute extraordinary accomplishments in the fields of designing and nursing. The university has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University, situated in Bowling Green, Ohio, features a fast-track, online Ph.D. in Technology Management degree program. This Ph.D. is a web-based degree program for students of various backgrounds. It is also ideal for working professionals with advanced relevant experience. It has five specializations, namely, Construction Management, Digital Communications, Human Resource Development and Training, Manufacturing Systems, and Quality Systems. The 66-credit hour curriculum can be completed in two and a half to three years. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Nova Southeastern University
Nova Southeastern University at Fort Lauderdale, Florida features numerous doctorate degree programs in the online format. Usually, such programs have a three-year sequence that potential students can complete. Some online courses may require personal meetings with faculty members. Students who take an interest in online programs should be able to read the necessary materials and notify the school for further information. Some of the online Ph.D. programs in this university are Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, Ph.D. in Nursing, Focusing on Nursing Education, and Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
East Carolina University
Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University offers an accelerated online Ph.D. in Nursing degree program. This program works best for professionals who wish to become academic scholars and researchers focusing on the sciences behind the practice. The 54-semester credit hour coursework can be completed in three to four years when the student has already earned a master’s degree program. A six-credit hour dissertation is also required. If a student decides to earn a BSN to a Ph.D. degree program, they are required to complete 72 to 77 semester hours. Those who have already earned a DNP are still required to take 54 semester hours, though 15 hours from the DNP program can be accepted as credits. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Trident University International
Trident University International in Cypress, California features accelerated online Ph.D. degrees such as Ph.D. in Business Administration and Ph.D. in Health Sciences degree programs. These online doctorate degree programs feature research mentoring and flexible webinars. The primary goal of these programs is to train students to solve hard-core problems in their specific fields and contribute to the academic community through doctoral dissertations that are published in peer-reviewed academic journals and research work presented in school conferences. The 56-credit hour Ph.D. in Business Administration can be completed in two and a half to three years. The university is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri features numerous accelerated online programs for doctoral students. The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.) under the Sinclair School of Nursing is an accelerated online program that requires 56 to 77 credit hours for completion in three years or less. The university’s accelerated Ph.D. programs are recommended for students who have already earned a master’s degree. The Mizzou Online community takes part in building a stable network of advancement in numerous industries. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
The Indiana University of Pennsylvania, located in Indiana, Pennsylvania, features an online Ph.D. in Safety Sciences degree program. This is an accelerated hybrid doctorate program that students can earn in three years. Career advancement can be achieved through participation in research. The 24-credit hour coursework can also be completed through six-week-long summer workshops in the university’s laboratories. It provides students with extensive yet flexible doctoral programs that fit their busy work schedules. The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Duquesne University features fast-track online doctorate degree programs such as Ph.D. in Nursing. This online program enables students to earn a Ph.D. degree in three years or less. The student-centered program curriculum seeks to create a global impact in the field of nursing through research. Ranked as one of the best small research universities in the country, Duquesne maintains a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio for dynamic engagement. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona features accelerated online doctorate programs such as Ph.D. in General Psychology degree program. The coursework includes social cognition, evaluation, and the establishment and analysis of learning outcomes. Small courses are delivered in eight-week terms through interactive online and evening learning environments. The 60-credit Ph.D. program curriculum can be completed in 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 online doctorate programs; a few of which include a Ph.D. in Gerontology, a Ph.D. in Sports Leadership, and a Doctorate in Business Administration with particular emphasis on Innovation in Healthcare and Leadership and Innovation. Three courses that have residency requirements are existing, and online courses normally offer flexibility for working adults. Coursework is delivered online in accelerated, eight-week terms. Students should coordinate with a mentor during the second term of their studies for independent dissertation purposes at the end of their third year. Degree completion is within three to four years. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Georgia State University
Georgia State University at Atlanta, Georgia offers an exclusively online Ph.D. in Nursing degree program. The doctorate in an online nursing degree is one of the oldest nursing programs in Georgia since it is an effective and stable program for those considering career advancement. Its accelerated version does not require clinical practice, and the whole program can be completed full-time or part-time. The accelerated 60-credit hour curriculum can be completed in three to four years for full-time study, and five to six years for part-time study. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC).
University of Maryland University College
The University of Maryland University College at Adelphi, Maryland features accelerated online doctorate programs such as the Ph.D. in Community College Policy and Administration degree program. The accelerated online Ph.D. programs of the university are unique due to its 24/7 flexibility, virtual dissertation support, and short on-campus visits. The 48-credit hour Ph.D. in Community College Policy and Administration degree features intimate cohorts, short residencies, excellent scholarships, and intensive dissertation support. Degree completion is within three to four years. The university has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida features accelerated online Ph.D. degree programs such as Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Ph.D. in Instructional Design. Online students who are master’s degree holders should have acquired at least 60 graduate semester credit hours to earn a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Students with a bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, should acquire an additional 21 graduate semester credit hours and complete a thesis to earn a master’s degree while being enrolled in a Ph.D. degree. Keiser University requires that master’s degree graduates complete at least 54 credit hours while a total of 75 credit hours should be completed for those coming from a bachelor’s degree program. Degree completion is three to five years. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
John Hopkins University
Situated at Baltimore, Maryland, John Hopkins University features an online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program under the Bloomberg School of Public Health, which is self-paced and flexible. These online doctoral programs are also competitive and accept a limited number of applications annually. Specializations that are offered are Urban Leadership, Mind, Brain and Teaching, and Entrepreneurial Leadership in Education. Program length is three to four years, and students need to complete the dissertation in seven years. John Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
University of Alabama
Located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the University of Alabama offers an online, fast-track Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics degree program under the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics. This is a research-based degree program since students are required to construct, propose, and defend an approved dissertation on topics that should contribute to the advancement of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics and science. Other ways to earn the degree program include participation in online investigation groups (video spilling and video conferencing), and occasional on-campus visits. The 72-semester credit hour degree program is composed of six hours of core courses, nine hours of mathematics courses, 33 hours of elective courses, and 24 hours of dissertation research. Degree completion is within three to five years. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Colorado State University – Global Campus
Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado offers accelerated, online doctoral degree programs such as Ph.D. Systems Engineering and Ph.D. Higher Education Leadership. The accelerated online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering degree is ideal for working professionals who want to pursue career advancement flexibly and conveniently. The goal of the program is to train students on how to solve employer concerns in this field of study. Two options exist in pursuing this online Ph.D. degree. One is the 72-credit hour track for those who have not yet earned a Master of Science degree, and the second is a 42-credit hour track for those who have earned a master’s degree or at least 30 credits of it from previous schools. A dissertation is also required to graduate. Degree completion for both tracks is three to five years. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, Johnson University offers accelerated online doctorate degrees such as Ph.D. in Leadership Studies with four concentrations such as Educational Leadership or Missional Leadership. This online Ph.D. degree program has four main areas of emphasis which are all founded on the Gospel. The 60-credit hour program curriculum is flexible and ideal for working students and professionals. The coursework consists of weekly online assignments, online discussions, a dissertation, and candidacy paper without the need to take. Degree completion is within four years. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts offers an online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering blended degree program. It is ideal for part-time working professionals who have earned a related master’s degree and also those who have worked in systems engineering-related disciplines. This Ph.D. degree is a mixed program composed of online coursework and personal attendance in seminar-based courses, dissertation defense, and presentations. A dissertation defense and 60 credit hours are required for graduation. Students are required to work with research advisers for course selection, dissertations, and research projects for the entire duration of the program. The coursework is delivered 15 hours a week in an asynchronous online format. Degree completion is three to four years or less. The academic institution is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
University of Florida
The University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, Florida offers accelerated online doctorate programs such as Ph.D. in Classical Civilization and Ph.D. in Latin and Roman Studies. The Ph.D. in Classical Civilization degree program is regarded as traditional coursework that covers Greek and Language literature and language that allows students to be prepared for research and teaching careers in academic institutions. The 60 credit- hour coursework consists of five seminars on the classics and three specific workshops. Twenty-seven hours of the total 60 credit hours may come from additional seminars, independent study projects, supervised teaching, other elective coursework, advanced research, and dissertation. At least 30 hours is also required for doctoral work on-campus. Accelerated degree completion is within four to five years on full-time study. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
In Montgomery, Alabama, Faulkner University offers online fast-track doctorate programs such as Ph.D. in Biblical Studies and Ph.D. in Humanities degree programs. The purely online Ph.D. in Biblical Studies degree program aims to students with academic knowledge on the Bible. It also provides the necessary expertise in specific areas in biblical studies with preparation for academic endeavors. The 54-credit hour curriculum consists of three independent tutorials, foundational courses, six elective courses, four dissertation modules of three hours each, and a dissertation defense. The degree itself can be completed within four to five years. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Located in Chicago, Illinois, DePaul University offers a fast-track, online Ph.D. in Computer and Information Sciences degree program. This particular degree program under the College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) aims to provide cutting-edge knowledge and training in the field of Computer Sciences. For the duration of the program, students perform independent research to finish a dissertation. The Ph.D. in Human-Centered Design, on the other hand, provides analysis on topics such as innovation, structure and human conduct. Online students are required to accomplish weekly assignments. The Ph.D. programs at Higher Learning Commission-accredited DePaul University can be completed in five years or less.
Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology features fast-track online Ph.D. degree programs such as Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis and Ph.D. in Business Psychology degree programs. These online doctorate programs are delivered with 24/7 accessibility through Canvas. In the Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis program, students focus on applied behavioral analysis, experimental analysis of behavior, and radical behaviorism.
Under the terms of the program, the estimated completion for full-time students who have earned a master’s degree is three years. Students taking the five-year program need to accomplish an advanced research project or a non-thesis alternative called the Advanced Applied Project.
Kansas State University
In Manhattan, Kansas, Kansas State University features an online Ph.D. in Personal Financial Planning degree program for working professionals. It is delivered 100% online. Students may earn their degrees in five years or less. Dynamic interactions are possible through yearly on-campus summer intensive programs and a cohort model. There are available online Ph.D. program attendance alternatives for both full-time and part-time students. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota offers fast-track online doctorate degrees such as Ph.D. in Human Services and Ph.D. in Information Technology programs. The competency-based curricula can be completed in five years or less through an easier doctoral capstone project, instead of a dissertation. The 92-credit hour curriculum is composed of 10 core courses, seven elective courses, three dissertation research seminars, and a comprehensive exam. One to three courses are delivered per 10-week quarter terms, and a maximum of 16 credits can be transferred. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Walden University offers accelerated online Ph.D. degrees such as include Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, Ph.D. in Education, Ph.D. in Management, Ph.D. in Public Health, Ph.D. in Nursing, and Ph.D. in Social Work degree programs. The blended Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology program can be delivered in a hybrid format. This program aims to help students acquire the necessary skills for mental wellness assessment and deliver interventions as a practitioner, consultant, researcher, or educator. The 163- quarter credit coursework is a combination of academic research and hands-on experience for the enhancement of skills and knowledge needed for students to handle patients with mental illnesses or general life concerns. Coursework also includes a dissertation and a clinical practicum. Degree completion is within five to six years. Walden University is also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) in State College, Pennsylvania offers an accelerated five-year Ph.D. with a Master of Science (MS) degree program under the Department of Geography. This is ideal for students who have not earned a master’s degree from any other program. For instance, students who have been admitted into a Geography graduate program through a master’s degree pathway can shift to the five-year Ph.D. program. A doctoral qualifying exam can be taken anytime during the student’s second year in this five-year Ph.D. program, specifically during the spring semester.
There are also two options to pursue to satisfy the requirements for an M.S. degree while taking up the Ph.D. program: the M.S. thesis option and the M.S. paper option with 30 and 35 credit hours, respectively and may be completed during the first four semesters. A comprehensive exam and dissertation defense are required during the third year of study. Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Villanova University in Pennsylvania features an accelerated online Ph.D. in Nursing degree program. The focus of this 51-credit Ph.D. in Nursing program is clinical or training-based research to contribute towards the advancement of nursing science. Coursework is delivered in an online synchronous format. However, students should meet for seven weeks for three and a half hours a day. FastForward classes are held during fall and spring semesters, and summer sessions have 8-week courses. The university has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
What is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program?
A Ph.D. or Doctor of Philosophy program is considered as a postgraduate degree that designates the graduate with the title of “doctor.” It is regarded as one of the highest degrees that an academic scholar can earn in an accredited institution. Typically, a Ph.D. is earned by those who are interested in pursuing a career in science, becoming a researcher in some capacity, or for those who would like to become a professor at the university level.
Ph.D. programs also display the highest level of eligibility in a specific field of study. The Ph.D. is typically granted to a student who has completed a dissertation based on original and intensive research on a particular topic. You can also expect to have your findings examined by your peers and experts in the field, sometimes resulting in published works.
A “Doctor of Philosophy” degree does not necessarily mean that your field of study is in “Philosophy.” Interestingly, the original Greek definition refers to the meaning as “love of wisdom.” And, rest assured, if you are going to earn an online Ph.D., you will need to “love learning,” for the process can be time-consuming and difficult; therefore; demanding your patience and dedication.
What are the benefits of earning a Ph.D. degree online?
A Ph.D. can be extremely time-consuming and require considerable effort, particularly for working professionals with obligations that limit them from attending on-campus classes. However, the obstacles to obtaining a Ph.D. aren’t limited to scheduling issues or work and personal responsibilities; location and cost are also some of the most significant factors.
Online Ph.D. programs provide a more convenient alternative with their flexible scheduling and learning pace options. Given the right platforms, accessible materials, first-rate instruction, and excellent mentorship that is at par with on-campus programs, completion of a Ph.D. degree online is generally considered easier and faster, especially through an accelerated degree program.
Today, you can forget the stigma of earning a Ph.D. online that once was prevalent when distance education programs first began. In fact, employers often look favorably upon online degrees, as they realize the time and effort involved; therefore, displaying your expertise in time management, dedication, and independence. Generally, your diploma will not even have the term “online” on it!
Typically, how many years does it take for a Ph.D. degree to be completed?
Most regular full-time Ph.D. programs can be completed within six years; a part-time Ph.D. study takes up to eight years to finish. Currently, on-campus and online Ph.D. degree programs take into account previous credits and often may offer you the option of combing your master’s program with earning your doctoral degree. As such, students can be awarded their doctorate in the fastest possible manner.
Ultimately, the number of years spent on a Ph.D. program will depend on a student’s pacing and intended course of study. However, by earning your online Ph.D. through an accelerated degree program, you can earn your degree within three to five years saving you time, as well as tuition costs.