10 Fast Accredited Online PhD Degrees

fastest business degrees

With one of these fast accredited online PhD degrees, you can quickly earn a terminal degree and have the flexibility to keep working. Pursuing a doctoral degree is the ultimate academic achievement, but it can be a long and arduous process. Fast, accredited online Ph.D. degrees are an excellent option for earning an accredited degree in less time than traditional programs. 

Are you looking to boost your career with a terminal degree without quitting your job? These programs offer accessibility and flexibility, making them the perfect fit for busy individuals like you. Don’t let a lack of time hold you back from advancing your career. Let us guide you through the challenges and considerations of this accelerated academic journey. Discover the fastest accredited PhD programs available today and take the first step towards achieving your educational and professional goals.

Featured Programs

Our editors first ranked the Fast Accredited Online PhD Degrees in August 2023. This ranking was updated March 2024.

Methodology for Ranking the Fastest Accredited Online Schools for PhD Degrees

This ranking helps you take that first step toward selecting an online college that suits your needs. Still, perusing each school’s website and requesting information to be sent to you for your evaluation is highly recommended and encouraged.

Below is our list of accredited online schools offering accelerated Ph.D. programs. We provide a glimpse into each one, offering insights into features like the number of credits, types of courses, program length, and also other essential information. See our Methodology page for more information regarding our analysis.

Other factors that might be considered for this ranking include schools that:

  • Offer 100% online or hybrid Ph.D. programs
  • Provide a comprehensive degree program within the scope of work allowable within a limited period of time (e.g., three to five years)
  • Combine online master’s and doctoral degree programs to reduce the time to earn your degree
  • Allow graduates the opportunity to enter the job market sooner than average through a fast-paced Ph.D. program
  • Have proper programmatic or institutional accreditation

Note: Data was accurate at the time of publication. Certain criteria, such as tuition rates, may change.

Fast Accredited Online Ph.D. Degree Programs

Some of these fast Ph.D. programs can be completed within three to five years on a full-time or part-time basis, either online or in a hybrid format. Based on your previous academic experience, a few Ph.D. programs can also be completed briefly in two to three years.

1. University of South Florida

DegreeDoctor of Business Administration
FormatOnline or In-Person
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools
Program AccreditationACBSP
Completion3 years
University of South Florida Fast Online Business Management Doctorate Program.

Prominent Program Features:

The Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida offers an online DBA. USF students move through the three year program as a cohort and meet on alternating Saturdays. Like many accelerated online doctoral programs, the format has three terms per year with a break after each trimester. The first two years of the program are predominantly coursework and then in the third year students work on the dissertation requirement.

Program Pros:

  • Master’s degree requirement may be waived for exceptional professional experience.
  • A new cohort launches every January, with rolling applications and admission throughout the year.

Program Cons:

  • Required live meeting on weekends.
  • Applicants must have at least 12 years of professional work experience.

2. Walden University

Walden University
DegreePh.D. in Management
Credits45+ (varies based on the chosen specialization)
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
Program AccreditationACBSP
Completion2+ years, depending on the specialization
Walden University’s Fast Online Business Management Doctorate Program.

Prominent Program Features:

Walden University offers an online Ph.D. in Management that requires no on-campus visits. The curriculum is designed to be flexible to meet your specific needs. Moreover, Walden provides ample support services to help you along your doctoral journey. For example, students can access a doctoral degree coaching program that will help them stay on track throughout the program.

This Ph.D. in Management offers seven distinct specializations. You can focus on 21st Century Finance, Human Resource Management, or also Information Systems Management. Other options include:

  • Leadership and Organizational Strategy
  • Organizational Design and Innovation
  • Ph.D. Completion Program
  • Self-Designed Curriculum

Each track includes opportunities for coursework and critical research. A dissertation is required, which you will construct over the course of several semesters and defend at the end of the program. This program has the distinction of being accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Program Pros:

  • Extremely flexible to meet your needs
  • Multiple specializations to choose from
  • Potentially very short timeframe for completion

Program Cons:

  • There are not as many collaborative learning opportunities as in other programs
  • You might need up to eight years to complete the program

3. Trident University International

Trident University International
DegreePh.D. in Business Administration
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
Completion3 years
Trident University offers one of the fastest online PhD programs accredited in business.

Prominent Program Features:

The online Ph.D. in Business Administration from Trident University International focuses on academics, research, and business practice. With individualized support, generous transfer policies, and flexible course structures, this program is tailor-made for working professionals.

This 56-credit hour Ph.D. is one of the shortest doctoral programs available online. Students can completed it in as little as three years, depending on course load and the number of transfer credits. The program includes advanced coursework, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation, during which you will investigate a specific business-related issue.

Trident offers numerous concentrations for its Business Administration Ph.D. students. These include:

  • Accounting/Finance
  • Information Systems/Information Technology Management
  • Leadership
  • Management and Organizations
  • Marketing

You can also choose no specialization, which allows you to pursue a dissertation focus area that doesn’t fit into one of the above concentrations.

Program Pros:

  • No campus visits are required
  • Multiple specialization options
  • Individual faculty support during the dissertation stage

Program Cons:

  • A comprehensive examination is required
  • Fewer hands-on learning opportunities than other programs

4. Liberty University

DegreePhD in Management and Organization
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools
Completion3-5 years
Liberty University’s Online PhD in Management and Organization

Prominent Program Features:

Liberty University offers an online Ph.D. in Management and Organization that can be completed in 5 years or less. You can transfer up to 50% of the total degree credits and finish the degree in 3 years of full-time study. The coursework is in 8-week sessions, one class at a time, and prepares you for business leadership positions. Additionally, the program has a research component that can be completed with the support of Liberty’s extensive online library portal.

This Ph.D. in Management and Organization offers three distinct specializations: Entrepreneurship, Executive Coaching, and Leadership. You can choose the specialization that fits your needs the best and further customize your learning experience with research in an area of management and organization that most interests you.

Courses you might take include the following

  • Foundations of Applied Research Methods
  • Leading Organizational Change
  • Risk Management Process & Practice
  • Quantitative Research Methods
  • Qualitative Research Methods

Program Pros:

  • Multiple specialization options
  • 100% online in 8-week courses
  • Apply with any master’s degree
  • Transfer up to 50 percent of the needed credits

Program Cons:

  • Few formal opportunities for hands-on learning
  • Liberty’s religious teachings may conflict with your personal beliefs

5. Wilmington University

DegreeDoctor of Business Administration
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
Program AccreditationIACBE
Completion3 years
Wilmington University offers an online DBA

Prominent Program Features:

The online Doctor of Business Administration degree offered by Wilmington University is an excellent choice for professionals who want to work in business management or finance. This three-year program will help you develop advanced leadership, management, and research skills. During your time in the program, you will learn from experienced academics and professionals in the business administration field.

At just 54 credits, this is one of the quickest doctorates available. It has accreditation from the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), a well-respected accreditation body. Upon completing the program, you will have gained a deep understanding of business ethics, disciplined inquiry, and practical communication skills, making you a thought leader in the field of business.

Program Pros:

  • No on-campus visits
  • Faculty have executive-level experience
  • Opportunities are available for high-level fieldwork in business administration

Program Cons:

  • The small cap on cohort size means this program often fills up quickly

6. Concordia University Chicago

DegreeDoctorate in Business Administration (DBA)
FormatHybrid online
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
Completion3 + years
Concordia University Chicago Fast Online Business Administration Programs.

Prominent Program Features:

The Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program from Concordia University Chicago is a 60-credit, 3-year hybrid program that requires three on-campus residencies. You can complete most of the coursework online and work collaboratively with peers and professors during the residencies. The program integrates a mentorship experience, and you will start the dissertation process during the first semester of your studies. Your mentor will be an expert in your chosen knowledge area and will help guide you through the process of developing your dissertation.

You can choose from two specializations to narrow the focus of your studies in either Innovation in Healthcare Management or Strategic Leadership and Innovation.

Program Pros:

  • One of the shortest programs on this list
  • Specialization, mentorship, and residency opportunities lead to a rich learning environment
  • Strong emphasis on business research

Program Cons:

  • Multiple on-campus visits are required
  • Five years of professional experience is strongly recommended

7. Southern New Hampshire University

DegreePhD in International Business
FormatHybrid online
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
Program AccreditationACBSP
Completion4.5 years
Southern New Hampshire University offers a Hybrid online PhD in International Business

Prominent Program Features:

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in business or academics and gaining advanced skills, Southern New Hampshire University’s Ph.D. in International Business can be the perfect program for you. This program is designed in a hybrid format, where most of the coursework is conducted online, and only a few campus visits are required.

This 46-credit program takes around 4.5 years to complete and comprises three stages of study: coursework, a comprehensive examination, and dissertation research and writing. The program is based on the cohort model, which means you’ll be studying with the same classmates in each course, allowing you to build relationships with your peers and develop a network of business associates upon graduation.

As part of this program, you will complete various courses, including Foreign Direct Investment, Theories of Globalization, Seminar in Global Business Strategy, Foundations for Advanced International Business Study, and Seminar in Multinational Finance.

Program Pros:

  • This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • You can apply with a master’s degree in any field
  • Multiple specializations areas, including Business Strategy & Management, Finance, Marketing, and Information Technology

Program Cons:

  • On-campus visits are required each semester
  • A week-long on-campus seminar is required
  • Longer than some of the other programs on this list

8. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University
DegreeDoctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Management
Credits60 or more
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
Completion3.5 to 7 years
Grand Canyon University online DBA in Management

Prominent Program Features:

The online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Management program from Grand Canyon University equips you to manage and create organizations in a broad range of industries. GCU’s program imparts theoretical knowledge of business management principles while also exploring techniques that enhance organizational performance.

This 60-credit program typically takes four years to complete. However, in some instances, students may finish it in as little as three years. The core coursework focuses on areas like management theory, qualitative studies, and research design. In addition to that, you’ll also take courses in subjects such as Financial Management, Organizational Structures, Business Law, Sustainability, and Qualitative Data Collection and Management. Graduates are well-prepared for executive-level careers in business and management, academic roles, consulting positions, and more.

Program Pros:

  • Strong focus on qualitative research
  • Opportunities for real-world experience
  • Flexible schedule with 100 percent online coursework

Program Cons:

  • Academic rigor is lower than other programs on this list
  • Lack of a cohort model might lead you to feel disconnected from your classmates

9. Keiser University

Keiser University
DegreePhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools
Completion3-4 years
Kaiser University offers an online Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Prominent Program Features:

The Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology offered by Kaiser University is an entirely online program that provides maximum flexibility to students. You don’t have to worry about attending on-campus classes; instead, you can focus on your studies and complete coursework on your schedule.

This program is designed to be one of the quickest Ph.D. programs available, as students take one class at a time. This format lets you master each topic thoroughly before moving on to the next subject. Each of the program’s 20 courses is in an accelerated 8-week format.

If you are a master’s degree holder, you should have at least 60 graduate semester credit hours to earn a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Alternatively, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you can complete enough semester credit hours and a thesis to earn a master’s degree while being enrolled in the Ph.D. program.

Program Pros:

  • The program is available for bachelor’s degree holders
  • No GRE is required
  • Opportunities for real-world learning in residency placements

Program Cons:

  • No specialization options
  • Fully independent online learning is not for everyone

10. Kansas State University

Kansas State University
DegreePersonal Financial Planning Doctorate
FormatHybrid online
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
Completion5 years
Kansas State University Personal Financial Planning Doctorate

Prominent Program Features:

The Personal Financial Planning Doctorate program at Kansas State University is a five-year hybrid program. The program has online coursework in the spring and fall semesters, while a 10-week on-campus intensive experience is required during the summer session. The final summer session is abroad, allowing you to experience how global markets impact personal finance decision-making in other parts of the world. This mix of learning experiences helps you develop strong knowledge and skills in personal finance while also developing collegial relationships with your peers.

This 90-credit program offers a wide range of coursework that helps you build expertise in personal finance. You’ll take courses such as Personal Finance Theory, Statistical Methods in Personal Finance, and Regression and Analysis of Variance. Other areas of study include Personal Income Taxation, Estate Planning for Families, Retirement Planning for Families, Financial Planning Case Studies, and also Insurance Planning for Families.

This program’s combination of coursework and research activities prepares you for various careers. Graduates from this accredited online PhD program find roles in personal finance, academic, and business industries.

Program Pros:

  • One of only three doctoral programs registered with the CFP board
  • Minimal campus visits
  • Opportunities for real-world learning abroad
  • Up to 30 credits can be transferred

Program Cons:

  • Lengthy
  • GRE/GMAT scores are required for admission

What is a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program?

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program is a rigorous academic endeavor typically undertaken after completing a master’s degree. Although some programs accept students directly from a bachelor’s program. It involves advanced study and research in a specific field, requiring candidates to make an original contribution to knowledge through completing either a dissertation or a thesis.

PhD programs vary in length but generally take several years to complete, during which students engage in coursework, seminars, and independent research under the guidance of a faculty advisor. The ultimate goal of a Ph.D. program is to produce scholars equipped with specialized expertise and critical thinking skills to advance their chosen field through innovative research and also scholarship.

What’s the Difference Between a PhD and a Doctorate Degree in Business?

A PhD in Business typically focuses on research and academia, delving deep into theoretical frameworks and methodologies relevant to the field. On the other hand, a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) often emphasizes the application of business theory to real-world problems, geared towards professionals seeking to enhance their practical expertise and leadership skills.

Scopetype of doctorate degreehighest degree in many fields
Emphasisoriginal researchapplied research
Careersacademia and researchprofessional
Researchdissertationcapstone project, professional portfolio

Why Earn a PhD Degree Online?

Earning a Ph.D. can be challenging for working professionals with busy schedules who can’t attend on-campus classes. There are also other obstacles, such as location and cost. However, online Ph.D. programs offer a more convenient option with flexible schedules and learning pace options. With the right platforms, accessible materials, and excellent instruction, obtaining a Ph.D. online is generally considered a faster and more accessible option.

In the past, there was a stigma attached to earning a Ph.D. online, but that has changed now. Online Ph.D. programs accredited by a regional organization meet quality standards that employers recognize. Employers now look favorably upon online degrees and understand the dedication, time management, and independence required to complete such programs.

How Much Does an Online Ph.D. in Business Cost?

If you’re considering pursuing an online Ph.D. in Business, it’s essential to understand the costs involved. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 per year in tuition and fees. However, the total cost of your program will depend on several factors, such as whether you’re a resident of the state where the school is located, the type of institution (public or private), the length of the program, and the amount of financial aid you receive.

To save money, search for programs that offer in-state tuition rates to residents. It is also important to fill out the FAFSA each year to qualify for federal financial aid. Additionally, you should budget for travel expenses to and from campus and research sites, especially as you begin working on your dissertation.

What are the Benefits of Earning a PhD?

Earning a PhD increases your earning potential and job security. According to the BLS, Doctorate-holders have an unemployment rate of 1% and earn $651 more per week than workers with a bachelor’s degree.

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Employment Projections

How Long Does a PhD Program Take?

Quick completion of Ph.D. programs depends on the required credits and the program’s format. Typically, regular full-time Ph.D. programs take three to five years to complete, while part-time Ph.D. studies can take up to eight years.

Online DBAs and accelerated PhD programs cater to professionals seeking to advance their careers quickly without sacrificing quality education. Some 1 year PhD programs online offer completion in one year. These fastest PhD programs online provide a flexible learning environment conducive to working professionals, allowing them to balance academic pursuits with their professional and also personal commitments. By offering expedited pathways to doctoral degrees, online DBAs and accelerated PhD programs empower individuals to achieve their academic and career goals both efficiently and effectively.

Nowadays, both on-campus and online Ph.D. degree programs consider your previous credits and often provide the option of combining your master’s program with earning your doctoral degree. As a result, students can complete some accelerated Ph.D. programs in as little as two years. However, the time spent on a Ph.D. program ultimately depends on a student’s pace and intended course of study.

What Jobs Can You Get After Earning an Online Ph.D. in Business?

Earning an online PhD in Business or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) can open up various career opportunities in academia, research, consulting, and also executive leadership roles in multiple industries. Below are some potential career paths you could pursue.

Corporate Executive

Some individuals with advanced business degrees take on executive roles in corporations, such as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), or Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Executives plan strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals.

Director of Finance

Individuals with advanced business degrees may work as financial managers. A Director of Finance is a senior executive responsible for overseeing an organization’s financial operations, including budgeting, forecasting, financial reporting, and risk management. They play a crucial role in economic decision-making, providing strategic guidance to optimize the organization’s economic performance and also ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Director of Marketing

A Director of Marketing oversees all aspects of a company’s marketing activities, including strategic planning, brand management, advertising, promotions, and also market research. They lead a team of marketing professionals to develop and execute marketing initiatives that drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, and revenue growth in alignment with the organization’s goals and objectives.

Human Resources Director

Some graduates pursue careers in human resources, working as HR directors. These professionals oversee organizational recruitment, training, performance evaluation, compensation, and employee relations. Human resources managers plan, coordinate, and also direct an organization’s administrative functions.

Organizational Development Manager

Ph.D. or DBA holders may work in corporate training departments or as organizational development managers, designing and delivering training programs to improve employee skills and organizational performance. Training and development managers plan, coordinate, and direct skills- and knowledge-enhancement programs for an organization’s staff.

Public Relations Managers

A Public Relations Manager develops and implements strategic communication plans to maintain a positive public image for an organization or individual. They oversee media relations, manage press releases, cultivate relationships with journalists and stakeholders, and also handle crisis communication to protect and enhance the organization’s reputation.

University Professor or Lecturer

With a PhD or DBA, you can pursue an academic career as a University Professor or Lecturer. They may teach courses in business administration, management, finance, marketing, or related fields at colleges and also universities.

How Much Can I Make With an Online Ph.D.?

Job Annual Salary BLS
Corporate Executive$189,520 (BLS)
Director of Finance$164,660 (BLS)
Director of Marketing$140,040 (BLS)
Human Resources Director$144,640 (BLS)
Organizational Development Manager$120,000 (BLS)
Public Relations Manager$129,230 (BLS)
University Professor or Lecturer$88,790 (BLS)

Is an Online Ph.D. a Good Option for You?

Watch this first:


How Quickly Can I Get a Doctorate?

Most programs take from 2 to 8 years to complete. The speed at which you can complete an online doctoral program can vary depending on factors such as the program structure, your prior education and experience, and the program’s specific requirements.

What is the Quickest Online Doctoral Program?

Quick PhD programs in professional fields like business, education, and healthcare are popular. They have structured curricula and may offer accelerated formats or credit for prior experience.

Can I Earn my PhD Entirely Online?

Yes, many programs allow you to complete coursework, research, and dissertation requirements remotely. The specific requirements and format of online Ph.D. programs may vary depending on the institution and field of study.

Can I Obtain Quality Education Through an Accelerated PhD Program?

Yes, if you enroll in a program that has been approved and accredited by a recognized accreditation agency. You should also check with potential employers to ensure that they recognize and accept the credentials of accelerated Ph.D. programs.

Do All Accelerated Ph.D. Programs Require a Dissertation?

Not all Ph.D. programs require a dissertation. For instance, some Ph.D. programs in humanities, education, and criminal justice only need a more straightforward and shorter written project, or even no dissertation, for faster completion.

What Do Employers Think of Online PhD Programs?

Although employers may still have some skepticism about online doctoral programs, attitudes are gradually shifting as the quality and reputation of online education continue to improve.

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Rowan Jones
Chief Editor