Top 20 Best Colleges with Online PhD Programs

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Top 20 Best Colleges with Online PhD Programs
best online phd. programs

A doctorate degree or Ph.D. is the highest level of academic achievement one can earn. Hundreds of US colleges and universities feature such degrees. However, finding an online doctoral program can be a challenge. In this article, we highlight the top 20 accredited schools where you can earn your doctorate or Ph.D. online.

We’ll discuss more about online doctoral programs and our methodology later in this post. However, let’s first take a look at the top five colleges with online doctoral programs:

Top 20 Best Colleges with Online PhD Programs

Why Pursue Your Doctorate Online?

Students have different and highly personal reasons for pursuing their doctorate online. Many candidates are already deeply involved in their careers and family lives. So, relocating across the country to complete their studies is simply not an option. Other Ph.D. candidates are adults who have already had the whole college experience. Some would prefer to complete their studies in peace, focusing solely on their assignments.

“In May 2023, I graduated with a doctorate of business administration (DBA) from Temple University through a low residency program. That is, we had three in-person weekends per semester during the first two years, plus Wednesday night classes in between those on-site classes. I view the program as a hybrid approach and I especially appreciated the online classes.

I suspect the fact that I’m an introvert is why I preferred the classes that were held on Zoom. I participated more and was more at ease when we were in Zoom class sessions versus when we were sitting together in person in the classroom in Philadelphia. The program was great; I honed my scholarly research abilities and made lifelong friends.”

Dr. Marcia Layton Turner, founder of the Association of Ghostwriters
Top 20 Best Colleges with Online PhD Programs

TOP 20 COLLEGES WITH ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREES

Let’s continue to explore your academic journey with confidence as we unveil the top 20 colleges offering online doctoral degrees. We’ve already talked about five of the best. But now, we’re going to highlight all 20 schools.


These programs provide unparalleled flexibility and excellence in advanced education. Whether you aspire to pursue a doctorate in education, business, or the health sciences, these esteemed institutions are paving the way for the future of online doctoral education.

#1. Florida State University

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

School Profile

Florida State University is a public research university established in 1851. Located in Tallahassee, it comprises 16 different colleges and over 100 research centers, institutes, and labs. The college is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. It is among the largest by enrollment in the nation, with a student population of over 44,000. FSU is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

U.S. News & World Report ranks FSY among the best public colleges in the country. And it is in the top 10 for National Science Foundation grant awards. Additionally, it is the number two producer of Fulbright Scholars in the nation. Students describe it as an “outstanding university” that is “steeped in tradition.” FSU features over 78 doctoral degree programs. Four of these can be completed through distance education. They include:

Each degree features online coursework. However, depending on the program, students are required to attend various residencies and intensives throughout the year. Candidates enrolled in the online programs earn the same degree and learn from the same renowned faculty who teach on campus. 

Distance@FSU strives to help students create meaningful connections with their instructors and peers. A few ways it dies this is through real-time forums, study groups, Livestream events, and more. Additionally, online students have a wealth of resources to help them support their learning, including:

  • Student Resilience Project
  • Reading Writing Center-Online (RWC-Online)
  • ITS Service Desk
  • Counseling & Psychological Services
  • Distance Library Services
  • Career Center
  • Encrypted cloud-based storage and backup for up to 5 TB of files
  • Virtual computer lab with access to 30+ software applications

Graduate Tuition: $9,684

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

#2. Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana University Online is headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana. IU is a multi-campus system with locations in Indiana and globally. The college offers over 200 online programs at all levels. And it consistently ranks as one of the top colleges for a range of degree programs. 

The University has perfected online education, even for grad students. And it offers online doctoral programs across 12 fields of study. These include:

Most of the coursework for these programs can be completed entirely online. However, a handful of degrees do require short in-person residencies. You should inquire about these before enrolling to ensure you can meet any travel requirements. 

Students completing online degree programs at IU Online generally report high satisfaction ratings with their experience. Online students have the same curriculum and instructors as those attending campus. And many students remark that they have “spent substantially less” to earn their degree by enrolling online. 

Graduate Tuition: $10,033

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

#3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university and one of the oldest colleges in the nation. It is the flagship university of the UNC system, enrolling around 32,000 students a year. The school is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Students speak very highly of UNC-Chapel Hill, citing the “amazing and unparalleled experiences,” “great professors,” and overall “welcoming environment.” In fact, it’s actually challenging to find any negative comments about this beloved college. 

There are over 11,000 students pursuing graduate programs at UNC-Chapel Hill. The college has been ranked the fourth top public school for 2024 by U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, in 2022, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings publication ranked it the number one public university in the South. 

The graduate school at USC has over 80 programs covering 160 graduate degrees. Graduate students (whether they are on-campus or online) are strongly supported, and there are plenty of opportunities for leadership, research, and innovation. There are three online doctoral degrees at USC that include:

This program is offered through the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, which has been ranked the number two best public health school in the country by  U.S. News & World Report

The BSN to DNP online program features primarily synchronous coursework for convenience.

Students will work on tailored clinical experiences and must attend some in-person immersions.

This online DNP program requires 36 hours and takes two to three years to complete. Students will need to attend one on-campus immersion each semester. However, their coursework is asynchronous, so they can complete it at their convenience.

Graduate Tuition: $10,552

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4. University of Florida

University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Founded in 1853, the University of Florida is a public land-grant research university and part of the State University System of Florida. The campus is in Gainesville, and as a whole, it has excellent online reviews. Students remark that UF is “as close to a perfect college as it gets” and has “easily been one of the best decisions they have made” regarding their education. The university operates almost 200 research centers and institutes and encompasses 16 academic colleges. Doctoral students will find no shortage of research opportunities at UF.

Let’s delve right into UF’s online doctoral programs. The University of Florida features nine online programs at the doctoral level, an amount that surpasses most other colleges on our list. The degrees include:

As you can surmise, most of the programs revolve around education. However, the school also features an online DNP. 

Most of the online doctoral programs have some required residencies. For example, the Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Computer Science Education has three required campus-based experiences. The first is a two-day orientation in the first semester. After that, students will have some four-day summer semesters. The online coursework is completed as a cohort. Then, students will work on their dissertations with a full-time faculty mentor. These requirements are pretty standard across all of the doctoral programs. So, you will want to get all the details on your program before enrolling. 

A range of support services are provided throughout the online doctoral programs. Those seeking an online degree through distance learning can expect resources like tech support, an online library, academic coaching, and more. 

Graduate Tuition: $10,770

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

#5. Clemson University

Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

School Profile

Clemson University is a public research university in Clemson, South Carolina. Founded in 1889, it comprises seven distinct schools and colleges. And it is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.” Over 28,000 students are enrolled at Clemson, and close to 6,000 of them are pursuing graduate degrees.

Clemson features seven online and hybrid Ph.D. programs. Both formats give students flexible access to the course content. Most programs feature both an online or on-campus option. Online students attend live synchronous classes that allow them to join the in-person courses virtually. This gives them the opportunity to network with faculty and peers without disrupting their current employment or living situation. Programs include:

A few of the programs may require some in-person components. Additionally, some students may want to come to campus to take advantage of specific labs and facilities. For example, students in the Ph.D. Healthcare Genetics and Genomics programs have access to ten world-class research facilities. Some of these include:

  • The School of Nursing Healthcare Genetics and Genomics Laboratory 
  • The Clemson Aquatic Animal Research Laboratory 
  • The Clemson University Center for Human Genetics
  • Clemson University Division of Research Core Facilities
  • The Clemson University Genomics and Bioinformatics Facility 

Graduate Tuition: $10,858

Accreditation: WSCUC Senior College and University Commission 

#6. Ohio State University

Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

The Ohio State University is a public land-grant research university and a University System of Ohio member. Founded in 1870, it is among the ten largest US colleges by enrollment, with a student population of over 60,000. Students speak highly of OSU on social media. They remark that at Ohio State, they got the chance to “experience things they could not have imagined,” there is also a strong opinion that “every opportunity you could ever want in a college” is available at this school. That’s not surprising considering the enormous amount of clubs, organizations, events, networking opportunities, and other opportunities students have at their disposal.

Several premiere publications, including The Washington Monthly, U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education, and more, have nationally recognized Ohio State. Authors Howard and Matthew Greene dubbed OSU a public ivy in 2001. This designation recognizes public universities as having programs of the highest educational quality. 

Recently, professor emeritus of physics Pierre Agostini and two of his colleagues were awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics. That makes him the sixth faculty member at OSU to earn a Nobel Prize.

Ohio State features a wide range of graduate programs. However, only four of these are offered online. All are offered through the College of Nursing and include:

These programs are taught by the same faculty as the on-campus courses. And they offer incredible flexibility while not skimping on resources. Students enrolled in the online programs receive all the support services and benefits offered across the university.

Graduate Tuition: $12,092

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

#7. Endicott College

Endicott College

Beverly, Massachusetts

Endicott College is a private institution in Beverly, Massachusetts, near Boston. It first opened as a two-year women’s college in 1939 but later became a coeducational school offering four-year degrees. Endicott enrolls nearly 4,000 students a year, and over 1,700 of those are graduate students. The school has been consistently recognized as a top college in the Northeast by US News & World Report. 

Endicott offers graduate programs in Education, Nursing, Business, Sport Science, Social Science, and Visual & Performing Arts. Students who wish to earn their doctorate online can choose from the following five options:

These programs are offered 100% online with both synchronous and asynchronous classes. They are highly flexible, and even the residency requirements are held virtually. With the exception of the MSN to DNP program, all doctoral applicants must have a master’s degree from an accredited college or university. Financial aid is available for graduate students. However, awards are based on enrollment level rather than financial need. The school also features interest-free payment plans.

Graduate Tuition: $13,084

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

#8. Liberty University

Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

School Profile

Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian college renowned for its commitment to providing a comprehensive, faith-based education. Established in 1971, it is one of the largest Christian universities globally, with a student population of over 96,000. Nearly 48,000 of these are graduate students. The main campus is in Lynchburg, Virginia. However, the school has a robust online presence and offers hundreds of remote degree programs. 

At Liberty University, students can choose from over 75 online doctoral, postgraduate, and specialist degrees. Most have no residency requirements, so you can remain in your community and continue with your current career. Additionally, much of the coursework is asynchronous, so you can work on your assignments when it is convenient for you. In general, courses are all offered in an eight-week format, and there are multiple start dates per year, so you can begin working on your degree right away. Some of the most popular online doctoral programs at Liberty include:

This is just a short list of the available doctoral programs at Liberty. Most of these feature multiple specializations, allowing students to focus on their specific goals and passions. Students can access a wide range of resources, including online tutoring, a writing center, tech support, personal advising, an online library, and much more. 

Graduate Tuition: $7,893

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9. University of Arizona

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

The University of Arizona is a distinguished public land-grant university renowned for its commitment to academic excellence. Established in 1885, it is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities. – Very High Research Activity”. It’s a large school, enrolling over 49,000 students and offering over 150 majors. It is highly inclusive and is considered a Hispanic-Serving Institution. 

The UA is one of the nation’s top 20 public research universities. The school has total research expenditures of over $750 million a year. It is well known for its research impact, particularly in space science. The school is a NASA partner and has been at the forefront of astronomy and space science for decades. 

The university’s esteemed faculty members include accomplished scholars and industry experts dedicated to providing mentorship and guidance to students. And the school’s commitment to research and innovation is reflected in its state-of-the-art facilities, research centers, and partnerships. All of these can provide graduate students with valuable opportunities to contribute to cutting-edge discoveries and advancements.

The UA features graduate programs in over 150 areas of study. Several of the school’s graduate programs can be completed through the University of Arizona Online. The online doctoral programs include:

Most of the programs have some on-campus intensives. And nursing students will have on-ground practicum and clinical placements to round out their education. 

Online students at the University of Arizona have access to a range of support services. These include tutors, coaches, alumni mentors for networking and career opportunities, and more. Students have full access to all of the resources that on-campus students use. 

Graduate Tuition: $12,348

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission and WASC Senior College and University Commission

#10. University of Massachusetts-Global

University of Massachusetts-Global

Irvine, California

UMass Global is a public, non-profit University of Massachusetts System affiliate. Formerly Brandman University, the school was launched in 2021 to meet the unique needs of adult learners in Massachusetts and across the US. UMass Global enrolls nearly 9,000 online learners a year, and around 3,800 are graduate students. Headquartered in Irvine, California, the school has become a leader in online education. The school features 16 online graduate programs. Four of these are designed for doctoral students. They include:

All of the doctoral programs are fully online. One significant advantage of these particular programs is that all of them can be completed in three years or less. Plus, students can complete their clinical rotations at their work or a location near where they live. Because the school caters to working adult online learners (the average age of students at UMass Global is 36), its support services are geared to this demographic. For example, students can take advantage of top-notch virtual resources, one-on-one advising, career coaching, and more. 

On social media, reviews of UMass Global are mixed. But this is largely based on the previous reputation of Brandman University, and UMass Global is still coming into its own. The school launched during the height of the pandemic, allowing many scholars to continue their education online. One important thing to remember is that the institution is backed by the stellar reputation of the University of Massachusetts system. And the flexible online learning format at UMass Global means that 91% of students can continue to work while completing their degree program. 

Graduate Tuition: $12,510

Accreditation: WSCUC Senior College and University Commission 

#11. Creighton University

Creighton University

Omaha, Nebraska

Creighton University is the largest religious university in the state of Nebraska. Founded in 1878, this private Jesuit school enrolls over 8,300 students, and about half are graduate students. Like most Jesuit colleges, Creighton aims to shape the whole person—intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and socially. The academics are rigorous, and the school has a strong focus on service work in the community. The school has ranked in the top third of National Universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2023-2024. 

Creighton features 17 doctoral programs. Four of these are offered online and include:

Most programs have a few on-campus residency requirements. And some feature optional on-campus learning opportunities. These allow students an opportunity to bond with their cohort members. It also gives them a chance to make industry connections and expand their professional networks.

The DNP program is highly flexible and one of the most popular offerings. Students can choose to attend full-time or part-time. And they can tailor the program to their specific interests. Specializations include:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Dual Degree)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Across the Lifespan Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration & Leadership

Creighton also features a hybrid Entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy. It was the nation’s first entry-level OTD program. Students can either attend campus in Omaha or opt for a hybrid pathway in Denver, Anchorage, or Phoenix.

Graduate Tuition: $17,496

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

#12. University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The University of Pittsburgh is a large public state-related research university, enrolling over 33,000 students. The main campus is in Pittsburgh, with several others throughout the state. Founded in 1787, it’s one of the oldest colleges in the nation. Known for its groundbreaking research, it is a leading producer of Pulitzer-prize winners, Nobel laureates, human rights pioneers, and inventors. Pitt is also a top producer of Fulbright scholars. 

The school is the setting for the world’s first polio vaccine and heart-liver transplant. Additionally, it is a member of the Association of American Universities, which comprises 64 preeminent doctorate-granting research institutions in North America. Pitt is an impressive school, to say the least. 

The University of Pittsburgh features around 100 doctoral programs. Yet, the majority of these programs must be completed on campus. However, there are two online doctoral programs. They include:

This is a post-professional Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) in Occupational Therapy program. And it is delivered 100% online with no residency requirements. Students will learn advanced leadership skills and implement evidence into practice. The curriculum is highly personalized so that each student can engage in coursework tailored to their professional interests and goals.

Pitt’s DNP program features multiple tracks; students can choose from full-time and part-time options. While most components can be completed online, each track’s clinical and residential requirements differ. So, students will want to get all the details before enrolling in this nationally recognized program. The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing has been ranked tenth in the country by U.S. News & World Report’s 2024 Best Nursing Grad Schools.

Pitt also features two hybrid doctoral programs. These include:

On-site requirements vary for these programs. Students should request more information before applying. 

Graduate Tuition: $24,962

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#13. Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda, California

Loma Linda University is a private research school in Loma Linda, California. This top-ranked college is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist education system. However, it is welcoming to students of all faiths and persuasions. Students at LLU are encouraged to develop their passions, connect with their spiritual selves, and become the best versions of themselves. And the compassionate faculty members are available to help them do just that. With an unprecedented student-to-faculty ratio of 3:1, You will get plenty of personal mentorship to help you along your academic journey. 

This small college has an intimate atmosphere and a student population of about 4,200. Current and former students remark that LLU is big on encouraging students to make a personal commitment to their own physical health and vitality. As such, the college features many services geared toward wellness. If you are a student interested in cutting-edge diet, exercise, and health research, this might be the place for you. And if you are a doctoral student looking for a more conservative experience, LLU might be your place to land. LLU features five online and hybrid doctorate programs. They include:

Loma Linda is a wonderful school for students interested in a lifestyle of spiritual and physical wellness. It’s not a party school. Instead, students are focused on cultivating close relationships and a sense of well-being. The LLU site states explicitly: “Experience a community built around your needs — healthy foods, wellness services, spiritual support, and more — all located in a region known for well-being and longevity.”

Graduate Tuition: $28,000

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

#14. The George Washington University

The George Washington University

Washington, D.C.

The George Washington University (GWU) is a private research university in our nation’s capital. It is one of only six US universities with a congressional charter. The college has three fully integrated campuses in the D.C. area. These include the Mount Vernon Campus, the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, and the Foggy Bottom Campus. Nearly 26,000 students are in attendance, and over 14,000 are enrolled in graduate programs. 

GWU has received the highest Carnegie Classification that can be awarded for its research. And it has a host of impressive alums, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Colin Powell, Elizabeth Warren, J. Edgar Hoover, and many more. 

GWU features over 230 programs for graduate students. And several of its doctoral degrees can be completed online or in a blended format. They are taught by the same world-class instructors that teach the on-campus courses and include:

The DNP program at GWU features several specialties. These include:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Leadership
  • Nursing Practice
  • Health Policy

All of the DNP specialties are presented in a hybrid format. For example, doctoral students will complete online courses. However, there are still some on-campus requirements for training and testing. 

Graduate Tuition: $33,930

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#15. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Vanderbilt University is a private, non-profit research university in Nashville. Founded in 1873, the school is known for its rigorous academics and is highly selective. While it is not an Ivy League school, students often describe it as “the Harvard of the South.” Vanderbilt offers graduate programs across various fields, including nursing, medicine, law, education, and more. 

Nearly 14,000 students are enrolled at the University, and over 6,500 of those are seeking advanced degrees. The school prides itself on being a “global hub for conducting scholarly research, advancing discoveries, and fueling breakthroughs across multiple disciplines.” With 85 centers and institutes covering a broad range of disciplines, Grad students will find plenty of opportunities to collaborate and participate in research projects. 

Vanderbilt offers three hybrid doctoral programs. Most of the core coursework can be completed online. However, there are some on-campus immersions and residency requirements. The degrees include:

This program was ranked the #1Online Ed.D. in Leadership and Learning & Organizations Fortune Rankings in 2022.

Student tuition for this program is fully funded. It covers up to four years of research and coursework. Additionally, students receive annual stipends.   

The DNP program features several three tracks:

Advanced Clinical Practice

Advanced Systems Practice

Executive Leadership

Those who enter the DNP program with a BSN can choose from a Family Nurse Practitioner/Emergency Nurse Practitioner or Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track. 

Graduate Tuition: $55,160

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#16. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland

Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore. Founded in 1876, it was the nation’s first research university and has been the birthplace of many medical and scientific milestones. But that is somewhat of an understatement. Johns Hopkins students have spearheaded many life-altering achievements. 

For example, JHU scholars launched the field of genetic engineering and developed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Researchers at JHU have invented rubber gloves, the world’s first water purification system, the ramjet engine, and more. This impressive list of achievements goes on and on. The school has produced 29 Nobel Prize Winners, and many of its graduate programs are ranked among the best in the nation. 

JHU has a student population of over 31,000, and the overwhelming majority (around 25,000) are graduate students. Doctoral students are drawn to the school for many reasons. It has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence, innovation, and award-winning faculty. Johns Hopkins spends more on higher education research (over $3.1 billion) annually than any other school in America. As a result, it attracts thousands of graduate students a year.  

The University features over 50 graduate programs. And many of these can be completed online or in a blended (hybrid format). Online doctoral students at JHU can complete many of their assignments online but should still plan to fulfill some on-campus requirements. Potential students are advised to research the degree requirements before enrolling. The programs include:

Johns Hopkins University has the most impressive student-to-faculty ratio on our list. Additionally, it has the highest graduation rate, at 94%.

Graduate Tuition: $60,480

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#17. Boston University

Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston University is a non-sectarian private research university. The school was founded in 1839 and is a leading research institution. Alexander Graham Bell, credited with the invention of the telephone, did so in a Boston University research lab. BU was also the first university in America to grant a woman a doctoral degree.

BU features two campuses in Boston and numerous programs around the world. In fact, you’ll find BU’s faculty and students pursuing research, service, and study in over 75 countries. The college has a student population of over 36,000, and about half of them are graduate students.

The University comprises 17 schools and colleges and over 10,000 faculty and staff members. With an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, BU grad students can be assured of making meaningful connections with their instructors and mentors no matter what field of study they are involved in. 

BU features a wide range of doctoral programs. And three of the most popular ones are offered online. They include:

This is a three-year program combining online learning with some low-residency requirements. The focus is on transformational leadership. 

In this program, students “seek new and better techniques to encourage students to improve as musicians and succeed as well-rounded people.”

This program is for those who already have a professional degree in occupational therapy. Candidates will complete an 18-month course of study in which they will develop advanced knowledge through collaboration and mentorships with fellow professionals. They will learn to create innovative solutions to unmet needs in the field of OT. 

Graduate Tuition: $60,480

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#18. University of Southern California

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

The University of Southern California is a private research school in Los Angeles. Founded in 1880, it was initially affiliated with the Methodist church. However, it does not maintain that affiliation today. USC was among the first to be considered an inclusive and forward-thinking university, mandating that “no student would be denied admission because of race” nearly a century before America was integrated. Today, it maintains its strong commitment to diversity.

At USC, students benefit from world-class faculty and rigorous academics. They learn from professors who are experts in their fields. Plus, online students are treated the same as on-campus learners. All online students can access the same top-notch services offered to on-campus learners. 

There are close to 49,000 students enrolled at the University of Southern California. It is very uncommon for graduate students to make up most of the student body. Yet, over 28,000 students at USC are enrolled in graduate programs. So, let’s look at the school’s online doctoral degree programs. There are six in total, and they include:

Some of these doctoral programs can be completed entirely online. Others have in-person immersions on the LA campus. Potential candidates are encouraged to research all the program details they are interested in to ensure they can meet any on-campus requirements. 

Graduate Tuition: $63,468

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

#19. Temple University

Temple University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Temple University is a four-year R1 public research university in Philadelphia. It is the largest college in the city, with a rich history dating back to its founding in 1884. Temple offers a wide array of academic programs and is one of the country’s most prominent educators in law, medicine, pharmacy, podiatry, and dentistry. However, students remark that with so many majors, “you can choose to study literally anything.” 

Temple has a student population of over 33,000, and around 9,000 attend the graduate school. With a commitment to providing accessible and inclusive education, the college has garnered recognition for its dedication to empowering students from diverse backgrounds to achieve academic and personal success. Students at Temple benefit from a dynamic learning environment that emphasizes hands-on experience, research opportunities, and community engagement. 

The university’s faculty comprises accomplished scholars and industry experts dedicated to fostering a supportive learning environment. Additionally, the school’s strong emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship provides students with the resources and mentorship needed to transform their ideas into impactful ventures, contributing to its reputation as a hub for innovation and creativity.

Temple offers over 50 doctoral programs across 12 schools and colleges. Two of these can be completed online, including:

This program is designed for certified athletic trainers who want to advance their clinical decision-making skills. It features a special emphasis on concussion and mild traumatic brain injury education. Students interact with peers and instructors through live online classes, web-based activities, and more. The program is 100% online and can be completed in as little as two years. There are multiple opportunities for financial support. 

The Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) program is also offered 100% online. Students can complete the program in one year of full-time study. However, part-time options are also available. The program emphasizes extensive student collaboration and faculty mentorship. And it provides plenty of opportunities for networking.  

Graduate Tuition: $20,531

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#20. Duquesne University

Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Duquesne University is a private Catholic college founded in 1878. It features over 85 undergraduate programs and more than 110 graduate and certificate programs across ten distinct schools. A little over 8,000 students attend this mid-sized university. Students cite small class sizes and knowledgeable professors who “take time for their students” as among the benefits of choosing Duquesne. 

Another factor frequently mentioned about Duquesne is the rigor of its academic programs. Many students say, “The curriculum can be challenging, particularly in the sciences.” However, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, receiving individualized attention from your instructors is rarely a problem. 

Students who wish to earn their doctoral degree online at Duquesne University have three options:

This degree features three-year and four-year curriculum options, plus a DNP to PhD program. There are some residency requirements on campus. Additionally, students will complete a study abroad experience at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.  

The Ph.D. program in Nursing Ethics is a 47-credit-hour program that takes four to six years to complete. The coursework can be completed online. However, candidates will need to come to campus for four residency requirements. One of these is a study abroad experience.

The School of Pharmacy at Duquesne features an online Pharm.D. Program. This four-year program is designed for candidates who have already met the prerequisite course requirements from an accredited US institution. Students will complete most of their work online with limited campus residency requirements. A unique aspect of this program is that all students enrolled automatically earn a BS in Pharmacy Foundations (BSPF) simultaneously at no added cost!

Duquesne offers nearly 50 centers and institutes for research programs, cross-discipline learning, and more. Plus, the Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) supports students and faculty in engaging in innovation and research. The ORI provides technical support, networking, grant application assistance, and more, making it an excellent resource for doctoral students. 

Graduate Tuition: $25,578

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Best Online Ph.D. Programs Methodology

Each of the online schools on this list was evaluated using several criteria. First, we searched the NCES database for all schools offering online doctoral programs. Each school is accredited, located in the US, and offers at least two online or hybrid doctoral programs. From there, we applied the following factors to determine our ranking:

Average Graduate Tuition Rate Per Academic Year

  • Less than $15,000 per year = 5 Points
  • Between $15,000 and $20,000 per year = 3 Points
  • More than $20,000 per year = 1 Point

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

  • 15:1 or less = 3 Points
  • Greater than 15:1 = 1 Point

Overall Graduation Rate

  • Greater than 80% = 3 Point
  • 80% or Less = 1 Point

In cases where schools ranked the same number of points, preference was given to colleges with the most affordable tuition. You can view the entire ranking chart at the end of this article. Please note that no school is given preferential treatment. Each is evaluated based on the same essential criteria. 

When listing tuition rates, we use each school’s in-state graduate tuition per academic year. Your costs may vary depending on where you live and the program you choose. Bear in mind that many schools on this list offer substantial financial assistance.

Would you like to take a look at how we ranked each school? Here’s a chart for our fellow data geeks.

School
Tuition
Student/Faculty RatioGraduationRatePoints
Florida State University$9,68417:185%9
Indiana University Bloomington $10,03317:181%9
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill$10,55217:191%9
University of Florida$10,77016:190%9
Clemson University$10,85816:185%9
The Ohio State University$12,09217:188%9
Endicott College$13,08412:178%9
Liberty University$7,89318:166%7
University of Arizona$12,34817:168%7
University of Massachusetts Global$12,51018:150%7
Creighton University$17,49611:178%7
University of Pittsburgh$24,96213:184%7
Loma Linda University$28,0003:187%7
George Washington University$33,93012:185%7
Vanderbilt University$55,1607:193%7
Johns Hopkins University$60,4806:194%7
Boston University$61,05011:189%7
University of Southern California$63,4689:192%7
Temple University$20,53112:178%5
Duquesne University$25,57812:178%5