There are many options to choose from when it comes to selecting an online PhD program. Online degree programs are typically designed for working professionals who need the schedule flexibility to continue working their day job while they find time to do the coursework so that they can complete a degree and increase their credentials for career advancement in their field.

Prospective students should be aware that most online doctorate programs do require some amount of on-campus intensives, so it is useful to live within a relatively short distance from the school that you select. With more and more universities offering online options to accommodate students who have other time constraints, the options can become overwhelming.

Fortunately, there is a lot of higher education data and statistics that are available for analysis to give students a better idea about where they should start looking. There are a variety of metrics that can be used to interpret the data, however, so prospective students should figure out what their priorities and expectations are for their programs. The methodology for our degree ranking system places an emphasis on student retention and graduation rate, ensuring that the top programs on our list provide interesting course material and engaged professorial advisors that help keep students on the path towards earning their doctorate.

Featured Programs

To reference out our ranking of the best online PhD programs, check out this list of the Top 20 Best Online Colleges with Doctoral Programs. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the top schools that offer online PhD programs.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is a private research university that was founded in 1873 and is located in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt distinguishes itself from other universities as it is home to the largest DNA databank in the world, and the largest space and defense electronics research facility.

Among their online degree programs, Vanderbilt’s Peabody College offers a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in Leadership and Learning in Organizations. The degree is designed for students who have strong leadership skills and are ready to apply them at the highest levels of corporations and institutions. The PhD program requires students to complete 54 credit hours, which can usually be done within 3 or 4 years. While all of the coursework can be completed online, students are required to attend yearly on-campus immersions and must complete a capstone project.

John Hopkins University

John Hopkins University is a private research university that was founded in 1876, making it the first research university to be established in America. The main campus is located in Baltimore, Maryland. The university has a number of great online PhD programs in different areas of study, such as:

  • Applied Health Sciences Informatics,
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
  • Civil Engineering,
  • among many others.

As one of the top private universities in the country, tuition rates at John Hopkins are fairly expensive, coming in at $52,170 for the 2017-18 school year, so it might not be the best option for prospective students who are looking for the best deal for their PhD degree. However, if you want to attend John Hopkins or another top private university, there are a variety of ways to cut down on the tuition rates, so be sure to check out our list of the 50 Best Scholarships for Online College Students.