A doctoral degree is the highest level of education available. The Ph.D. holds the highest level of prestige and allows for the scope and content of research to be pushed farther than it ever has been before. Every doctoral student plants a seed within the education community for new things to grow and heights to reach. Another great benefit of a doctoral degree is the financial benefits of being the expert in the room. This expertise allows graduates to reach to the C-suite boardroom and to the hallowed halls of universities. The highest paying doctoral degrees range from sectors in business to engineering and healthcare to government.
And in addition to the traditional on-campus doctoral degree, students can pursue a high paying doctoral degree online. Many universities might blend the two formats for a hybrid experience, but a good chunk of any doctoral degree is already done outside of the classroom writing a doctoral dissertation. This format gives students the room to pursue a degree in the university and the topic that they want, no matter their current location and professional situation.
To help aid in the important process of finding the right online doctoral degree offering the highest paying career path, we first consulted the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After examining the highest paying occupations and their typical entry-level education level, we ranked career-specific online doctoral degrees based on the most current median wages recorded by PayScale.
#1 – Online Doctorate in Business Administration
One of the most important degrees a business professional can pursue is a Doctorate in Business Administration. No other program better equips a leader at the executive level than this time-tested and trusted doctoral program. One of the best ways to accomplish this degree is to pursue a high paying online Doctorate in Business Administration currently offered at some of the nation’s best universities. This type of program features an incredible return on the investment of education and does not require the business leader to put her career on hold while bettering herself. The highest-ranking positions within organizations like chief executive officers and chief financial officers have found this program to give them the training in business leadership they need. Salaries in these positions can range from $130,000 to over $170,000 annually. The online DBA also allows students to choose a concentration which will give extensive knowledge in a field of their interest including leadership, marketing, and human resources. An online doctorate in Business Administration is a wise choice for those considering a career in executive leadership.
Chief Executive Officer – $173,000
Chief Financial Officer – $129,582
#2 – Online Doctorate in Communications
The excellent communications field of study finds its apex of education within the high paying online Doctorate in Communications. This high-powered degree serves a multitude of business professionals desiring to become better equipped as communicators and leaders. A degree of this caliber may deliver all coursework online or include short residencies throughout the program to allow for cohort projects and networking. Goals for a program of this nature include a mastery of the history of communication, some of the most important integrated theories, demonstrated proficiency in qualitative and quantitative research methods, and an applicable ability in high-level writing across a gamete of academic publications. This excellent degree prepares doctoral students for careers as professors, executives, media analysts, and writers. High-level leaders like chief marketing officers and marketing managers will also pursue a degree like the high paying online Doctorate in Communications and go on to draw salaries ranging between $63,000 to $169,000 per year.
Chief Marketing Officer – $169,686
Senior Marketing Manager – $97,883
#3 – Online Doctorate in Management
Some of the most innovative forms of management that exist in organizations today is being championed by leaders who have dropped conventional wisdom and taken up impactful design ideas that translate into dynamic business leadership of people and organizations. An online Doctorate in Management has high paying potential distance learners will benefit from. Students within this program will be groomed for executive roles like vice presidents of supply chain management and chief operations officers. Salaries for these upper-level positions have recently been reported by PayScale for demanding between $140,000 and nearly $165,00 per year. A DMgt has been designed to empower students with an ability to analyze and interpret relevant research within an ever-changing organizational and social paradigm. The degree is a perfect fit for a business professional with some years of experience and a completed MBA. Course topics within an online DMgt will include quantitative and qualitative research methods, organizational development, and leadership.
VP, Supply Chain Management – $163,523
#4 – Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership
Team-building. Interpersonal dynamics. Psychology of leadership. Research strategies. Diversity and ethics. These are just some of the interesting areas of leadership and business covered in a high paying online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership. As an organization grows, it relies more on leaders able to create and implement leadership models that different departments can utilize to encourage solid communication and the company’s objectives. This excellent degree is essential for managers and supervisors who are ready for executive-level leadership in for-profit and non-profit organizations. This degree also allows these professionals the opportunity to pursue this doctorate while working full-time. This stellar online degree prepares business leaders for high-powered positions in upper management or as chief organizational officers. A position of this level carries with it a high average annual salary of $139,929 according to PayScale. Courses within an online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership cover topics like management philosophy, theories of leadership, and understanding the new health and human service organizations.
Chief Organizational Officer – $139,929
#5 – Online Doctorate of Information Technology or Computer Science
As the world of Information Technology has grown with so many technology-based industries around the world, positions like chief technology officer, information technology consultant, technical director, and chief information officer are more important than ever before. A position like the chief technology officer is the highest rank in an organization’s technical leadership and thus can demand an average of $168,000 per year according to PayScale. This executive-level position requires an executive-level education like an high paying online Doctorate of Information Technology. This degree is specifically designed to train a student to be competent in the areas of strategic leadership in IT-related issues. A DIT will often include research seminars, problem-based educational simulators, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. A degree of this nature will focus on the current realities of technology used in many organizations today and will also have a look at challenges of information technology in the future.
Chief Technology Officer – $168,000
Chief Information Officer – $155,238
Computer and Information Scientist, Research – $110,231
#6 – Online Doctorate of Pharmacy
Pharmacy continues to be an important part of our nation’s healthcare system. For many years, pharmacists have been responsible for working with doctors to gather and dispense prescription drugs and medicines to patients while also being able to offer instruction and advice pertaining to the medication’s properties and effects. There are different types of pharmacist positions including clinical pharmacists, community pharmacists and pharmaceutical industry pharmacists. All pharmacists complete a Doctorate of Pharmacy and must be licensed after completing license and law exams. An online Doctorate of Pharmacy with a high paying potential is an excellent program to consider to enjoy a career in pharmacy. Some of the nation’s best PharmD programs offer students the opportunity to take 100% of the curriculum online and graduate in less time than a traditional on-campus program. Once a student attains their PharmD, they can go on to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam.
Pharmacist – $111,860
#7 – Online Doctorate in Cybersecurity
The degree in cybersecurity is just as groundbreaking as the career in this exciting and growing career field. This field affects systems at points of sale, online transactions, company-wide IT systems, and even branches of government. And as concern of cybercrime increases, so does the need for leaders understanding how to manage cybersecurity systems. Classes within an online Doctorate in Cybersecurity can include topics in IT systems management, professional ethics, professional research theory, research design, information assurance, and software assurance. A high paying online Doctorate in Cybersecurity will prove lucrative to professionals taking their career in this technical direction. According to PayScale, Information Security Managers are averaging $110,053 in annual salary. This degree covers the technical issues concerning the threat of cybercrime and decision-making within a number of tech systems at the industrial, institutional, and global levels. It also will train a doctoral student on how to research at this level and prepare a dissertation in this exciting field.
Information Security Manager – $110,053
#8 – Online Doctorate in Human Resource Management
Today’s organizations put a higher stress on human resources than ever before. With a high level of competition for new hires, an ever-expanding pool of potential employees, and the reality of high employee turn-over, HR professionals have a plethora of responsibilities when it comes to hiring and managing an organization’s workforce. The work of an HR manager directly impacts a company’s health, reputation and overall bottom line. The very best in this field are required to understand the employment lifecycle and work diligently to support the needs of business all while juggling an increasingly diversified and fragmented workforce. A high paying online Doctorate in HR Management is an excellent way to get prepared for a leadership role in this complex environment. Most PhDs in Human Resource Management are research-based programs set up to help graduates gain the competency they need to be successful in leadership positions in an array of diverse business settings. These degrees are centered on critical thinking and research skills. This program will properly prepare the professional for a career like a chief human resources officer that draws an average annual salary of $155,076, according to PayScale.
Chief Human Resources Officer – $155,076
#9 – Online Doctorate of Engineering
Director of engineering and senior engineering management positions have been proven to be highly lucrative. According to PayScale, a director of engineering’s median salary is $138,880 while a senior engineering manager’s average salary is $142,199. Professionals looking to achieve these respected titles in engineering can find flexible and convenient degrees like a high paying online Doctorate of Engineering in Engineering Management at some of the nation’s top universities. A D.Eng is the perfect educational fit for a professional already practicing engineering within an organization and lacks the ability to move across the country and attend courses on campus. Many of these programs include a stellar curriculum designed to train students in the many technical aspects of engineering management. Students can expect applied research which involves the formulation of a case study or praxis experience. This high-level degree is an added benefit to professionals in a field, which will typically only require an undergraduate degree to get started in, to drive leading research and stay competitive in the field of Engineering.
Senior Engineering Manager – $142,199
Professor, Post Secondary/Higher Education – $86,210
#10 – Online Doctorate of Nursing
There are two avenues to pursue if interested in a doctoral level degree in nursing. A Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing will include a competency-based curriculum and equip nurse scholars with the tools they will need to advance the art, science, and practice of nursing. This vein of education prepares the PhD for a career as an educator, scientist, administrator, or healthcare policy analyst. There is a high potential of return on investment associated with a high paying PhD in Nursing as professors and post-secondary instructors can earn more than $85,000 annually. The best online Doctorate of Nursing Practice programs prepare professionals for fruitful careers as chief nursing officers, directors of health policy, RN directors, and nurse anesthetists. Professionals seeking a nurse anesthesia program will typically apply for positions after receiving certification through the NBCRNA. A nurse anesthetist averages an attractive annual salary of over $140,000 according to PayScale.
Nurse Anesthetist – $140,591
Nurse Practitioner – $92,493
Professor, Post Secondary/Higher Education – $86,210
#11 – Online Doctorate in Systems Engineering
The field of systems engineering deals with the understanding and manipulation of complex projects and also how they are maintained over the project life cycle. A senior systems engineer is responsible for solving mutli-faceted problems that exist within technical and complex systems. They will often use tools from various scientific fields including operations research, control systems, performance engineering, networking and security, risk analysis, and software engineering. These highly-trained professionals also need to be familiar with how management processes and system design can be used to solve complex problems within industries. A PhD in Systems Engineering can be pursued as a flexible online format, which allows for a high return on investment potential. The position of senior systems engineer has been reported by PayScale as demanding an average annual salary of $101,583. The fields of industry that are relevant to this exciting degree include the automotive industry, government and military, healthcare, and aerospace.
Senior Systems Engineer – $101,583
#12 – Online Doctorate in Data Science
All modern industries, from healthcare, to retail, media, and manufacturing all depend on data management. Government, private, non-profit and global organizations all need to know how to understand and utilize data services in order to meet the needs of their customers and stay financially viable. Data acquisition and management requires continuous strategies to gather, process, and utilize data it in the most effective ways. This is where data scientists are most needed. Data science is where organizations of all types and sizes take full advantage of the power of data to make decisions and experience growth. The growing field of data management is bolstered by the recent advents of degrees like the high paying online Doctorate in Data Science. Because of the current condition of fast-paced business realities and the ever-changing global marketplace, this degree is based on current industry needs that allow students to grasp opportunities through a hands-on approach to data management. Data Scientists and IT admins are averaging over $91,000 in annual salary according to PayScale. The growth in this area of business is only expecting to rise in the coming years.
Data Scientist/IT – $91,391
#13 – Online Doctorate of Public Administration
A position in public administration offers professionals the incredible challenge of understanding and working to develop and implement policies and procedures within non-profit organizations and government agencies for the good of the people. A profound impact can be had on the agencies and communities where an effective city manager or urban planner serves. Positions like those require an extensive knowledge of systems, the ability to communicate well and think strategically, and exercise strong leadership skills. An online Doctorate of Public Administration (DPA) degree will equip public administration professionals for next-level management roles in a convenient online format. Many universities offering a program like this one are aligned with key industry standards which will ensure a graduate’s ability to assess issues and create ethical solutions for an organization. A position as a city manager offers a high salary potential and has been reported by PayScale as generating an average annual salary of $88,874.
City Manager – $88,874
#14 – Online Doctorate in English
A Doctorate in English exists at the crossroads of rhetoric, textual studies, writing technology, and discourse. A high paying online PhD in English is an excellent option for the educator looking for a broad range of future professional endeavors. A PhD in English will typically follow a Masters in English and may also be presented as a Doctor of Philosophy with an English concentration. Typical emphases associated with an online degree like this would include technology and media studies, literature, or rhetoric and discourse studies. An online program of this nature not only brings the benefit of flexibility of schedule and timeline, but gives doctoral students interested in professorship the experience in an online educational experience. A professional with a high paying online PhD in English may go on to serve as a professor at a distinguished university, an editorial director for a media group, or a publishing manager who oversees resource production. According to PayScale, average salaries for positions like these can range from $59,000 to almost $90,000.
Editorial Director or Professor – $89,040
Post Secondary/Higher Education – $86,210
Publishing Manager – $59,310
#15 – Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration
The healthcare industry continues to boom even as radical transformation marks this field with ever-changing insurance regulations and shifting of government programs at the federal level. Hospitals, medical brand corporations, and organizations at the nonprofit, for-profit, and government levels are competitively seeking properly trained administrators for crucial roles that need filling. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this field is growing well above the national average at a projected rate of 20% through 2026. While many professionals seeking employment for positions at this level may only have a bachelor’s degree, a high paying online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration will set you up as a qualified potential employee with a competitive advantage. This degree prepares students in the areas of evidence-based leadership and empowers them to apply culturally responsive problem-solving in various healthcare systems. PayScale reports a national average for a satisfying career as a healthcare administrator to be at $88,676.
Hospital Administrator – $88,676
Healthcare Consultant – $76,694
Healthcare Administrator – $64,356
#16 – Online Doctorate in Psychology
The impact of psychology is just as wide open as the career potential for those holding a degree like a high paying online Doctorate in Psychology. All types of organizations, both those at the private and public level, are in need of properly trained experts in the field of psychology. An organization’s health is directly linked to its leadership ability to make informed decisions and understand all the inner workings of a staff’s communication. A professional with a PhD in Psychology can thrive within positions like a staff psychologist, marketing director, political strategist, consultant, researcher, law enforcement officer, and psychology professor. PayScale currently reports that holders of a PhD in Psychology can expect a median salary of $86,120 which reveals a strong return on the expense of education. Students pursuing an online Doctorate in Psychology often have the benefit of waiving foundational courses if they possess a master’s in the field which saves time and money.
Professor, Post Secondary/Higher Education – $86,210
Psychologist – $74,656
#17 – Online Doctorate in Social Work
A high paying online PhD in Social Work is designed to prepare students to practice at the highest level of the field. Positions available to holders of this degree include those of a researcher, administrative manager, and college-level educator. The curriculum usually presented within an online Doctorate of Social Work empowers the student to analyze and understand the advanced theory and process some of today’s pressing and cutting-edge issues in social work. Many universities with flexible and convenient online programs offer great emphases within the Social Work umbrella like clinical expertise, addictions and social work, social work and the medical field, and more. While some degrees are presented as 100% online programs, others offer a hybrid experience allowing students to meet face to face with instructors and broaden their professional networks by meeting fellow students and social work practitioners. Candidates interested in a high paying PhD in Social Work, which can yield salaries within the mid $80,000s, are usually required to possess a Master’s of Social Work.
Professor, Post Secondary/Higher Education – $86,210
Licensed Clinical Social Worker – $56,227
Social Work Supervisor – $54,561
#18 – Online Doctorate in Criminal Justice
The career potential for those holding a high paying online Doctorate of Criminal Justice is vast. The job market within criminal justice exists at the local municipality, state, and federal levels. Holders of this degree are qualified to take on positions like a state faculty director, criminology and criminal justice researcher, federal law enforcement agency admin, or even an instructor at the postsecondary level. Positions in higher education alone have been known to yield annual salaries of over $86,000. Some of the nation’s best programs in criminal justice allow students to work through coursework at a 100% online format with no residencies required. Another feature becoming more readily available from universities is a waiver for GMAT testing for program candidates. An online Doctorate of Criminal Justice has tons of potential for a return on the price of education and covers topics like how to budget, research, manage, and effectively organize a myriad of operations associated with public safety.
Professor, Post Secondary/Higher Education – $86,210
Special Agent, Federal – 82,431
#19 – Online Doctorate in Latin and Roman Studies
Educators at the secondary level or teaching within a community college setting will want to improve their skills and credentials with an online Doctorate in Latin and Roman Studies. A program like this has proven itself to be a high paying online doctorate degree with PayScale reporting that professors at this level are reporting a national average salary of $86,120. A flexible online doctoral degree of this caliber is perfect for an instructor who already maintains an educational position and who may only have a small margin for coursework during the evenings and weekends. The normal setup for a high paying online Doctorate in Latin and Roman Studies degree will likely include 60 credit hours of content split between Classics seminars, Latin prose, proficiency in languages like German, French, or Italian, and independent study projects. The program will also include written exams, a dissertation with defense, and comprehensive oral exams.
Professor, Post Secondary/Higher Education – $86,210
#20 – Online Doctorate of Speech-Language Pathology
A high-paying online doctorate of speech-language pathology is the perfect fit for those already holding a speech-language pathology master’s degree and who are ASHA-certified. Practicing speech-language pathologists working in institutions like hospitals, schools, nursing facilities, rehab centers, and nursing homes will also gain a lot with this online doctoral degree which can be high paying. An online program which trains professionals for careers as speech-language pathologists and directors of speech-language pathology are formatted to develop the continued academic education of speech-language pathologists interested in an advanced doctoral degree. The curriculum offered within these programs expose students to current research in an effort to mold the student’s ethical decision-making. SLP.D. instructors guide students to gain knowledge, develop leadership, sharpen problem-solving skills, and utilize research to develop an applied dissertation and a breadth of knowledge and relevant skills which will benefit the application of modern therapy. Speech-language pathologists can expect a bump of over $10,000 in annual salary to over $83,000 when becoming speech-language pathology directors.
Speech-Language Pathology Director – $83,507
Speech-Language Pathologist – $70,000
#21 – Online Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering
Students with a strong engineering and science background will be drawn to an online Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering which can be one of the highest paying online degrees in the nation. A high-yielding online PhD in aerospace engineering focuses on the principle scientific realities which govern the modern design of jet engines, aircraft, and spacecraft. A distance degree of this sort allows students to conduct research while working through coursework based in aerospace craft, propulsion, and aerodynamic properties. While many entry-level positions in aerospace engineering are available to students only holding a bachelor’s degree in the field, there many reasons why seeking a degree like a best online Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering is a sound business choice. The chance to stand out from the competition with a higher-level degree and the chance to demand a higher salary are just two reasons to consider a PhD. Aerospace engineers have been reported to yield over $82,000 in annual salary.
Aerospace Engineer – $82,478
#22 – Online Doctorate in Education
The best online Doctorate of Education degree will be one that is based on solid theoretical content delivered in a context that stresses advanced practical strategies. An online EdD is one of the best online degrees one can pursue, hoping for a rewarding career with a high return on the investment of education. PayScale has recently reported that the profession of elementary school principal can yield an annual median salary of over $80,000. A degree of this type may consist of 18 or more courses delivered over the span of 40 to 48 months. The online format is also beneficial for busy professionals already in a full-time educator position. Other high-yielding professions which may be pursued after the completion of an EdD includes a college professorship and instructional/curriculum designer. Courses within this exciting best paying online Doctorate of Education can focus on early childhood development, leadership in higher education, global training and development, general education, and organizational leadership and administration.
Elementary School Principal – $80,083
College Administrator – $61,829
#23 – Online Doctorate in Instructional Design
There has never been a better time to consider an online Doctorate in Instructional Design. This degree goes in depth to train doctoral students in how to understand and evaluate design processes and go in-depth with design and the development of simulations. Distance learners can expect a close look at mobile learning and games. As this high paying online doctorate is a PhD, there is a high regard for rigorous research on the main topics related to instructional design. Satisfying careers ranging from senior instructional designers to learning and development consultants are currently demanding impressive salaries ranging from $78,000 to $74,000. An incredible knowledge of the learning process is a huge asset for professionals within instructional design. They will be called upon to design effective learning environments for a broad spectrum of diverse learners. Students within a high paying online PhD in Instructional Design will be expected to contribute research-based strategies and approaches to the learning sciences.
Senior Instructional Designer – $78,243
Senior Learning And Development Specialist – $78,240
Consultant, Learning And Development – $74,002
#24 – Online Doctorate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Organizations and corporations of all sizes can benefit from professionals properly trained in industrial and organizational psychology. An online doctorate in this field is very common and continues to be a degree of choice for professionals desiring to make an impact within the global marketplace. A high paying online doctorate with an emphasis on I/O is the perfect match for someone interested in a higher education built on principles and theories set in a foundation of scientific research. Students with a degree like a PhD in I/O will gain an understanding of employee and organizational behavior as they are trained to apply logical practices needed to understand organizational needs, encourage synergistic workplaces, and work to improve overall employee productivity. A fulfilling online Doctorate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology can prove to be as lucrative as it is rewarding as PayScale has reported a median salary of over $72,500 per year.
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist – $72,593
#25 – Online Doctorate in Occupational Therapy
An online Doctorate in Occupational Therapy is one of the best paying online degrees a professional in the field of occupational therapy can pursue. The purpose of this exceptional degree is to equip clinicians with a stronger, more relevant theoretical base by advancing leadership skills and providing doctoral students with the knowledge, strategy, and skills in evidence-based research within a chosen area of emphasis. The online structure offered for this doctoral degree makes it the perfect match for professionals already working within the demanding Occupational Therapy field. An online degree of this caliber will typically be best suited for OT professionals that are already certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, or those who have at least two years of professional employment as an occupational therapist. A high paying doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy can give therapists an additional competitive edge in this field. It not only offers them time to push the boundaries and explore more research in their field, but is also yields an annual salary of over $70,000, according to PayScale.
Occupational Therapist – $72,000