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Best Online Doctoral Programs
Top 50 Consensus Ranked Schools for Online Doctorates 2020

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Best Online Doctoral Programs 2020

An online PhD or professional doctorate is the real deal. Working professionals who want to earn the highest degree in their field – along with the expertise, respect, and career advancement that comes with it – no longer have to take time away from their career to go back to school. They don’t even have to spend their evenings commuting to night classes, or lose their weekends to intensive courses. The revolution in online learning over the last decade means that many of the most prestigious, reputable, and influential universities in the nation offer fully online doctoral programs in a wide variety of fields. 

You may not be able to get your MD fully online, but you can get a Doctor of Public Health from the University of North Carolina’s Gilling School, the highest-ranked public school of public health. You can get doctorates in engineering, computer science, social work, education, psychology, and more – the list goes on and on. Building on your experience as a working professional, and using cutting-edge technology, you can complete an online doctorate in just a year or two in some cases, often without ever having to go to campus. Not from fly-by-night diploma mills, but from trusted institutions with vast reach and job market advantages. 

Ranking the Best Online Doctoral Program: College Consensus Methodology

To rank the best online doctoral programs, College Consensus editors turned to the best tool we have: the Consensus itself. We researched Consensus-ranked institutions offering at least one fully online doctoral program, then ranked them according to their Consensus Score. With the Consensus method, we offer students a ranking based on a wide range of expert opinion and student reviews. 

1

University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

UPenn
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
87.1
College Consensus
96.9
Publisher Consensus
77.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
5
Online Phd Programs
1

2

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI

michigan ann arbor
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86.2
College Consensus
93.1
Publisher Consensus
79.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
7
Online Phd Programs
1

3

University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

berkeleycampus
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.4
College Consensus
93.9
Publisher Consensus
76.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2
Online Phd Programs
1

4

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC

unc CH
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84.5
College Consensus
89.9
Publisher Consensus
79.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
7
Online Phd Programs
1

5

Columbia University in the City of New York
New York, NY

columbia
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84.4
College Consensus
92.8
Publisher Consensus
75.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
5
Online Phd Programs
4

6

University of Virginia-Main Campus
Charlottesville, VA

U Virginia
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84.3
College Consensus
89
Publisher Consensus
79.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2
Online Phd Programs
2

7

University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

UF
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82
College Consensus
87.4
Publisher Consensus
76.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
10
Online Phd Programs
3

8

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

UofSouthernCalifornia
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.2
College Consensus
83.6
Publisher Consensus
78.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
7
Online Phd Programs
11

9

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI

madison UW
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
80.8
College Consensus
81.8
Publisher Consensus
79.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
7

10

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign, IL

Illinois Urbana
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
80.8
College Consensus
84.3
Publisher Consensus
77.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
4
Online Phd Programs
1

11

Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
78.9
College Consensus
87.2
Publisher Consensus
70.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2
Online Phd Programs
11

12

Purdue University-Main Campus
West Lafayette, IN

purdue
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
78.2
College Consensus
78.3
Publisher Consensus
78
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
5
Online Phd Programs
1

13

Texas A & M University-College Station
College Station, TX

Texas AandM
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
77.9
College Consensus
76.9
Publisher Consensus
78.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
5
Online Phd Programs
3

14

Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA

CMU Pitt
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
77.7
College Consensus
82.7
Publisher Consensus
72.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Phd Programs
2

15

Rutgers University-New Brunswick
New Brunswick, NJ

Rutgers University New Brunswick
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.3
College Consensus
73.8
Publisher Consensus
72.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
7
Online Phd Programs
3

16

North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Raleigh, NC

NCSU
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.3
College Consensus
71.8
Publisher Consensus
74.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2

17

Ohio State University-Main Campus
Columbus, OH

Ohio State U
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.7
College Consensus
67.5
Publisher Consensus
77.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
6
Online Phd Programs
1

18

Indiana University-Bloomington
Bloomington, IN

Indiana University Bloomington
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.1
College Consensus
66.3
Publisher Consensus
78
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
3
Online Phd Programs
1

19

Villanova University
Villanova, PA

Villanova
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.8
College Consensus
68.2
Publisher Consensus
75.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2
Online Phd Programs
1

20

Boston University
Boston, MA

Boston University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71
College Consensus
69.5
Publisher Consensus
72.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
3
Online Phd Programs
4

21

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.5
College Consensus
64.9
Publisher Consensus
76
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Phd Programs
1

22

Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX

SMU
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.7
College Consensus
63
Publisher Consensus
76.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
1
Online Phd Programs
6

23

University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA

University Iowa
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.9
College Consensus
61.3
Publisher Consensus
76.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
4
Online Phd Programs
5

24

Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY

Syracuse University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.9
College Consensus
63.6
Publisher Consensus
74.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2
Online Phd Programs
1

25

Clemson University
Clemson, SC

Clemson University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.6
College Consensus
59.8
Publisher Consensus
77.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Phd Programs
5

26

University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Amherst, MA

University of Massachusetts Amherst
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.3
College Consensus
62.4
Publisher Consensus
74.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2

27

George Washington University
Washington, DC

George Washington University 1
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.3
College Consensus
65.7
Publisher Consensus
70.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
13
Online Phd Programs
3

28

Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, TX

Texas Christian University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67.5
College Consensus
56.3
Publisher Consensus
78.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
3

29

Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY

Stony Brook University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.7
College Consensus
67.8
Publisher Consensus
65.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
10

30

Baylor University
Waco, TX

Baylor University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.4
College Consensus
55.8
Publisher Consensus
75
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
5
Online Phd Programs
1

31

University of Baltimore
Baltimore, MD

auditorium benches chairs 207691
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.9
College Consensus
61.6
Publisher Consensus
68.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2
Online Phd Programs
1

32

The University of West Florida
Pensacola, FL

University West Florida
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.9
College Consensus
54.6
Publisher Consensus
75.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Phd Programs
1

33

Point Loma Nazarene University
San Diego, CA

Point Loma Nazarene University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.8
College Consensus
57.6
Publisher Consensus
72
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
1

34

Towson University
Towson, MD

towson university
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.8
College Consensus
60.8
Publisher Consensus
68.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2
Online Phd Programs
1

35

West Chester University of Pennsylvania
West Chester, PA

West Chester University Pennsylvania
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.6
College Consensus
59.6
Publisher Consensus
69.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
2
Online Phd Programs
1

36

University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, IL

University of Illinois at Chicago
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.5
College Consensus
61.3
Publisher Consensus
67.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
6
Online Phd Programs
1

37

University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

University of utah
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.2
College Consensus
56.4
Publisher Consensus
72
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
8

38

University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY

University at Buffalo
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.1
College Consensus
58.8
Publisher Consensus
69.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
21
Online Phd Programs
2

39

University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ

U Arizona
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63
College Consensus
52.3
Publisher Consensus
73.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
5
Online Phd Programs
3

40

University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus
Pittsburgh, PA

University of Pittsburgh Campus
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.9
College Consensus
48.4
Publisher Consensus
77.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
19

41

University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, MO

University of Missouri Columbia
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.7
College Consensus
49
Publisher Consensus
76.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
3
Online Phd Programs
1

42

Florida International University
Miami, FL

FIU
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.7
College Consensus
53.8
Publisher Consensus
71.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
4

43

Rutgers University-Newark
Newark, NJ

rutgers newark
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.7
College Consensus
54.2
Publisher Consensus
71.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
1
Online Phd Programs
1

44

University of Denver
Denver, CO

U Denver
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.5
College Consensus
51.5
Publisher Consensus
73.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
3
Online Phd Programs
1

45

La Salle University
Philadelphia, PA

La Salle University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.1
College Consensus
57.6
Publisher Consensus
66.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
4

46

Webster University
Saint Louis, MO

Webster University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.1
College Consensus
51.7
Publisher Consensus
72.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Phd Programs
1

47

Iowa State University
Ames, IA

ISU
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62
College Consensus
48.4
Publisher Consensus
75.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
1
Online Phd Programs
2

48

California State University-Fresno
Fresno, CA

Fresno State
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.9
College Consensus
53.9
Publisher Consensus
69.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
3

49

University of Central Florida
Orlando, FL

University Central Florida
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.4
College Consensus
47.7
Publisher Consensus
75.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Professional Doctorates
3
Online Phd Programs
1

50

Appalachian State University
Boone, NC

App state
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.1
College Consensus
44.6
Publisher Consensus
77.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Online Phd Programs
1

Are Online Doctoral Programs Respected? 

When professionals think of pursuing their doctorate degrees, what comes to their mind is “are online PhDs respected?”All online programs are respected as long as they are from institutions that are accredited by relevant bodies, and online doctoral programs are no exemption. Most people who want to pursue a doctoral degree are busy professionals who are not able to accommodate a traditional course of study. The best online PhD programs are offered in regionally accredited institutions. An independent body such as WSCUC reviews the degree programs offered in the institution and judges them on different factors before giving accreditation.

Accredited online PhD programs are available in many U.S. universities, both public and private. Online PhDs are just as challenging as the traditional PhDs. Students that choose to pursue a doctorate degree online are self-motivated and enjoy the freedom of choosing how long they want to take to finish their doctorate. This aspect of online education helps students prove to their employers or prospective employers that they are disciplined and self-driven. Actually, 79% of organizations see the value of online degrees and say that they had hired an applicant with an online degree in the last year according to a research by Society for Human Resources Management.

How Long Do Online Doctorate Programs Take?

Enrolling for a doctorate program is a big commitment and a huge step towards advancing one’s career and achieving excellence in any field. The length of time it takes to complete an online doctorate program depends on the type of program and how many credits it requires to complete. Most traditional PhD programs take between four to seven years but students are allowed up to ten years to complete.

Online programs give students the flexibility to pursue their doctorate at their own pace. There are accelerated doctoral programs online that take as short as one year to complete. The length also depends on whether you have a master’s degree or you are pursuing a direct entry PhD. A master’s degree may allow students to transfer some credits to their doctorate. On the other hand, direct entry programs may require students to take extra credits. The shortest doctoral programs online are found in public service, law, government, engineering, education, and arts programs.

The quickest PhD ever is a PhD in philosophy. As long as one already has some publications, one can become a doctor of philosophy in less than a year. One can also pursue 1 year doctoral programs online in other fields of study as long as they are ready to spend enough time studying and researching.

Do I Have to Write a Dissertation for an Online PhD?

As much as getting a doctoral degree has many benefits, the work that goes into achieving it requires much dedication. There are many roadblocks on the road to achieving your PhD, including family responsibilities, work, time, and money. Many professionals looking to further their educations are always asking, “What is the easiest doctorate degree?” Well, there are no dissertation PhD programs. Accelerated PhD programs do not require a dissertation to graduate and take one year to complete. One year doctorate programs are available in select universities across the country but are more intensive and require students to study full time. Some of the programs that do not require dissertation include Doctor of Management (DM), Juris doctorates, law degree (JD), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and Doctor of Education (EdD).

The most common doctorate degree online no dissertation is the Doctorate in Leadership. This is a doctorate that applies in many disciplines including Organizational Leadership, Leadership and Management, and Higher Education Leadership. Traditional doctoral programs use dissertations to assess the student’s knowledge in the field. Universities that offer accelerated doctoral programs understand that it is not the only way to assess the student’s knowledge in the field and they use other parameters such as doctoral capstone projects. Students that already have published books and journals can also take their doctoral degree programs without dissertation.

Are There Any PhD Programs Without GRE or GMAT Requirements?

The online no GRE PhD programs are gaining popularity in many universities. These universities instead use the student’s professional experience, academic merits, and their motivation among other factors to admit them to their graduate programs. The GRE can be a big hurdle for students who want to pursue their PhD programs but do not have the time and money to invest in studying for the standardized exams. There are a number of PhD programs that do not require GRE online and others that the GRE can be waived under special circumstances.

Do I Need a Master’s Degree to Enroll in an Online Doctoral Program?

There are a number of PhD programs without masters degree in many universities in the U.S. Some accept students with undergraduate degrees into their doctoral programs and award them the masters degree during the course after a certain amount of coursework has been completed. Others have specific stipulations for students applying for their doctoral programs without a master’s degree. For example, many universities will allow registered nurses to pursue their doctoral degrees if they pass an interview. There are universities that will confer a master’s degree once a student is admitted to the doctoral program. Universities offering PhD without a masters admit exceptional students with outstanding grades and sometimes at least two years of professional experience.