The 20 Easiest Online Doctorate Degrees

20 Easiest Doctorate Programs 2021 - featured image

If you earned an online doctorate degree from an accredited college or university, can you call yourself a “doctor”? Yes, you can, and it’s an honor that you can be proud of, too, considering how online doctorate students shed their blood, sweat, and tears! 

Easiest Online Doctorate Programs - fact

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says doctoral degrees earn $1,885/week and experience a 2.5% unemployment rate. In contrast, workers with master’s degrees earn $1,305/week (or a $580/week difference) and experience a 4.1% unemployment rate.

Quick Summarization:
What exactly are online doctoral programs, a doctorate program, or a doctoral degree? From the Latin words “docere” (to teach) and “doctoratus” (teacher), a doctorate is a terminal academic degree. Being a terminal degree, each of the doctoral degrees is considered the highest possible academic degree earned or awarded. Online doctoral students get access to finances and land some of the most lucrative careers!


When we started looking at doctorate degrees, we kept in mind that earning a doctorate demands a significant investment!  But since we were looking for the easiest doctorate degrees, we considered the following factors in our selection: 

  • The degree requirements for online doctoral students must be easy enough that a working professional can meet them on a timely basis. Most of these programs have a dissertation requirement, but their respective schools provide appropriate student support. You will have an easier time meeting dissertation requirements with the assistance of your professors.  
  • The curriculum and coursework for an online program emphasize math, science, technology subjects, and quantitative research. Instead, online doctoral students focus more on their field of specialization, soft skills, and qualitative research. You won’t have to struggle with complicated math and science subjects, but be prepared for math and science work. 
  • The online PhD programs class schedules should ideally be convenient and flexible. While there are always start and end dates for every course, students must also fulfill their personal and professional duties. Asynchronous delivery, 24/7 access to the learning materials, and the opportunity to take as many or as few classes are among the features we looked for. Many of these doctoral degree programs have short-term residency requirements, too. 

When choosing the featured schools in the list, we looked at the following factors. 

  • The college or university and their online PhD programs must be accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education. Accreditation is a must to ensure academic quality, including the faculty’s credentials and the relevance of the curriculum. Being accredited also means that the education programs of the institution meet the standards related to its facilities, finances, financial aid, administrative practices, and student support services and satisfaction. 

We considered both doctoral degree institutional and program accreditation whenever present. We also considered the schools’ overall reputation in the academic community and their specific communities. 

  • The doctoral degree online programs should fulfill certification or licensure requirements, as necessary, for the field of study. This is important for fields that require individuals to get a license or certification, such as taking national exams, to practice their profession. 
  • The doctoral degree online programs have a structure that allows their students a certain level of flexibility, as mentioned above. Students may be able to study at their own pace, access their learning materials at any time, and enjoy other benefits of asynchronous learning. But we also recognize the importance of an organized structure and thus, most of the featured programs have a specific curriculum design. For example, prerequisites must first be fulfilled, and the post-graduate courses should be sequential. 
  • The faculty members must possess the appropriate credentials, including their professional qualifications, past and current research interests, and work experiences. Student success partly rests on their shoulders, too, so their engagement in it must also be present, if not overtly manifested. 

Easiest Online Doctorate Degrees

Doctor of Arts (DA)

Doctor of Arts
Doctor of Arts

Online students who want to become acknowledged experts in a specific field of study but with a teaching emphasis can pursue a Doctor of Arts (D.A.) degree.

Online doctoral programs in this field were created as a discipline-based terminal degree and an alternative to the education-based Doctor of Education (EdD) and the research-centric Doctor of Philosophy.

Upon graduation, online students of EdD programs proceed with work in the academe, usually in teaching positions in colleges and universities. Many learners in these online programs also pursue leadership careers in other industries.

Holy Family University

Holy Family University


3206 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19134

The 100% online D.A. program offers its online students with outstanding flexibility and convenience that working professionals appreciate. Students from around the country can be admitted into the program, and the technology requirements are reasonable.. 

Online students must complete the academic requirements for 60 credits with the option to submit a dissertation or not; the doctoral thesis is recommended in such online doctorate programs but not required. The online learning program needs to be completed within two years.

Murray State University 

Murray State University

DA – English Pedagogy

102 Curris Center, Murray, Kentucky 42071 
(800) 272-4678

Teachers who are currently teaching English and its related studies at the secondary and post-secondary levels will find the D.A. English Pedagogy online doctorate program an excellent fit.

Students can choose from four specializations – Literacy, Language, Literature, and Writing – although academic explorations beyond their chosen specializations are strongly encouraged in these online doctorate programs.

There are also routes to choose from: 

  • The traditional D.A. path is designed for students with a master’s degree, and it has 48 semester hours in the curriculum. 
  • The accelerated M.A.-to-D.A. route consists of 72 semester hours, and it’s designed for students with only a bachelor’s degree. Students earn both a Master’s in English and a D.A. in English Pedagogy (Literature) after completion.

Doctor of Design (DDes)

Doctor of Design
Doctor of Design

Professionals seeking to conduct intensive and rigorous research into design-related subjects should look into the Doctor of Design (DDes) programs.

While the curricula in online doctoral degree programs of this type are different between schools, this online program emphasizes applied research. The applied research in these online doctorate programs covers a wide range of topics from building design and urban planning to product design.

The multidisciplinary approach in DDes doctoral programs focusing on applied research combines theoretical, technological, and applied topics.

North Carolina State University Online

North Carolina State University Online


Campus Box 7113, Raleigh, NC 27695-7555
(919) 515-9030

Design practitioners with a deep desire to create new knowledge and applications in design and a transformative educational experience are welcome to apply to this program. Students in these online doctorate programs pursue design research that will create the environment, structures, and systems for the future of design.

DDes doctoral programs introduce their students to research design and its methods the first year of the program; they then turn their attention to independent inquiry. A detailed design research proposal is drafted early in the second year of this 54-credit program, and students prepare for the preliminary exam. Finally, in the final years, original research is conducted toward the final dissertation process in design research .

Florida International University 

Florida International University


11200 SW 8th Street P.C.A. – 280 Miami, Florida 33199
(305) 348-1323

FIU designed its DDes doctoral programs to produce a generation of architects ready to meet the rigorous challenges of their profession and field. This is a two-year online program with minimal residency requirements. Doctoral students are encouraged to do so through a combination of research, scholarly activities, and innovation. 

The program accepts as many as 15 master-level transfer credits so that eligible students can earn their DDes degree in two years. The 60-credit program welcomes working professionals who are either teaching or aspire to teach architecture. The curriculum in these online doctorate programs usually cover the latest computer technology, digital fabrication, robotics, and advanced visualization tools.

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Doctor of Education
Doctor of Education

Doctoral students who want to work in government, non-profit organizations, and the K-12 system can apply to the Doctor of Education programs (Ed.D.) These online doctoral degree programs are different from the Doctor of Philosophy in Education or programs since these are designed to: 

  • Develop leadership and administrative skills
  • Equip students with practical skills instead of philosophical abilities 
  • Enable education students to research on the practical implications of policy and practice

Students of EdD programs work full-time while pursuing the terminal degree. In contrast, a Ph.D. in Education is for education students who want a career in the academe, such as post-secondary teachers.

Walden University 

Walden University


7065 Samuel Morse Drive Columbia, MD 21046
(866) 492-5336

Walden has established a reputation for being the Educator of Educators for more than 50 years, Education students in this doctoral program mostly specialize in Early Childhood Education, Community College Leadership, Educational Technology, Higher Education and Adult Learning, P-20 Education, and Special Education.

Doctoral programs like this typically require students to submit a research capstone project. Education students can rely on the school’s Doctoral Support Services.

Maryville University

Maryville University

EdD – Higher Education Leadership

650 Maryville University Drive St. Louis, MO 63141
(888) 266-0574

Education students earning this doctorate degree become future-focused, responsive, and reflective leaders in the field. With the program’s focus on exploring leadership theory and practice for higher education settings, students gain actionable insights into policy, governance, and finances.

This Doctor of Education (EDD) is a 48-credit program that takes 32 months. Graduates of these online doctorate programs can become leaders in their workplaces, such as presidents, deans, or provosts.

Doctor of Hebrew Letters (DHL)

Doctor of Hebrew Letters
Doctor of Hebrew Letters

Rabbis are the typical online students of Doctor of Hebrew Studies (DHL) programs. This widely considered unconventional degree encourages doctoral students to pursue individualized learning. 

Students for these online doctoral programs exercise their analytical and critical thinking skills related to the Jewish faith. The online coursework covers the Talmud and its codes and commentaries and the Bible, the Midrash and Hasidic work.

Jewish Theological Seminary

Jewish Theological Seminary

Doctor of Hebrew Literature

3080 Broadway, New York, NY 10027
(212) 678-8000

Offered at the Gershon Kekst Graduate School, the Doctor of Hebrew Literature (DHL) program is offered in these concentrations:

  • Ancient Jewish Studies
  • Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Studies
  • Jewish History
  • Jewish Thought 
  • Modern Jewish 
  • Midrash 

Students in this kind of online doctoral programs typically pursue advanced academic work but don’t seek to establish a traditional academic career.

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Doctor of Hebrew Letters

1299 Church Road, Wyncote, PA 19095
(215) 576-0800

Students at R.R.C.’s DHL program learn the deeper connections between contemporary and traditional Jewish faith. In these online doctorate programs, most are practicing rabbis who have already completed the doctoral dissertation process at other institutions. 

The program consists of three distinct learning phases: 

  • Mekhinah Year, a preparatory year 
  • Years 1-3, a Core Program phase 
  • Years 4-5, also a Core Program phase

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)

Doctor of Musical Arts
Doctor of Musical Arts

The Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) is less research-oriented than Ph.D. degrees in musical arts. The typical D.M.A. online doctorate programs combine post-graduate academic study and advanced applied studies in an area of specialization.

Graduates of D.M.A. doctoral programs become professional conductors, composers, and performers and work in teaching positions. Specializations in these types of accredited online PhD programs include voice pedagogy, instrument pedagogy, and music literature. (If you want doctoral training in music theory, music therapy, or musicology, consider a Ph.D. program instead).  

Boston University 

Boston University

D.M.A. in Music Education

855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
(617) 353-3350

BU’s D.M.A. in Music Education program welcomes students who want to boost their teaching careers, keep their musician skills in tiptop shape, and develop their scholarly skills. The university itself is a highly respected institution that has produced many of the country’s best teachers, performers, and musicians! 

Candidates in these online doctoral programs should have at least three years of experience teaching music, demonstrate leadership in the education sector, and a minimum of 3.0 GPA.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University


33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(848) 932-9360

Offered at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers’ D.M.A. program is considered the best because of its exceptional academic and practical training. Students for these online doctorate programs choose from three concentrations: 

  • Choral Conducting 
  • Instrumental/Wind Conducting 
  • Orchestral Conducting 

Each concentration requires performances in selected venues along with academic online coursework. Students also get weekly, hour-long lessons with their teachers during the 12-week semester.

Doctor of Health Administration (D.H.A.)

Doctor of Health Administration
Doctor of Health Administration

Being a leader in healthcare settings is a tough job! While work experience is a must, higher education comes in handy, too. Doctor of Health Administration or D.H.A. graduates become clinical directors, health service managers, and health or nursing program managers in hospitals, nursing homes, and other settings. 

Students can choose from specializations or tracks, such as an executive track focusing on practical leadership skillsets and internships. The common courses include: 

  • Healthcare finance
  • Healthcare system administration
  • Healthcare policy
  • Health economics
  • Organizational theory and behavior

Franklin University

Franklin University


201 S Grant Ave., Columbus, OH 43215 
(614) 797-4700

Franklin’s D.H.A. program consists of 58 semester hours divided into: 

  • 16 hours of research core 
  • 20 hours of major area courses 
  • 12 hours of electives 
  • 10 hours of dissertation 

The best thing about it: You can finish it in approximately three years! You may even finish it in less time, provided that you have at least 24 transferable credits. 

Medical University of South Carolina

Medical University of South Carolina


151-A Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29425
(843) 792-2536

Healthcare practitioners and professionals who want to use their clinical and administrative experiences for better career opportunities can take the first step by enrolling in MUSC’s D.H.A. program. Graduates become eligible for teaching positions in colleges and universities and leaders in public policy organizations, among others.

A new cohort of the DHA program begins every fall and consists of 56 hours and delivered in a blended format. There are two tracks – the Health Administrator and the Health Professional tracks. 

Doctor of Health Education (DHeD)

Doctor of Health Education
Doctor of Health Education

Healthcare educators, practicing clinicians, and leaders in the healthcare industry will find DHed programs a boost to their careers and crucial for their professional development. Here, students sharpen their leadership, communication, critical thinking skills, and teaching and research skill sets.

Plus, these programs generally don’t require a dissertation. Instead, students complete a Doctoral Research Project (D.R.P.), a written document published in peer-reviewed journals. Students also choose from several concentrations, including: 

  • Public Nutrition 
  • Epidemiology 
  • Health Education Administration 
  • Behavioral Theory 
  • Health Policy 
  • Health Services Planning 

A.T. Still University 

A.T. Still University


800 W. Jefferson Street, Kirksville, MO 63501
(660) 626-2121

The DHeD program at ATSU consists of 55 hours or 15 courses, with each core course equivalent to three credit hours. Students complete a Doctoral Research Project (D.R.P.) consisting of five 5-hour courses.

You’ll learn about traditional and emerging pedagogical and andragogical methods. A number of topics will be discussed, including student-centered learning, heutagogy, pedagogy 2.0 and 3.0, as well as problem-based learning and transformative learning. Teaching and learning will be focused on hybrid, online, and face-to-face environments.

Logan University 

Logan University

Doctor of Health Professions Education (DHPE)

1851 Schoettler Rd., Chesterfield, MO 63017
(800) 782-3344

Logan’s DHPE program is a 100% online program that allows students the benefits of self-paced study. Students can even complete their practicum and applied research projects in the comfort of their homes! Earning a doctorate without putting your life and work on hold has never been easier! 

Students are encouraged to apply their clinical experience, education skill set, and content expertise to become excellent professionals. Full-time and part-time status in this kind of doctoral programs enable students to complete the doctorate on their own time. 

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy

The beauty of Ph.D. programs partly lies in the sheer number of concentrations offered! It’s safe to say that there’s a Ph.D. program in every possible area of study, from the sciences to the arts. The actual coursework depends on the specific area of study, but the curriculum consists of academic coursework and a dissertation. 

Since Ph.D. or doctoral programs are heavy on research, most graduates become professors, researchers, and post-doctoral fellows. The academe has a strong pull among Ph.D. graduates because it’s where their advanced teaching and research abilities can be showcased.

Faulkner University 

Faulkner University

Ph.D.  in Humanities

5345 Atlanta Highway, Montgomery, AL 36109
(800) 879-9816

The Ph.D. in Humanities program at Faulkner combines a worldly perspective with a Christian education, which results in challenging and engaging discussions. The 100% online program includes an effective online learning platform and several courses, including: 

  • A foundation course in the philosophy and history of the humanities 
  • Seven core courses 
  • Two dissertation courses 
  • Two interdisciplinary seminar courses
  • Three independent tutorials in a specific area of interest 

Students can complete doctoral programs like this in three to five years, depending on their status and dissertation process completion. Credits may be transferred – up to six hours – upon the director’s approval. 

Amridge University 

Amridge University

Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies

1200 Taylor Road, Montgomery, AL 36117
(888) 790-8080

Students choose numerous courses across multiple disciplines, including Marriage and Family Therapy, Counselling, and Biblical Studies. Their stay in the program is marked by an individualized plan of study, outstanding instruction from professors and mentors, and ample student support services. 

These doctoral programs consists of 51 semester hours, consisting of research, academic areas, dissertation process, and comprehensive exam courses. Combining these courses means that students gain specialized yet multidisciplinary knowledge and skills.

Doctor of Public Health (D.P.H.)

Doctor of Public Health
Doctor of Public Health

Most D.H.P. programs require 3-4 years of study that includes academic work in education, business, and public health. Students may be required to pass an approved dissertation and pass a comprehensive oral and written exam, perhaps a short-term residency program. Graduate students can choose specializations in global health, occupational health, and environmental epidemiology. The coursework includes: 

  • Health psychology
  • Data and statistical analysis
  • Quantitative and qualitative research issues
  • Pharmacoeconomics
  • Ecological toxicology
  • Epidemiology

Johns Hopkins University 

Johns Hopkins University


3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 516-8000

Early to mid-career public health practitioners flock to J.H.U.’s top-notch D.P.H. program because it’s considered a golden ticket to executive-level positions in national and international public health organizations. Indeed, the Johns Hopkins reputation precedes it!

Students choose from several concentrations. The program itself trains its students for these positions through intensive education in: 

  • Leadership and communication 
  • Policy and program design 
  • Management and ethics 
  • Data and analytical skills 

This program demands long-term commitment, too – full-time students complete it in 5-7 years while part-time students have nine years for completion.

University of South Florida 

University of South Florida


4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33620, U.S.A.
(813) 974-2011

The U.S.F.’s D.P.H. program offers two concentrations: 

  • Advanced Practice Leadership in Public Health 
  • Public Health, Clinical Laboratory Science and Practice

Both have 43 credits for completion, consisting of core, concentration, and elective courses and a doctoral project as a culminating requirement. Students must finish 13 credit hours at the 7000 levels. Candidates may request a maximum of 12 post-master credit hours. 

Students in this type of doctoral programs gain skill sets in management and leadership, community engagement, and evidence-based public health and education.

Doctor of Theology (ThD)/Ph.D. in Theology

Doctor of Theology

The current ThD programs are regarded as a cross between Ph.D. and Doctor of Ministry (DMin) programs. While the Ph.D. programs are intensive and research-focused and the DMin programs are less intensive and application-oriented, the ThD programs have a balanced approach. These are research-oriented but with more focus on practical applications, particularly toward the improvement of practice. 

Experienced theology practitioners who want a more expansive theological foundation upon which innovations can be created will benefit the most from ThD programs.

Regent University

Regent University

Ph.D. in Renewal Theology

1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464
(800) 373-5504

Regent’s Ph.D. in Renewal Theology is a low-residency program that requires students to attend on-campus, two-week residency sessions every semester. These face-to-face sessions include in-seat class time, orientations, and academic and fellowship opportunities. The rest of the semester, however, is spent online. 

Pastors, missionaries, and educators are the typical students in the doctoral programs. This 60-week program includes these concentrations: 

  • Biblical Studies
  • Christian Theology
  • Church History
  • Practical Theology

Pontifex University 

Pontifex University


4465 Northside Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30327
(404) 252-4513

The ThD program at Pontifex University is a research-focused one where students must complete a lengthy scholarly dissertation But the dissertation process is easier and can be completed online.

Candidates must demonstrate satisfactory moral theology, systematic theology, Old and New Testament, and ecclesiastical history, among other subjects. If the candidate successfully completes the eight core study areas, he or she will receive a Diploma in Theological Foundation, which, when combined with a graduate degree, may be considered an acceptable basis for applying to a ThD program.

Ph.D. in Recreation

Ph.D. in Recreation
Ph.D. in Recreation

Students enrolled in Ph.D. in Recreation doctoral programs can spend between three and five years on their studies, depending on their enrollment status. Their graduate-level academic coursework is complemented by comprehensive examinations and a dissertation project, common graduation requirements. The choices in concentration include: 

  • Recreational Behavior and Cultural Studies 
  • Recreation and Leisure Administration 
  • Resources for Recreational and Leisure Activities 

Core classes vary between programs, but the most common are: 

  • Contemporary issues in the field of recreation 
  • Resources, policies, and emerging trends in recreation 
  • Work, health, and safety in leisure 
  • Qualitative and quantitative research data analysis 

Clemson University 

Clemson University

Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

263 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0735
(864) 656-3400 

Students have greater flexibility in determining their coursework within Clemson’s program, but there are general rules regarding the program of study. These include completing the academic requirements of at least 30 credit hours with the coursework, including Philosophical Foundations, Behavioral Aspects of PRTM, and Research Seminar.

A comprehensive exam and a final doctoral oral exam are also a must for graduation purposes as part of the final dissertation defense in this kind of doctoral programs. Both of these aspects test the student’s general and specialized knowledge and his/her knowledge of his/her research topic. 

Troy University 

Troy University

Ph.D. in Sports Management

600 University Ave, Troy, AL 36082
(800) 551-9716

Troy’s Ph.D. program welcomes sport management educators and sports practitioners who want to contribute to the body of knowledge in recreation, leisure, and sports management. Students are provided with plenty of amazing opportunities to produce new, innovative, and theoretical knowledge with possible practical applications. This is a research-oriented online doctoral degree program.

Students of this type of doctoral programs learn about sports management and develop their advanced skills in data analysis, statistics, and other soft skills for the workplace. Graduates become fit for leadership and executive roles in higher education, sports research, and athletics. 

Doctor of Church Music (D.C.M.)

Doctor of Church Music
Doctor of Church Music

The D.C.M. doctoral programs are considered easy because of their emphasis on musicianship skills in preparation for careers as professional composers, conductors, and performers of church music. Since students already have proficient music skills through education and experience, the requirements are fairly easy. 

The typical curriculum of this online doctoral degree includes training in musical instruments, such as the church organ, and a survey of past and current liturgical music. Most programs have a three-year duration. 

Graduate Theological Foundation 

Graduate Theological Foundation

Doctor of Sacred Music (D.S.M.)

116 E Sheridan Ave, Ste 207, Oklahoma City, OK 73104
(800) 423-5983

The D.S.M. program consists of two parts – 30 credits of 10 courses and six credits with the choice between an exit project or a non-project option. The exit project can be in the form of one of three tracks with the choice belonging to the student and with the guidance of an advisor, including: 

  • The academic track consists of a traditional thesis with 35,000-40,000 words 
  • The performance tracking can be a recital or a lecture with a recital; an instrumental or choral performance; or composition and performance of original works 
  • The administrative or ministerial track, featuring hymnody or workshops combined with a thesis  

Individuals with experience in parish music ministries and a master’s degree in music are welcome to apply to such doctoral programs.

Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University

Doctor of Pastoral Music (D.P.M.)

S.M.U. Perkins School of Theology, P.O. Box 750133, Dallas, TX 75275-0133
(214) 768-8436 

The 30-credit-hour D.P.M. online doctoral degree program at S.M.U. enables church music practitioners to become even better at their vocation. The curriculum consists of: 

  • Vocation and leadership courses (9 hours) including The Person and Role of a Leader in Ministry and Vocation, Leadership, and Community
  • Concentration courses (15 hours) with classes on Music and Arts in Missional Ministry, Applied Studies in Church Music, and Music in Worship and Renewal
  • Elective courses (3 hours) with choices like Directed Studies in Pastoral Music and Contextual Analysis
  • Project, practicum, and thesis (12 hours) 

Candidates must have a Master’s in Sacred Music or its equivalent and suitable experience as church musicians and a passion for pastoral music. 

Juris Doctor (JD)

Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor

Formerly known as a Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.), the Juris Doctor (JD) is a three-year professional degree that requires its holders to pass a state bar exam before becoming law practitioners. There are accelerated online doctoral degree or J.D. programs with a two-year duration. Fordham, Columbia, Rutgers, and Drexel are among the foremost universities that offer the shorter option. 

While holders of other doctorate degrees can call themselves “Doctor,” individuals with a J.D. degree don’t because it isn’t a research doctorate. But J.D. holders who passed their state’s respective bar exam can practice law or become law professors. 

If you’re interested in a law-related research degree, you can look into two options. First, a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree and, second, a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D./J.S.D.) degree. The LL.M. degree requires a J.D. degree as a prerequisite, while an S.J.D. degree has LL.M. degree as a prerequisite. 

New York University

New York University


40 Washington Sq. South, New York, NY 10012.   
(212) 998-6100

NYU’s J.D. program is known for its outstanding quality of instruction, where students learn an extensive range of subjects in legal studies. Students whose professional trajectory includes business and law will find an excellent outlet for their passions in the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership Program.

With N.Y.U. Law’s reputation for being the best in the business, students benefit from the intensive law coursework complemented by corporate skills. Students also benefit from collaborations with non-law students, particularly business students, which expand their perspective about law’s importance. 

Abraham Lincoln University

Abraham Lincoln University


Galleria Office Tower, 100 W. Broadway, Ste 600, Glendale, CA 91210
(213) 252-5100

ALU’s J.D. program provides a conducive environment for working professionals and other non-traditional students who want to plunge into the diverse careers that a J.D. degree opens. Students learn the laws of the land and conduct legal research, apply advanced thinking skills, and create legal documents during their training. 

This is a 140-quarter unit online doctoral degree program that includes core courses in criminal law, contracts and obligations, constitutional law, criminal procedure, and advanced legal research and writing.

Doctor of Criminal Justice (D.C.J.)

Doctor of Criminal Justice
Doctor of Criminal Justice

Holders of the D.C.J. degree have the skillset to become effective professionals in the academe, research industry, and administrative units in public and private organizations. Keep in mind that, like all doctorate degrees, it’s a professional terminal degree emphasizing applied research. 

In contrast, the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice or Criminology focuses on theoretical research. Both doctorate degrees, nonetheless, have overlapping functions considering that theoretical and applied research may overlap. But if you’re looking for such doctoral programs, you will gain the skillset to solve current issues using existing knowledge.

California University of Pennsylvania 

California University of Pennsylvania


250 University Ave., California, PA 15419
(724) 938-4000

Cal U’s D.C.J. program was the first regionally accredited program of its kind in the country, and, through the years, it has established a reputation for being one of the best. Students learn from the experts about applying existing knowledge in responding to and addressing the current issues of the criminal justice system.

This is a 42-credit online doctoral degree program in Criminal Justice with a two-year completion timeline, including part-time enrollment. Students must study well, nonetheless, because the coursework can be demanding. The curriculum includes the completion of a doctoral research portfolio and passing a comprehensive exam. 

Saint Leo University 

Saint Leo University


33701 State Road 52, St. Leo, FL 33574
(800) 334-5532

Saint Leo offered the second accredited D.C.J. program in the U.S., and, like Cal U, it has improved its curriculum and other aspects of instruction through the years. This is a 30-credit Criminal Justice program that can be completed in three-and-a-half years with full-time enrollment in the fall, spring, and summer terms.

Online doctoral degree graduates and students of this Criminal Justice degree online enjoy outstanding student support services, including effective partnerships between students and dissertation chairs. The Criminal Justice coursework can be customized depending on your personal and professional schedules.

Doctor of Liberal Studies (D.L.S.) 

Online doctoral degree programs in liberal studies are a consistent presence in lists of the easiest degrees because of their generalist approach, including the lack of advanced math and science courses. This is true for the D.L.S. degree programs, emphasizing the humanities, including history, art, and social sciences. 

These doctoral programs are the best fit for accomplished professionals who want a rigorous interdisciplinary program that will boost their expertise in their field. Indeed, most doctoral programs require students to meet the competitive admission process with small cohort sizes and comprehensive coursework. 

University of Memphis Global 

University of Memphis Global


Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-2000

Offered at the College of Professional and Liberal Studies, the D.L.S. online doctoral degree program allows students to follow a customized course of study with the guidance of academic advisors. Both parties work toward developing a curriculum proposal that meets the Graduate School’s graduation requirements and the student’s interdisciplinary goals. 

Students must submit their respective Coordinated Study grid, a planning document that identifies their proposed classes, before admission into the program. The program requires 33 hours of coordinated study courses and 21 hours of core requirements or 54 hours at the 7000 to 8000 level. Comprehensive exams and a dissertation process are also necessary for graduation. 

Washington University in Saint Louis 

Washington University in Saint Louis


11 N. Jackson Ave, Suite 1000, St. Louis, MO 63105-2153
(314) 935-6700

WashU Saint Louis’ DLA online doctoral degree program consists of 45 credits with nine credits dedicated for thesis and research. This is designed for working professionals and other adult learners with extensive experience with a passion for lifelong learning. It’s a rigorous interdisciplinary program that’s easy because it’s liberal studies but difficult because of the breadth of topics. 

Part-time students can complete the program in four years but must dedicate 1-2 years more for the comprehensive exams and thesis. Students work closely with academic advisors to ensure thesis completion and approval. 

Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.) 

All D.P.A. or doctoral programs of this kind offer a unique approach, curriculum, and graduation requirements that must be evaluated based on their merit. Most programs consist of at least 40 credit hours with academic coursework and dissertation process components and take 2-3 years to complete.

Many programs offer concentrations, such as ethical leadership, public management, and non-profit management, which allow for a specific field of study. 

Career opportunities are as varied as the D.P.A. programs, with popular examples being financial managers, college professors, political scientists, social service managers, urban and regional planners, and consultants.

Capella University 

Capella University 


225 South 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402
(888) 227-3552

Capella’s D.P.A. program is a breeding ground for future community leaders and advocates of effective public policy! Students get the crucial education through academic coursework, soft skills development, and community engagement.

Aside from earning a relevant D.P.A. degree, students also deepen their passion for public service and strengthen their cultural awareness and ethics. The blended doctoral programs features relevant courses like Theories and Concepts in Public Administration, Public Sector Policy Analysis, and Operational Strategic Management and Planning. 

National University 


8667 E Hartford Dr Ste 100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

The 54-credit online doctoral degree program provides students with a solid foundation in applied research concerning public administration, including its policies, principles, and practices. While there’s a research component, it’s geared more toward practical applications than theoretical implications.

Students in these doctoral programs will learn how to use research methods and literature to apply their knowledge. NU’s curriculum provides online learning students with skills to evaluate theories and practices in the field.

Doctor of Information Technology (D.I.T.)

The D.I.T. degree is a professional doctoral degree with a strong applied research orientation. Graduates of these programs can call themselves “Doctor” and attach the post-nominals “D.I.T.” to their names. This degree is at the same level as a Ph.D. in I.T., but the latter has a more theoretical framework. 

Concentrations for this online doctoral degree are available, including software engineering, information systems, and information security. Candidates for doctoral programs admission generally have bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in I.T. or related disciplines, a must since I.T. is also a specialized field.

The common requirements for completing this online doctoral degree are academic coursework, original research and dissertation with an oral defense, and comprehensive exam. 

Walden University 

Walden University


7065 Samuel Morse Drive Columbia, MD 21046
(866) 492-5336

Walden’s D.I.T. program requires its candidates to possess a master’s degree in information systems, information technology, or cybersecurity, among other related disciplines. For online doctoral degree candidates without a technical master’s degree, at least three years of relevant technical work experience must be admitted.

The concentrations offered are Applied Information Technology and Information Technology Leadership.

City University of Seattle 

City University of Seattle


521 Wall St., Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98121
(800) 426-5596/(206) 239-4500

When you complete the D.I.T. program at CityU, you can become a “change agent in the I.T. industry” due to your interdisciplinary training. This online doctoral degree is a 90-credit program designed for I.T. practitioners who want to gain advanced skillsets in educational technology and computing. The concentrations offered are Cybersecurity, Computer Science, and Data Science. 

Online doctoral degree students in this field get intensive training in various topics to prepare them for senior-level or executive-level positions in public and private sectors. The curriculum consists of up-to-date courses in cloud computing, data science, and artificial intelligence.

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Becoming a well-respected ministry researcher or professor can start with earning a Dmin degree from an accredited university. Aside from the well-paying jobs, graduates can also look forward to becoming influential religious leaders, religious counselors, founders of churches, and chaplains.

Most DMin programs allow their students to customize their program of study. Concentrations in these doctoral programs are aplenty, too, including: 

Duke University 

Duke University


Duke Divinity School, 407 Chapel Drive, Duke Box #90968, Durham, NC 27708-0968
(919) 660-3400

Duke is among the world’s top research universities, and its enviable reputation extends to its Duke Divinity School, which offers a top-notch DMIn program. This is a hybrid online doctoral degree program with five-week-long, on-campus residential seminars over the three-year program’s duration. The residencies are complemented by eight-week periods.

In order to complete the DMin, practical ministry experience is combined with structured theological reflection. As the Scriptures and traditions of the church are studied alongside contemporary leadership theory and practice, the course grows an understanding of the nature, source, and characteristics of authentic Christian leadership.

Emory University 

Emory University


Rita Anne Rollins Building, 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30322 
(404) 727-6322

Offered at the Candler School of Theology, the DMin program consists of 32 credit hours that can be completed in three years. The hybrid delivery for this online doctoral degree means a combination of online instruction and on-campus residency, albeit short-term stays. The residency requirement consists of four stays, once for each year of the first two years and then twice in the third year. 

Experienced ministers are typical online doctoral degree students, and their training enables them to strengthen their understanding of the relationship between theology and ministry. Students choose between two concentrations – first, Church Leadership and Community Witness and Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation. The final capstone project in this online doctoral degree must combine academic study and practical applications in ministry. 

Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc)/Ph.D. in Health Sciences

The Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) and Ph.D. in Health Sciences are academic doctorate degrees that combine academic coursework, clinical practice, and research. Both doctoral programs also require master’s credentials and work experience for admission, and both can open career opportunities in academic and non-academic settings.

Due to their advanced nature, this online doctoral degree should lead to leadership or executive positions where high-level thinking abilities are a must. 

Bay Path University 

Bay Path University


588 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA 01106
(800) 782-7284

Experienced practitioners in healthcare-related occupations who want to assume leadership roles in their fields find B.P.U.’s DHSc program an excellent credential. The intensive online doctoral degree training provides them with a new way of looking at real-world issues and finding viable solutions for these problems. 

Students pursuing doctorate degrees in this field must complete the requirements for 48 credits, or 16 courses, regardless of their chosen concentration. The available tracks in this online doctoral degree are: 

  • Health Informatics Management
  • Organizational Excellence in Healthcare
  • Online Teaching
  • Productive Aging
  • Advanced Occupational Therapy Practice

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences

414 E. Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069
(877) 269-6837

The interprofessional Ph.D. in Health Sciences program prepares its students for leadership positions in health and human services, research, and the academe. Working professionals are at the heart of this online doctoral degree program, and candidates must have sufficient relevant experience to be considered for admission. 

The doctoral programs have four core components – teaching, scholarship, leadership, and advanced practice. Students in this online doctoral degree benefit from the convenience of online course delivery with minimal residency requirements.

Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.)/Ph.D. in Social Work  

Professionals with a doctorate in social work, whether a Ph.D. or a doctoral degree, as well as several years of experience and state licensure, have more rewarding career opportunities. Their advanced skillset is the most qualified for executive-level positions in organizations, including schools, non-profits, and research firms. 

The common courses in Ph.D. and doctorate of social work programs include:

  • Social science theories 
  • Advanced research methods and statistics 
  • Teaching in higher education programs 
  • Grant writing
  • Social welfare policy and practice analysis 

University of Buffalo

University of Buffalo


685 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260
(716) 645-3381

The 39-credit D.S.W. doctorate program welcomes experienced licensed social workers with a master’s degree in social work or a related discipline who want to improve their career opportunities. Students can choose to be on full-time or part-time enrollment; if you choose the latter, you can finish the program in three years or seven semesters.

Doctoral programs candidates must have access to willing clients or client populations as part of the admission process. This online doctoral degree is based on U.B.’s trauma-informed and human rights viewpoint. The online coursework includes organizational characteristics, concepts in implementation science, and technology and human behavior. 

Baylor University 

Baylor University

Ph.D. in Social Work 

811 Washington Ave., Waco, TX 76701
(254) 710-6400

Graduates of Baylor’s Ph.D. in Social Work program have an excellent shot at becoming leaders and educators in the field of social work. Baylor provides top-notch training that transforms them into visionary leaders and educators!

The coursework for this online doctoral degree includes research and analysis methods, leadership and administration, and religious and cultural diversity. Even the faculty is actively involved in research, ranging from child welfare and adoption to grief and loss. Upon earning this online doctoral degree, you will be prepared to pursue licensure as a social worker.

Doctorate Degrees Types 

The Doctor of Philosophy are research-oriented doctorate degrees, emphasizing original research, evaluation of theory, and data analysis. These are designed for professionals in pursuit of knowledge, including theoretical and applied research activities. The common Ph.D. programs include: 

  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
  • Doctor of Business Management (Ph.D.)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Doctor of Theology (Th.D.)
  • Doctor of Public Health (D.P.H.)

All Ph.D. or doctoral programs have dissertation requirements due to the emphasis on new research. The final stage is the oral defense before a committee or panel.

Professional doctoral programs are also known as the terminal doctorate or the applied doctorate offering practical solutions or effective practices in response to complex issues.

Who Should Pursue An Online Doctorate Program

Students who pursue professional doctorate programs typically include those who want to: 

  • Pursue career advancement 
  • Establish teaching authority or credibility 
  • Meet the professional requirements for executive-level jobs in the corporate world 
  • Build a consultancy business 

The most common professional doctorate degrees include: 

  • Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)
  • Juris Doctor (JD)
  • Doctor of Professional Studies – Instructional Design Leadership
  • Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.)
  • Doctor of Healthcare Administration (D.H.A.)
  • Doctor of Finance (D.P.H.)

Unlike Ph.D. programs, professional doctorate programs may or may not have a dissertation requirement. Each is a online doctoral degree that isn’t academia-focused post-graduate or doctoral programs but are instead programs that encourage doctoral students to tackle real-world issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years does an online doctorate take to complete for doctoral students? 

The answer depends on the chosen path of the doctoral student who opts for the online distance learning format. Doctorate degrees require between 60 and 120 semester credit hours, translating to approximately between 20 and 40 courses. In general, applied doctoral programs are at the 60 credit mark but nowhere near the 120-mark. But Ph.D. programs typically require 120 semester credit hours.

Applied doctoral programs can be earned in 4-6 years, while a Ph.D. may take eight. Doctoral students can decide on taking either a shorter or longer time depending on the online doctorate, your status as a student (part-time or full-time), and completion of graduation requirements.

How much will it cost to attend a doctoral program and earn a doctorate?

Your total costs will depend on where the doctoral students are enrolled, what financial aid options you took, and your time spent.

The tuition and fees for an online doctoral degree vary depending on where you live. Schools may or may not have different rates for in-state and out-of-state students in online programs.

Doctoral students can spend between $11,900+ per year to upwards of $62,000 per year depending on the doctoral degrees being pursued. A financial aid program can help augment this burden.

What are the typical doctoral program admission requirements?  

Keep in mind that doctorate programs tend to have competitive admission requirements, such as:

  • GRE or GMAT scores may be required depending on the program’s requirements
  • Letters of recommendation 
  • Portfolio/resume 
  • Personal statement or essay 
  • Official transcripts 
  • Prerequisite courses 

Most doctoral programs also require candidate interviews, and evaluation for financial aid qualification. 

What are the typical components of a doctorate curriculum in an online distance learning format? 

There are four stages of coursework in typical doctoral programs. 

  • The research core in online doctorate programs consists of classes that establish your foundational skills in advanced writing, applied statistics, research methodology, and qualitative and quantitative research and analysis.
  • The focus courses are specific to your course of studies.
  • The electives in online doctoral programs teach skills that may or may not be specific to your chosen field.
  • The dissertation is typically the last stage in doctoral programs.

Key Takeaways

Indeed, even the 20 easiest doctorate degrees offered online aren’t as easy as they sound! Doctoral students must submit themselves to the rigorous coursework of such doctoral programs, including class discussions, examinations, and research in an advanced degree.

Once you have achieved your online doctoral degree, you can call yourself a doctor and prove that you are an authority in your field. Pursue different career routes depending on your professional goals and the type of online doctoral degree programs you complete!

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor