The 15 Most Affordable Online Doctorate Programs in 2021

Finding the most affordable online doctorate programs may not be easy, but we are here to help! At one time, pursuing a doctorate while working full time was practically an impossibility. That’s no longer the case; with the continued progression of technology, it becomes easier and more affordable to attain a degree without ever having to step foot in a classroom.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics, investing in a doctorate is financially rewarding, as on average someone with a doctoral degree earns $2,513 more per month than someone with a bachelor’s degree and $1,473 more than someone with a master’s degree.

Statistically, those with doctorates also have the lowest rate of unemployment, 2.5% – compared to the 4.1% of those with master’s degrees and 5.5% of those with bachelor’s degrees, as of 2020.

See also: The 20 Fastest Ph.D. Programs

affordable online doctorate programs

Table of Contents

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are the most affordable Doctoral degrees to earn online?

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Business Administration
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Psychology

Are cheap doctoral degrees reputable?

There are many schools that offer reputable doctoral or Ph.D. programs. As with any school, you should be assured, however, that it is properly accredited. 

What price range is considered affordable or cheap for a Doctoral degree program?

Typically, you can find a quality program with tuition costs of approximately $400 to $600 per credit hour. 

METHODOLOGY

Let us help you find the most affordable doctorate school program that fits your educational requirements for starting a new career, a job promotion, or simply meeting your personal goals. Our researchers at PremiumSchools.org utilize these indicators of excellent academic standards to locate exceptional doctoral degree programs designed just for you, and… your wallet.

The following schools are listed in random order. As each and every school displays its own unique qualities and strengths, you should search our list based on your needs, career aspirations, and affordability.

The following factors were considered: 

  • Offers online classes for flexible or convenient attendance without compromising hands-on training,
  • Exhibits rigorous, yet engaging and innovative training in doctorate coursework that takes into account the readiness of students in taking the next step to their budding career,
  • Taught by outstanding faculty consisting of experts experienced at the doctoral level,
  • Held in high esteem among academic agencies, industry organizations, and journalistic resources,
  • Displays stellar reviews and feedback from school alumni and students,
  • Offers a convenient application process,
  • Provides exceptional Student Career Centers, Resource Departments, and easy-to-use Learning Management Systems, where applicable, 
  • Permits a wide range of scholarships, grants, and other financial support programs for eligible students,
  • Ensures the proper Accreditation in accordance with academic standards.

If you would like to learn more about our selection process, feel free to see our Methodology page! 

Please note that the below-mentioned tuition costs are approximate at the time of this publishing, for they may differ from program to program. Please check school websites for the most up-to-date pricing information.

The 15 Most Affordable Online Doctorate Programs

American College of Education

Online Doctorate in Education

Incorporated in 2005, the American College of Education was established with the goal of providing high-quality, affordable, and accessible online programs. The American College of Education is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and was awarded its 10-year re-accreditation in 2015, ensuring accreditation until 2025.

ACE currently offers a Doctorate of Education in Leadership program with nine separate concentrations for students to choose from, including International Education, Instructional Leadership, Online Education, STEM Leadership, Higher Education, and Early Childhood Education. U.S. News and World Report ranks the American College of Education #149 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Tuition is very affordable at $306 per credit.

Learn more about the Affordable Online Doctorate Programs in Education at the American College of Education.


Montana State University

BSN to DNP Degree in Various Options

Montana State University was originally founded in 1873 as the Agricultural College of the State of Montana; 144 years later, MSU has a student population of over 15,000 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1.

Montana State University currently offers online Doctorate in Nursing Practice programs, specifically a BSN to DNP in Family/Individual, a BSN to DNP in Psych/Mental Health, and an MN to DNP. MSU has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) since 1932, and its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. U.S. News and World Report ranks Montana State University #210 for Best National Universities.

Tuition includes $2,704 per semester for residents, or $8,317 per semester for non-residents.

Would you like more info about the Affordable Online BSN to DNP Programs at Montana State University? Take a look!


William Howard Taft University

Doctor of Education (Ed.D) Programs Online

William Howard Taft University originally began by offering continuing education programs to certified public accountants in 1976.  Since then, the school has become a specialized institution of distance education. William Howard Taft University is accredited by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE).

The university currently offers online programs for a Doctorate of Education, Doctorate of Education in Charter School Administration, Doctorate of Education in Technology and Leadership, and a Doctorate in Business Administration.

Unlike many distance learning programs that charge a particular amount per credit hour, William Howard Taft University charges tuition at a rate of $420.00 a month during the term of enrollment.

Are you interested in career advancement? Learn more about the Affordable Online Doctorate Programs at William Howard Taft University.


Valdosta State University

Online Doctorate Degrees in Education and Public Administration

Valdosta State University originally began as South Georgia State Normal College. The school has come a long way since its opening in 1913, from a college for women – with offerings in a two-year course in teacher preparation – to a flourishing university with over 11,000 students, which is part of the University System of Georgia.

Valdosta currently offers three programs at the Doctoral level: A Doctorate of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, a Doctorate of Education in Leadership, and a Doctorate of Public Administration. Valdosta State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

eTuition is $293 per credit hour.

Valdosta has several doctoral options – Learn more about the Affordable Online Doctorate Education Programs at Valdosta State University.


University of West Georgia

Online Doctorate of Education with Concentrations in Professional Counseling & Supervision, School Improvement & Nursing

The University of West Georgia originally began as an agricultural and mechanical university, established in response to a call for “more realistic educational programs for rural youth.” Today, UWG has a student population of over 12,000 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1.

The University of West Georgia offers three online Doctorate of Education programs, with majors in Professional Counseling and Supervision, School Improvement, and Nursing Education. UWG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC). Its Education programs are also accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of West Georgia #84 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Don’t forget to check out their Nursing program.

Tuition begins at $241 per credit hour.

Learn more about the Affordable Online Educational Doctorate Programs at the University of West Georgia.


Delta State University

Doctor of Nursing Practice Program with Four Options

Located in Cleveland, Mississippi, Delta State University was established in 1925. Its staff at the time consisted of a president, business manager, dietitian, and nine teachers, and its first graduating class had only 13 students. Today, DSU has over 3,000 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1.

Delta State University currently offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice program with four program options: RN-DNP, BSN-DNP, Post Master’s (Non-FNP) DNP, Post Master’s (FNP) DNP – which vary in completion time from a year and a half to four and a half years. DSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC), and its Nursing program is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. U.S. News and World Report ranks Delta State University #76 for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

Tuition for graduate programs, part-time is $442 per hour.

Are you looking to advance in your nursing career? Learn more about the Affordable Online Doctorate Programs in Nursing at Delta State University.


Walden University

Online Doctoral Degree Programs with Many Areas of Study

Founded in 1970 with the mission of providing opportunities for adults in the workforce to pursue doctoral degrees, Walden University is now a fully accredited university that offers online courses at all degree levels.

Walden has 27 online doctoral programs in nine different areas of study: Business Management, Communication and New Media, Criminal Justice and Emergency Management, Education, Information Technology, Nursing, Psychology and Counseling, Public Health and Health Sciences, and Public Policy and Administration. Walden University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1990, and currently serves over 50,000 students.

Tuition begins at $335 per credit hour, depending on your area of study.

With 27 online doctoral programs, how can you go wrong? Learn more about the Affordable Online Doctorate Programs at Walden University.


Governors State University

Doctorate of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership Distance Learning Degree Program

Founded in 1969, Governors State University and its 750-acre campus are located just 30 miles south of Chicago, Illinois. The University currently has a student population of around 6,000 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1.

Governor State University offers a 60-hour online Doctorate of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership program, with 33 of those 60 hours spent in one of four unique concentrations: Higher Education Administration, Superintendent (P-12), Not for Profit/ Social Entrepreneurship Leadership, and Public Safety Leadership. Governors State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Tuition is $477 per credit hour for resident and non-residents.

Learn more about the Affordable Online Doctorate of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership Program at Governors State University.


Oakland City University

Online Doctor of Education Degree Program with Three Specializations

Founded in 1885, Oakland City College didn’t officially open its doors to students until 1891. Since achieving University status in 1995, OCU has grown to have an enrollment of over 1,400 students, while keeping the student-to-faculty at a low ratio of 12:1.

Oakland City University’s online Doctor of Education program consists of a minimum of 90 credit hours and offers three specializations: The Superintendency, Curriculum and Instruction, and Organizational Management. Students in the program participate through Cohort Groups that are established each academic year and contain no more than 16 students. OCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is ranked #33 by U.S. News and World Report for Regional Colleges Midwest.

Tuition is $450 per credit hour.

Are you ready to take your career to the next level? Learn more about the Affordable Online Doctorate Programs at Oakland City University.


Northcentral University

Ten Online Doctorate Degree Options

Northcentral University was founded in 1996 with the goal of building upon the education foundations pioneered by the world’s brick and mortar universities, while using the internet to offer a new form of quality education. NCU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and has a student population of around 11,000 students.

NCU currently offers ten online doctorate programs, including: Doctor of Education, Doctor of Business Administration, and Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology. Northcentral University takes a unique approach to the idea of student-teacher mentors. Students are partnered with one faculty member for each course, creating a class size of one and ensuring that students have a more personalized learning experience.

Tuition costs vary widely, depending on area of study.

Not sure which direction you want to go in? Take a look at all of the affordable Online Doctorate Programs that Northcentral University has to offer.


University of Kansas

Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Nursing Practice, or Ph.D. in Nursing Distance Learning Program

Originally established in 1865, the University of Kansas has grown to encompass 13 schools and 27,000 students spread across their five campuses (Lawrence, Kansas City, Overland Park, Wichita, and Salina). KU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

The University of Kansas currently offers three online doctoral degree programs: Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Nursing Practice, and a Ph.D. in Nursing. Their DNP program has separate curriculums for those who have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree or a Master of Science in Nursing degree. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Kansas #19 for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, #118 for Best National Universities, and #56 for Best Public Schools.

Tuition varies per credit hour. See website for details.

Check out these Affordable Online Doctorate Program options at the University of Kansas.


Washburn University

Online Nursing Doctoral Degrees

Washburn University was established in 1865 by members of the Congregational Church their goal being to create an institution to provide education to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or income. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, WU has a student population of around 6,500 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1.

Washburn University has three online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs: BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP, with APRN-NP, and MSN to DNP, without APRN-NP. U.S. News and World Report ranks WU #94 for Regional Universities Midwest, and #24 for Best Public Universities.

Tuition begins at $513 per credit hour.

Would you like to know more about Washburn University’s affordable online Doctorate degrees in Nursing? Take a look!


Johnson University

Ph.D. in Leadership Studies Online

Johnson University, founded in 1893 as the School of Evangelists, was originally established under the principle “Open day and night to the poor young man who desires above every other desire, to preach the Gospel of Christ.” Today, Johnson is a private, Christian university with a relatively small student population of only 1,171, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1.

The Ph.D. in Leadership Studies program from Johnson University can be completed entirely online, and is offered with four major concentrations: Educational Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Philosophy and Theology of Leadership, and Missional Leadership. Johnson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition ranges from $450 to $675 per credit, depending on study.

Learn more about the online Ph.D. in Leadership program at Johnson University.


Old Dominion University

Online Doctorate Degrees in Nursing and Education

Founded in 1930, Old Dominion University was originally established as the College of William and Mary, the second oldest university in the United States (royally founded in 1693). Since earning its independence in 1962, Old Dominion has continued a steady pattern of growth, today it has a student population of 24,672 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1. Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, masters, education specialist, and doctoral degrees.

Old Dominion offers eight online doctorate degree programs, including Doctor of Nursing Practice and Doctor of Philosophy in Education. U.S. News and World Report ranks Old Dominion University #77 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs, #210 for National Universities, and #118 for Top Public Schools.

Tuition is $551 for Virginia Residents and $595 for out of state students.

Need more info? Learn more about the Affordable Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at Old Dominion University.


Liberty University

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

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Liberty University was founded in 1971. They are based in Lynchburg, VA and have grown from 154 students to over 15,000 residential students. They are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. As a faith-based school with Christian values, they will prepare you for life, teaching you the skills you need to succeed in your career, as well as your personal life.

Liberty University offers an online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degree program if you are interested in taking your career in education to the next level. They are dedicated to bringing you academic excellence with over 700 programs on offer, ranging from certificate programs to doctoral degrees.

Tuition for Educational Doctoral degrees begin at $650 per credit hour.

Check out additional information about Liberty University’s affordable Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership online degree program.


Typically, doctoral degree programs are expensive and tuition costs are a major deterrent for most. However, depending on your area of focus, many doctoral programs – especially online versions – are within reach.

Generally, you can find reasonably priced doctoral or Ph.D. programs in healthcare, education, or business-related subjects, as they are the most popular. So, don’t put off achieving your academic goals any longer, sign on today and get started earning your doctorate!


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