The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a terminal degree at the pinnacle of higher education that certifies students’ scholarly research expertise. Earning a PhD is a difficult process but as we all know, some degree options are easier than others. Working towards a PhD is an excellent idea for academically talented students with a love for research and innovation. An easy PhD sounds like an oxymoron because years of time-consuming dissertation work is required, but some online colleges are making doctorates less taxing.
Since a PhD is required for many university-level faculty, laboratory, behavioral health, and management positions, we researched the easiest PhD programs known to modern man. oing beyond the master’s degree for a doctorate can pay off with average lifetime earnings of $3.3 million. Demand for post-secondary professors is growing faster-than-average by 13 percent to spawn 177,000 openings nationwide too.
Top help you select the Best Accredited Online PhD Program to suit your individual needs, we’ve created the following list of the Top 20 Easy Accredited Online PhD Programs for advanced students. We searched for online universities that significantly reduce residency requirements, accelerate courses, allow credit transfers, and integrate dissertation colloquium. Each prospective school had to be approved by one of six regional accrediting bodies. At least one Doctor of Philosophy program had to be available 100 percent online. Preference was given to traditionally easier majors, such as education, humanities, and social sciences. We consulted with college rankings like the U.S. News and Forbes to survey online programs’ prestige. Affordability was judged from doctoral tuition prices published on each school’s website. Other important factors were cohort size, scheduling flexibility, faculty mentoring, student support, exam requirements, residency length, and ease of online technology.
Here are our selections for the Top 20 Easy Accredited Online PhD Programs:
1. University of Florida
Endowed for $1.46 billion, the University of Florida is a regionally accredited public, sea-grant RU/VH institution educating over 16,200 post-graduates in Gainesville and online. The U.S. News recognized Florida as America’s 50th best university with the #1 top online graduate education. Gator Nation chooses from 11 online doctoral programs, including a PhD in Classical Civilization and PhD in Latin and Roman Studies, that conveniently offer distance test proctoring and dissertation research.
Tuition: $3,876 (in-state) or $16,580 (out-of-state) yearly
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programws at University of Florida here.
2. University of Missouri
Belonging to the AAU, the University of Missouri is a public, land-grant RU/VH institution enlightening nearly 6,000 post-graduates in Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis, and online. The U.S. News named Mizzou the 111th top university with the 61st best online graduate education. Doctoral candidates select from 10 primarily online programs, such as the PhD in Art Education and PhD in Architectural Studies. The PhD in Nursing has a simplified, fast-track route for MSN graduates too.
Tuition: $18,745-$49,046 total
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at the University of Missouri here.
3. Colorado State University
Established under the Morrill Act in 1870, Colorado State University enrolls over 7,400 post-graduates in Fort Collins and online as a public, land-grant RU/VH institution. According to the U.S. News, CSU is America’s 129th best university with the 31st best online graduate engineering education. With 95 percent average retention, doctoral students pursue the Systems Engineering PhD or Higher Education Leadership PhD online. Online interactions allow candidates to work full-time during the 72-credit programs.
Tuition: $882-$1,035 per credit
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Colorado State University here.
4. University of North Dakota
Based in the Flickertail State’s third-largest city, the University of North Dakota is a flagship public, space-grant RU/H institution educating over 2,800 post-graduate Fighting Hawks. The U.S. News crowned UND the 202nd best university with the 43rd best online graduate business education. With easy start dates anytime, there are four online doctorates, including the PhD in Higher Education and PhD in Nursing. The 90-credit programs are completed in three years with live Web classes.
Tuition: $410 per credit
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at the University of North Dakota here.
5. Nova Southeastern University
Attracting over 24,100 Sharks who “Engage, Inspire, Achieve,” Nova Southeastern University is a SACS-accredited private, nonprofit institution teaching in Fort Lauderdale and online. The U.S. News applauds NSU as America’s 214th top college with the 84th best online graduate education. Mid-career practitioners can enroll in 10 online doctoral programs like the Conflict Analysis and Resolution PhD and Criminal Justice PhD. Online lectures and projects on Blackboard are supplemented with just two residential institutes.
Tuition: $635-$1,040 per hour
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Nova Southeastern University here.
6. Liberty University
Regionally accredited by the SACS, Liberty University is a private, nonprofit Baptist institution enrolling around 5,800 post-graduates online and in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty is acclaimed for America’s 87th best online graduate nursing and 92nd top online graduate business education on the USNWR. There are 25 online doctoral programs available, including a PhD in Counselor Education and PhD in Theology & Apologetics. Graduate prior learning assessment credits can easily accelerate study for experienced scholars.
Tuition: $595 (full-time) or $650 (part-time) per hour
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Liberty University here.
7. Johnson University
Affiliated with the Restoration Movement, Johnson University is a private, nonprofit Christian institution enrolling around 1,000 co-eds near Knoxville, Tennessee, and conveniently online. Forbes ranked Johnson 56th among the United States’ most financially fit private values. Online students could obtain the PhD in Leadership Studies with four concentrations like Educational Leadership or Missional Leadership. Grounded in the Gospel, the flexibly-designed, 60-credit program involves a candidacy paper and dissertation without comprehensive exams.
Tuition: $525 per credit or $31,500 total
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Johnson University here.
8. Grand Canyon University
Started by the Arizona Southern Baptists in 1949, Grand Canyon University is a private, for-profit research institution matriculating over 60,700 online Antelopes. Graded A for diversity, GCU is ranked America’s 20th best online college with 65th best college with no application fee on Niche. The College of Doctoral Studies houses 14 online options, including a PhD in General Psychology and EdD in Organizational Leadership, with an integrated dissertation process.
Tuition: $640 per credit ($400 for active duty military)
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Grand Canyon University here.
9. Keiser University
Within the ICUF, Keiser University stands as a private, nonprofit teaching institution with nearly 17,000 Seahawks studying from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach and online. The U.S. News crowned Keiser the South’s 23rd top college and 11th best value school. Holding SACS accreditation, the E-College offers 11 online doctoral programs, such as the Industrial and Organizational Psychology PhD and Instructional Design PhD. There’s also an Administracíon de Empresas DBA for Spanish speakers to easily comprehend.
Tuition: $2,097-$2,796 per course
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Keiser University here.
10. Southern New Hampshire University
Founded by Harry A.B. Shapiro in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit NEASC-accredited institution serving over 60,000 students online from Manchester. SNHU is ranked the North’s 101st best college and most innovative school by the U.S. News. Doctoral candidates can choose from the International Business PhD or Educational Leadership EdD program. Flexible, self-tailored curriculum easily guides online students to the doctoral dissertation colloquium with 24/7 mentoring access.
Tuition: $1,570 per credit
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Southern New Hampshire University here.
11. Walden University
Owned by Laureate Education Inc., Walden University is a public benefit, for-profit institution in Minneapolis that’s attracting over 49,000 online students from 29 global countries. Washington Monthly honored Walden as the 19th best college for adult learners nationally. With an average age of 39, doctoral candidates pursue Walden’s 27 HLC-accredited programs, including the PhD in Management and PhD in Health Promotion. Up to 53 credits can transfer to shorten the standard 66-month timeline.
Tuition: $590 per quarter hour
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Walden University here.
12. University of Maryland University College
Given the CCME Institution Award, the University of Maryland University College is one of the largest public, state-related online learning providers with more than 17,400 post-graduates. Based in Adelphi, UMUC was named third among Forbes’ great colleges for adults returning to school. Online doctoral candidates benefit from 24/7 flexibility, short campus residencies, and virtual dissertation support. Offerings include a 48-credit PhD in Management and PhD Community College Policy and Administration.
Tuition: $52,176 total
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at the University of Maryland University College here.
13. Faulkner University
Since 1942, Faulkner University has been a private, nonprofit institution affiliated with the Churches of Christ to provide SACS-accredited education to over 3,500 in Montgomery, Alabama, and now online. Niche ranked Faulkner as America’s 77th most conservative college and 309th best Christian university. Adult learners choose from two accelerated, affordable doctoral programs, the PhD in Biblical Studies and PhD in Humanities. The 54-credit degrees involve three independent tutorials, seven courses, and two dissertation semesters.
Tuition: $600 per hour
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Faulkner University here.
14. Trident University International
Led by CEO Travis Allen, Trident University International is a WASC-accredited private, nonprofit online education provider in Cypress, California, with over 6,100 students. Included in Victory Media’s “Best for Vets” five times, Trident is deemed America’s 82nd best online university on Niche. Exceptional research mentoring and flexible webinars accompany Trident’s four online doctoral programs. Consider pursuing the 56-credit PhD in Business Administration or PhD in Health Sciences degrees.
Tuition: $3,900 per course ($3,200 for active military)
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Trident University International here.
15. Capella University
With enrollment surpassing 39,000 online, Capella University is a private, for-profit distance learning provider based in Minneapolis since 1993. Noted for winning the CHEA Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice, Capella is ranked America’s seventh best online school on Niche. Holding HLC-NCA accreditation, Capella offers 36 online PhD programs, including the PhD in Human Services and PhD in Information Technology. The competency-based curricula can culminate in a shorter, easier doctoral capstone instead of a dissertation.
Tuition: $2,800-$5,700 per quarter
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Capella University here.
16. Concordia University Chicago
Headquartered in River Forest, Illinois, Concordia University Chicago is a private, nonprofit liberal arts institution of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod with 3,600 post-graduates. Niche lauded CUC as America’s 254th best Christian college 231st best college with no application fee. Master’s degree holders pick from 14 online doctoral programs, such as the PhD in Gerontology and PhD in Sports Leadership. Without on-site requirements, the quick, eight-week doctoral courses lead to an independent dissertation.
Tuition: $710 per credit hour
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Concordia University Chicago here.
17. University of Phoenix
Established in 1976, the University of Phoenix is a for-profit, open-enrollment institution owned by Apollo Education Group Inc. that’s educating over 142,500 online scholars. Graded B for value on Niche, UOPX was ranked 17th nationally for online teaching by the Best College Reviews. The School of Advanced Studies produces scholar-practitioner-leaders online with nine doctoral programs, such as the EdD in Educational Technology or PhD in Organizational Leadership, and brief three-day residencies.
Tuition: $810 per credit ($175 resource fee)
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at the University of Phoenix here.
18. Northcentral University
Owned by Falcon Investments LLC, Northcenral University is a virtual private, for-profit institution based in San Diego, California, with over 10,000 scholars. Placed in the nation’s top 5 percent on College Factual, NCU is ranked 29th on the OEDB. Boasting 52 weekly starts annually, Northcentral offers 10 online doctoral programs like the PhD in Business Administration and PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy. The WASC-accredited, one-to-one degrees range from 60 to 105 credits without a pesky entrance exam.
Tuition: $2,733-$3,591 per course
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at Northcentral University here.
19. Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology enrolls over 4,500 post-graduates as a private, nonprofit behavioral sciences institution with courses from Chicago to Los Angeles and online. Bestowed the NCSPP Advocacy Award, the Chicago School was included in Super Scholar’s 25 best online colleges. Maintaining WASC and APA accreditation, CSPP’s seven online doctoral programs allow easy, 24/7 access through Canvas. Open pathways exist for the Applied Behavior Analysis PhD, Business Psychology PhD, and more.
Tuition: $1,350 per hour
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology here.
20. University of the Rockies
Regionally accredited by the HLC-NCA, the University of the Rockies is a private, for-profit member of Bridgepoint Education that’s educating over 1,300 in Denver and online. Specializing in social sciences, UoR was ranked among Best Value Schools’ top 30 online universities. Five online doctoral options exist, including a PhD in Human Services and PhD in Organizational Development and Leadership. Online courses have an accelerated, six-week format for easily completing the 62-credit degrees fast.
Tuition: $1,082 per credit ($950 technology fee)
Learn more about Accredited Online PhD Programs at the University of the Rockies here.
The Best Strategy to Get a Doctorate Degree Without a Dissertation
You no longer have to complete a dissertation in order to get a doctorate degree. Leading universities, both in and outside the U.S., offer programs where you can graduate with just a large research project – or even without one at all! Follow the steps below to navigate your easy way of becoming a PhD.
Choose a Knowledge Area
There are fields where getting a PhD without a dissertation is more common, including:
- Nursing and health practice.
- International or counselor education.
- Psychology and related studies.
Additionally, you can obtain doctorate degrees other than a PhD in leading universities, in particular:
- Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) at Marymount University – no dissertation needed, as the studies are mainly practically- and clinically-based.
- Doctor of Management (DM) at Colorado Technical University – you can write a series of publishable articles instead of a dissertation.
- Juris doctorates (J.D.) in most universities are granted on the bases of coursework and exam results only.
Check Available Programs
After you choose a field to major in, do an online search to find out what dissertation-free programs are currently available. Check the program duration, mode of study (online or not), and fees – these conditions may vary considerably across universities.
Look out for programs that require you to complete a “major research project” instead of a dissertation – you may have to put no less effort into it than an actual thesis.
Some people are suspicious towards doctorate programs that do not require dissertations because they consider their quality to be inferior. You have probably heard the opinion that doctorate grades obtained this way are not “real.” However, this belief is nothing but a stereotype if you think about the purpose behind dissertation writing.
The reason that you are required to write a thesis is to test your ability to conduct independent and scientifically valuable research. If you can demonstrate this ability in other ways, such as doing the coursework and taking exams, there is no actual need to write a dissertation.
Be an Expert
If you have had any of your previous research works published, especially in leading journals, escaping dissertation writing should be no trouble at all. Just show your published books, articles, or essays to your lecturer to make it clear right away that you are an expert in your coursework field and do not need a dissertation to prove it. If you pursue a doctorate degree in the same area of knowledge as your research background, your supervisor will surely be impressed.