100% Online Doctorate Programs: 2023 Complete Guide

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best 100% online doctorate programs
best 100% online doctorate programs

Are you looking for an effective way to earn your doctorate online? This is achievable with any of the best 100% online doctorate programs we’ve listed in this guide.

These highly-rated 100% online doctorate programs are designed for working professionals who want to combine studying with personal and professional life activities.

It is cool to know that these programs allow busy students to earn an advanced degree without having to attend on-campus classes.

In this guide, you will gain an overview of the 100% online doctorate programs and how you can choose the right online doctorate program for you.

What are 100% online doctorate programs?

100% online doctorate programs, also known as fully online doctorate programs, are doctorate programs with courses that will be delivered completely online. These programs have fewer or no on-campus/in-person requirements.

Just like on-campus programs, these 100% online doctorate programs take four to six years to complete. However, the duration of a program depends on the program type, area of focus, and institution.

Also, self-paced programs can take more time to complete, depending on the student’s commitment. This is because self-paced programs are designed to be accomplished at the student’s schedule and speed.

100% Online Program vs Hybrid/Blended Program: What is the difference?

Both programs are offered online but a hybrid program requires more campus visits. The main difference between 100% online programs and hybrid programs is the learning format in which classes are offered.

100% online programs take place fully online; course instruction and all learning activities are online, with no face-to-face requirements.

Students enrolled in 100% online programs can take courses online from the comfort of their homes without visiting the school campus.

Hybrid programs, also known as blended programs, combine in-person and online learning. Students enrolled in hybrid programs take 25 to 50% of their courses on campus. The remaining courses will be delivered online.

Asynchronous Vs Synchronous: What is the difference?

100% online doctorate programs can be delivered in two formats: Asynchronous and Synchronous.

Asynchronous

In this type of online learning, you can complete coursework each week on your schedule. You will be provided with pre-recorded lectures and assignments are given at a time frame.

There are no live interactions, instead, interaction usually takes place through discussion boards. This learning format is perfect for students with busy schedules.

Synchronous

In this type of online learning, students take courses in real-time. Synchronous programs require students to participate in live virtual classes, where students and professors meet in real time for lectures.

Students are required to log in on specific days at set times. This format of learning is ideal for students who want a ‘real’ college experience.

Note: Some programs have both synchronous and asynchronous courses. This means you will take classes online and also watch pre-recorded lectures, take quizzes, etc.

What are the Types of 100% Online Doctorate Programs?

There are two main types of doctorate degrees offered online and on-campus, which are: research doctorate (Ph.D.) and professional doctorate.

  • Research Doctorate

Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., is the most common research doctorate. A Ph.D. is an academic degree focused on original research. It can be completed in three to eight years.

  • Professional Doctorate

A professional doctorate is an academic degree focused on applying research to real-world work settings. Professional doctorates can be completed in four years.

Examples of professional doctorates are DBA, EdD, DNP, DSW, OTD, etc.

Requirements for 100% Online Doctorate Programs

Generally, online doctoral programs have similar admission requirements to on-campus programs.

Most doctoral programs require the following:

  • A master’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Work experience
  • Transcripts from previous institutions
  • Letter of Intent
  • Essays
  • Letters of Recommendation (usually two)
  • GRE or GMAT score
  • A Resume or CV.

Note: Admission requirements for doctorate programs are not limited to the requirements listed above. Please, check the requirements for your program before you submit applications.

How to Choose the Best 100% Online Doctorate Program

Now, that you have gained a clearer understanding of a 100% online doctorate program. It is now time to choose your online doctorate program. The decision is not easy to make but the tips listed below will help you to make the right decision.

Curriculum

Before you enroll in any program, always make sure to check the coursework. The courses must match your career goals and specific needs.

Not all programs will have the courses you need.

So, once you know what you want to study, begin to research the colleges that offer the program and pay attention to the coursework.

Cost

Cost is another important factor to consider. The cost of an online program depends on the level of program, school, residency state, etc.

Choose the program you can afford and also check if you are eligible for scholarships or grants. You can cover the tuition of an online program with scholarships.

Flexibility

We explained asynchronous and synchronous learning formats earlier. These learning formats are different in terms of flexibility.

Asynchronous is more flexible than the other counterpart. This is because courses can be taken at your own pace. You can choose to watch your lectures at any time you want.

Synchronous, on the other hand, offers less flexibility. This is because students are required to take classes in real-time.

If you are someone with a busy schedule and can’t take classes in real-time, then you should go for asynchronous. Students who want to experience “real college” online can go for synchronous.

Accreditation

Accreditation should be one of the first things to look out for in a school. This is because accreditation ensures that you earn a credible degree.

An online college must be accredited by the right agencies. There are two types of accreditation to look out for:

  • Institutional accreditation
  • Programmatic accreditation

Institutional accreditation is a type of accreditation granted to a whole institution while programmatic accreditation applies to a single program.

Technology requirements

Before you enroll in an online program, it is important to consider the technology requirements.

To complete a program online, you will need some technology requirements like:

  • A computer or mobile device
  • Headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox
  • Stable internet connection, etc.

Universities offering the Best 100% Online Doctorate Programs

Below is a list of universities offering the best 100% online programs:

1. University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 1740, UPenn is one of the oldest universities in America.

In 2012, UPenn launched its first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  

The University currently offers a range of online programs, including 1 fully online doctoral program;

  • Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

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2. University of Wisconsin – Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin. It was established in 1848.

University of Wisconsin-Madison offers 2 100% online doctorate programs, which are:

  • DNP in Population Health Nursing
  • DNP in Systems Leadership & Innovation.

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3. Boston University

Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

Since 2002, BU has been offering top online learning programs.

Currently, BU offers one 100% fully online doctorate program;

  • Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD).

The Online OTD program is offered by Sargent College, Boston’s College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences.

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4. University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is a leading private research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. It was established in 1880.

USC Online, the virtual campus of the University of Southern California, offers four 100% online doctorate programs, which are:

  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • Global Executive Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership
  • Doctorate of Social Work (DSW).

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5. Texas A & M University, College Station (TAMU)

Texas A & M University-College Station is the first public university located in College Station, Texas, United States.

Founded in 1876, TAMU is the state’s first public institution of higher learning.

TAMU offers four 100% online doctorate programs, which are:

  • Ph.D. in Plant Breeding
  • Ed.D in Curriculum & Instruction
  • DNP – Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • D.Eng – Doctor of Engineering.

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6. Ohio State University (OSU)

Ohio State University is a public land-grant research university located in Columbus, Ohio, United States. Founded in 1870, it is one of the largest universities in the United States.

OSU Online, the virtual campus of Ohio State University, offers one 100% online doctorate online program.

Doctor of Nursing Education is offered 100% online, and there are two specializations, which are:

  • Academic Nursing Education
  • Nursing Professional Development.

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7. Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington is a public research university in Bloomington, Indiana. It is the flagship campus of Indiana University.

IU Online, the online campus of Indiana University, is Indiana’s largest provider of online education at the bachelor’s degree level.

It also offers five 100% online doctorate programs, which are:

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Art Education, EdD
  • Educational Leadership, EdS
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education, EdD
  • Instructional System Technology, EdD
  • Music Therapy, PhD.

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8. Purdue University – West Lafayette

Purdue University – West Lafayette is a public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. It is the flagship campus of the Purdue University System.

Purdue University Global is a public online university, and it is part of the Purdue University System.

Currently, it offers one 100% online doctorate program;

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

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9. University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh is a public university located in Pennsylvania, United States. Established in 1787, it is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the US.

Pitt Online, the virtual campus of the University of Pittsburgh, offers these 100% online doctorate programs:

  • Post-Professional Doctor of Clinical Science (CSCD)
  • Doctor of Physician Assistant Studies.

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10. University of Florida

The University of Florida is a public land-grant research university in Gainesville, Florida. It is recognized among the top public universities in the US.

UF Online, the virtual campus of the University of Florida, offers two 100% online doctorate programs, which are:

  • Educational Leadership (EdD)
  • The Teachers, Schools, and Society (TSS) EdD program.

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11. Northeastern University

Northeastern University is a private research university with multi campuses in the US and Canada. Its main campus is located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University also offers several online programs. Currently, it offers three 100% online doctorate programs, which are:

  • Ed.D – Doctor of Education
  • Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) in Healthcare Leadership
  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy.

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12. University of Massachusetts Global (UMass Global)

The University of Massachusetts Global is a private, non-profit university, that offers online and hybrid programs.

UMass Global traces its roots to 1958 and was officially established in 2021.

The University of Massachusetts Global offers one 100% online doctorate program;

  • Ed.D in Organizational Leadership (bullet point).

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13. Georgia Washington University (GWU)

Georgia Washington University is a private university located in Washington, D.C., United States. Founded in 1821, it is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia.

Georgia Washington University offers these 100% online doctorate programs:

  • D.Eng. in Engineering Management
  • Ph.D. in Systems Engineering
  • Post-Professional Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD)
  • DNP in Executive Leadership (post-MSN opportunity).

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14. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The University of Tennessee is a public land-grant research university located in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States, and founded in 1794 as Blount College.

Vols Online, the virtual campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee offers two 100% online doctorate programs, which are:

  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering

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15. Drexel University

Drexel University is a private research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 1891 as a non-degree granting institution.

Drexel University offers four 100% online doctorate programs, which are:

  • Doctor of Couple and Family Therapy (DCFT)
  • Ed.D in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Management.

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16. University of Kansas

The University of Kansas is a public research university with its main campus in Lawrence, Kansas. Established in 1865, it is the state’s flagship university.

KU Online, the virtual campus of the University of Kansas, offers one 100% online doctorate program, which are:

  • Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD).

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17. California State University (CSU)

California State University is a public university, founded in 1857. It is one of the largest four-year public university systems in the United States.

California State University offers 3 fully online doctorate programs, which are:

  • Educational Leadership, Ed.D: Community College
  • DNP in Nursing Practice
  • Educational Leadership, Ed.D: P-12.

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18. University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky is a public land-grant research university located in Lexington, Kentucky, United States. Founded in 1864 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky.

UK Online, the virtual campus of the University of Kentucky, offers one 100% online doctorate program;

  • Ph.D. in Arts Administration.

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19. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University is a public research university located in Lubbock, Texas, United States. It was established in 1923 as Texas Technological College.

Texas Tech University offers eight 100% online doctorate programs:

  • Ed.D in Educational Leadership
  • Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
  • PhD in Curriculum and Instruction (Track in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education)
  • Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Track in Language Diversity and Literacy Studies)
  • PhD in Educational Leadership Policy
  • Ph.D. in Family and Consumer Science Education
  • PhD in Higher Education: Higher Education Research
  • Ph.D. in Special Education

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20. University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas is a public research university, located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States. Founded in 1871, It is Arkansas’s flagship top-tier research university and the largest university in Arkansas.

The University of Arkansas offers one 100% online doctorate program;

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is an online doctorate program as good as an on-campus doctorate program?

Online doctorate programs are the same as on-campus doctorate programs, the only difference is the delivery method. In most schools, online programs have the same curriculum as on-campus programs and are taught by the same faculty.

Do online programs cost less?

In most schools, online programs have the same tuition as on-campus programs. However, online students will not pay fees associated with on-campus programs. Fees like health insurance, accommodation, transportation, etc.

How long does it take to get a doctorate online?

Generally, doctorate programs can be completed in three to six years. However, accelerated doctorate programs may take less time.

Do I need a Master's to get an online doctorate?

A master's degree is one of the entry requirements for doctorate programs. However, some programs may require only a bachelor's degree.

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Conclusion

Working professionals no longer have to give up their careers to return to school. You can earn an advanced degree online without any campus visits.

The best 100% online doctorate programs offer more flexibility. As an online student, you have the opportunity to earn a degree at your pace.

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