Traditional universities offer accredited online PhD programs ranging from healthcare to education to business to computer science. In virtually all cases, the academic requirements and length of PhD programs online are no different than the on-campus versions.
Most of these programs require students to visit campus at least several times over the course of the program. You may also have to attend research conferences or other gatherings in different locations. Such requirements vary widely from school to school, so it is important to do careful research to determine whether you can meet these needs.
Online nursing programs are well represented at the PhD level, though other healthcare subjects are not. The program offered by Vanderbilt University requires 72 credit hours of study and takes 4 to 5 years to complete. The online nursing program offered through the University of Texas at Tyler includes 60 hours of coursework over a minimum of 3 to 4 years. New Mexico State University and the Medical University of South Carolina offer similar programs.
Business and Finance
While traditional universities offer a wide variety of online business degrees at the masters level, relatively few PhD degrees are currently available online. However, there are a few great options in human resources. The PhD in human resources development offered by the University of Texas at Tyler requires 60 credits of coursework and at least 3 to 4 years of commitment.
Bellevue University, a small traditional university with highly rated online degree programs, offers an online PhD in human capital management. The program is tailored to human resources professionals working in large corporations and organizations. The program requires 3 to 4 years of coursework and dissertation research.
There are several great options for students interested in higher education administration. Colorado State University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Memphis each offer an online doctoral program in higher education that prepares students for senior positions in institutions of higher education. These programs each require a minimum of 4 years to complete.
Public Service, Law and Government
There are a handful of good options in this area. The University of Baltimore offers an online Doctor of Public Administration degree that requires 48 credit hours of coursework. However, the program requires a masters degree in a related subject area. It can be completed in a minimum of 3 to 4 years.
The University of North Carolina and Loma Linda University both offer doctoral programs in public health that prepare students for leadership roles in public health organizations. These programs grant a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree, which is a widely recognized doctoral-level professional degree.
Technology and Computers
There are several options in computer science and technology. Nova Southeastern University, a private university in Florida, offers a handful of PhD programs online, including in computer science, computer information systems and information systems. These programs are designed for students who hold a masters degree in a closely related field. Each degree requires at least 64 credit hours of coursework and can be completed in as few as 3 or 4 years.
Indiana State University offers an online PhD in technology management through a partnership with 5 other universities. This degree is designed for students who want to prepare for technology leadership positions in business, government or industry. It requires at least 66 credit hours of coursework over a minimum of about 4 years.
Many PhD specialties in the engineering field are not currently offered as online programs. However, there are a couple good options in the systems engineering field, which deals with the design and management of large-scale engineering projects.
Online PhDs in systems engineering are offered by Colorado State University and Texas Tech University. Both programs require 72 credit hours of coursework for students without a masters degree in the field. Students with an appropriate masters degree can obtain up to 30 transfer credits toward the PhD at Colorado State University. A minimum of 4 years is required to complete the 72 credits and a dissertation.
Communication and Arts
In the communication field, there a few good PhD degree programs online. The Regent University online PhD program in communication requires at least 44 credit hours of coursework and a minimum of 4 to 5 years. Texas Tech University offers a technical communication and rhetoric PhD program that requires 45 credits of coursework. The programs take at least 4 to 5 years to complete.
While a variety of masters programs in the arts are available online, from design to art history, there are no traditional universities that are currently offering online PhD programs in these areas. However, as online learning becomes more common, such programs may begin to appear.