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The Cheapest Online PhD Programs By Subject in 2021

Cheapest online PhD programs in 2021

For many careers, completing an online PhD program is the credential that will take you to the top of your profession. We have gathered together the cheapest online PhD programs that can help you get promotions and higher salaries in a range of popular fields. Check out your options for a degree to rocket your career to the highest levels while keeping your current life intact.

Who Enrolls in Online PhD Programs?

There are so many reasons that people decide they should get a doctorate. Many people want to have the very highest credential possible in their profession, while some want to move up in rank in their workplace, and others are hedging their bets that someday, their profession may require the degree. Getting a doctoral degree is also a great way to refresh your skills in many fast-changing industries while adding a credential to your resume.

You may wonder “how long does it take to get a PhD” and is it worth the effort? Doctoral programs can take anywhere from two semesters to seven years to obtain, with most taking around three years. Considering that you can likely continue in your current job while you study, you won’t lose income to get this credential. But you might have to squeeze it into an already busy life, although you can reap the benefits as soon as you have the degree.

By looking at average salaries, where master’s degree holders make an average of $76,132 per year while those with a doctorate earn an average of $99,342 per year, it seems that the effort can certainly pay off. Granted, every profession has different salary expectations, yet a PhD will almost always get you a pay bump of some size, which adds up quickly in a few short years.

To get the most bang from your buck and your hard effort studying, we have put together a list of the cheapest online PhD programs that can help you maximize your earnings and get that promotion. Take a look to see how you could add the top credential to cap off your resume and earn more over your lifetime.

Cheapest Online PhD Programs by Subject

Art & Liberal Arts

  1. Faulkner University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $31,725

    The PhD in Humanities from Faulkner University is a Great Books of the Western Tradition program that takes about three to five years to complete. The degree is designed to prepare you for a path to teaching in the Christian tradition, and includes a foundation class, seven core courses, three tutorials catering to your areas of interest, and then two dissertation courses. The fully online program engages students in Christian interpretation of philosophical studies through conference calls and discussion threads. This is a great online PhD program for students who seek a deep dive into the intellectual traditions of the Western World and need to complete their degree from where they live.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities

     

  2. Liberty University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $37,790

    Liberty University offers their Public Policy PhD in a very flexible format completely online, allowing you to finish in as little as 2.5 years. The degree is applicable to career options in nonprofit, public, and private leadership positions. The program includes topics in quantitative and qualitative research, finance, urban planning, information management, and organizational leadership, all offered from a Christian perspective. You can transfer up to 50% of your credits in from another program, and there is an excellent tuition discount for military students. For students seeking a path to leadership in any field, the Liberty program has maximum scheduling flexibility and qualified instructors for this affordable online doctoral program.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy

     

  3. Boston University

    Degree: Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $42,840

    Ambitious and thoughtful musicians will be interested in Boston University’s online doctorate in music education, with top-notch faculty, innovative teaching, and time to develop your specialization at the oldest degree-granting music program in the US. Competitive applicants for this program should have an undergraduate and master’s degree in music or music education, three years of teaching experience, demonstrated leadership, and a 3.0 GPA. In addition to core courses in research, theory, history, and the psychology of teaching, the electives in this program include courses on advocacy, jazz, ethnography, orchestration, teaching music in the cloud, and music ministry. Students can transfer up to 16 credits into this affordable PhD program, and there is a one-week on-campus intensive to work with faculty and peers.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education

     

  4. Liberty University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in History
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $45,328

    Liberty University’s PhD in History is completely asynchronous online with 8-week courses, making it exceptionally flexible to schedule around family and work. This unique program offers history curriculum from a Christian perspective, with courses including Historiography, American Christian Heritage, and American Entrepreneurship since 1900. Some of the perks of a Liberty program include the ability to transfer up to 50% of your credits into the program, military tuition discounts, and robust support for students. Applicants should have a master’s degree in a related field and the average time to complete the program is four years. For one of the cheapest online PhD programs around, Liberty’s history PhD is a great choice for scholars who value a Christian outlook in their education.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in History

     

Business

  1. Grand Canyon University

    Degree: Doctor of Business Administration: Data Analytics (Bridge to DBA) or Marketing (Bridge to DBA)
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $13,875

    Grand Canyon University offers DBA bridge programs in Marketing or Data Analytics that can take students whose master’s degree is in another subject and prepare them for the curriculum of the doctoral program in business. Both programs contain the four core courses of Accounting Practices, Finance Principles, Applied Business Probability & Statistics, and Marketing Management, while the data analytics program adds on Introduction to Databases. The classes are in convenient 8-week formats, and GCU boasts a high graduation rate from its online programs, making these programs some of the cheapest online PhD programs.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Business Administration / Data Analytics (Bridge to DBA)
    Doctor of Business Administration / Marketing (Bridge to DBA)

     

  2. Columbia Southern University

    Degree: Doctor of Business Administration
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $21,500

    The online DBA from Columbia Southern University has 11 different start dates per year, plus the option to either work at your own pace or have class start and end dates. They offer transfer credits, military tuition discounts, textbooks included in the cost, payment options, and scholarships. The curriculum is comprehensive and includes courses in HR, organizational behavior, ethics, marketing, negotiation, global strategy, and research methods. With maximal flexibility in scheduling the asynchronous learning and low tuition, CSU’s program is one of the cheapest online doctoral programs.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Business Administration

     

Computer Science

  1. Dakota State University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $20,961

    Choose from three areas of specialization in the PhD in Information Systems from Dakota State University: analytics, security, or health care. The program admits students to begin in the fall, with classes held online fall, spring and summer semesters. Applicants need to have a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA, may need GRE scores, and should have knowledge of business information systems. Full time students can complete the degree in three years, and part time students have up to seven years to complete their courses. Students with advanced training may not be required to take all the courses, while those without enough background may be required to take extra foundation courses. With one of the cheapest online PhD programs in computer science, this program takes professionals to the next level without breaking the bank.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems

     

  2. Indiana State University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management
    Total Cost (In-State):
    $29,216
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $37,664

    Indiana State University’s PhD in Technology Management offers five different areas for students to specialize in: construction, HR, digital communication systems, manufacturing, or quality systems. The online PhD program is unique in that it combines the resources of five different universities across different states to offer intensive specializations at the highest levels of expertise. Part time students can complete the program in 4.5 years. There are some weekend in-person experiences, and students will be required to complete one year of intensive study of nine credits per semester during their program. For high quality in one of the cheapest online PhDs in computer science, Indiana State offers a great program.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management

     

  3. Aspen University

    Degree: Doctor of Science in Computer Science
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $29,800

    For a very flexible doctorate in computer science, Aspen University offer a program with start dates every two weeks, and comprises 20 courses. Course topics include discreet mathematics, simulation and modeling, ethics, risk management, economics, AI, supply chain management, and more. The program has a strong research component, and comprehensive exams and a dissertation are required. Options for paying tuition include a 0% interest loan that allows students to pay $375 per month for their degree. For flexibility in the cheapest online PhD, Aspen’s program fits the bill.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Science in Computer Science

     

Criminal Justice & Law

  1. Dakota State University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Security
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $27,505

    The Cyber Defense PhD from Dakota State University offers a leadership program to prepare students to serve in industry, government, education, or military organizations. Students with a master’s degree can expect to finish the degree in three years full time, but part time students have up to seven years to complete the training. There are three required on-campus classes that take place over multiple days, but the balance of the program is entirely online. One of the cheapest PhD programs, it focusses on ethics, management, and research, and students must begin the program in the fall semester.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Security

     

  2. California University of Pennsylvania

    Degree: Doctor in Criminal Justice
    Total Cost (In-State):
    $28,787
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $43,035

    California University of Pennsylvania’s doctorate in Criminal Justice is designed as a fully online cohort program starting in the summer term each year. Students take two courses in each of four terms per year and can complete the program in two years. There is one 5-day on-campus requirement in the summer. Applications are due in February, and students should have a master’s degree in a related field with a GPA of 3.5, though provisional admission may be granted to worthy candidates with a 3.0 GPA. International students are welcome to apply. This is one of the cheapest PhD programs in criminal justice.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor in Criminal Justice

     

  3. Jacksonville State University

    Degree: Doctor of Science in Emergency Management
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $32,325

    For those seeking a doctorate in emergency management, the Jacksonville State University program fits the bill. Coursework is completely online except for one week-long on-campus seminar in each summer of the first three years of the program. Applications are due by Jan 31 for an August start. Students take a course sequence, comprehensive exams, and then complete applied research in the field for their dissertation. Class topics include disaster theory, institutional context, systems thinking, data analysis, and research design. Applicants need to have a master’s degree and submit GRE scores, and students have ten years to complete the program. This inexpensive online PhD program is great for busy emergency management professionals to take their careers to the next level.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Science in Emergency Management

     

Education

  1. University of Wyoming

    Degree: Doctor of Education in Educational Administration, Adult & Postsecondary Education
    Total Cost (In-State):
    $12,870
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $36,225

    University of Wyoming’s EdD in Higher Education Administration delivers courses online and through audio conferencing for maximum flexibility for working adults. There is a one-day on-campus orientation required at the beginning of the fall semester of the first year. Courses in this comprehensive program include Leader as Change Agent; Educational Issues in Race, Class, and Gender; and Community College Issues and Leadership. Applicants should have three years of experience in higher education, a master’s in any field, and GRE scores, though these can be waived for certain applicants. Students can start in the fall or spring semesters and international applicants are welcome.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Educational Administration, Adult & Postsecondary Education

     

  2. University of West Georgia

    Degree: Doctor of Education in Professional Counseling & Supervision / Advanced Standing
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $13,017

    The accelerated track for the EdD in counseling at University of West Georgia requires applicants to have the EdS in Counseling as well as meeting the other admission requirements. The program takes two to three years to complete and requires a short on-campus stay for orientation. Applicants need to be licensed or eligible, have a 3.5 GPA, have three years of counseling experience, and submit GRE scores. No transfer credits are allowed in this program. Course topics include ethics, advocacy for marginalized groups, therapeutic techniques, and there is also a doctoral internship required. UWG offers one of the cheapest online doctoral programs for education professionals.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Professional Counseling & Supervision / Advanced Standing

     

Engineering

  1. Mississippi State University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering – multiple concentrations
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $18,981 – $24,975

    Mississippi State University offers multiple online PhDs in engineering in the following specialties: electrical and computer, aerospace, chemical, civil, mechanical, and industrial and systems engineering. Students can start in the fall, spring or summer terms, and no on-campus visits are required. All students pay the same distance learning tuition rate and international students are welcome. All programs are out of the respected Bagley College of Engineering and receive the same oversight as on-campus programs. These highly regarded programs in engineering leadership are perfect for students who expect the highest quality of education catering to their specialty along in one of the cheapest online PhD programs.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering / Civil Engineering
    Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering / Mechanical Engineering
    Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical & Computer Engineering
    Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial & Systems Engineering
    Doctor of Philosophy in Computational Engineering
    Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering / Aerospace Engineering

     

  2. Auburn University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Polymer & Fiber Engineering
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $28,495

    One of the cheapest online PhD engineering programs, this degree from Auburn University prepares students for a variety of careers in research, product development, and technical service and sales. Applicants need to have a related master’s degree to qualify for this program. Students complete 30 credits of graduate courses and 10 credits of research and dissertation plus pass exams to complete the program. Courses include Fabrics for Paper Making, Polymer Chemistry, Mechanics of Textile Reinforced Materials, and Intro to Conducting Polymers. This inexpensive online PhD program is perfect for students from all over who seek this specialty.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Polymer & Fiber Engineering

     

Healthcare

  1. Winston-Salem State University

    Degree: Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
    Total Cost (In-State):
    $4,627
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $15,869

    Winston-Salem State University offer this transitional DPT for practicing PTs who want to stay current with advances in the field as well as getting the credential. It’s just 24 credits long and takes up to three years to complete, with the possibility of transferring up to six credits for PTs with a master’s degree. Required courses in the program are Teaching and Learning: a Global Perspective, Health Care: Global Viewpoint, Clinical Decision Making in PT, and Health and Wellness. With great courses and an abbreviate format for practicing PTs, this is one of the cheapest online doctoral programs.

    Find Out More:
    Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

     

  2. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine

    Degree: Doctor of Acupuncture
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $9,630

    For practicing acupuncturists who want to put the “Dr.” before their name, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine’s 100% online program is a perfect affordable online doctoral program. Students can finish the 22-unit degree in two terms, with five classes the first term and four classes the second term, or students may opt to take the program part time. All the classes are synchronous online, with different class time options to make the program easily accessible in many time zones. Up to five credits may be transferred in and there is no thesis or dissertation required.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Acupuncture

     

  3. MCPHS University

    Degree: Doctor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $21,680

    With just your master’s degree as a PA, you can start in the MCPHS University online DScPAS program to get the highest credential for this growing profession in one of three concentrations: global health, educational leadership, or health system administration. With only four semesters of taking two classes at a time including the capstone, you can finish this professional degree quickly. No transfer credits are accepted, and applicants with work experience as a PA are preferred. A highly innovative program and a great online doctoral program for PAs from all anywhere.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

     

  4. Indiana University Online

    Degree: Doctor of Public Health / Global Health Leadership
    Total Cost (In-State):
    $23,850
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $68,850

    The DPH program in global health from Indiana University Online admits two cohorts each year: one advanced for people who have worked for more than five years in the field, and a junior cohort for those with three or more years of full time work experience. A hallmark of the program is its effort to enroll diverse students from around the world with different experiences to share their perspectives. Short visits to the campus are required during the first two years of the program, and classes meet synchronously for three hours one day per week. One of the cheapest PhD programs for Indiana students, the DPH from Indiana University Online is a great choice for those in public health.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Public Health / Global Health Leadership

     

Math & Science

  1. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

    Degree: Doctor of Aviation
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $44,100

    For an affordable post-master’s certified midwife program, the certificate option at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is a convenient and very cost-effective program. Applicants need to have an MSN with a 3.0 GPA, an unencumbered license, and international students are welcome. Extra factors they consider in admitting students include leadership in nursing, diverse work or life experience, Texas residency, first generation college student, and fluency in an additional language. Classes in this 39-credit certified nurse midwife program include Population Health Essentials for Advanced Nursing Practice, Pharmacology for Women’s Health, Scientific Foundations, and Transition to Nurse-Midwifery Practice. The certificate program boasts 100% national exam pass rates for the most recent two years. There are five on-campus visits required, with the rest of the program online and in clinicals. The program is part time, and can be completed in two years. There are three start dates per year. An excellent and high-quality online midwifery program, the Texas Tech cert program is affordable for all, but a special bargain for Texas residents.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Aviation

     

  2. Stony Brook University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Unmanned Systems Applications
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $54,870

    Stony Brook University’s online certified midwifery program offers well-qualified students the opportunity to graduate with as few as 22 credits of coursework, though additional course requirements may be made through a gap assessment. Core courses include Professional Issues in Midwifery, Advanced Theory & Clinical Practice in Midwifery III, and Primary Care. Additional courses required may be Organizational Leadership & Role Transformation, Advanced Health Assessment, and Clinical Pathobiology. Admission requires a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, a 3.0 GPA, undergraduate courses in statistics and health assessment, and current licensure. A year of relevant professional experience is preferred. There are some on-site requirements for the program, including an on-campus interview for admissions. The program is part time, and recent national exam pass rates are 92%. The tuition is very affordable for in-state and out-of-state students, making this a terrific and quick way to get into the midwifery profession for qualified practice nurses.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Unmanned Systems Applications

     

Nursing

  1. Missouri State University

    Degree: Doctor of Nursing Practice
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $8,961

    The post-master’s DNP program from Missouri State University takes two years of full time study, or can be completed part time. Course content is delivered both synchronously and asynchronously, and students will need to come to campus for short visits one or two times during the program. Courses include Emerging Science and Methods of Advanced Practice, Finance Management and Entrepreneurship for Advanced Nursing Roles, and Health Policy to Improve Disparities. At 29 credits long, this is one of the cheapest online doctoral programs.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Nursing Practice

     

  2. Alcorn State University

    Degree: Doctor of Nursing Practice / Family Nurse Practitioner
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $15,560

    Alcorn State University’s post-master’s DNP is designed for FNPs and requires a full time progression through the program which takes five continuous semesters. The program has 36 credits and is primarily online, with no more than two on-campus visits required per semester. Clinical practicum’s will be required in all but the first semester for a total of 540 practice hours. Courses include Clinical Epidemiology, Healthcare Quality Improvement, and Business Management in Clinical Practice. Alcorn’s degree is a great choice for Family Nurse Practitioners who want to be at the top of their field.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Nursing Practice / Family Nurse Practitioner

     

Psychology

  1. Barry University

    Degree: Doctorate in Social Work
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $23,760

    The DSW from Barry University is a part time cohort program for practicing MSWs that can be completed in three to five years. Applicants need to have three years of post-master’s practice and a 3.5 GPA in their master’s degree, though exceptional candidates with a 3.3 GPA may be considered for admission. The curriculum has a social justice oriented theme, and there is individual support throughout the program. Additional professional development workshops are also available. Courses are held in the afternoon and evening one day per week, and students are expected to complete the coursework portion in two years.

    Find Out More:
    Doctorate in Social Work

     

  2. Aspen University

    Degree: Doctor of Education in Leadership & Learning / Organizational Psychology
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $29,900

    Aspen University offers one of the cheapest online EdD programs with a focus on organizational psychology. Classes start every two weeks, and the program consists of just 20 courses. Classes include Leadership Theory, Human Potential and Motivation, Creating Strategic Change That Lasts, Techniques and Interpretation for Statistical Analysis, Project Management Techniques, The Social Psychology of Groups, and Problem-Based Research in Action. Transfer of up to nine credits is available, but does not apply to dissertation courses. Aspen offers payment plans for this leadership degree program.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Leadership & Learning / Organizational Psychology

     

  3. Liberty University

    Degree: Doctor of Education in Community Care & Counseling / Marriage & Family Counseling
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $35,209

    You can transfer up to 50% of the 57 credits needed for Liberty University’s EdD in Community Care and Counseling. The flexible program has 8-week course formats and is 100% online with no campus visits required. There are three specializations available in the program: marriage and family, traumatology, or pastoral care and counseling. There are also two optional on-campus intensives for students who wish to have face-to-face contact with faculty and peers. There are eight start dates per year, and generous military and first responder tuition discounts at this Christian university.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Community Care & Counseling / Marriage & Family Counseling

     

Religion

  1. Liberty University

    Degree: Doctor of Ministry in Strategic Christian Ministry
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):
    $8,947

    This D.Min degree from Liberty University can be completed in as little as two years, with only 30 credits required, and the option to transfer in up to half of those credits. There are no set login times for the flexible program, making it ideal for those who want to improve the success of their ministry with a strategic plan while also continuing their current commitments. Courses include Personal Spiritual Formation, Marks of Biblical Disciple, and Leading Strategic Ministry Change. Students can choose to create a portfolio or thesis for the final 15 credits of this cheap online PhD program.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Ministry in Strategic Christian Ministry

     

  2. Luther Rice College & Seminary

    Degree: Doctor of Ministry
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $11,595

    Luther Rice College & Seminary’s D.Min program includes four week-long on-campus intensive courses with the remaining classes 100% online. This 30 credit post-graduate degree is designed for people actively involved in vocational Christian ministry, and offers a low tuition rate to all students. Classes in the program include Evangelism in Contemporary Culture, Issues in Biblical Counseling, Relationships in Ministry, and Innovative Pastoral Ministry. A final project will be overseen by an academic advisor, and the program can be completed on your own schedule.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Ministry

     

Compare the Cheapest Online PhD Programs

As you can see, there are great programs that you can take online to get your doctorate. If you choose one of the cheapest online PhD programs on this list, you will get to keep more money in your pocket while you make your career—and salary—dreams come true!

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