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10 Best Online Doctorates at Nonprofit Colleges

An online doctorate offers students the highest level of expertise in a subject with all the benefits of earning a degree through distance education. Doctoral degrees provide students with credentials for some of the highest-paying careers available. Earning a doctorate is a time-consuming process. But when you earn one online, you can pursue this lucrative degree without disrupting your life.

Our editors first reviewed best online doctorates in July 2023. This list was last updated in March 2024.

In this article, we discuss the best online doctorates at accredited, nonprofit colleges. We present the 10 best schools for online doctorates and the pros and cons of each. The list is for students considering taking the next step toward an online doctorate degree.

How We Ranked 10 Best Online Doctorates

The universities for this list were selected based on affordable tuition for graduate students. We also considered the school’s program offerings and variety of online doctoral degrees. But graduate tuition had the most weight in our selection. We ranked the following schools according to raw affordability. All schools on this list are nonprofit institutions, and all have received accreditation from reputable governing agencies.

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10 Online Doctorate Degree Schools

School NameLocationGraduate Tuition
Valdosta State UniversityValdosta, GA$4,572
Appalachian State UniversityBoone, NC$5,081
New Mexico State UniversityLas Cruces, NM$5,181
Sam Houston State UniversityHuntsville, TX$5,765
Indiana State UniversityTerre Haute, IN$8,100
Troy UniversityTroy, AL$8,550
Indiana UniversityBloomington, IN$10,133
University of North CarolinaChapel Hill, NC$10,552
University of FloridaGainesville, FL$10,770
West Virginia UniversityMorgantown, WV$10,908
Data collected from the most recent information published by the National Center for Education Statistics.

1. Valdosta State University

Doctoral Program Website

Valdosta State University is a public university founded in 1906. With its long history, the school offers a diverse selection of online programs, including several doctorate degrees.

There are three online doctorate degrees to choose from. An Ed.D. in Adult Learning and Development, Ed.D. in Leadership, and D.P.A in Public Administration. The Doctor of Education degrees provide advanced professional learning for students pursuing careers in teaching and leadership of adult and career education, and related fields. But all programs are delivered online. Most programs consist of 54-55 credits and take less than 5 years to complete.


  • Diverse selection of online doctorate degree programs
  • Education-related programs
  • Faster completion time than some doctorate degrees
  • Low in-state tuition for Georgia residents
  • Small class sizes and cohort


  • Competitive programs
  • High GPA required (minimum 3.5)

2. Appalachian State University

Doctoral Program Website

Appalachian State University is a public institution that enrolls over 20,000 students and offers 200 different programs of study, including online doctorate degrees. One such degree is the Doctor of Educational Leadership degree.

The Doctor of Educational Leadership is an online degree program that seeks to train potential leaders for enhanced leadership roles in teaching, research, and administration. The program trains students interested in creating positive change in the field of education. At the core of the program is learning to turn theory into practice in educational systems to make those systems more equitable and sustainable. Students engage in synchronous and asynchronous online work, and interact closely with their cohort.


  • Concentrations offered alongside doctorate degree
  • GRE waivers available
  • Part-time completion option available
  • Up to 30 credits waived for Appalachian EdS graduates


  • Limited number of online doctorate degree programs
  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents

3. New Mexico State University

Doctoral Program Website

Founded in 1888, New Mexico State University is a top university for online doctorates due to its affordability. It has one doctoral degree for students seeking nursing expertise.

Students at NMSU can study nursing and earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice online. Coursework is 100% online, which helps students balance work and home life. While enrolled in the program you can get your 1,000 hours of on-site clinical work, which helps you gain more experience as you move toward your DNP. Graduates become experts in the field of nursing and can take their leadership skills into their career and industry. NMSU is an affordable school for an online DNP degree.


  • 3 specialty tracks
  • Affordable tuition for in-state residents
  • Receive a dedicated Nursing Graduate Academic Advisor
  • Short completion options, including 3 years for BSN-to-DNP
  • Top-ranked graduate nursing program


  • In-person clinicals
  • Limited online doctorate degrees

4. Sam Houston State University

Doctoral Program Website

Founded in 1879, Sam Houston State University is the third-oldest public university in Texas. It has two online doctorate degree programs, including:

  • Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Instructional Systems Design and Technology

Both Doctor of Education programs are interdisciplinary and designed to help educators develop and administer programs for the field. Students get trained to apply administrative theory to instructional leadership. You also assign responsibilities and verify how well resources get allocated and used in instructional improvement. Design and application of research is another huge component of the Ed.D. degrees at SHSU.


  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Around the clock tech support
  • Small class sizes
  • Talented and credentialed professors


  • Limited transfer credits accepted
  • Requires GPA of 3.5 or higher

5. Indiana State University

Doctoral Program Website

Indiana State University is a public university that offers six online doctorate programs. These programs include:

  • Doctorate of Athletic Training
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Philosophy in School Administration
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree prepares nurses to be innovative leaders who can positively transform our healthcare system. The program requires 39 credits and 1,000 hours of supervised clinical preceptorship. The Doctorate in Athletic Training is the first and only program for a credentialed athletic trainer seeking advanced coursework and applied research.

These are just two of several online doctorates available at ISU. Because of the school’s affordability, we list ISU as a top choice for online doctorate degree programs.


  • 24/7 technical support
  • Diverse selection of online doctorate degrees
  • In-state tuition for residents of Indiana
  • Small cohort and intimate class settings


  • Competitive admission criteria
  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents

6. Troy University

Doctoral Program Website

Troy University is a public university that serves students across the globe. Troy enrolls over 14,000 students annually, including undergraduate and graduate students. For those seeking online doctorate degrees, the school offers the Doctor of Nursing Practice, Ph.D. in Global Leadership, and Ph.D. in Sport Management.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Sport Management is the first online program of its kind in the United States. The design is to develop students to generate the research, critical thinking, and teaching skills necessary for success in the sports industry and in higher education. The program prepares graduates for a broad range of sport management-related positions, including higher education, research, professional or amateur athletics, and professional sports. Students must complete 60 credits for this program.


  • Diverse selection of Ph.D., DNP, and other online doctorates
  • In-state tuition for Alabama residents
  • Small class sizes (16:1 student-faculty ratio)
  • Small cohort format
  • Technology support for online students


  • Higher out-of-state tuition for non-residents

7. Indiana University

Doctoral Program Website

Indiana University is a public research university that serves over 47,000 students, including graduate and doctoral students. The school offers online degree programs leading to three online doctorate degrees. These programs include:

  • Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction
  • Doctor of Education in Instructional Systems Technology
  • Doctor of Education in Literacy, Culture, & Language Education

These programs are available to students entirely online. The Curriculum and Instruction doctorate degree consists of 60 credits and focuses on research-based theories and teacher training practices. Like all doctorate degree programs at IU, courses are rigorous and the demands are high. Students must conduct research, participate in scholarly publication, and gain teaching experiences in higher education.


  • 3 different online doctorate degrees
  • Education-focused research opportunities
  • Research resources and mentorships
  • Quality tech support
  • Specialization options to earn alongside doctorate degree


  • Competitive admission
  • Rigorous courses and research demands

8. University of North Carolina

Doctoral Program Website

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the nation’s first public university and is a global higher-education leader known for innovative teaching, research, and public service. It serves over 31,000 students and offers online doctorate degrees in public health, nursing, and education.

Students seeking online doctorates can choose from the Ed.D. in Organizational Learning and Leadership, the BSN or MSN to DNP (Nursing Practice and Leadership), and the Executive Doctoral Program in Health Leadership (DrPH). These programs hone advanced leadership skills and help students become scholars and practitioners in their chosen field. Students from all over the world can earn a UNC online doctorate degree.


  • Experience and practice opportunities
  • Flexible coursework with online studies
  • In-state tuition for NC residents
  • Research opportunities alongside world scholars and leaders
  • Top-ranked research institution


  • Highly competitive admissions
  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents of North Carolina

9. University of Florida

Doctoral Program Website

The University of Florida is a major research institution founded in 1853. The school offers nine online doctorate degrees. Students can enroll in any one of the following online programs.

  • Classical Civilization (Ph.D.)
  • Computer Science Education (Ed.D)
  • Educational Leadership (Ed.D)
  • Educational Technology (Ed.D)
  • Higher Education Administration (Ed.D)
  • Latin and Roman Studies (Ph.D.)
  • Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Special Education (Ed.D)
  • Teachers, Schools, and Society (Ed.D)

The robust selection of programs provides for a diverse learning experience. For example, the online Doctor of Education programs prepare practicing educators to apply current theory and research to the practice of education in their own professional settings. But the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree focuses on advancing knowledge through innovative and evidence-based practice. No matter what you choose to study at UF, you’ll find support and rigor.


  • Evidence-based practice nursing program
  • Large selection of online doctorate degrees
  • Many online Ed.D. programs
  • Research opportunities
  • Small, intimate cohort with capped online courses


  • Competitive admissions
  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents of Florida

10. West Virginia University

Doctoral Program Website

West Virginia University is a public institution founded in 1867. It enrolls over 24,000 students, including doctoral students. WVU offers online doctorate programs in higher education administration, and special education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Ph.D. in Nursing.

The Doctor of Education in higher education administration prepares students for college administration, faculty, research, and policy. Students must complete a residency requirement, which is worked out with the student’s advisor. The Doctor of Education in special education prepares leadership personnel to assume roles and responsibilities in personnel preparation at colleges and universities or professional development in public schools or disability service agencies. 42 credits beyond the master’s degree are required for completion of this degree. There are many other online doctorate degree options.


  • In-state tuition for West Virginia residents
  • Research and mentorship opportunities
  • Several online doctorates
  • Small cohort and class size


  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents
  • Residency requirements for some doctorate degrees
Online Doctorate Degree Programs

Other Schools with Online Doctorates to Consider

  • Arizona State University
  • Ball State University
  • Clemson University
  • Creighton University
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Michigan State University
  • Northeastern University
  • Oregon State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Temple University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nebraska at Lincoln
  • University of Nevada-Reno
  • University of New England
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of South Dakota
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of the Cumberlands
  • Wayne State University

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to get your doctorate online?

Yes, it is possible to earn a doctorate degree online from accredited universities. Many reputable universities offer online doctoral programs in various fields, such as nursing and education, among others. And when you graduate, you can rest assured that your diploma or transcript won’t reflect your online studies, as most schools do not share this information. Your online Ph.D. will be listed as a Ph.D.

What is the easiest doctorate to get online?

It depends on you and the program. But some students report the easiest doctorate to get online is in humanities or education. Fields such as education, business, and nursing often offer online doctoral programs with flexible formats and supportive structures, potentially making them more accessible to certain students.

Is an online PhD worth it?

If your online PhD is from a reputable institution, it can offer flexibility while maintaining academic rigor. This makes the degree worth it! But some fields prioritize traditional doctoral programs for networking and research opportunities. So, it depends on what field you’re going into, but an online PhD can be worth it in education, nursing, and business.

Are online doctorates respected?

Online doctorates from accredited schools get respect, especially if the institution is reputable and the program is rigorous. However, perceptions can vary depending on the field. Factors such as accreditation, faculty expertise, and research quality contribute to the level of respect a particular online doctorate receives.

How long does an online doctorate take?

On average, it can take anywhere from 3 to 7 years to complete an online doctorate. Some programs offer accelerated options or part-time enrollment for flexibility. Both can impact completion time. But the average time is around five years.