Best Accredited Online PhD Programs

When choosing a school, most post-graduate students focus on the available majors, reputation, campus quality, and other amenities. Unfortunately, many of them forget to check the accreditation for that particular doctorate program.

Even when you get to the PhD, you still need to make sure that the degree is recognized by the biggest regulatory institutions. Only then can you be certain that your effort was worthwhile and that you can build yourself a nice future.

Why Choose an Accredited Online PhD Program?

While you might think that your academic worries are over by the time you reach a PhD level, this isn’t necessarily true. If you wish to perform any type of research or to get a job at a top-tier company, you need a degree that is widely recognized. Despite your accolades, you have to remember that you’re going against enormous competition for such positions.

In a nutshell, here are the main reasons why you need to find accredited online doctoral programs:

  • An accredited PhD online program is simply better, providing much better knowledge
  • These online accredited PhD programs give graduates many more options, whether in your country or abroad
  • Reputable doctoral degrees are a must if you’re looking to get a professor’s job or perform research in top-tier institutions and universities
  • A good thing about the best accredited online doctorate programs is that you can create your own schedule
  • Most of these programs allow you to work and study at the same time they can be on a full-time and part-time basis
  • Usually, PhD programs that are online accredited are usually cheaper than the traditional programs

Overall, these studies are fantastic for people who are working and have packed schedules. Unlike unaccredited programs, they provide you with real opportunities for development and career progress. So, when looking for an institution, take your time to analyze the field and find the right solution.

Types of Accreditation

There are several categories of accredited online doctorate programs:

  • Institutional accreditation

This is the most important type of accreditation because, without it, there’s no point in pursuing any other program. This type of accreditation is used on an institutional level and isn’t tied to one specific program. As such, it bears much more value and is a mandatory accreditation for all postsecondary schools.

  • Program and specialization

Certain degrees are recognized based on program or specialization. However, as mentioned, they only provide value if they also come with institutional accreditation. Basically, these programs are a notch above the regular programs and provide extra value to students.

  • Doctorate-specific

Similar to programmatic accreditation, degrees that come with doctorate-specific accreditation usually provide additional value to students. These accreditations are commonly tied to fields such as counseling, psychology, or pharmacy. Keep in mind there’s nothing wrong with a degree that doesn’t have this type of accreditation; it’s just that doctorate-specific accreditation is more powerful.

Top 10 Schools for Online Accredited PhD Programs

Here’s a list of the best schools that offer accredited PhD online programs:

1. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt is recognized as one of the biggest, most popular American universities located in Nashville, Tennessee. The institution was established back in 1873 and has had full accreditation since 1895. While you might not benefit from this, as an online student, it’s worth mentioning that Vanderbilt consists of numerous institutes and research centers.

The school boasts numerous accolades, having the largest DNA databank and the biggest defense and space electronics research facility. On average, the university has around 13,000 students, a freshman retention rate of 97%, and a graduation rate of 92%.

If you go with the Vanderbilt online degree program, you can choose between Law School, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Blair School of Music, College of Arts and Science, Divinity School, School of Engineering, and a few other PhD online programs that are accredited. While less than 3% of university students take their courses online, this shouldn’t be a deterrent.

2. Johns Hopkins University

An interesting thing about Johns Hopkins is that this was the first research college in the US Established back in 1876, it boasts 24,000 students across nine divisions, eight of which are located in Baltimore, Maryland. The school was made by using German Heidelberg University as its prime model.

Johns Hopkins offers a wide variety of programs to its students. You can choose between Education, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Civil Engineering, Applied Health Sciences, Informatics, History of Medicine, and a few other studies. An interesting thing about this university is that it’s mostly a post-graduate institution; only about 6,000 students attend undergrad programs.

According to Princeton Review, this university has a score of 99/99, making it one of the best-ranked educational institutions in the US and the world. Then again, despite its elite status, getting into the school is relatively easy. Undergraduate Law School has an acceptance rate of 97%, while medical school has 80%.

3. Nova Southeastern University

Situated in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the university has a major impact on the state education. Established in 1964, Nova Southeastern currently has 14 colleges and 150 programs, with an average of 20,000 students per school year. An interesting thing about this institution is that it was built on an old naval outlying landing field used during WW2.

Like other entries on this list, Nova Southeastern specializes in hybrid and remote learning models. The PhD programs encompass several disciplines, including nursing, cybersecurity management, health sciences, education, and criminal justice. The university puts extra emphasis on practical knowledge and how these lessons could be applied in real-world situations.

On top of that, there are also a few other interesting tidbits worth mentioning about this university. For example, Nova has the only college of optometry in the entire state and the only coral reef research facility in the entire US As such, this makes it a fantastic destination for marine biologists who want to make a difference.

4. University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is another older educational institution established in 1880. The school is based in Los Angeles and is considered one of the most progressive universities in the country. In fact, they were one of the first organizations to freely admit students of all races. While initially related to the Methodist church, the University of Southern California no longer shares such a connection.

Nowadays, there are 44,000 students attending this school every year. It’s worth noting that a large portion of that are post-graduate students (around 19,000 people), out of which one-quarter do their studies online. University of Southern California online doctorate degrees are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission.

Unfortunately, the institution has a limited offer of online PhD courses. Regardless, the university was ranked 21st by the US News & World Report and 10th by Niche College Rankings.

5. Capitol Technology University

This educational institution was established in 1927, in South Laurel, Maryland, and is considered one of the best online PhD schools in the US While Capitol Technology University specializes in business and various technological fields (computer science, informational technology, and engineering), it offers a total of 15 PhD programs.

Depending on what you’re pursuing, you might have more or less flexibility during the studies. For example, the university’s renowned PhD cybersecurity program offers that you take half on-campus and online classes. Most courses are taught by industry veterans who can transfer real-world knowledge to the students.

The majority of these studies require 2 to 3 years of involvement. This includes research and dissertation. A great thing about the college is that it’s close to the country’s 20 best job markets. Unfortunately, its low acceptance rate of 47% and graduation rate of 51% means that not everyone will reap the benefits.

6. University of Florida

As one of the oldest universities in the country, founded in 1853, the University of Florida needs no introduction. The campus is situated in Gainesville and is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. While the school only has one campus in Florida, it offers 200 research centers and 16 specialized colleges.

This educational organization is notorious for having a low acceptance rate of 30%. Luckily, if you manage to get in, you’ll have an 88% chance of finishing all the courses. According to Forbes, the institution ranks 25th out of all US universities, while Times Higher Education ranks it 15th.

Although the university offers 76 PhD programs, only 9 of them are available online. You can choose between a Doctor of Nursing Practice, a PhD in Latin and Roman Studies, a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, and six other courses.

7. Boston University

If you’re looking for an accredited online doctor of philosophy program, you should definitely take a look at what Boston University has to offer. The school was established in 1839 by local Methodists, with the original location in Newbury, Vermont. Eventually, the school’s representatives decided to move the campus to Boston in 1869 for a better connection with large job markets.

Interestingly enough, Boston University is one of the city’s largest employers, with a staff of 4,000 employees. It also has 34,000 students who attend 17 colleges located in three urban campuses. While Boston University offers one of the best doctoral degrees in the US, the institution doesn’t allow just about anyone to have a 19% acceptance rate.

The organization has more than 100 PhD programs, out of which only 5 are available online. You can choose between a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education, and a PhD in Social Work.

8. Pepperdine University

Initially, the institution was formed as a college for Christina Liberal Arts in 1937. Over time, it encompassed other fields such as law, liberal arts, education and psychology, business, and public policy. The main campus is located in Malibu, California, with international campuses in Argentina, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, China, and Switzerland.

Despite having a famous name and being a somewhat old institution, Pepperdine doesn’t accept that many students. There are between 6,000 and 7,000 students every year focusing on various areas of expertise. The school received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission.

Aside from institutional accreditation, you might also get a programmatic accreditation depending on the course you attended. Students can choose between a Doctor of Education in Learning Technologies, Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy and Organizational Leadership. Keep in mind that the university only uses hybrid models of teaching.

9. Apex School of Theology

Given that Apex School of Theology is relatively new, established in 1995, many people are worried that its degree doesn’t hold much value. However, the institution has fully accredited online PhD programs and has grown in reputation since its inception.

Apex School of Theology is perfect for students who prefer a warmer, more personal educational experience. As it has less than 1,000 students, it doesn’t feel as crammed as some other campuses. The school is located in Durham, North Carolina, and holds accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools Accreditation Commission.

Apex School of Theology is a perfect choice for religious students, as the institution emphasizes Christian values. Unfortunately, the university is quite limited in terms of its online Doctor of philosophy courses, only offering a Doctor of Ministry degree. The good news is that you don’t need to have an in-person appearance, making it perfect for international students.

10. Ohio State University

The last on our list is Ohio State University. The school had quite a tumultuous past, starting off as an agricultural and mechanical college in 1870. Over time, it added other studies and was granted a university status in 1878.

Since 1913, Ohio State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and nowadays has almost 60,000 students. In fact, it is one of the three US institutions with the highest enrolment number. The university consists of 16 different colleges and has more than 700,000 alumni.

While Ohio State University has only one online Ph.D. program (Doctor of Nursing Practice), it is highly ranked among educational professionals. US News & World Report gave it the 5th spot among such programs in the country.


Your choice of accredited Ph.D. program might vary based on numerous factors. However, the 10 previously mentioned schools are no-brainers. Not only are these institutions among the best educational organizations in the US, but they also have tailor-made programs for studying online.