Best Easiest and Shortest PhD Programs Online

Getting a Ph.D. doesn’t always have to be a time-consuming and complex project. If you already have experience in the field, you can shorten the process and get a Ph.D. in just a couple of years. Instead of spending four to seven years completing your studies, you can achieve your Ph.D. goals quickly and begin reaping the benefits.

Not all Ph.D. programs are created equal. Their duration depends on several factors, including the specialization. It may be impossible to speed up some of the program’s aspects but still spend months writing your dissertation.

You can start your journey to getting a degree by exploring accelerated Ph.D. programs online. Let’s take a closer look at options that can suit your goals.

Easiest Ph.D. Programs Online

When it comes to selecting a fast Ph.D. program online, keep in mind that anything related to math, science, or medicine is never fast. However, some degrees don’t require as much in-depth study and practice. They are:

  • Education – some education doctoral programs may have more flexible requirements and shorter completion times.
  • Social Sciences – certain subfields within social sciences, such as sociology or psychology, may have relatively easier admission processes and less competitive programs.
  • Business Administration – while a Ph.D. in Business Administration requires dedication, some programs may have more structured curricula and shorter completion times.
  • Humanities – history, or philosophy may offer Ph.D. programs that with be easier to complete within just a few years.
  • Applied Sciences – certain applied sciences, such as environmental science or public health, may have Ph.D. programs that focus on practical research. They may take less time than other disciplines.

Even the easiest and fastest Ph.D. online requires time and dedication from your side. Some of the accelerated programs are designed to pack five years’ worth of knowledge into three years of studies. This means that you would have to forgo many of your current commitments to accommodate a hectic education process.

What Affects the Duration of a Ph.D. Program?

Besides the field of study, the following factors can affect the duration of your Ph.D. program:

Research Topic

Even the easiest Ph.D. program online could take more time than you expect because of the complexity of the research topic you choose. When making this choice, make sure to speak to your advisors, mentors, and peers about their experience.

Check how much data collection and fieldwork your topic requires.  You could find that your accelerated online Ph.D. program turns into five years of research.

Program Requirements

Some online universities have strict program requirements that demand a specific amount of time to complete. Meanwhile, other schools offer more flexibility. When budgeting your time and planning out your studies, pay special attention to the structure. In some cases, you could find opportunities to shorten the program. In others, the framework may not allow you to do so.

Research Funding

Studies show that the time to complete even the fastest Ph.D. online is a combination of funding conditions, publishing during the program, and associated time strategy. Ph.D. funding usually increases the time it takes to complete your studies. If you decide to publish while completing your Ph.D., it can decrease the completion time.

If you have sufficient research funding and decide to publish, you are likely to earn your degree faster. However, unfunded students with high research productivity usually study longer.

Faculty Support

Even if you decide to study online, you must receive adequate advisor and research support. Pay special attention to this factor when choosing the program. You can find out how it works at the university of your choice by speaking to the admissions committee or finding reviews from the alumni.

If you can receive regular guidance with quality feedback, you are likely to speed up your education process. In schools where students don’t get dedicated mentor hours regularly, the time to complete the Ph.D. program increases.

Also check what research facilities the school is ready to provide for offline studies (yes, some online programs may require you to visit the campus anyway). Lack of access to proper facilities and materials always slows the studies down.

Personal Circumstances

No matter how hard you prepare for the Ph.D. program, personal circumstances get in the way. Many people find that they can’t juggle their personal and professional commitments with studies as well as they planned. This causes significant delays.

Meanwhile, you should always be thinking about the possibility of unexpected personal circumstances. Thankfully, the majority of easy online Ph.D. programs readily accommodate these needs. They demand that Ph.D. studies be finished within a certain amount of time. However, this time is usually long – around seven or eight years.

Publication Requirements

Some of the easiest Ph.D. programs online still have strict publication requirements. You can find out that the program requires you to publish your research findings in academic journals or present them at conferences before completion.

This particular program requirement can slow the studies down, especially if the research process is complex.

Overall, it can take between three and seven years to earn your doctorate. No matter how easy or fast the program may seem at first, multiple factors can slow it down. Thankfully, the majority of these factors are known beforehand. It’s up to you to do the research and plan your time.

What Affects the Complexity of a Ph.D. Program?

Even the fastest Ph.D. program online may not be easy. When rushing to earn your degree, you need to pay special attention to the program itself. It may be extremely hard to handle. Factors to consider include:

Interdisciplinary Research

The interdisciplinary nature of your program can make it complex. If you need to study several fields at once or conduct interdisciplinary research, you may need to make more effort to complete the program. If you haven’t faced such research before, you could need extra time to study. Several methodologies and additional terminology can easily present a challenge.

Theoretical Frameworks

If your research project requires an in-depth understanding of complex theoretical frameworks, it could slow you down. You would need to master these frameworks and learn how to apply them.

Data Collection Methods

Even the easiest fields of study require extensive data collection. Data collection methods could be complex and time-consuming. For example, if you need to conduct a survey or arrange fieldwork, you would need to make an extra effort outside your study hours.

You may also need to master complex analysis techniques and learn how to leverage advanced software.

Collaborative Projects

If your program requires collaborating with multiple researchers or institutions, you may run into collaboration issues that could increase the complexity of your studies. Projects that bring many people and facilities together always have some time of communication issues that slow down the collaboration process.

What to Look for in the Shortest and Easiest Ph.D. Programs Online

Besides simplicity and duration, you need to pay attention to other aspects of online programs including:

  • Accreditation – the program you choose must be accredited by an accredited body that employers in your niche recognize.
  • Structure – the program should have a structure that allows for accelerated learning.
  • Research focus – the program should align with your research goals. This can help you speed up the learning process.
  • Support – a program should provide adequate support from the faculty and facilities.
  • Credit transfer policies – find out if the program allows you to transfer credits from previous degrees in order to shorten the education process.
  • Flexibility – make sure the program is flexible enough to help you keep personal and professional commitments.
  • Reputation – take the time to read reviews, talk to alumni, and do online research to assess the university’s reputation.

While the program can be easy and short, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is cheap. Some students believe that online programs are less expensive than offline learning. This is usually not the case. Learn about the cost of the program and explore financial aid opportunities before making the final choice.

Top Easiest and Fastest Ph.D. Programs Online

These programs offer you an opportunity to finish your doctorate studies faster than others. They also have easier curricula than similar programs in other universities.

Chatham University

Chatham University offers several Ph.D. programs in an online format. They can be completed in just 16 months or four terms. These programs include:

  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Admissions requirements for these programs may vary, but you would have to provide official transcripts, a resume, and an admissions essay for both of them.

The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Maryville University

Maryville University offers several online Ph.D. programs that you can complete in less than two years. They are:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Educational Leadership

It’s possible to complete these programs within just 20 months, depending on your time constraints. The school offers convenient financial aid options that can help you pay for the doctorate program.

The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers strong online degree programs in behavioral health. You can choose one of the two specializations.

  • Online Doctor of Behavioral Health – Management
  • Online Doctor of Behavioral Health – Clinical

Admissions requirements for these programs include official transcripts from all previously attended places of study, one letter of recommendation, and a CV or resume. The total number of class hours required by this program is 135.

The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

The College of St. Scholastica

The College of St. Scholastica focuses on online and hybrid learning. Ph.D. programs include:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctorate in Educational Leadership
  • Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

These programs take between two and four years to complete. The admissions requirements vary from program to program. Official transcripts from all previous places of education are necessary for all programs. The school allows you to transfer credits.

The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Walden University

Walden University offers a wide range of Ph.D. programs online. Many of them take less than 3 years to complete. These doctorate programs include:

  • Doctor of Education
  • Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision
  • Doctor of Psychology in Behavioral Health Leadership
  • Doctor of Social Work

The school also offers a wide variety of degree acceleration options, including transfer of credits, credit by work experience, and credit by examination. You may be able to complete some of these programs in less than 24 months.

The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accelerating Your Ph.D. Studies

Getting a Ph.D. doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. If you have all the information necessary to speed up your education, you can obtain a degree in just one year. Speeding up the process doesn’t mean giving up on the quality of studies. Many accredited and renowned universities are offering fast and easy Ph.D. programs online. They can also help with acceleration opportunities.

If you are ready to get a degree but worry about the time it takes, consider programs that don’t require long years of study. The benefits of short online programs can be just as significant as the advantages of full-time offline learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the shortest Ph.D. Program?

The shortest Ph.D. programs take around two years to complete. You can speed up the process even further by transferring credits or asking the school to accept relevant work experience as study credits.

Can you earn a Ph.D. in 2 years?

Yes, many universities offer opportunities to complete a Ph.D. program in just two years. Some of these programs are available in a fully online or hybrid format.

Does a fast Ph.D. program lack quality?

A fast Ph.D. program doesn’t lack quality. While some specializations and research topics don’t demand significant time investments, they can be just as beneficial as programs that may take over five years to complete.