Easiest PhD and Shortest Doctoral Programs Online

Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy, programs are available in a variety of subject areas. Institutions that offer the best programs typically have exceptional funding, research, facilities and resources. When choosing one of the shortest doctoral programs or easiest Ph.D. programs, request info from each school to find out how each school rates on the above criteria.

The easiest isn’t always the shortest nor the shortest the easiest.

1-year Online Doctoral Programs | Shortest Doctoral Programs Online and On-campus | Easiest PhD Online and On-campus

1 Year Online Doctoral Programs

While most programs last 2 or more years, we’ve found one university that offers a 12-month online doctoral program.

BREYER STATE UNIVERSITY – accelerated doctor of psychology in grief counseling. This program is also one of the most affordable online doctoral programs on our list at tuition of $3,500.

As we find more 1 year online doctoral programs, we will add them to this list. This list was last updated on April 1, 2019.

Shortest Doctoral Programs Online and On-campus

Obtaining a Ph.D. is a long-term commitment. Most doctoral programs can take well beyond five years to complete, although, there are accredited accelerated Ph.D. programs available from universities.

For working professionals that are crunched for time yet looking to advance their careers, we provide this list as a starting point of the shortest doctoral programs. Many of the Ph.D. programs in our list are full-time, part-time, and completely online or a hybrid of online and on-campus.

Easiest PhD Programs Online and On-campus

No Ph.D. program will be “easy” but there are Ph.D. programs that are easier than others.

Typically, the easiest college majors have been education, humanities, and social sciences–we will use that criterion for our list. With that in mind, our list of the easiest Ph.D. programs includes schools and programs that offer significantly reduced residency requirements, accelerated courses, credit transfers, and integrated dissertation colloquium.

The rankings below contain schools that are accredited by at least one of the six regional accrediting agencies. At least one Ph.D. program had to be offered online by a school. Online programs were also ranked by U.S. News and Forbes Magazine rankings.

Easiest PhD Programs Online

For those looking at normal PhD programs that aren’t accelerated or “easy”, here’s a list of the top PhD programs in the U.S. according to Study.com.

Best PhD Programs in the U.S.

College/University NameDistinctionLocation
Cornell UniversityConducts interdisciplinary research through at least 100 research centers, institutes and laboratories housed at the universityIthaca, NY
Northwestern UniversityHas interdisciplinary clusters that give students the option to study and conduct research with students and faculty outside of their program that have similar interests or who are trying to resolve a common problemEvanston, IL
Stanford UniversityHas a faculty that includes 20 Nobel Laureates and four Pulitzer Prize WinnersStanford, CA
University of California in BerkeleyAllows doctoral students to customize an interdisciplinary degree programBerkeley, CA
University of Michigan in Ann ArborOffers more than 100 Ph.D. programsAnn Arbor, MI
University of PennsylvaniaIs home to nearly 200 research centers and institutesPhiladelphia, PA
University of Texas at AustinHas 13 libraries stocked with over 10 million volumesAustin, TX
University of Washington in SeattleProvides $11 million in graduate fellowships and other awards yearly, according to 2013 dataSeattle, WA
University of Wisconsin in MadisonOffers over 100 doctoral programsMadison, WI


Are a Ph.D. and a doctorate the same?

The core difference between a Ph.D. and a doctorate is

  1. A PhD is an academic degree focused on original research, data analysis, and the evaluation of theory.
  2. A professional doctorate focuses on applying research to practical problems, formulating solutions to complex issues, and designing effective professional practices within your field.

Source: https://www.waldenu.edu/

Can You Get a Ph.D. for Free?

Technically, you can’t get a Ph.D. for free but, in place of money, you can exchange your time or teaching or doing research for a Ph.D.

Another option for getting a “free” Ph.D. is to find a “fully-funded” Ph.D. Fully-funded Ph.D. programs can mean that tuition and at least a percentage of living expenses are paid for without you paying or using student loans.

Some fully-funded Ph.D. programs will provide health insurance and research and travel funding.

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