Shortest PhD Programs 2023: Top 18 Doctoral Programs

Completing a PhD is no child’s play. It requires deep dedication and a will to complete the prerequisites. However, once you get your PhD, you will get the scholarly prestige that comes with holding the highest level of academic achievement. You will be making significant contributions to your profession and society at large with a doctorate.

Shortest PHD Programs

You will feel extremely fulfilled and gratified as you add to the corpus of knowledge in your profession by completing an accelerated PhD program. If you are looking for one, this article lists some of the shortest PhD programs offered by the top universities in the United States.

Tips to Consider While Choosing the Shortest phD Programs

Shortest Doctoral Programs

If you are thinking about getting a PhD degree or enrolling in a doctoral program, here are some tips to consider while choosing.

Do Your Research

Before choosing a PhD program, think in-depth about what you want to do and conduct thorough research on the topic you want to get your PhD in. Your career goals, interests, and topics that touch deep are all factors you should consider.

Choose a Research Area in Your Field

Explore choices within the research field you wish to pursue. Some programs might provide superior chances for research, mentoring, networking, funding, and professional development. To select a PhD program that fits your research interests and professional objectives, it is crucial to know what to look for.

Look for Reputable Institutions

Knowing the reputation of the university you are thinking about attending for your PhD is crucial. Investigating the institution’s academic accomplishments, faculty members’ areas of specialty, the availability of resources, the cultural climate, and its ranking are some of the aspects you should look out for.

Seek Advice

Consult with peers and possible supervisors about your suggested subject and research goals can help you make the right choice. Supervisors with experience in your field of study can provide you insightful advice on how to proceed with your research as well as on the potential of your work and how effectively it solves knowledge gaps.

Choose a PhD Program with Funding Options

Looking at the financing options is one of the most important factors to take into account while deciding on a PhD program. It can be costly to earn a PhD Due to this, many students rely on financial aid, scholarships, grants, or fellowships to pay for their tuition, living expenses, and research expenditures. Picking a PhD program that provides suitable financial choices can help ease the expenses.

Top 18 Shortest PhD Programs

shortest doctoral program online

Here is a list of the top shortest PhD programs that you can choose from depending on your specialty.

1. Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Science: Sargent College – Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PP-OTD) program

With an emphasis on flexibility and a strong mentorship approach, the Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PP-OTD) program at Sargent College is created to offer the highest level of quality education. Each student in the PP-OTD program is partnered with a faculty member who offers them individualized support during the course of the program. Graduates will have better career possibilities to create, execute, evaluate, and sustain innovative programs after finishing the program.

Students learn to promote inclusive, varied, and occupationally fair communities and society. The program teaches to expand possibilities for occupational therapy practitioners in practice, education, and scholarship through increasing awareness of the field. Students contribute to the literature and teaching materials using evidence in occupational therapy and impacting the world’s health. Graduates expand the professional network’s boundaries by concentrating on community-based practice and new practice areas.

All matriculated post-professional students are eligible for merit scholarships along with a cost of $895 per credit. Only an online format is used to deliver the PP-OTD program. Occupational therapists with a BS and MS in occupational therapy from an ACOTE or WFOT-accredited degree program or those who can present a National Government Recognition document of their occupational therapy program are eligible to apply.

2. University of North Carolina School of Medicine – Transitional DPT

Physical therapists with a license who want to earn a doctorate as well as further knowledge and skills can enroll in the Transitional DPT, or tDPT, program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The course blends current clinical applications with online learning and distance education. The degree’s main emphasis is clinical competence and skill, with the option of specializing in the student’s desired field of practice.

Graduates are encouraged to go on with their clinical practice, participate in community leadership and policy-making, and pursue teaching positions that align with their career objectives. Clinical Foundation Core, Clinical Practise Core, and Specialty Practise Core are the three interactive core components that make up the program. A professional entry-level degree plus an additional 27 credits of the authorized curriculum must be completed to receive a degree.

12 courses in the curriculum lay the groundwork for generalist practice while also providing plenty of room for independent study in subjects of a student’s choosing. This course is only offered part-time, and it lasts for two years. Scholarships, employee benefits, payment plans, and other financial aid are offered to students.

3. Liberty University – Doctor of Education degree

Liberty University offers a Doctor of Education degree with a specialization in various fields. The program is delivered completely online with flexible 8-week courses. Students can earn their Ed.D. in 2.5 years on average. You get the advanced information you need to have a positive impact on the educational field by enrolling in one of the online Ed.D. programs that include education administration, curriculum creation, learning theory, and the most recent research.

Available programs include administration and supervision, curriculum and instruction, educational psychology, elementary education, instructional design and technology, middle grades education, online teaching and learning, secondary education, special education, educational leadership, assessment and evaluation, and organizational leadership.

With a capstone project, you will undertake your study to offer useful answers to problems in the field of education. Graduates can improve their chances of succeeding as senior-level educational leaders, university professors, or educational policymakers. The cost of the programs is $595 per credit hour. The school offers military benefits.

4. Breyer State Theology University (BSTU) – Ethereal Doctor of Psychology in Greif Counseling Program

Breyer State Theology University (BSTU) offers an accelerated online doctorate in grief counseling that students can finish in one year. The Ethereal Doctor of Psychology in Greif Counseling program teaches students to recognize the facets of bereavement and grief counseling. To help you succeed as a counseling practitioner, the program offers both academic understanding and hands-on training.

You will get a deeper knowledge of sorrow via this program, investigate the numerous ways it may impact people’s lives, and discover how to support individuals who are grieving. Students also learn to determine the phases of grief and the best ways to deal with and overcome the problems caused by it. In addition, students work with traumatized individuals and create methods for assisting them through their grief.

After completing the program, graduates will leave with the abilities and expertise required to work as successful grief counselors. The cost of this degree is $4,500. Students who have a master’s degree in grief counseling or any related field can apply for this program. Students have free access to the extensive Study Tactics and Resources Centre, which contains links to websites, online databases, articles, and research assistance for various subjects.

5. Baylor University – Doctor of Education in Learning and Organisational Change (EdD)

The Doctor of Education in Learning and Organisational Change (EdD) online program at Baylor University enables seasoned professionals and business executives to influence the learning environment in any setting. It is a 54-credit hour program that students can complete in 36 months and includes two immersions. Students can also choose to earn their degrees on a flexible schedule.

Graduates are equipped to address cross-functional challenges, identify and take advantage of growth opportunities, and foster productive learning environments based on data-driven processes through a combination of interactive coursework, cooperative group projects, and face-to-face online classes. Students will be prepared to become transformational leaders with experience in curriculum, organizational change, and teaching and learning through practitioner-oriented courses.

Learning foundations courses, courses on organizational transformation, courses on research methodology, and a Problem of Practice (PoP) dissertation make up the program. Two in-person immersions provide students the chance to specifically apply the new skills they gained in the virtual classroom to their line of work.

6. Frontier Nursing University – Post-Master’s DNP Degree Program

Registered nurses who desire to further their careers as nurses, develop their leadership abilities, and expand their clinical knowledge can choose Frontier Nursing University’s Post-master’s DNP degree program. With a flexible approach that offers every course, and every term to match your life and professional aspirations, the program offers a full-immersion campus experience. Students can finish the 30-credit online program in 15 or 18 months.

The program includes a three-day stay on campus. You learn to initiate and oversee a quick cycle quality improvement initiative with your clinical site. The 30-credit Post-master’s DNP degree program is intended for certified nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners and is available to those with an MSN. The Post-master’s DNP program is an option for students who have completed the Post-Graduate Certificate (PGC) program.

The DNP program offers an education centered on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership. All these aspects give nurses the clinical knowledge and leadership skills they need to serve at the highest clinical levels. Every three terms, FNU grants and renews its financial aid programs. The expected net amount of financial help per term is $6,761 for a student who decides to borrow the maximum gross amount of $20,500 for the academic year.

7. Maryville University – Doctor of Nursing Practise (DNP) Program

The online Doctor of Nursing Practise (DNP) program at Maryivlle University is perfect for seasoned nurses who wish to get ready for professional advancement by obtaining the highest certification in nursing practice education. 100% of the curriculum is available online, so campus visits are not necessary. The program includes 11 courses with 33 credit hours.

The courses in the program include principles of epidemiology and biostatistics, integrating and synthesizing research, advanced healthcare policy, ethics for advanced nursing practice, quality, and patient safety in advanced nursing practice, clinical inquiry, organizational theory and systems, and more.

If you are a nurse practitioner already, you might complete your DNP in just 20 months. You can also add one of five nurse practitioner concentrations of your choosing to become a highly sought-after DNP-NP in as little as 36 months. As your career progresses, you will acquire the abilities, know-how, and experience you need to become a leader in the fields of evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership.

8. Capella University – Ph.D. Program in Counselor Education And Supervision

You may grow as a practitioner, leader, clinical supervisor, educator, and researcher with a Ph.D. program in counselor education and supervision at Capella University. With the help of practical training from your practicum and internship courses, this program allows you to put ideas into practice. Your abilities in counseling, instruction, research, administration, advocacy, and leadership will improve. The program is CACREP recognized and takes 60 program credits to complete the degree.

In addition to the prerequisites for the dissertation, practicum, and internship, you must finish 12 core courses. The course includes a thorough examination of doctoral-level education in advanced counseling practice/therapy, counseling supervision, research, teaching, advocacy, and leadership. The tuition cost of the program is $730 per credit hour. Students can apply for federal grants, employer & association discounts, and a $5k scholarship Capellar Progress Reward to fund the degree.

Graduates of this program are qualified to work in academic and clinical settings as advanced practitioners, leaders, clinical supervisors, researchers, and counselor educators. Graduates of the program become capable of applying guiding principles for both professional and personal growth while setting an excellent example. They can conduct research that is ethical, valid, and reliable to advance our understanding of counselor education and supervision.

9. Walden University – PhD Program In Clinical Psychology – Forensic Psychology Specialization

Students who enroll in a PhD program in forensic psychology at Walden University are academically prepared to serve as advisers, thought leaders, and authors in this rapidly developing subject. The biological, psychological, and social elements that might influence criminal behavior will be examined in greater detail in the program. Specialised training that focuses solely on forensic psychology will give you a competitive edge.

Regular webinars and optional four-day intensives that are focused on important themes might help you extend your study outside the classroom. Upon fulfillment of specific program criteria, you may also be eligible for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree. Unless they request an extension, Walden students have up to 8 years to finish their PhD program. Students often remain enrolled in the dissertation/doctoral studies course until their capstone project is finished and accepted.

The program comes in Track I and Track II options with tuition of $610 per quarter hour. Track I consist of 60 quarter credits, and Track II has 90 quarter credits. Students also have the option to choose the Fast-Track Option to accelerate their program completion by taking more courses and starting their dissertations earlier. It consists of four terms, and the tuition per term is $7,180.

10. University of Dayton – Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) In Leadership For Organisations Program

The School of Education and Health Sciences (SEHS) at the University of Dayton offers an online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership for Organisations program. The program enables you to implement constructive change from the top-down via service-based leadership. With an emphasis on research, cooperation, social justice, and applied practice, the online Ed.D. in Leadership for Organisations program is made for professionals with a master’s degree or above. The program takes 36 months to finish and has 60 credits.

The program will help you successfully lead mission-driven organizations. You will learn to lead organizations using service-based and social justice ideas as a student in an intensive online program. You will also learn to create a scholarly practice via investigation, study, and practical application that you will use right away. You will delve deeply into organizational leadership in a dissertation-in-practice.

During the program, you will build a strong network of like-minded peers by working together in person over two on-campus immersions with classmates and teachers. Attend weekly sessions that are streamed life and feature HD video and compact breakout spaces. You will be using a mobile-friendly, interactive online classroom to access education and conduct polls and surveys, share screens, and work together to edit documents. For two in-person immersions during the program, you will meet with your classmates and professors on campus.

11. Gwynedd Mercy University – Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Education

You can earn your 54-credit Online Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Education from Gwynedd Mercy University in less than three years, and the program provides you with a supportive learning environment where you can acquire the abilities, information, and attitudes required to lead and transform educational institutions. It takes at least 54 credits to graduate from the online Accelerated Executive EdD program.

To reform and enhance systems in general education, special education, and organizations that deal with education, such as governmental agencies, consulting firms, and for-profit businesses, the degree places a strong emphasis on transformational leadership. Starting from day 1, this program includes help for dissertations from the faculty.

You can select from one of four areas of interest, including teaching and learning in higher education, leadership in PreK–12 schools and school districts, leadership in higher education, and leadership in special education. You need to possess a master’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above in a discipline related to your chosen area of emphasis from a college or university with Middle States Association accreditation or equivalent accreditation for the degree.

12. Bowling State University – PhD in Technology Management

By providing academically demanding coursework and experience through remote education, the Ph.D. in Technology Management at Bowling State University is an online program created to satisfy the demands of today’s technology workers. Students enroll in the program to pursue more senior roles with technology-based companies or to switch to a higher education vocation.

Students can choose to specialize in any of the five options, including construction management, digital communication, human resource development and training, manufacturing systems, and quality systems. Four areas of study are necessary for the 66 credit hours PhD in Technology Management program. These include technical specialization,  professional studies, research core, and general technology core.

Internships can be created to give doctoral students a chance to test and experiment in business, research institutions, governmental organizations, and other suitable experiential ventures related to technology utilization, transfer, and innovation with the express goal of advancing knowledge in the specialty.

13. Indiana University of Pennsylvania – PhD In Safety Sciences Program

The PhD in Safety Sciences program at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) offers you the possibility to hone your practical research abilities while concentrating on current workplace safety issues. It allows you to move from management to academics, from business to academia, and it allows you to pass on your knowledge to the upcoming generation of safety sciences experts.

The online PhD in Safety Sciences is intended for people with full-time jobs at the moment. It is a dissertation-required 54-credit distance education program, including summer workshops that can be finished in three to seven years. 18 credits must be earned through six one-week summer workshop courses taken on the IUP campus over three summers, and the remaining 24 credits must be earned through distance education courses.

The dissertation will require 12 credits from the students. The dissertation committee will hear an oral defense of your dissertation proposal from you. You must next perform an oral dissertation defense after finishing your written dissertation. A master’s degree in a field that is directly connected to safety, such as industrial hygiene, occupational safety, or the social sciences, is a requirement to enroll in the program.

14. Hampton University – Accelerated Online PhD In Education Management

With Hampton University‘s accelerated online PhD in Education Management, you may earn a graduate degree while advancing organizations to the top of their sector and gaining the knowledge and expertise necessary to adapt to the rapidly changing educational environment. The expedited 60-credit Educational Management PhD program aims to provide students with the necessary experience while offering specialized teaching.

The program gives a cutting-edge education that focuses on current issues and topics in executive educational leadership. It highlights the fundamental leadership skills, character traits, and practical knowledge that executive educational leaders need to possess to be successful in educational contexts. The programs give students a chance to center their dissertation on genuine issues facing educational institutions, making the work relevant and useful and fostering organizational support.

In addition, students gain access to a network of organizations and successful educational leaders to support their professional, academic, and career development. Higher education and pre-K–12 education are available as specializations for the degree. It is a 60-credit program with 8 weeks course length that students can finish in 2 years. The cost of the program is $695 per credit. Hampton University is located in Virginia. The school offers financial aid to qualified students. Interested students must have academic training, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education.

15. Duquesne University School of Nursing – Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree

You will have the power to influence nursing practice’s future with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at Duqusne University School of Nursing. It is a completely online program where you will get the chance to learn from one of the top-ranked nursing faculty members at Duquesne as an online DNP student.

Two online DNP concentrations are available from Duquesne University, which include Clinical Leadership and Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management. After completing the Executive Nurse Leadership DNP program, you will be qualified to work with senior executives and leaders from a range of healthcare specialties to identify issues, provide suggestions, and bring about change for the benefit of healthcare systems as a whole.

The Clinical Leadership DNP program can teach you how to use evidence-based practice to affect patient outcomes and raise the standard of care in clinical settings. The Clinical Leadership DNP program has 35 credits total, which includes nine 3-credit courses and two 4-credit courses. You can complete the program in just two years. Tuition discounts are available for the program.

16. The College of St. Scholastica – Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

The College of St. Scholastica’s Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program is a distance learning education program created to increase knowledge in the topic area introduced to the entry-level DPT program but may not have been covered in bachelor’s or master’s degree curricula. It was specifically created for practicing clinicians.

The courses are offered online with the option of interacting with the instructors and other students. The main goal is to increase one’s theoretical knowledge to develop one’s practice, career, and interactions with other professionals. The program consists of six courses totaling 16 credits that include topics such as pharmacology, evidence-based practice, diagnostic imaging, differential diagnosis, health care policy, and clinical experience.

The program is offered fully online, including a streamlined curriculum created with the requirements of working physical therapists in mind. The course instructors may maintain more individualized, one-on-one interaction with remote students and foster a sense of community among students in a virtual classroom by capping registration at 24 students. Every semester, each subject is given, enabling a personalized study plan. The tuition fee for the program is $775 per credit.

17. Georgia State University – Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Ed.D. in C&I) program

The Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Ed.D. in C&I) program at Georgia State University helps you gain knowledge in pedagogical leadership, curriculum theory, and advocacy for equity in teaching and learning. The program prepares master teachers to work as instructional leaders and curriculum specialists in schools and/or school systems.

The program follows a three-year, flexible cohort approach, which is typical of highly regarded, top-notch professional doctoral programs in the country. The program requires 54 hours in total, consisting of 45 hours of coursework and 9 hours of dissertation preparation.  The majority of the program will be delivered at the downtown campus year-round in the summer, spring, and fall semesters through evening sessions.

It provides an interdisciplinary approach throughout Secondary levels in a variety of subject areas, including Art, Mathematics, Language and Literacy, Middle Level, Music, Foreign Language, Social Studies, and Science.

18. The University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Social Work ­- Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in Clinical Practice and Leadership Program

The Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in Clinical Practice and Leadership program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Social Work trains students for advanced clinical practice and leadership. The DSW is a rigorous accelerated program designed for working professionals that enables students to complete all degree requirements in three years without interfering with their careers.

A program for advanced clinical social work is available, with an emphasis on applied research, clinical leadership, clinical science, and evidence-based practice. Students will be ready for advanced clinical practice and advanced practice leadership through this program. Students who are full-time employed as clinical social workers can maintain their ongoing clinical practice while pursuing their Ph.D., thanks to the school’s online program.

The DSW program consists of two courses per semester over eight semesters of demanding coursework. Students can apply for College of Social Work Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA), departmental scholarships, graduate assistantships, federal work-study, scholarships, graduate fellowships, summer aid, veteran student services, Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program, and others to fund the PhD program.

Winding Up

As students look for PhD programs with the fewest requirements and the shortest lengths, accelerated programs are becoming more and more popular. The list highlights some of the top PhD programs offered through distance learning and online format, which can benefit current working professionals and those who want to pursue a PhD in their free time.