Top 10 Most Affordable Online PhD Programs

The decision to move forward with your education after you have received your master’s degree is often driven by specific career objectives. Because of this, it makes a lot of sense to look at the financial end of investing money in a PHD program and correlating that investment to how well it will aid in achieving future career goals.

Featured PhD Programs

  1. DBA – General Business: Northcentral University
  2. PhD – Psychology: Capella University
  3. Ph.D. – Education: Learning, Instruction and Innovation (Course-Based): Walden University

Getting bang for your dollar

For most potential PHD candidates, who are looking at an average of 6 years of work to complete a resident PHD, online alternatives can offer a convenient way to shorten the length of time that it takes, while providing a convenience that allows you to hold a job or raise a family while you are studying. They are also less expensive than a traditional on-campus PHD degree program.

But do they pencil out in terms of reaching your goals in the workplace? According to a survey by the Distance Education and Training Council, workers that achieve an online degree while they are working actually improve more in terms of their perceived performance than those who have received a degree by going through a traditional on-campus program. On the other hand, for people that are on the outside looking in to a dream job or profession can sometimes find the going more difficult when they are looking for positions if their degree is from an online college. That type of discrimination can be perceived to be higher in jobs like that of a college or university professor.

So the best strategy to maximize your educational investment dollar can depend upon your goal. If you are interested in entering academia or furthering your career there, you might look at PHD degrees that are offered by affordable online colleges that are also traditional institutions so that the reputation factor does not bite you when you apply for jobs. If you are trying to further your career within a company or organization, it may not matter as much which college that you go to, as long as you are happy with the curriculum that they provide. If you do not plan to start your PHD program for another year or so, keep abreast of the trends happening in the work world because online university graduates are starting to make a big impact in the workforce. Just recently, a Capella University graduate was appointed to the National Council on Black American Affairs and several other private online universities are now actively promoting the career success of their graduates.

Is online really online?

When you start your search, you will soon see that the majority of online PHD programs require some form of campus visit periodically so that you can augment your online work with important communication sessions with your advisors. If you are looking for an affordable alternative to a full-time PHD program that is done on a campus, you will therefore want to factor in the geographic distance and the amount of time that you need to spend on your campus visits in order to satisfy requirements.

A list of some of the most affordable online colleges

Each of the colleges listed here has affordable online PHD programs in several disciplines. The ranking criteria was done by price and not reputation. The x-factor in pricing for many schools that are also traditional campuses is the in-state / out-of-state tuition differentials that you are probably used to with costs. We have therefore opted to provide total cost estimates for schools that do not have a two-tier pricing structure. One of the best resources for those seeking to find a more comprehensive listing is at published some of the cost numbers cited here.

Business PHD programs:

  • Valdosta State University:
    Doctor of Public Administration
    Total Cost = $18,200
  • CalSouthern University:
    Doctor of Business Administration
    Total Cost = $23,700
  • George Fox University:
    Doctor of Business Administration = $23,700
    Total Cost = $44,700
  • Northcentral University:
    Doctor of Business Administration/Financial Management
    Total Cost = $44,800


Psychology PHD programs:

  • CalSouthern University:
    Doctor of Psychology / PsyD
    Total Cost = $26,070
  • Penn State University
    Doctor of Educational Psychology
    Total Cost = $17,670
  • Capella University:
    Doctor of Psychology / Clinical Psychology
    Total Cost = $71,755


Education PHD Programs:

  • University of West Georgia:
    Doctor of Education in School Improvement
    Total Cost = $19,000
  • Boise State University:
    Doctor of Education in Educational Technology
    Total Cost = $31,416
  • Grand Canyon University(AZ):
    Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership
    Total Cost = $37,500