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This article is part of our Guide to Online PhD Schools series. This ranking includes public colleges that offer online or blended doctoral degrees.
NOTES: The online doctoral degrees listed here are regionally accredited. Program data was current at the time of publication. Tuition is subject to change and should be checked before applying to a college/university. This ranking is based on each institution’s undergraduate average (by NCE) and mandatory tuition fees. As such, any program may have a different price than listed due to changes in the number of credits and/or tuition. The transfer credits awarded will also make a difference in your total costs associated with earning a Ph.D.
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East Tennessee State University (ETSU, 1911) is a public institution. Founded as a teacher training institution, it currently offers students more than 100 accessible degree programs at its main campus, two learning centers and online.
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Program requirements range from 32 to 92 credits. On-site (university) and in-person (local) experiences can include meetings, intensives, dissertation defenses, final PhD presentations, apprenticeships, special events, and more. An online education specialist degree with two concentrations (administrative support, school system leadership) is also available.
The University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou, 1839) is a public institution and a member of the University of Missouri system. Nearly 80% of undergraduate students who graduated in AY 17-18 completed one or more distance/online courses (34% for graduate students).
Mizzou offers affordable undergraduate degrees leading to doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs, including more than 120 online programs. It has 10 low-cost online/hybrid PhD programs:
Program requirements range from 40 to 77 credits. On-site (university) and in-person (on-site) experiences may include any or all campus meetings, intensives, residential projects, etc.
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Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI, est. 1969) is a public institution, a member of the Indiana University System and the Purdue University System. The Indianapolis campuses of IU and Purdue merged in 1969 to form IUPUI, but each was founded before that. IUPUI’s schools of nursing and medicine are among the largest in the country and claim to be the world’s first school of philanthropy.
IUPUI offers affordable associate degrees through doctoral degrees and certificate programs, with a total of more than 350 academic programs. It has four of the cheapest online/hybrid PhD programs:
Program requirements range from 37 to 90 credits, with Master’s credit up to 30 credits for longer programs. Field(s) and/or personal(field) experience includes any or all meetings, resident visits, dissertation defenses, field projects, practicum hours, etc. Some of these online degree programs have both part-time and full-time options.
Towson University (Towson, est. 1866) is a public institution and a member of the University System of Maryland. Originally a teacher training institution, it now serves students on campus and online.
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Towson offers affordable bachelor’s and doctoral degree programs and certificate programs, totaling more than 110 programs. It has three of the most affordable online/hybrid PhD programs:
Program requirements range from 33 to 63 credits. Local (university) and/or personal (local) experience includes some or all intensive training, internships, dissertation defenses, seminars, etc.
Murray State University (MSU, 1922) is a public institution. It serves students at this main campus and five regional campuses, as well as online.
MSU offers affordable associate degrees through doctoral degrees and certificate programs, with more than 125 programs in total. It has three of the cheapest online/hybrid PhD programs:
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Program requirements range from 32 to 84 credits. On-site (university) and/or in-person (on-site) experiences may include some or all weekend courses, qualifying exams, capstone residency, capstone oral argument, dissertation defense, clinical hours, etc.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL, est. 1869) is a public institution and a member of the University of Nebraska System. It is considered one of the most secure universities in America and serves students online.
UNL offers affordable associate, doctoral, and certificate programs in more than 125 online programs alone. It has three low-cost online/hybrid PhD programs:
Program requirements range from 90 to 96 credits. Local (university) and personal (local) experiences may include summer sessions, on-campus research seminars, dissertation defenses, practicum hours, and more.
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Ball State University (BSU, 1918) is a public institution. Founded as a training institute and later named for a benefactor group of entrepreneurial brothers, it serves students on campus and online. It is particularly proud of its “on-time graduation rate,” which has increased by 65 percent in seven years, and its application rate, which has increased by nearly 73 percent in five years.
Program requirements range from 90 to 91 credits. On-site (university) and in-person (local) experiences may include any or all dissertation defenses, comprehensive exams, practicum hours, meetings, and more. There is also an online Educational Specialist (EdS) degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision (ELS). .
The University of North Dakota (UND, est. 1883) is a public institution and a member of the University of North Dakota system. It serves both undergraduate and online students, and about half of all enrolled students take one or more online courses.
UND offers high-value bachelor’s through doctoral degrees and certificate programs. Here are the 10 cheapest online/hybrid PhD programs and options:
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Program requirements range from 36 to 97 credits with a minimum duration of three to seven years. On-site (university) or in-person (local) experience may be required, including any or all class sessions, internships/practicums, dissertation defenses, etc.
ISU offers affordable associate degrees, doctoral degrees, and certificates in more than 250 programs in total. It features the five most affordable online/hybrid PhD programs:
Program requirements range from 28 to 78 credits. Curriculum components may include on-site or face-to-face (on-site) meetings, comprehensive exams, dissertation defenses, clinical intensives, practicums, and more. Timetables vary depending on whether you choose full-time or part-time studies. Inexpensive online education specialist degrees in educational administration or school psychology are also available.
Georgia Southern University (GS, 1906) is a public institution and a member of the University System of Georgia. Serves students at three campuses and online.
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GS offers economics associate, doctoral and certificate programs – with more than 140 degrees at all levels. GSU has the four cheapest online/hybrid PhD programs:
Program requirements range from 37 to 77 credits. Face-to-face (classroom) sessions and/or clinical hours are included in some of these degrees. GSU also has seven low-cost online and one hybrid Education Specialist (EdS) program.
The University of Arkansas (UARK, est. 1871) is a public institution and a member of the University of Arkansas System. Located near the Ozark Mountains, it serves students on campus and online, with nearly half of its enrollees taking one or more courses online (Fall 2017).
The U of A offers affordable bachelor’s degrees through doctoral degrees and certificate programs in more than 250 degree programs at all levels. It has four affordable online/hybrid PhD programs:
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Program requirements range from 42 to 96 credits over two to four years. Some of these programs are subject to orientation, meetings, candidacy exams, dissertation defenses, internships/internships, etc. The DNP program also has an affordable dual degree option where students also earn an MSN.
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM, 1910) is a public institution. Originally a teacher training institution, it serves students on two campuses and online. Despite its previous admissions policy, it now claims to be “the most diverse university in the state of Mississippi” and even offers a number of cultural studies degree programs.
Program requirements range from 48 to 60 credits. Cheap EdD programs have capstone projects (no dissertation), while PhD NL has a dissertation and a virtual residency. NFLP (Nurse Faculty Loan Program) financing may be available to qualified full-time or part-time doctoral students who plan to teach at an accredited nursing school in the United States after graduation, saving up to 85% of tuition. USM also has an online Educational Specialist (EdS) degree in Educational Administration (P-12) available.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB, 1969) is a public institution and a member of the University of Alabama System. Originally an extended campus, it now serves students on campus and online.
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UAB offers affordable bachelor’s through doctoral studies and certificate programs. It has three of the cheapest online/hybrid PhD programs:
Program requirements range from 40 to 114 credits with a minimum term of up to three years. Intensive on-campus learning can be part of the curriculum, as can local internships. The low-cost PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering (IE) is a blended program with the first 30 credits online. However, the rest of the program requires a year on campus or longer, including committee meetings, a candidacy exam, a doctoral proposal, and a dissertation. There is also an online education specialist degree with three specializations (Early Childhood; Elementary Education; Physical Education
Texas Tech University (TTU, 1923) is a public institution and a member of the Texas Tech University System. Its students are served at this main campus, at eight regional locations, and online, but TTU has been active since 1966. offers distance learning via closed circuit television.
TTU offers affordable bachelor’s degrees through doctoral studies and certificate programs, with more than 300 degree programs alone. It has nine of the most affordable online/hybrid Ph.D
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