Top 10 Most Affordable PhD in Philosophy Programs Online for 2021

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Society needs great minds. If you find moral dilemmas fascinating or enjoy pondering the meaning of human existence, then you may be an ideal match for an online doctorate in philosophy degree program. These offerings provide high-quality doctoral instruction in philosophy expected of accredited colleges and universities but with the convenience only the most advanced distance learning technology can provide. This ranking is the result of our search for the top online doctor of philosophy programs currently available.



  • Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points
  • Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
  • Net Price Below $18,000: 2 points
  • Net Price Below $20,000: 1 point

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • Less than 20:1: 1 point
  • Less than 15: 1: 2 points
  • Less than 10: 1: 3 points

Return on Investment (ROI) According to

  • Top 500: 1 point
  • Top 300: 2 points
  • Top 150: 3 points

Flexibility of the Program (asynchronous course delivery, hybrid options, part-time/full-time schedule, etc. ) – 1 point per item

Online Student Support Network (faculty mentors/advisors, etc.)— 1 point per item

Concentrations/Specializations – 1 point per item (5-pt cap)

Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item

“Wow” Factor – 1 point

Ranking the Best Online Doctorate in Philosophy Programs

Our exhaustive web search for accredited online doctoral degree programs in philosophy in the United States yielded exactly 10 results. Once these offerings were identified, we applied the rating and ranking methodology above using information from College Navigator,, and each school’s website. In the case of a tie, the more economical program was assigned the higher ranking.

#10—The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Chicago, Illinois

Online Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership

Student to Faculty Ratio: Not Available
Points: 3

The online doctor of philosophy from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership that emphasizes management philosophy. Designed for executives, the program features course titles such as Envisioning the New Health & Human Service Organizations, Management Philosophy and Practice, and Emerging Theories of Leadership, for instance. A hands-on experience and a doctoral dissertation are also required. Though the coursework for the program can be completed entirely online, students will be asked to visit the campus for two short residencies. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Net Price: $21,213*

#9—Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts

Portland, Maine

Online Ph.D. in Art Theory, Philosophy, and Aesthetics

Student to Faculty Ratio: Not Available
Points: 4

The philosophy doctorate online program from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA) is a unique program designed specifically for visual artists such as architects and curators. The program is technically a low-residency hybrid offering, and students can complete the program in three years. Courses comprising the curriculum for this program include A Quick History of Philosophy, Toward an Ethico-Aesthetics, Foundational Texts: Plato to Kristeva, and The Twentieth Century: Art in Theory, for instance. A formal doctoral dissertation is also required prior to graduation. IDSVA is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education to award this online Ph.D. in philosophy.
Net Price: $34,500*

#8—Albany Medical College

Albany, New York

Online Doctor of Professional Studies in Bioethics, Health Ethics, and Policy

Student to Faculty Ratio: Not Available
Points: 4

The online philosophy doctorate from Albany Medical College is an online Doctor of Professional Studies in Bioethics, Health Ethics, and Policy. Offered through the school’s Alden March Bioethics Institute, the program requires courses such as Population Health Ethics, Social Justice and Medicine, Ethics in Healthcare Business, for example. A qualifying exam and doctoral project are also required for program completion. A master’s in bioethics or closely related field is required for admission. Albany Medical College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to award the online doctor of bioethics credential.
Net Price: $26,804*

#7—California Institute of Integral Studies

San Francisco, California

Online Doctorate in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness

Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Points: 6

Top 10 Colleges for an Online Degree in San Francisco, CA

The online doctoral degree program from California Institute of Integral Studies is a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness featuring an optional track in Integral Ecology. Courses comprising the curriculum for the program include Science, Ecology, and Contested Knowledge; Love, Death, and Annihilation; and Modern Western Esotericism, for example. A formal doctoral dissertation, as well as two comprehensive examinations, are also required for program completion. An accelerated MA/Ph.D. program is also available. CIIS is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission to award this Ph.D. in philosophy online.
Net Price: $20,970*

#6—Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Online Ph.D. in Nursing Ethics

Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Points: 7

The online Ph.D. in philosophy from Duquesne University is a doctorate in nursing ethics offered through the university’s School of Nursing and the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts Center for Health Care Ethics. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and features course titles such as Methods in Health Care Ethics, Foundations of Social and Distributive Justice in Health Policy, Clinical Ethics, and Structure of Nursing Knowledge. A comprehensive exam and doctoral dissertation is required. Students can complete this 47-credit hour degree plan within four years of study. Duquesne University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to award this online doctorate in philosophy. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the top 60 best value schools in the country.
Net Price: $23,112*

#5—Saybrook University

Oakland, California

Online Ph.D. in Transformative Social Change

Student to Faculty Ratio: Not Available
Points: 7

The online doctorate in philosophy offering from Saybrook University is a unique Ph.D. in Transformative Social Change. The degree is heavily research-based and is designed to prepare graduates to be impactful in their future roles as policy advocates, program directors, initiative developers, and public relations professionals, for instance. Enrolled students have the opportunity to pursue five distinct certificate programs, including Peace and Conflict Resolution, Community Health and Development, Building a Sustainable World, Multiculturalism and Social Justice, and Socially Engaged Spirituality. A residential orientation and conference on campus are required in addition to online coursework. Saybrook University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission to award the online doctoral philosophy credential.
Net Price: $21,213*

#4—Loyola University-Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Online Doctor of Bioethics

Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 8

The online doctorate in philosophy from Loyola University-Chicago is a hybrid Doctor of Bioethics with specializations in Clinical Bioethics, Organizational Bioethics, and Catholic Bioethics. Offered through the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics & Healthcare Leadership, the program features courses such as Justice and Health Care, Biomedical Ethics and the Law, Social Determinants of Health and Bioethics, and History of Medicine & Bioethics, for example. Two doctoral capstone courses and an in-person capstone presentation is also required for program completion. Loyola-Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the university among the top 100 best value schools in the nation.
Net Price: $35,033*

#3—Faulkner University

Montgomery, Alabama

Online Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities

Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Points: 8

The online doctorate degree from Faulkner University is a Ph.D. in Humanities program that emphasizes Western tradition. Course highlights include Philosophical Inquiries: Great Ideas, Writings, and Authors; Scholarly Inquiry and Writing in the Humanities; Reflection on Social Scientific Thought: Great Ideas and Readings; and Interdisciplinary Seminar. In addition, students will participate in three independent tutorials and two dissertation courses. Instructors approach academic topics from a Christian perspective. The program can be completed in three to five years, and students may enroll on a part-time or full-time basis. Faulkner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award this doctoral credential in philosophy. U.S. News & World Report has recognized the school as a top regional university in the South.
Net Price: $21,334

#2—Removed by Editor

#1—Union Institute & University

Cincinnati, Ohio

Online Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies

Student to Faculty Ratio: 8:1
Points: 9

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The versatile online doctoral program in philosophy from Union Institute & University is a PhD in Humanities offering featuring four distinct concentrations: Educational Studies, Ethical & Creative Leadership, Humanities & Culture, and Public Policy & Social Change. The curriculum for the program is comprised of foundational and research seminars such as Ethics and Social Justice, Research Methods: Inquiry in the Humanities, and Engaging Difference. Students will also participate in core seminars like Foundations of Ethical and Creative Leadership, Policy Processes and Social Change, and Curriculum and Social Justice, for example. A formal doctoral dissertation is also required for program completion. Union Institute & University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award this online Ph.D.
Net Price: $22,360

About Online Ph.D. in Philosophy Programs


An online doctorate in philosophy represents the pinnacle of education one can achieve in this fascinating academic discipline. As such, they require a great deal of work. Luckily, this hard work pays off for the vast majority of graduates. Online philosophy doctorates prepare students for the most advanced positions in philosophy, including those in postsecondary education and in scholarly research and writing. Other fields that welcome those with a doctoral credential in philosophy include law, business, theology, and even health care.

Although most doctoral students study philosophy on campus, attending school online is becoming an increasingly popular option. Students who pursue their degree online enjoy a great deal of autonomy as well as the convenience of studying from anywhere they desire. These benefits enable doctoral philosophy students to earn a top credential in the field while simultaneously fulfilling work and family responsibilities.

Types of Ph.D. in Philosophy Online Degree Programs

While they all offer added convenience over an on-campus offering, not all online Ph.D. in philosophy programs are exactly the same. In fact, they can vary quite a bit, depending on the school offering the program. Prospective doctoral students should consider the type of program being offered before applying to a particular university.

Part-Time Versus Full-Time Online Doctor of Philosophy Programs

Not all students can make the commitment to pursue their online doctorate in philosophy full-time. Others desire a full course load in order to complete their degree requirements in a timely fashion. That’s why it’s important to consider your scheduling requirements before choosing an online Ph.D. in philosophy degree program. While some schools offer both part-time and full-time tracks, others are less flexible. For the most up-to-date information about a particular program, it’s best to speak to an admissions counselor.

Hybrid Versus Fully Online Philosophy Ph.D. Programs

While the programs we’ve listed in this ranking are considered online doctor of philosophy offerings, not all of them are offered entirely online. Some are actually hybrid options. These programs combine online learning with traditional on-campus classes. Hybrid programs are sometimes referred to as blended learning options.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both hybrid and fully online doctoral degree programs in philosophy. While completing a degree program entirely online is extremely convenient, students must sacrifice some of the benefits of traditional classroom instruction like ease of collaboration and instructional engagement, for example.

On the other hand, hybrid programs are less accommodating to a busy or working student’s schedule. They may require campus residencies that can vary in length from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Not all students can commit to the travel and time requirements of blended learning programs.

Synchronous Versus Asynchronous Online Doctor of Philosophy Degree Programs

Another important distinction amongst online Ph.D. in philosophy programs is their course delivery formats. Programs are either synchronous or asynchronous in their content delivery.

Synchronous programs are more structured and require students to be online and ready to learn at certain pre-determined times of the day. For example, students enrolled in a synchronous online doctorate in philosophy program may be required to log in to their learning platform at 8:00 am on a Monday morning to watch a live-stream lecture or complete a proctored exam, for instance.

Conversely, asynchronous online philosophy Ph.D. programs allow students more freedom to complete course requirements on their own time and at their own pace. With asynchronous offerings, students can log in at any time of the day or night to view pre-recorded lectures or post to discussion forums, for example.

Selecting a synchronous or asynchronous online doctoral philosophy program is an important decision. Your choice will affect how and when you complete your assignments each week. Consider your learning style as well as how much structure you’ll need to be successful.

Admissions Requirements for Online Doctorates in Philosophy

Choosing an online Ph.D. in philosophy program is an important decision, but it’s just as crucial that you ensure the school will choose you as a student. That’s why you need as much information as possible about the college or university’s admissions requirements. Keep in mind that the eligibility criteria can vary by school, so you’ll want to visit the program’s website and speak to an admissions counselor for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Though we can’t give you the latest school-specific admissions requirements, we can give you an idea of what to expect when you apply to an online doctorate in philosophy degree program. In general, you will be asked to submit your academic transcript showing a minimum GPA. Unless you are applying to a joint MA/Ph.D. in Philosophy program, this transcript should prove that you hold a master’s credential in philosophy or other liberal arts fields.

The majority of online doctoral programs in philosophy will also require that applicants submit GRE scores for consideration. Personal statements, essays, references, resumes, and interviews are other possible admissions requirements that some schools have established for their specific programs.

Some universities also require that students have taken certain prerequisite courses prior to enrollment. Course titles for these prerequisite classes will vary, but they usually cover foundational topics in advanced philosophy such as symbolic logic, history of philosophy, value theory, epistemology, and more.

Curriculum for Online Doctor of Philosophy Degrees

Since each school is responsible for establishing its own curriculum for the online doctor of philosophy program, degree plans will vary from university to university. Much of this variation will depend on faculty strengths and preferences in the field. Still, most if not all of the major branches and subfields of the academic discipline will be addressed. These include modern philosophy, ancient philosophy, metaphysics, logic, ethics, and more.

Core Curriculum

Unlike the core curriculum for undergraduate and master’s degree programs in philosophy, the basic degree plan for an online Ph.D. in philosophy is highly flexible and can be customized to an individual student’s academic interests and career plans. Many times, the entire course of study for an online doctoral degree in philosophy will be designed around a student’s dissertation topic.

Many programs in philosophy at the Ph.D. level are also interdisciplinary in nature. This means that students are allowed and even encourages to take courses outside of the philosophy department in order to supplement and complement their coursework in philosophy.

Doctoral Dissertation in Philosophy

Most online philosophy Ph.D. programs culminate in a formal doctoral dissertation. A dissertation is a scholarly, research-based paper that presents a student’s findings on a very specific topic in the field. Dissertation preparation often begins after the second year of Ph.D. coursework and can take two to three years.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Philosophy Doctorates Online

The decision to pursue an online doctor of philosophy degree is not one to be taken lightly. You need to find out as much as you can about these offerings prior to enrollment to ensure the program is the right fit for you. Here are some frequently asked questions about online doctorates in philosophy to aid you in this pursuit:

Q: Are online Ph.D. in Philosophy programs legitimate?

A: Yes. The online philosophy doctorates listed in this ranking are offered by accredited universities. Many times, these distance learning programs mirror on-campus options in terms of curriculum. You may even receive an identical diploma as that of traditional students.

Q: Do I need a master’s degree to apply to an online philosophy doctoral degree?
A: Usually, but not always. Some integrated programs exist that allow students to earn their master’s degree in philosophy on the way towards the doctorate credential. For these combined degree programs, a bachelor’s degree in philosophy or a related field is all that is required.

Q: How long does it take to fulfill the requirements for an online Ph.D. in Philosophy degree?

A: It varies depending on the school you attend and your own academic background. Generally speaking, though, you should expect to devote between five and seven years towards your doctoral studies in philosophy.

Q: How much does it cost to earn an online doctoral degree in philosophy?

A: Tuition costs will vary depending on the specific doctorate in philosophy online program, but you can expect to pay from around $20,000 to $30,000 per year on classes.

Q: Is financial aid available for online Ph.D. doctoral students?

A: Yes. Available forms of financial assistance include loans, grants, and scholarships. You may also qualify for tuition reimbursement and/or graduate assistantships.

Career Questions for Online Philosophy Doctoral Degrees

Many students feel drawn to online doctor of philosophy programs for purely intellectual reasons. Practically, though, it’s necessary to evaluate how such a degree program will fit into your career goals. Below, we’ll list some common questions prospective students have regarding careers and employment after graduation.

Q: How much will I make with an online philosophy doctorate degree?

A: Your salary after graduation from a doctor of philosophy online program will vary depending on numerous factors, especially what exactly you plan to do with your degree. For example, if you plan to teach philosophy at the college level, you’ll make around $70,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Q: Are teaching positions in philosophy in demand?

A: Yes. According to the BLS, jobs for university philosophy professors are growing faster than average. They were projected to increase by 12% between 2016 and 2026.

Q: Besides teaching, what other careers can I pursue with an online doctorate in philosophy?

A: Jobs for professionals with a Ph.D. in Philosophy credential span industries such as business, law, theology, and even medicine.

Q: Do I need a doctorate in order to work in the field of philosophy?

A: Not necessarily. While some of the higher positions in philosophy require doctorates, many employers will consider applicants with just a master’s degree. You may be eligible for a few entry-level positions in philosophy with a bachelor’s credential.

Q: What professional organizations should I join with an online doctoral degree in philosophy?

A: Many professional organizations and associations welcome doctoral students and graduates of online philosophy doctorates. Some of these include:

  • Philosophy of Science Association
  • American Philosophical Society
  • American Society for Aesthetics
  • American Association of Philosophy Teachers
  • Association for Symbolic Logic
  • Institute for Global Ethics
  • National Association for Philosophy and Literature
  • Metaphysical Society of America
  • International Association for Environmental Philosophy

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