Online PhD Programs From GCU

Flexible Online Programs to Help You Become a Leader of Tomorrow

An online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program1 from Grand Canyon University can help encourage and inspire learners who are passionate about their fields of study and ready to position themselves for potential leadership roles in their professions, communities and society. At GCU, the College of Doctoral Studies is a community that connects faculty and learners.

You have the opportunity to discover ways of teaching, leading and training others using advanced knowledge of humans' mental and emotional responses with GCU’s PhD programs online.1 Use your knowledge and skills toward teaching or conducting psychological research within business, government or higher education. Choose from several emphases, including performance psychology, cognitive psychology, I/O psychology and technology, learning and psychology.

PhD Graduate outside GCU Arena

The GCU Difference

GCU has been an institutionally accredited university by the Higher Learning Commission for over 50 years and has nearly 93,000 students enrolled online in Fall 2023.2 Our online PhD degrees1 are part of the university’s educational curriculum, with support from professors and academic counselors.

In the same fashion, all our online programs are led by knowledgeable faculty in their respective fields. We offer a competitive and affordable online tuition and a schedule that offers flexibility. Learn more about online learning at GCU and how earning a degree can be the next step toward positioning yourself for possible career advancement.

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Online PhD Degree FAQs

phd students walking in a hallway

Earning your PhD is a big decision. Get answers to frequently asked questions from people considering continuing their education with a doctoral degree.

PhD is an abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy and can be a doctoral degree in almost any discipline. GCU offers a PhD online1 in a variety of focus areas. Learners in our PhD online programs conduct research in order to seek new developments in current research or create new theories of their own, whereas learners in our online EdD programs seek to apply current research in order to achieve progress.

To have a PhD is to obtain a “Doctor of Philosophy” degree from an accredited institution. PhD degrees often include taking doctorate level courses, conducting research, creating, writing and defending your dissertation. Those with a PhD are recognized as experts in their field and may go on to perform academic research and fill roles in academia and beyond.

A doctorate is the highest degree in the United States post-secondary education system. A PhD, a form of a doctorate, is also considered the highest degree obtainable. Though PhD graduates may go on to pursue additional academic degrees, the doctorate is the pinnacle of higher education.

A PhD is one form of a doctorate degree. While the PhD is a commonly known form of a doctorate, there are other types of doctorates that learners may pursue, such as an EdD, DHADNP or DBA.

Another term for doctorate, doctoral degrees are typified by their emphasis on research, skill and application. PhD programs are research based and focused whereas other doctoral degrees are grounded in application. Doctoral degree requirements differ by program and university.

A doctorate can be obtained through successful enrollment and completion of a doctorate program at an accredited institution, such as GCU. To enroll in a doctorate program, learners should hold a master’s degree in a similar subject. To discuss enrollment opportunities, complete the form on this page to talk with a university counselor.

A residency requirement within a doctoral program may refer to the expectation for doctoral students to complete courses with the academic institution; alternatively, a residency requirement may refer to an expectation for doctoral learners to be physically present on the university’s campus to network, attend seminars and/or present. For information about GCU’s residency requirements, visit our Doctoral Scholar Resource page.

Requirements to graduate with a PhD may vary by the program and the institution. PhD applicants are typically required to have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a related field. Upon entry to the program, the typical PhD requires successful completion of the courses and residency, as well as submission and defense of a thesis or dissertation to graduate.

To graduate with a PhD, the learner must meet all course requirements and successfully complete their dissertation. Different institutions may have varying graduation requirements. Contact your university counselor for a list of graduation requirements.

The number of classes required for doctorate degrees is dependent on the program and university. While course expectations and lengths vary widely, for specific course and credit information, visit the doctoral program pages or contact your counselor.

The length of a PhD program is dependent on the requirements of the specific program. The maximum amount of time allotted is seven years to complete coursework and the dissertation. Graduation requirements include earning the total number of credits required by the program, meeting content requirements and approval of a dissertation by the committee and the dean as demonstrated by a signed D-80 document. For more information on GCU’s dissertation process and time to completion, visit the doctoral programs page.

While a PhD program can help provide increased knowledge and skills, it also has a potential to increase salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, the median annual wage for those with a master’s degree was $86,372, whereas the median annual wage for those with a doctoral degree was $108,316.3

Most traditional PhD programs require a dissertation, but there are some that do not. Some programs may offer a doctoral capstone in replacement of a dissertation requirement. All PhD programs at GCU require a dissertation and in-person residencies.

1 Residencies take place on or near GCU’s campus.

2 Includes students who have participated in an online class in August or September 2023 and does not include students in a cohort program.

3 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Education Pays as of May 2023, retrieved on June 27, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers nationwide with varying levels of education and experience. It does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates nor does it reflect the earnings of workers in one city or region of the country or a typical entrylevel salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries. Your employability will be determined by numerous factors over which GCU has no control, such as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, the graduate’s experience level, individual characteristics, skills, etc. against a pool of candidates.