Doctoral Degrees

Grand Canyon University offers a wide variety of doctorate programs to professionals who are interested in pursuing advanced learning opportunities. No matter the field or program you choose, you will be guided to develop independent research skills that may allow you to make original contributions to your field. 

GCU’s College of Doctoral Studies is focused on increasing your specialized knowledge by designing programs that are academically challenging to help build modern leaders. These degrees are both challenging and intellectually stimulating, yet collaborative, with opportunities to network with other doctoral learners. GCU offers terminal degree options in business, education, nursing, healthcare administration, psychology and counselor education and supervision. 

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Lead, Innovate and Inspire in Doctoral Programs at GCU

Students often decide to earn a doctorate because they wish to establish themselves as leaders in their field with original research. We offer a variety of online1 or evening graduate programs to match your desired professional path, including:

  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Health Administration (DHA)

With a doctoral degree program, you will have the opportunity to gain:

  • Interpersonal skills: You will be expected to communicate goals, determine individual strengths and utilize them to promote team effectiveness.
  • Professional growth: Refining your skills and engaging in independent research up to the highest degree level can help you prepare yourself for leadership roles.
  • Effectiveness: You will be taught how to impact change within your field by applying advanced research skills to provide solutions to industry-related issues.
Button to play video: Dr. Keziah Tinkle-Williams: Overcoming Personal Challenges and Beating Fear
New Doctoral Student Summer Scholarship
Save Up to $325

GCU is offering a $325 scholarship toward tuition for qualified new doctoral students starting in July.¥

Apply Today!

I actually decided to attend GCU for my doctorate before I chose what I wanted to study. I felt the signs of the universe were pointing me to this school. So, when it was time to decide what degree I wanted to pursue, I followed the question I kept asking myself since receiving my multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis, What have I always wanted to do but have never done? I was that kid that fell in love with Freud and the psychoanalysis concept. So, I chose to earn my Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology, which I also knew I could use in my current career as a professor of English composition. It would even allow me to study the other things I loved like gamified learning. It was like all the stars aligned!

Dr. Keziah Tinkle-Williams Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology, Class of 2021

Find the Right Doctoral Program for You

From behavioral health to Christian ministry to general psychology, there are a variety of degree options at GCU. The College of Doctoral Studies aims to design graduate degree programs that align with industry needs and emerging issues across specific fields in order to thoroughly prepare professionals to tackle modern challenges with an innovative and ethics-minded approach. Below, you can choose from online doctoral programs applicable to a range of settings — from the corporate boardroom to the patient’s bedside and beyond.1


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

For those seeking advanced qualifications, a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) may be ideal. Requiring a master's degree for admission, DBA programs teach skills for senior leadership roles and involve practical research, helping you build a strong portfolio. These programs also cover current business practices and theories. 

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Doctor of Education (EdD)

A Doctor of Education (EdD) is a practitioner-focused degree that offers various specializations. Earning an EdD also helps individuals become more effective leaders and learners in their areas of expertise. 

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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is a highly practical and specialized degree designed to empower nurses in advancing healthcare through the application of innovative research. Focused on enhancing patient outcomes and refining healthcare systems, this program teaches a diverse set of skills essential for nursing practice. Through a comprehensive curriculum, participants will delve into various specialized areas, honing their expertise to address contemporary healthcare challenges effectively. 


Doctor of Health Administration (DHA)

A Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) is the highest degree in healthcare administration, preparing you to manage healthcare organizations effectively. The program covers finance, regulations, human resource management, healthcare policy, planning and communications. Additionally, it instills ethical considerations and strategic vision, helping to enable you to lead confidently into the future. 


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

A PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, is a doctoral degree available in various disciplines. GCU offers online PhD programs in several focus areas, where students conduct research to advance current knowledge or develop new theories. 

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Coursework and Curriculum

The curriculum for each doctorate program at GCU is designed to fit industry needs and expectations and to thoroughly prepare you to develop innovative solutions to field-specific challenges. In graduate-level coursework and throughout the research process for your dissertation, you will be expected to develop advanced competencies and refine your critical thinking, analytical reasoning and communication skills. Students enrolled in a doctoral online program will use our digital learning platform to access coursework, discussion forums and digital projects.1

Doctoral Admission Requirements

Navigating the requirements for doctoral admission is crucial as you prepare for advanced studies and research opportunities. Doctoral admission requirements at GCU may vary by the degree program you choose, such as meeting specific minimum GPA requirements. For detailed information, visit our admission requirements page.

Graduate With a Doctorate Degree From an Institutionally Accredited University

GCU is committed to maintaining high standards of educational quality across all our graduate degree programs. We aim to graduate ethical servant leaders who are prepared to make a positive difference in their community. GCU has been institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1968. The College of Doctoral Studies shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies.

Doctoral Degree Programs FAQs

GCU invites you to browse the following frequently asked questions and answers to learn more about your academic options at the graduate level.

A doctorate is a type of graduate degree that represents the highest level of academic achievement in a field. For this reason, they are considered “terminal” degrees. Doctorates come in many different forms, such as a PhD, EdD, DBA and more.

The length of the program depends heavily on the program expectations and the pace of the learner. Doctorate degrees vary in credit and thesis requirements. For an estimate on how long it may take you to complete your preferred program, contact a university counselor who can guide you through the requirements. 

If you have not yet completed your doctorate, you may be eligible to transfer credits to GCU and complete your program with us. The university employs a convenient bulk transfer process for the transfer of doctoral credits from the same type of degree (e.g., EdD, PhD, etc.) and the same type of content (e.g., Organizational Leadership, Business Administration, etc.). Learn more about how your credits may transfer with GCU’s Progressive Transfer Policy and the many resources available for dissertation support

The terms "PhD" and "doctorate" are often used interchangeably, but there are some differences in their usage and context. A PhD is considered a specific type of doctoral degree focused on theory-based research and contributing new knowledge to a field. Doctorate is a broader term that encompasses various types of doctoral degrees, including professional doctorates with a practical or professional focus in addition to research. However, not all doctorates are PhD programs. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is just one form of a doctoral-level program. There are additional forms of doctorates, including an EdD and a DBA.

To gain a better understanding of these terminal degrees, it can be helpful to compare them to the other primary graduate degree program: master’s degrees. A master’s degree is a graduate program, but it isn’t the pinnacle of academic achievement in a field — a doctorate is. A master’s degree may require a thesis, but it does not always require original research like many doctoral programs do. In addition, doctoral candidates typically need to give an oral defense of their dissertation before their academic advisory committee.

Now Available
Alumni Doctoral Degree Scholarship

GCU alumni enrolling in a doctoral program for the first time may be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship.§ 


Doctoral Graduate Hugs Family Member After Receiving Diploma

Career Paths After Earning a Doctoral Degree

Earning your doctorate online or on campus offers the chance to be recognized as a leading expert in your field — someone who has thoroughly researched and analyzed an aspect of your field and considered how to apply innovative solutions to challenges.1 With advanced academic credentials, you may be prepared to pursue leadership positions in your field. Specific career paths vary from one field to the next, but in general, individuals who hold a doctorate might pursue a career such as:

  • Chief executive
  • Business operations specialist
  • General operations manager 
  • Training and development specialist
  • Self-enrichment teacher
  • Education administrator 
  • Manager 
  • Mental health counselor 
  • Medical and health services manager 
  • Nursing instructor
  • Nurse practitioner 
Doctoral Graduate Works in Office on Laptop

Doctoral Resources and Support

Doctoral students can benefit from instruction by professors who are knowledgeable in their respective fields. You can expect to be closely mentored by your dissertation advisor, who will guide you in developing your dissertation research. The College of Doctoral Studies offers a variety of learner support resources, ranging from the Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching to the Doctoral Community (DC) Network™ to on-campus residencies. 

In addition, doctoral coursework is enriched by a broad range of perspectives of your peers —  diverse learners from all walks of life. Enjoy opportunities to develop your professional network as you work toward advanced academic credentials.

Doctoral Residency Program Benefits

Our doctoral residency programs offer an immersive environment dedicated to focused research and writing. These residencies provide valuable one-on-one interactions with knowledgeable faculty mentors, allowing for personalized guidance and support. Additionally, you have the opportunity to engage with peers, fostering a collaborative community that can enhance learning and networking. The structured setting of our residency programs can help you make significant progress in your doctoral studies, with concentrated efforts toward achieving your academic and professional goals.

Find a scholarship that may apply to you on our Scholarships and Grants page.

Scholarships & Grants

¥ MOU 9487: The New Doctoral Student Summer Scholarship is only valid for those applicants who submit a complete application, meet all requirements for acceptance and start their program in July 2024. If you enroll in a Doctoral program, we will award you a $325 scholarship toward your tuition, which will be applied over your first academic year, as defined in the University Policy Handbook. This scholarship cannot be used in conjunction with any other GCU scholarship/awards. This scholarship will be applied toward your tuition only, and you will not receive funds in excess of your charges.

§ MOU-Alumni 2000 Doctoral-July2024: The Alumni Scholarship for Doctoral Programs is only valid for those applicants who submit a complete application and begin a Doctoral program in July 2024. This scholarship cannot be used in conjunction with any other GCU scholarship or awards and only applies to online and evening programs. Please speak to a university counselor for complete details.

1 Excludes programs with residencies and practicum requirements