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Best PhD and Doctoral Programs in Arizona: Online & Campus

If you’re ready to tackle a doctoral program in Arizona, you’re in luck because you’ve got a variety of on-campus and online PhD programs in Arizona to choose from. Learn about accredited and affordable PhD programs in the state.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Angela Myers

Last updated

Jul 28, 2023

Whether you want to earn your PhD for personal growth or to advance your career, there’s likely a doctoral program for you in Arizona. The Grand Canyon State hosts full- and part-time PhD programs, with many of its universities offering online, in-person, and hybrid doctoral degrees. At Arizona State University alone, there are more than 100 different PhD programs.

While it’s always great to have many options, PhDs are specialized degrees, and you might find it overwhelming to sift through the choices and narrow down the online PhD programs in Arizona that best aligns with your goals, timeframe, and budget. This guide will steer you in the right direction with a detailed look at admissions requirements, learning modes, tuition costs, and types of doctoral programs in Arizona.

Top-Rated PhD and Doctoral Programs in Arizona for 2023

While no doctoral degree program is objectively the “best,” these three universities are known for offering high-quality, flexible, and affordable programs. Even if these specific schools don’t offer the program you need, use these spotlights as a quality barometer when researching on-campus and online PhD programs in Arizona.

University of Arizona

With more than 100 campus, hybrid, and online PhD programs in Arizona to choose from and the option to earn postgraduate certificates in additional areas of interest, the University of Arizona is a leader in doctoral education in the state. Most of its programs are research-intensive, meaning students complete a dissertation as part of their program. For students looking to get a degree online, the University of Arizona is one of the best choices in the state. It’s the only university in Arizona with a virtual global campus that offers online and hybrid doctorate degrees. To make degrees more affordable for students, the University of Arizona offers a variety of funding opportunities for both online and in-person doctoral candidates. The school offers nearly 3,000 teaching and research assistantships with tuition waivers and living stipends each year.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University is committed to hosting high-quality, affordable doctoral programs. The school offers 19 programs, and none are online. A few are a hybrid of online and on-campus learning. In the school’s doctorate programs, students complete a rigorous dissertation and receive mentorship from faculty who act as academic and professional advocates. NAU also offers graduate certificates so PhD students can expand their expertise into fields complementary to their primary area of study. Not only is the standard of education above average, but the school also provides fully funded awards to help graduate students finance their studies. While NAU is the most affordable school spotlighted, it doesn’t have any fully online PhDs, so it might not be the right choice for students wanting a virtual program.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University balances flexibility, a rigorous educational standard, and affordability in its doctoral programs. The school offers a variety of professional development resources to doctoral candidates to ensure that every student’s degree is applicable to their career goals. More than 90% of students have a job offer in their field within 90 days of graduating. Though the curriculum is usually more career-oriented than research-oriented, they still have a dissertation requirement for most PhD programs. Arizona State University offers more than 100 PhD programs, with six offered online or in a hybrid format. Students can also add doctoral certificates in other fields of study. To make the programs more affordable, they offer a variety of scholarships, including merit- and need-based scholarships for students in every doctoral degree program.

Types of PhD and Doctoral Programs Available in Arizona

Along with deciding if you want to pursue an online, hybrid, or in-person program, there are other types of on-campus and online PhD programs in Arizona to explore. Of the six most common program types, each is ideal for different types of doctoral candidates. Read on to learn which one suits your academic goals and lifestyle.

Full-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Arizona

In a full-time PhD program, your courses and dissertation preparation take up much of your time. This type of program is hard to balance with a full-time job and is designed for students who want to immerse themselves in their coursework fully. To learn more about how this type of program is structured, check out the aerospace engineering program at Arizona State University and the linguistics program at the University of Arizona.

Part-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Arizona

If you want to get your PhD but need to balance your coursework with a job, family obligations, or other responsibilities, part-time on-campus or online PhD programs in Arizona might be for you. It often takes longer to graduate from these programs, but they take up less of your day-to-day time. Online part-time PhD programs also fit even better with a busy schedule since they eliminate a commute to and from campus. Examples of part-time programs include the PhD in finance from Arizona State University and the PhD in school psychology program from Northern Arizona University.

Fully Funded PhD/Doctoral Programs in Arizona

Fully funded PhD programs include a financial award that covers the cost of tuition and provides a stipend for living expenses. This is a great option for those who want to commit to their degree without a huge strain on their finances, though these programs can be more competitive. Many universities in Arizona offer these awards, including Northern Arizona University with the Presidential Fellowship Program and Arizona State University with the Dean’s Fellowship.

No-GRE PhD/Doctoral Programs in Arizona

Similar to how undergraduate programs require ACT or SAT scores, some graduate programs require applicants’ Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores. If you have test-taking anxiety or prefer to skip this requirement, look into no-GRE programs. Fortunately, Arizona has many high-quality no-GRE doctorates. These include the American Indian Studies program at the University of Arizona and the environment and society program at Northern Arizona University.

Accelerated PhD/Doctoral Programs in Arizona

In accelerated PhD programs, the pace of coursework is intense. There’s more pressure to complete your dissertation on an accelerated timeline, but the payoff is a faster graduation date. Some on-campus and online PhD programs in Arizona can be completed in as little as one year. This type of degree is ideal for anyone looking to start their postdoctoral career as fast as possible, though you should have considerable time to devote to your degree during the one-to-two-year program. Accelerated programs in Arizona include a PhD in management at Arizona State University and a doctorate in organizational leadership at the University of Arizona Global Campus.

No Dissertation PhD/Doctoral Programs in Arizona

One of the most common and – anxiety-inducing PhD requirements is the dissertation. This intensive research project can cause many late nights, stress when the research doesn’t go as planned, and weekends spent working on this project. If doing a large research paper doesn’t align with your career goals, consider a no dissertation PhD program. These programs are especially good for those looking to enter the private sector instead of a research-heavy area like academia. The Doctorate of Business Administration at Grand Canyon University and the doctorate of healthcare administration at the University of Phoenix are just two of several no dissertation PhDs in Arizona.

Business Administration

If your goals include entering a leadership position in the business world or conducting research on effective business practices, you should consider getting your doctorate in business administration. When looking at campus, hybrid, or online PhD programs in Arizona, make sure you know if you want a more general administration program or one which specializes in a specific area of business, such as finance or marketing.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Healthcare Administration

A doctorate of healthcare administration prepares you for an executive role in a healthcare system. This degree is perfect for those who already work in healthcare management and want to grow their expertise in the field.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Education

A doctorate of education is often a requirement to work as a principal, superintendent, or leader in the education space. When looking at campus and online PhD programs in Arizona, consider the specializations offered at a university. Doctorates of education are available in higher education, K-12, and niched interests, such as curriculum development. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Psychology

A doctorate of psychology prepares you to work as a licensed psychologist with patients or conduct research in the field. Because psychology is such a diverse field, you’ll most likely have to choose a subspecialty, such as industrial psychology or clinical psychology. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Linguistics

A PhD in linguistics prepares you for a career as a linguistics professor or academic researcher. Depending on the subspeciality you choose, there may be other positions available, such as a language consultant to an AI company. If you’re interested in this degree, you should already have an undergraduate and/or master’s degree in a related field. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Earning Your PhD or Professional Doctorate Online in Arizona

Earning your doctorate from one of the online PhD programs in Arizona can be a great way to complete your degree without the stress of commuting to and from campus. Four of the five universities that offer doctoral degrees in Arizona (Grand Canyon University, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and the University of Phoenix) offer online PhDs

Still, it’s important to verify if the doctorate program you’re interested in is fully online or in a hybrid format. In a hybrid program, you’ll be expected to come to campus for certain courses, labs, and other program requirements. For example, the doctorate in business administration from the University of Phoenix is fully online, while the business doctorate at Grand Canyon University can either be completed 100% online or students can opt to take certain courses on campus. With hybrid programs, pay close attention to what must be completed online and in person. Some programs require you to attend classes online and complete a teaching assistantship in person. Other hybrid programs will require everything to be completed in person except the dissertation. If in doubt, check with the individual program.

Wondering which Arizona colleges have the best online doctoral programs? Check out our ranking below to find out.

Best Online Doctoral Programs in Arizona for 2023

or
1
Type: Public
Cost: $$

Arizona State University has two online doctoral programs to choose from. First up is the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership and Innovation. Students progress through the program in a cohort model, which facilitates collaborative learning through community groups, primarily during years two and three of the program. With the help of this group, students develop and implement changes to their current positions in education. The second doctoral program is the Doctor of Behavioral Health. Offered in either the clinical or management concentrations, students complete the bulk of coursework online, although each track has in-person internship requirements. To better fit the online coursework into their busy schedules, each class lasts just 7.5 weeks and covers subjects such as population-based health management and behavioral health entrepreneurship.

Program Highlights:

EdD in Leadership and Innovation

  • Credits: 90
  • Length: About 3 years
  • Cost: $9,233/year
  • Mode: 100% online
  • Accreditation: HLC

Doctor of Behavioral Health

  • Credits: 84
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $13,709/year
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC

Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
25
AccreditationHLC
2
Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, Arizona
Type: Public
Cost: $$$

Northern Arizona University's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is specifically designed for current nurses who already have a master's degree and want to gain leadership expertise for serving rural and underserved patients. Because many DNP students continue working while in school, the majority of the courses can be completed online, although some courses are in a hybrid format. To some extent students can self-pace their learning, though they will still need to meet specific course deadlines throughout the semester. Other program requirements include 1,000 hours of clinicals and an oral thesis defense. Of the 74 credits required to graduate, at least 69 will be in graduate nursing courses and at least five will be in coursework related to scholarly research.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 74-79
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $610/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
21
AccreditationHLC
3
University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona
Type: Public
Cost: $$$

The Doctorate of Education (EdD) and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) are the two doctoral degrees from the University of Arizona that can be completed mostly online. The EdD curriculum focuses on educational leadership and is perfect for education professionals looking to shift into new roles. Much of what students learn revolves around identifying problems faced by academic institutions and developing solutions. The curriculum is self-paced, with program completion possible in as little as three years. The DNP program is one of the biggest at the University of Arizona in terms of specialization options. There are six concentrations, some of which include Nursing Practice, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Anesthesia. The bulk of the coursework in these programs is available online, but students should expect to complete in-person clinicals or practicums to gain hands-on training.

Program Highlights:

EdD in Educational Leadership

  • Credits: 63
  • Length: About 3-4 years
  • Cost: $625/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 30-86
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $1,053/credit or $1,296/credit (for Nurse Anesthesia concentration)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: CCNE

Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17
AccreditationHLC

Where to Get Help Paying for Your PhD or Doctoral Degree in Arizona

Getting your doctoral degree can come with a hefty price tag, but it doesn’t have to. There are plenty of financial aid opportunities available to doctoral students in Arizona. These include:

All the schools we’ve highlighted have scholarships or fellowships for PhD students, though each provides different funding opportunities. 

The University of Arizona provides a variety of financial awards with varying obligations, application requirements, and funding amounts, but Northern Arizona University doesn’t publish how many fully funded fellowships are available. NAU does list the departments that have PhD scholarships, and you can contact the individual departments for more information. Arizona State provides merit- and need-based scholarships and assistantships.

Earnings for Doctorate Holders in Arizona

There are plenty of career opportunities for PhD graduates in the private, public, and academic sectors. Pay is based on several factors, including location, type of degree, and years on the job. For example, the average salary for people with PhDs in Phoenix, Arizona, is $125,295 per year, but that amount could be higher or lower depending on those factors. Graduates with a doctorate in business, for example, could become a professor or a CEO, while someone with a doctorate in education could become a principal, superintendent, or professor.

Since individual career paths have different expected earnings, it can be hard to know how much you can expect to make after graduation. For a better idea, check out the table below with the median and 90th percentile earnings for some of Arizona’s most popular post-PhD jobs. 

Job TitleRelated Doctoral Degree(s)Median Earnings90th Percentile Earnings
Chief Executive OfficerDoctor of Business Administration (DBA)$120,370$208,00
Computer Research ScientistPhD in Computer Science$141,440$208,000
Data scientistPhD in Data Science$99,330$131,340
Human Resources ExecutiveDoctor of Business Administration (DBA)$119,400$189,830
Instructional CoordinatorDoctor of Education (EdD)$60,500$80,660
Nurse AnesthetistsPhD in Nursing$166,060$208,000
Nurse PractitionerDoctor of Nursing Practice$121, 070$162,820
Physical TherapistDoctor of Physical Therapy)$95,590$127,740
Postsecondary TeacherPhD in Education$60,390$98,070
PsychologistDoctor of Psychology (PsyD) / PhD in Psychology105,000$124,090
School Principal/AdministratorDoctor of Education (EdD)$79,910$117,420

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021