Sep 22, 2022
If you live in California and are considering getting your PhD or professional doctorate, there are dozens of top-notch programs near you that can help you reach the pinnacle of your field. Many also feature convenient online or part-time options, allowing you to keep working as you complete your degree. This guide will help you find the best PhD and doctoral program in California for you, whether you’re an educator looking to earn your EdD or an aspiring psychologist who’s ready to get a PhD. Start by reviewing a list of this year’s top grad schools below, and then continue reading for additional program options available to you and the schools that offer them.
Top-Rated PhD and Doctoral Programs in California for 2022
While everyone has a different idea of what the best PhD program looks like, the three universities spotlighted below offer a variety of high-quality, advanced-degree programs. Doctoral programs from these universities have flexible study options, including online and hybrid programs, and reasonable costs. Even if these programs aren’t the perfect fit for you, they serve as a quality barometer when researching other schools.
California State University, Fresno
California State University at Fresno offers many high-quality, affordable graduate programs. In addition to a variety of master’s and certificate programs, it also offers three doctoral programs. The EdD in Educational Leadership is offered both online and in person while the doctoral programs in nursing and physical therapy are only on campus. The school also offers a variety of online resources available to help graduate students with their studies and to cut down on campus visits for accessing physical resources like the library. To help offset the cost of tuition, CSU at Fresno offers assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships, though most doctoral students are not all fully funded. Doctoral program costs and CSU Fresno range from about $6,400/semester to just over $9,000 a semester, depending on the program.
Loma Linda University
Loma Linda offers a variety of graduate degrees that integrate health, science, and faith. Among their graduate programs, the school has over 25 doctoral degrees with 20 of these degrees offered fully online. While not all PhDs and doctoral degrees are fully funded at Loma Linda, financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, loans, and graduate assistantships. Graduate assistants either help in research labs or work as TAs in undergraduate courses. Financial aid is more common for in-person students than online students because of the opportunity for graduate assistantships, but online students are still eligible for scholarships and loans. Tuition costs vary by program. For example, tuition for a psychology PhD is about $12,000/year, and a Doctor of Social Work in Clinical Leadership costs about $57,355 for the entire program.
California Baptist University
California Baptist University offers a variety of high-quality graduate degrees. While many of the graduate programs at CBU are for those seeking a master’s, there are three doctoral programs available. Doctoral programs in business administration, public administration, and organizational and change administration are all offered online. You don’t have to be in California to attend, either, since the university is qualified to provide distance learning to students in 37 states. Though there are fewer financial aid opportunities as compared to other universities, CBU’s tuition is lower because of its online offerings. In fact, doctoral tuition is only $795 per credit hour.
Types of PhD and Doctoral Programs Available in California
Along with deciding what school to attend, it’s also important to seriously consider which type of PhD or doctoral program is right for you. There are six main program formats offered in California, and each has its pros and cons.
Popular Fields to Earn Your PhD and Doctoral Degree in California
Inside Look at Earning Your Doctorate Online in California
Hybrid and online PhD and doctoral programs offer the same high-quality education as in-person programs. Class hours are typically more flexible and fit around a typical work schedule. They also sometimes provide asynchronous learning formats where you attend classes at your own pace instead of on a set schedule.
With fully online programs, you usually don’t have to visit campus. For example, all three fully-online doctoral degrees from the California State University System don’t require travel to campus, though classes are synchronous. The dissertation in an online program is also often more flexible with programs offering plenty of resources on how to complete a dissertation online. For some online programs, like California Baptist University’s three doctoral programs, no dissertation is required at all.
For hybrid programs, like UC Irvine’s PhD in English and UC Davis’ PhD in Literature, you’ll likely have to be on-campus part of the time. These programs both require students to be on campus for classes but allow them to complete their dissertations online.
Funding Your PhD or Doctoral Degree in California
There are a variety of financial aid opportunities available to help offset the cost of getting a PhD or doctoral degree in California. These include scholarships, grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and graduate research assistantships. Graduate research assistantships are the most common and often cover the cost of tuition plus provide a stipend for students. For example, UC Berkeley’s PhD in Molecular Biology offers a fully-funded option that includes tuition and a stipend.
Other fully-funded opportunities come through a combination of financial aid types. UCLA’s PhD in English, for example, fully-funds students through assistantships, fellowships, and a research grant. Schools in the California State system have a variety of financial aid options as well.
Earnings for Doctorate Holders in California
Not only does earning a PhD allow you to develop field expertise, it also often leads to an increase in pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that on average, PhD holders make up to 33% more than those with just a master’s or bachelor’s degree. Some fields, like physical therapy and counseling, require a PhD to enter the field as anything other than an assistant or aid.
Salaries vary greatly by profession, though. The table below gives you a better idea of what to expect in average wages in California for the most popular positions that require a PhD.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021