Best PhD and Doctoral Programs in Florida: Online & Campus

The best doctoral programs in Florida offer exceptional academics and a flexible delivery, all at an affordable price. See which online and campus options top our list and how they can propel you to the top of your field.

Written By

James Mielke

Last updated

Sep 22, 2022

Whether you’re a registered nurse in Tampa ready to become a nurse practitioner, a teacher in Miami who wants to improve their curriculum design skills, or looking to advance your career in a different field, doctoral and PhD programs in Florida can dramatically expand your job options and increase your earning potential.

Florida residents get an especially good deal on doctoral programs at public universities. There are also plenty of online programs available that provide the flexibility to continue working while completing your doctorate. Continue reading to see which Florida universities offer standout doctoral programs and which type of program could be right for you.

Top-Rated PhD and Doctoral Programs in Florida for 2022

While pinpointing the best is challenging, this guide spotlights leading doctoral programs in Florida. These Florida doctoral and PhD programs were chosen as the best based on quality academics, flexible online options, and reasonable tuition rates—especially for in-state students. Read on for an overview of three public universities, the degrees they offer, how much they cost, and how to decide which school is right for you.

University of Florida

Based in Gainesville, the University of Florida (UF) is the Sunshine State’s premier public institution. In addition to bachelor’s and master’s programs, UF is home to multiple online and in-person PhD programs. From the clinically-focused doctor in nursing practice to a PhD in Latin and Roman studies, these flexible and affordable degrees allow working students to complete coursework while keeping up with professional responsibilities. 

Education programs make up the bulk of UF’s online doctorates. Popular options for these EdD and PhD programs include computer science education, educational leadership, educational technology, and higher education administration. Many utilize both synchronous and asynchronous coursework, and students typically graduate in about four years.

Florida State University

Established in 1851, Florida State University (FSU) is a large public research institution with more than 45,000 students. Year after year Florida State ranks among the best public universities in the United States, and the school offers some of the best doctoral programs. This Tallahassee-based institution is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and offers numerous undergraduate and graduate programs.

Alongside in-person doctoral programs, FSU offers fully online options for students seeking standout academics, flexible delivery, and affordable tuition. FSU’s online doctoral programs include the doctor of nursing practice and two education programs: educational leadership and policy and instructional systems and learning technologies.

FSU’s online doctoral programs are exceptionally affordable for resident students—the hourly tuition rate for Florida-based online graduate students is about $444 per credit. Out-of-state degree seekers pay about $1,075 per credit. The school offers numerous scholarships, grants, and fellowships from internal and external funding sources available to both residents and nonresidents.

University of Central Florida

Located near Orlando, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is another sizeable public research institution. Serving more than 70,000 students, UCF enrolls over 6,500 online learners each year. From aerospace engineering to hospitality management, UCF offers a deep roster of doctoral degrees in education, nursing, sciences, and engineering and computer science.

UCF’s catalog of doctoral programs includes flexible online programs that allow you to complete coursework at any time and from any location. In addition to an EdD program in curriculum and instruction, UCF provides two nursing PhD tracks and two doctor of nursing practice pathways.

UCF is an affordable option, with in-state grad students paying just $288 per credit. Out-of-state learners pay an additional $785 per credit.

Types of PhD and Doctoral Programs Available in Florida

Not all doctoral programs are structured the same way; programs vary in length, delivery, and admission requirements. Given the variety of options, Florida is home to a PhD program that can fit your unique needs. Keep reading to see which type of program is right for you.

Full-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Florida

From Florida State’s doctor of nursing practice program to the University of Florida’s EdD in higher education administration, the traditional full-time option often allows students the chance to complete coursework more quickly than part-time options. Whether on campus, online, or hybrid, these programs generally take about four years to complete. While full-time programs require significant coursework each semester, online programs are flexible enough that many students can continue working.

Part-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Florida

Whether online or on campus, many of the best part-time PhD and doctoral programs in Florida are manageable for even the busiest of working students. Most schools offer part-time PhD options, and topics vary from the University of Florida’s EdD in higher education or Keiser University’s doctorate in business administration

Fully Funded PhD/Doctoral Programs in Florida

Securing a spot in a fully funded PhD is challenging; these opportunities are limited and highly competitive. Also, because many programs are research-intensive, they are typically earmarked for in-person rather than online students. Fully funded doctoral and PhD programs in Florida typically cover tuition and fees and often include an annual stipend. Many provide other benefits as well, such as health insurance. Florida International University offers a doctorate fellowship program for underrepresented students and covers all tuition and fees, along with a $32,000 annual stipend. Similarly, Florida State’s political science department offers various fellowships for doctoral students.

No-GRE PhD/Doctoral Programs in Florida

For most PhD programs, applicants must submit GRE scores. That said, there are programs that don’t require GRE scores when making admission decisions. While standardized tests have historically played a significant role in admission decisions, these tests are falling out of favor and schools are leaning toward a holistic approach to evaluating prospective students. Other schools cut testing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic and haven’t reinstated them. Programs like the University of South Florida’s English PhD and Lynn University’s EdD in educational leadership don’t require GRE scores for admission.

Accelerated PhD/Doctoral Programs in Florida

Many PhDs and doctorates take years to complete. If you’re looking to move through a program quickly, you’ll be happy to know that some programs allow students to graduate in only one year. Breyer State Theology University, a Florida-based institution, offers an ethereal doctor of psychology in grief counseling program that students can complete in one year. Also, the University of Florida is home to an MSN-to-DNP nursing program that students complete in five semesters. 

No Dissertation PhD/Doctoral Programs in Florida

Dissertations are often thought of as an essential part of a PhD program in Florida, but not all programs require students to complete these hefty research projects. Instead, some rely on smaller research projects, hands-on experiential learning opportunities, and practical applications of learned material in professional practice. Nova Southeastern University’s EdD program in curriculum and teaching eschews dissertations, as does the University of South Florida’s doctor of public health program.

Not every program topic is available in every format. Some lean more heavily toward on-campus programs, and others work nicely as online programs. Take a look at this list of popular PhD and doctoral degrees in Florida to see which match your interests and fit your lifestyle.


A PhD in psychology is a popular option if you want to pursue a career in research, academia, or a clinical setting. Top programs are accredited through the American Psychological Association. These programs often include 90 credits of coursework; students choose from concentrations such as behavior analysis, social psychology, developmental psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs


A PhD in business offers students a pathway to focus on scholarly research related to business topics or a teaching job in higher education. In contrast, a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) focuses on the skills associated with effective leadership in business environments.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs
Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs


A doctorate in education is a solid option for both practicing educators seeking a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree and those pursuing research and teaching roles at the college level and seeking a PhD in education. These programs provide grad students with theoretical and practical knowledge. Popular specializations include educational leadership, learning design, multicultural education, and curriculum and instruction.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs
Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs


For registered nurses who want to expand their career options and earning potential, completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is a solid option. In addition to honing specialized skills, this degree provides students with the experiences they need to take on advanced leadership roles in healthcare. 

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Pharmaceutical Sciences

Students interested in a career in the pharmaceutical sciences can choose PhD academic concentrations in drug development, molecular medicine and pharmacogenomics, and social and administrative pharmacy. In addition to cultivating a deep knowledge of pharmaceutical science, these professionals also tackle courses such as managed care, environmental toxicology, and the role of pharmacy in society. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Earning Your PhD or Professional Doctorate Online in Florida

Some doctoral programs in Florida aren’t practical for online learners, but other programs work especially online. For example, online doctorates in education fit nicely in an online environment. Additionally, well because most of these doctoral students are working educators, the flexibility of online coursework allows them to keep up with both regular work and college coursework.

Similarly, online DNP programs are doable for working nurses because these professionals already hold the necessary licensure. Conversely, a student completing an associate degree in nursing needs the extensive hands-on, in-person learning environment that registered nursing programs provide.

When reviewing potential online programs in Florida, ask if there are any in-person requirements. Some programs may require intensive weekend workshops once per semester, while other programs may require live lectures on specific days and times throughout a semester.

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

While some doctoral students receive ample funding, others most will need a plan to pay for school. Doctoral students not receiving full funding still have access to a sizeable list of financial aid opportunities from both inside and outside their college or university, including scholarships, grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and graduate assistantships. Before enrolling, reach out to your school’s financial aid office to inquire about funding options. Here are a few Florida-based financial aid opportunities to get you started.

Earnings for Doctorate Holders in Florida

Earning a PhD usually requires a significant investment of both time and money. Fortunately, in many fields that commitment pays off financially. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for registered nurses is about $77,600. But a family nurse practitioner with a DNP can make more than $130,000 per year. Similarly, BLS reports that high school teachers make about $62,000 annually, while top-earning high school principals with an EdD can make more than $122,000 per year. 

In the table below, review BLS data for various professions in Florida that require or often call for a doctoral degree.

Job TitleRelated Doctoral Degree(s)Median Earnings90th Percentile Earnings
Family Nurse PractitionerDoctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)$101,110$130,630
High School PrincipalDoctor of Education (EdD)$94,120$122,860
Physical TherapistDoctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)$95,450$120,750
EconomistPhD in Economics
Computer Research ScientistPhD in Computer Science$126,950$192,770
EpidemiologistDoctor of Public Health (DrPH)$82,380$161,140
Clinical PsychologistDoctor of Psychology (PsyD)$70,320$166,460
Director of MarketingDoctor of Business Administration (DBA)$127,140$208,000

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021