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.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

James Mielke

Last updated

Jul 30, 2023

If you’re a registered nurse in Tampa looking to become a nurse practitioner, a teacher in Miami seeking to enhance your curriculum design skills, or searching for ways to advance your career in a different field, doctoral and PhD programs in Florida can significantly broaden your employment opportunities and boost your earning potential.

Residents of Florida can take advantage of exceptional pricing on doctoral programs offered by public universities. Additionally, there are numerous online programs available that allow you to maintain your job while pursuing your doctorate degree. Keep reading to learn which Florida universities offer exceptional doctoral programs and which program might be a suitable fit for your needs.

Top-Rated PhD and Doctoral Programs in Florida for 2023

Although it’s difficult to identify the absolute best, this guide highlights top doctoral programs in Florida. These programs were selected based on their high-quality academics, flexible online alternatives, and affordable tuition rates – particularly for in-state students. Keep reading for an overview of three public universities, the types of degrees they provide, their respective costs, and how to determine which institution is the best match 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

Doctoral programs are not all designed equally; they differ in duration, delivery, and admissions criteria. With so many choices available, there is a PhD program in Florida that can cater to your specific requirements. Continue reading to discover which type of program is most suitable 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.

It’s worth noting that not every program topic is available in every format. Some programs are primarily offered as on-campus courses, while others are more compatible with online learning. Explore this list of popular doctoral and PhD degrees available in Florida to discover which align with your interests and lifestyle.

Psychology

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

Business

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

Education

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

Nursing

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 well 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.

Likewise, online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are manageable for working nurses since they already possess the required licensure. On the other hand, individuals pursuing an associate degree in nursing require the in-depth, hands-on learning environment that on-campus registered nursing programs can offer.

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. Get started on your search for a quality online doctoral program in Florida with our list of top schools below.

Best Online Doctoral Programs in Florida for 2023

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1
University of Florida Gainesville, Florida
Type: Public
Cost: $$$

A big school with a big student population of over 60,000, the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville is the flagship campus of the state's public university system. UF is currently home to eight online doctoral degree programs in the fields of civilization studies, education, and nursing. There are five EdD options alone available in the areas of leadership, administration, and education technology. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students can study full-time or part-time. Program formats vary by program with both fully online and hybrid programs offered. As a public university, tuition rates are very competitive for both Florida and out-of-state residents.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 35 (MSN to DNP); 75 to 78 (BSN to DNP)
  • Length: 5 semesters (MSN to DNP); 8 semesters (BSN to DNP)
  • Cost: $530.69/credit (Florida residents); $1,255.41/credit (out-of-state residents)
  • Mode: Online plus periodic campus visits
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Doctor of Education in Higher Education

  • Credits: 90
  • Length: About 5 years
  • Cost: $517.98/credit (Florida residents); $656/credit (out-of-state residents)
  • Mode: Blended
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

PhD in Classical Civilization

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 3 years
  • Cost: $424.67/credit (Florida residents); $1,004.47 (out-of-state residents)
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17
AccreditationSACSCOC
2
Type: Public
Cost: $$

Nursing and education professionals can advance to the top levels of their professions by earning a doctoral degree online through the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando. For nurses, UCF offers two options each for both its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD in Nursing programs. DNP degree seekers can choose from either the Advanced or Executive track. The program is currently open to residents of Florida and NCSBN nurse compact states. Nurses interested in top-tier careers in research and academic settings can opt for the PhD in Nursing program, offered in both MSN to PhD and BSN to PhD tracks. UCF's online EdD in Curriculum and Instruction program is designed for educators interested in teaching on the postsecondary level or leading in education program improvement in a range of settings. UCF's online doctorate programs are particularly notable for their affordable tuition rates.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

  • Credits: 54 to 57
  • Length: As little as 3 years
  • Cost: $327.32/credit (Florida residents); $1,151.72/credit (out-of-state residents)
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 42
  • Length: 7 to 9 semesters
  • Cost: $309.32 (Florida residents); $676.82 (out-of-state residents)
  • Mode: Fully online plus in-person intensives
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

PhD in Nursing

  • Credits: 63 (MSN to PhD); 72 (BSN to PhD)
  • Length: 11 to 15 semesters (MSN to PhD); 12 to 16 semesters (BSN to PhD)
  • Cost: $309.32 (Florida residents); $676.82 (out-of-state residents)
  • Mode: Fully online plus in-person intensives
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
30
AccreditationSACSCOC
3
Florida State University Tallahassee, Florida
Type: Public
Cost: $$

One of the many excellent public colleges and universities in the state, Florida State University in Tallahassee offers four online doctoral degree programs, two in education and two in nursing. The EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy prepares mid-career professionals for senior-level positions as educational leaders, policymakers, and policy researchers. The EdD in Learning Design and Performance Technology is for students interested in creating data-based solutions to performance and learning problems. Nursing professionals seeking to advance to top nursing science positions can opt for the research-intensive PhD in Nursing program, while those seeking to enter the highest levels of clinical nursing can do so through the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. The DNP program offers five specialization tracks: Acute Care NP, Family NP, Health Systems Leadership, Lifestyle Medicine, and Psychiatric Mental Health NP.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 41 to 79
  • Length: Varies by track and entry point
  • Cost: $444.26/credit (Florida residents); $1,075.66/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Primarily online with short-term on-campus sessions
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

PhD in Nursing

  • Credits: 68 to 78
  • Length: 8+ semesters
  • Cost: $444.26/credit (Florida residents); $1,075.66/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Primarily online with on-campus summer intensives
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Doctor of Education in Education Leadership & Policy

  • Credits: 69
  • Length: 9 semesters
  • Cost: $444.26/credit (Florida residents); $1,075.66/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Primarily online with on-campus summer intensives
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
22
AccreditationSACSCOC
4
Type: Private not-for-profit
Cost: $$

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a private university with academic programs focused on aviation and aerospace fields. Through its Daytona Beach campus, Embry-Riddle offers two doctoral-level degree programs featuring online studies. The one-of-a-kind Doctor of Aviation Business Administration degree combines core business administration coursework with applied knowledge in aviation to prepare graduates for leadership positions in the full range of aviation business industries. The PhD in Aviation provides working professionals with the knowledge and skills needed for leaders in teaching and research careers throughout the aviation field. Specialization options in the PhD program include Aviation Safety, Aviation Human Factors, and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Aviation Business Administration

  • Credits: 62
  • Length: 3 to 4 years
  • Cost: $1,379/credit
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

PhD in Aviation

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $1,379/credit
  • Mode: Primarily online with on-campus summer residencies
  • Accreditation: Aviation Accreditation Board International
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
22
AccreditationSACSCOC
5
Type: Public
Cost: $$

The University of South Florida (USF) currently offers four doctoral programs with fully or partially online formats, all featuring the affordable tuition rates for residents expected from a public university in Florida. USF's Doctor of Business Administration provides current business leaders with the knowledge and skills required to conduct research and apply their findings to solve real-world issues in all sectors of business. The blended format features substantial online components that supplement face-to-face classes on USF's Tampa campus. Other doctoral degree programs available include a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Career and Workforce Education and two Doctor of Public Health degrees: Public Health and Clinical Laboratory Science and Practice and Advanced Practice Leadership in Public Health.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Business Administration

  • Credits: 72
  • Length: 3 to 5 years
  • Cost: $431.43/credit (resident); $877.17/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Blended
  • Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

PhD in Curriculum & Instruction with Career and Workforce Education Concentration

  • Credits: 59
  • Length: 3 to 4 years plus dissertation
  • Cost: $431.43/credit (resident); $877.17/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Primarily online with short-term campus visits
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges

Doctor of Public Health in Public Health and Clinical Laboratory Science and Practice

  • Credits: 46
  • Length: 3+ years
  • Cost: $431.43/credit (resident); $877.17/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Fully online with clinical hours completed at work
  • Accreditation: Council on Education for Public Health
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
22
AccreditationSACSCOC
6
University of North Florida Jacksonville, Florida
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19
AccreditationSACSCOC
7
Saint Leo University Saint Leo, Florida
Type: Private not-for-profit
Cost: $$$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16
AccreditationSACSCOC
8
Jacksonville University Jacksonville, Florida
Type: Private not-for-profit
Cost: $$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13
AccreditationSACSCOC
9
St. Thomas University Miami Gardens, Florida
Type: Private not-for-profit
Cost: $$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
10
AccreditationSACSCOC
10
Barry University Miami, Florida
Type: Private not-for-profit
Cost: $$$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15
AccreditationSACSCOC
11
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
21
AccreditationSACSCOC
12
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Type: Private not-for-profit
Cost: $$$$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17
AccreditationSACSCOC
13
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Type: Private not-for-profit
Cost: $$$$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16
AccreditationSACSCOC

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

Although some doctoral students receive significant funding, many will require a strategy to finance their education. Doctoral students who do not receive full funding can still access a considerable array of financial aid options from both within and outside their college or university, including scholarships, grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and graduate assistantships. Prior to enrolling, it’s essential to contact your school’s financial aid office to learn more about funding opportunities. 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