Best PhD and Doctoral Programs in Georgia: Online & Campus

A doctoral degree helps you maximize your professional potential. Learn about traditional and online PhD programs in Georgia and how they can propel your career –and your paycheck – to the next level. 

Written By

Shannon Lee

Last updated

Sep 22, 2022

If you have a drive to be the best in your field, move into highly specialized roles, teach at the college level, or conduct high-level research, enrolling in a doctoral program in Georgia is a smart next step. The state is loaded with top-tier schools and standout programs that make pursuing your PhD or professional doctorate as convenient as possible. Read on to learn more about the best doctoral programs in Georgia, what they require, and what a doctoral degree can do for your future earnings and professional growth.

2022’s Top PhD and Doctoral Programs in Georgia

Trying to decide among the many outstanding doctoral and PhD programs in Georgia can feel overwhelming. To help you narrow in on the best doctoral and PhD programs for you in Georgia, we identified three top-tier schools that stand out in terms of academic quality, program variety, and affordability. Even if these schools aren’t a perfect fit for you, they’ll give you a solid starting point for your doctoral program search.

University of North Georgia

The University of North Georgia’s graduate school offers five doctoral programs, all of which are available partially or fully online. The Doctor of Physical Therapy offers a traditional doctorate and a post-professional doctorate for those who are already licensed physical therapists. Most of the curriculum is offered in-person, but some online synchronous coursework is available. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program is designed for advanced practice nurses looking to move into management or teaching. Most DNP classes can be completed asynchronously online. The Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Practice and the PhD in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Intelligence are fully online and offer asynchronous classwork.

Georgia State University 

If you’re looking for options, Georgia State University (GSU) is a school to consider. GSU offers almost 70 doctoral programs, five of which are offered fully online or in hybrid learning formats. Doctoral degree programs are wide ranging, from applied linguistics and computer science to business administration and kinesiology. Most programs are offered in person, at either the Atlanta or Buckhead Center campus. As far as program cost, GSU’s tuition is a very reasonable $11,680 per year for a full-time student who is a Georgia resident. GSU offers many forms of financial aid, including fellowships, graduate assistantships, and scholarships.

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University offers 11 doctoral programs, including analytics and data science, educational leadership, business administration, and interdisciplinary engineering. Three programs can be completed online—the Doctor of Education in Instructional Technology, the Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership, and the Doctor of Education in Secondary and Middle Grades Education. Depending on a student’s residency status and learning format, they’ll pay between $296 and $1,066 per credit; online students usually pay $383 per credit regardless of their state residency. Kennesaw State University has a variety of financial aid options, including emergency assistance, graduate research assistantships, and scholarships.

Types of PhD and Doctoral Programs Available in Georgia

Just as there are many different fields of study for doctoral students to choose from, so too is the wide variety of ways you can earn your PhD or doctorate. From standard full-time programs to those that are waiving traditional exam requirements, there’s something for everyone. Learn more about the different options you have below, and see which one best fits your needs. 

Full-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Georgia

Enrolling in a doctoral program as a full-time student is the fastest way to earn your degree. But this speed means that you probably won’t be able to work full-time while in school. Full-time programs also mean you’ll have to pay more tuition more quickly than if you studied part-time. Depending on the program, full-time students take three to four courses per term. In some cases, full-time study may be the only option offered by a particular school.

Part-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Georgia

Part-time PhD and doctorate programs in Georgia have a lot of advantages over full-time programs. Taking one to two classes per term makes learning more manageable and may allow a student to continue working. Attending class part-time makes tuition easier, too, by spreading payments over a longer period of time. However, part-time study won’t be an option at all schools or in all programs.

Fully Funded PhD/Doctoral Programs in Georgia

A fully funded PhD or doctoral program is one in which tuition and other education costs are waived or paid for by the school. Depending on the program, your fees, books, transportation costs, and living expenses may also be included. One way schools provide these benefits is by offering students a stipend, grant, or scholarship in addition to waiving tuition and fee requirements.

No-GRE PhD/Doctoral Programs in Georgia

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that many graduate schools use to measure an applicant’s academic skills and knowledge. The goal of the GRE is to help predict an applicant’s graduate school success. However, some programs no longer require the GRE. This change is partially due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s also the result of schools using other methods besides the GRE to measure potential academic performance.

Accelerated PhD/Doctoral Programs in Georgia

An accelerated doctoral program has a curriculum that allows students to take additional courses each term and/or more terms each year (such as a summer term). The goal is for students to finish their degree sooner. The term “accelerated” doesn’t refer to a specific timeframe in which students can earn their degree. Rather, it’s in reference to the fact that it permits graduation sooner in relation to other programs offering the same degree.

No Dissertation PhD/Doctoral Programs in Georgia

For most students, the biggest challenge to earning a doctorate is completing a dissertation. This requires students to design and complete original research, present their findings to their professors, and defend their conclusions—a process that can take several years. Some schools have done away with this requirement because the subject is more practice-oriented as opposed to research- and theory-focused. In these cases the dissertation is replaced with a different requirement, such as hands-on training.

Georgia universities offer doctoral programs in just about every subject, and many are now offered in convenient online formats. Check out some of the most popular options below, along with quality examples of schools that offer each type of program.

PhD in Nursing

For nurses looking to educate future nurses, this is the degree to get. Unlike a Doctorate of Nursing Practice, which focuses the curriculum on advancing clinical skills, the PhD in Nursing focuses more on research and teaching concepts. 

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

PhD in Business 

This degree is ideal for business professionals looking to increase their research skills and develop new business theories—especially students looking for a career in research or teaching. Many schools provide one or more PhD business specializations, such as finance, accounting, management, and administration.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Most states require licensed or certified psychologists to have doctorates. While a PhD would fulfill this requirement, most PhD curriculums focus on research, not clinical skills. In contrast, a PsyD degree directly prepares students for roles as a clinical psychologist working with patients. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

PhD in Computer Science

The PhD in computer science is perfect for professionals who want to teach at the post-secondary level and/or spend most of their time conducting research. Anyone looking to become a computer science professor or a computer research scientist either in academia or at a for-profit company should strongly consider this degree. 

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

EdD in Leadership

Teaching and education professionals who want to shift their careers into administration should consider a doctor of education degree in leadership. EdD programs in Georgia build decision-making, problem-solving, and leadership skills necessary for leading a school, district, or education-related company.

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

What It’s Like to Earn Your Doctorate Online in Georgia

Many traditional PhD programs in Georgia have added online components. One reason for the shift to online doctoral programs in Georgia is because, at this level, most students have full-time jobs and/or a family to juggle with their studies. Even for degrees that include a lot of hands-on instruction and practice, classwork that doesn’t require hands-on learning now may be available online. 

A great example of this type of hybrid learning format is the Doctor of Nursing Practice program from Georgia Southern University. Even though the clinicals and practicums must be completed at an approved clinical facility, almost all coursework can be completed online, and much of it can be completed asynchronously. Asynchronous learning is ideal because students can attend class at any time that works for them. Some online programs require synchronous learning, meaning students attend classes live online for maximum interaction with their professors and classmates. Sometimes synchronous online instruction is optional, such as at the University of North Georgia’s DNP online program.

Paying for Your PhD or Doctoral Degree in Georgia

Doctoral students are a lot like undergraduate students in that they need financial assistance to help pay for school. But they have two potential advantages that most undergrads don’t have. 

First, because many doctoral students are working while in school, they may have access to an employment tuition reimbursement benefit. This is where an employer pays for some or all of an employee’s education. One such program is the Tuition Assistance Program open to eligible employees of the University System of Georgia.

Second, doctoral and PhD students in Georgia may have greater access to financial aid that doesn’t need to be paid back. In addition to scholarships/grants and work-study, doctoral students are more likely to obtain graduate research assistantships and fellowships. Many of these are school-specific, although most schools, like Georgia Southern University, have websites that explain the financial aid offerings.

Earnings for Doctorate Holders in Georgia

Getting a PhD or doctorate is one of the best ways to increase your salary and land your dream job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for someone with a doctorate is $1,909 per week. Contrast this with someone with a master’s degree, whose median weekly earnings are $1,574. Those with a doctorate also had the lowest unemployment rate, just 1.5%. 

As for Georgia professionals with a doctorate, they also can expect higher incomes than those with just a master’s. The Georgia Governor’s Office of Students Achievement – Georgia Higher Learning and Earnings reports that just one year after graduating, the median income of someone with a PhD was $61,695, while the median income of someone with a master’s degree was $53,980. And in case you’re wondering, one year after graduation someone with a bachelor’s degree had a median income of $37,358. To learn more about earnings ranges for doctorate-level careers in Georgia, reference that chart below.

Job TitleRelated Doctoral Degree(s)Median Earnings90th Percentile Earnings
Nurse PractitionerDoctor of Nursing Practice$101,690$141,880
Clinical PsychologistDoctor of Psychology (PsyD)$62,460$149,070
University AdministratorDoctor of Education (EdD)$100,050$208,000+
Physical TherapistDoctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)$95,590$124,450
Finance DirectorDoctor of Business Administration (DBA)$129,150$208,000+
PhysicistPhD in Physics$106,770$193,280
Computer Research ScientistPhD in Computer Science$79,810$123,390

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021