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Best PhD and Doctoral Programs in Kansas: Online & Campus

If you’re considering doctoral or PhD programs in Kansas, use this guide to identify quality schools, consider different degree types, and learn about income potential.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Megan Harrington

Last updated

Jan 31, 2024

Whether you’re an undergraduate thinking about your next steps or a mid-life professional looking to move into a leadership role, enrolling in a PhD or doctoral program in Kansas is a smart way to take your career to the next level. Some of the top industries in the state include manufacturing, wholesale business, and healthcare, making doctorates in areas like business administration and nursing particularly valuable.

This page identifies some standout doctoral and PhD programs in Kansas along with the many high-quality schools offering a good mix of affordability, flexibility, and first-rate instruction. It also outlines the different types of PhD and doctoral programs in Kansas, including those completely online, part-time programs, and fully funded options. Information on earnings potential is also included, so you can see the tangible financial benefits of getting an advanced degree.

Best Doctoral Programs in Kansas: 2024 Rankings

When it comes to choosing professional doctoral and PhD programs in Kansas, everyone’s situation is unique. However, the following three universities are examples of quality schools that tell you what to look for in a program. They offer respected doctoral programs that are affordable and flexible. Whether you’re looking for a program associated with a state-of-the-art lab or are seeking a 100% online degree, these standout schools have the options you need.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University offers a range of doctoral degrees in both common (e.g., Computer Science) and unique (e.g., Entomology and Apparel and Textiles) areas of study. There are 49 doctoral programs, including eight offered online. Most programs require about 90 credit hours, though this varies a bit depending on the specific program. Kansas State University is known for its high quality of life and exceptional job placement rate (98%) for master’s and doctoral program graduates. Cost per credit hour varies, but online programs are generally cheaper at $539/credit hour. In-person and hybrid programs cost between $450 and $1,007 depending on residency. The school offers a bevy of assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships from a number of its academic departments to help fund your education.

University of Kansas

With 70 doctoral programs, the University of Kansas has the most extensive offerings of doctoral and PhD programs in Kansas, including Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Music Arts (DMA), Doctor of Audiology (AuD), Juris Doctor (JD), and several medical degrees. The main campus is in the vibrant city of Lawrence where events and professional opportunities abound.

The university also has standout student services, including an exceptional resource hub with information on everything from where to buy groceries to mental health advice. The school does a fantastic job helping students find funding for degrees, too. Notably, all business PhD students attend tuition-free and receive subsidized health insurance in addition to opportunities for fellowships and assistantships. For other programs, costs vary. Online courses in the EdD program, for example, are $595/credit while Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students can expect to pay $442 to $1,039 per credit.

Wichita State University

Wichita State University offers 12 doctoral programs, including a fully online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to DNP program. Doctoral options range from Audiology to Aerospace Engineering, and the school emphasizes applied learning and research. Wichita State works hard to provide opportunities for mentorships, practicum and clinical placements, and volunteer work for their students. This applied learning approach bridges the gap between school and the real world. The school also uses other unique approaches to learning, such as in the EdD in Educational Leadership program where, rather than a lecture format, students and faculty have discussions as equals. The cost for online courses is $326 per credit hour, and the cost for in-person classes is $326 to $801 per credit hour.

What Types of Doctoral Programs Are in Kansas?

There are many options when it comes to earning a PhD or doctorate in Kansas. Whether you’re looking to continue working and need a part-time program or want to skip the GRE, you’ll find something that fits your needs. Read about the options below for doctoral and PhD programs in Kansas to help find the one that works best for you.

Full-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs

Some programs are only offered in a full-time format, making it the only option for some areas of study. You may also choose one of the full-time PhD programs in Kansas if you want to immerse yourself fully in your studies. Enrolling in a full-time doctoral program also ensures you’ll finish in the shortest amount of time. The downside to a full-time program is that you won’t be able to continue working professionally.

Part-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs

Part-time PhD programs in Kansas are a great option if you plan on working while earning your degree. A part-time option might also be necessary if you have family or personal obligations that make an intensive schedule difficult. The flexibility of a part-time program can’t be topped, but it will take longer to earn your degree than with a full-time program. 

Fully-Funded PhD/Doctoral Programs

If finding a way to finance your degree is a top priority, consider fully funded doctoral and PhD programs in Kansas. In a fully funded program, students attend tuition-free and receive a stipend for living expenses. This ensures that they can focus fully on their studies and not take on debt. As you might expect, these opportunities can be competitive.

No-GRE PhD/Doctoral Programs

At many schools offering doctoral/PhD programs in Kansas, a GRE score is no longer a requirement for admission. For these no-GRE programs, other pieces of an application — letters of recommendation, personal statements, and transcripts, for example — are given priority. However, for schools that make the GRE optional, a good score may give you an admissions advantage.

Accelerated PhD/Doctoral Programs

If you’re looking for doctoral/PhD programs in Kansas that allow you to finish as quickly as possible, an accelerated program may be a good choice. Working professionals eager to move on to the next phase in their careers may find this option particularly attractive. Many 100% online programs offer classes in seven- to eight-week formats, allowing students to move through the material more quickly. Depending on your previous graduate work, you may even be able to complete a PhD in as little as a year

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

No Dissertation PhD/Doctoral Programs in Kansas

Many people associate PhDs and doctorates with a thesis defense. While that’s the case for many programs, there are exceptions. Some programs, especially those designed for working professionals, eschew the dissertation in favor of a final research project. Since doctoral graduates are seen as experts in their fields, this final project often contributes original ideas or research. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Nursing DNP and PhD 

A nursing DNP or PhD is for registered nurses who want to advance their careers, dive into more complex topics, and eventually take on leadership roles. It is the highest degree in the field and is often earned after an MSN. This degree can prepare you for roles like nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and nurse researcher. Often, DNP and PhD programs are structured so you can continue working while earning a degree.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Education EdD and PhD

If you’re a professional educator looking to broaden your knowledge, make a difference in the field, or take on a leadership role, you may want to consider an education doctorate or PhD in Kansas. These degrees can help you earn a higher salary and move into a position with more responsibilities. Common positions for EdD and PhD graduates include school principal or superintendent, college professor, curriculum director, instructional designer, and government policymaker.

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Economics PhD

Whether you want to pursue a career in teaching, policymaking, business, or research, a PhD in Economics can help you become an expert in the field. Programs are academically rigorous, often full-time, and take five to seven years to complete. Because of the time commitment required, this type of doctorate isn’t usually an option for working professionals. Graduates work in a range of industries, including corporations, universities, and government entities.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Social Work PhD and DSW

If you’re a social worker looking to advance your career to the highest level, a PhD or Doctor of Social Work (DSW) might be a worthy investment. In general, PhD programs are more research-based and result in positions in teaching or policymaking. Comparatively, social workers with professional doctorates are more likely to focus on the practical side of the profession. DSW graduates often work on program development and implementation and may serve as clinical directors or supervisors. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Example of Hybrid/Online Program

Psychology PsyD and PhD

Like other doctoral programs, the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) is focused more on clinical practice (i.e., identifying and treating mental health issues), while the PhD has more of a research emphasis. Which program you choose depends on your professional goals. Many clinical psychologists hold PsyD degrees while Psychology PhDs are more likely to work as professors, policy analysts, or researchers. 

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Can You Earn a PhD or Professional Doctorate Online in Kansas?

Over the last decade or so, online and hybrid doctoral and PhD programs in Kansas and nationwide have become more common. There are even some areas (e.g., nursing and education) where online options are more prevalent. Other types of programs, such as psychology, are still primarily in person.

Remote learning can be a big time and cost saver for students. Online classes mean you can often learn when and where is best for you and your schedule. This is particularly helpful for students earning degrees while they work. Since you won’t be commuting or living on campus, expenses are often much lower than for an on-campus program. Online students typically attend lectures remotely but may be required to be in person for certain portions of the program, such as research projects or a dissertation defense. The details are specific to each program. 

Nearly all of the major universities in Kansas offer at least one online option. Kansas State University, for example, has eight hybrid or 100% online doctorates, while Pittsburg State University offers a completely online DNP program, and the University of Kansas offers several online doctoral programs.

Paying for Your Doctoral Degree in Kansas: Financial Aid Options

Earning an advanced degree can be expensive, but there are many financial aid opportunities available to doctoral students in Kansas to help offset the cost of their degree. These include scholarships/grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and graduate research assistantships. Doctoral students at Kansas State University, for example, have access to school-based fellowships and grants as well as external funding opportunities, and about 1/3 of full-time graduate students at Wichita State hold assistantships or fellowships with stipends, tuition waivers, and more. Some PhD programs are even fully funded, meaning students attend tuition-free and receive a living stipend. At the University of Kansas, for instance, all business school PhDs are fully funded, while doctoral students in other departments are eligible for school-based fellowships and grants.

Earnings Potential in Kansas After Finishing Your Doctorate

While a PhD or doctorate is a significant time and financial investment, it can lead to a lifetime of higher earnings. Whether you live in Salina or Topeka, holding a doctorate is a smart financial move. For example, the salary range for a nurse practitioner in Kansas is $108,544 to $127,078. Many nurse practitioners hold a DNP, and those who do can expect to earn towards the top of the salary range. Comparatively, a registered nurse in Kansas with a BSN typically earns between $59,159 and $75,387 annually.

If you’re curious about the earnings potential for popular careers that require a doctorate to allow professionals to move to the very top of the profession, the following table is a good resource. With a doctoral degree, you’ll have the best chance of moving into the 90th percentile of earnings. For most professions, that means a six-figure or higher salary. 

Job TitleRelated Doctoral Degree(s)Median Earnings90th Percentile Earnings
Chief ExecutivesDoctor of Business Administration (DBA) / Online PhD in Business$131,460$239,200+
Clinical and Counseling PsychologistsDoctor of Psychology (PsyD) / PhD in Psychology$66,720$149,050
Education Administrators, PostsecondaryDoctor of Education (EdD)$96,710$169,370
Education Teachers, PostsecondaryPhD in Education / PhD in Special Education$57,790$88,070
Electrical EngineersDoctorate in Engineering (DEng/PhD)$95,970$139,400
EpidemiologistsDoctor of Public Health (DrPH)$60,400$95,930
Financial ManagersFinance Doctorate (PhD/DBA)$130,800$229,230
Instructional CoordinatorsDoctor of Education (EdD)$63,710$91,860
Nurse PractitionersDoctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)$108,350$132,900
PharmacistsDoctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)$129,640$160,930
Physical TherapistsDoctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)$90,850$111,510

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022