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Best PhD and Doctoral Programs in Minnesota: Online & Campus

Explore the top campus-based and online PhD and doctoral programs in Minnesota today and discover how earning your doctorate can propel you into the top ranks of your profession.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Michael Hoffman

Last updated

Jan 31, 2024

Is earning a doctoral degree worth it? That depends on the profession you’re in (or would like to be) and whether reaching the highest levels of that profession is important to you. After all, that’s really what having a PhD or professional doctorate is all about: advancing to the top tier of your chosen field and reaping the benefits that come with it. Before you can enjoy those benefits, however, you’ll have to earn your doctoral degree. And before that, you’ll need to find the degree program that best suits your academic and professional goals.

This guide offers a comprehensive look at the current landscape of doctoral degrees in Minnesota: what’s available, how programs are formatted, what it takes to earn one, and how you’ll benefit professionally once you have your degree in hand. Earning a doctorate is not right for everyone, but it may be for you. Keep reading to learn all about the best doctoral and PhD programs in Minnesota for 2024.

Top-Rated PhD and Doctoral Programs in Minnesota for 2024

We’ve surveyed the colleges and universities offering doctoral programs in Minnesota today and chosen what we believe to be three of the very best to spotlight below. While what makes a school “best” is different for each person, we’ve made our selections based on several program elements important to most students, including affordability, academic quality, program format (such as the availability of online and hybrid formats), and access to student support services.

Winona State University

With two campuses in southwest Minnesota, Winona State University is the oldest of the 37 postsecondary institutions that make up the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Winona currently offers a total of eight doctoral degrees through its Graduate Studies department, including one in law and education, respectively, and six in nursing (Adult Gerontology Acute Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing & Organizational Leadership, Nursing Practice & Leadership Innovations, and Psychiatric- Mental Health Nurse Practitioner). With the exception its fully on-campus Juris Doctor and fully online Doctor of Education, all of WSU’s doctoral programs are offered in a hybrid format that includes a combination of on-campus and online components. Tuition rates vary depending on the specific degree and student’s state of residency. Special rates apply to the education doctorate ($741.12/credit) and graduate nursing ($1,156.10/credit) programs. Nevertheless, you’ll find that Winona’s program costs to be among the most competitive anywhere within and outside of the state.

Bethel University

Bethel University is a private, Christian-affiliated university located in Saint Paul. Bethel is currently home to only two doctoral degree programs, but both are available primarily online. The Doctor of Education (EdD) in Higher Education Leadership is designed for professionals seeking leadership and administrative positions managing the day-to-day activities of colleges and universities. The Doctor of Education (EdD) in K-12 Administration prepares graduates for leadership roles as administrators in both school-specific and district-level settings. Both programs are designed with working professionals in mind. All courses are eight weeks long and students can begin their programs at any time throughout the year. Both programs also feature coursework that is accessed and completed entirely online. However, all students are required to attend one week of on-campus intensives each year. Programs can be completed in as few as three years plus the additional time required to complete a dissertation. Current estimated total tuition costs for the EdD in Higher Education Leadership and EdD in K-12 Administration are $46,665 and $47,580, respectively.

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is the flagship campus of the five-campus University of Minnesota System. Through its Graduate School, UMN Twin Cities offers over 100 professional and research-based doctorate programs across the entire spectrum of academic disciplines. The vast majority of these programs are campus-based, although you can expect some program components (such as communications with faculty and staff) to be accessible online. There are, however, 10 nursing and healthcare-related doctoral programs offered in a primarily online format. Students in these programs complete the bulk of their coursework online but are required to travel to the Twin Cities campus once each semester for a four-day (Tuesday through Friday) session that includes core and specialty courses, enhanced programming, and meetings with program advisors. There are also four doctorates (three in nursing and one in education) offered in a partially online format.

The current per-credit tuition rate for online nursing and allied healthcare-related doctoral programs is $1,053 for all students regardless of state residency status. Per-credit rates for other doctorate programs vary by program, with most falling in the low- to mid-$1,000s for Minnesota residents and mid-$1,000s to mid-$2,000s for out-of-state residents. These costs, however, can be significantly mitigated through a number of financial aid resources, including fellowships, grants, teaching and research assistantships, and student loans.

Types of PhD and Doctoral Programs Available in Minnesota

Your choice of doctoral program will, of course, depend first and foremost on your academic field. But there are lots of other very important features to consider in choosing the right program for you. Below are descriptions of some of the most common of those features, along with examples of current doctoral programs in Minnesota for each. 

Full-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Minnesota

It used to be that earning a doctoral degree meant making a commitment to full-time study for several years. That’s changed with the growing popularity of part-time and self-paced programs designed for working professionals. Full-time doctorates still exist, though, including in Minnesota. Examples include the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) at Augsburg University and the PhD in Business Administration at UM-Twin Cities. With a few rare exceptions, program lengths vary from as few as two to as many as five or six years, depending on the discipline and program.

Part-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Minnesota

You’ll find that part-time doctoral programs in Minnesota are quite common, although, like full-time programs, completion times can vary substantially. Examples of doctoral programs in Minnesota offered in a part-time format include the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) at Metropolitan State University and the Post-Masters Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at the University of Minnesota-Mankato.

Fully Funded PhD/Doctoral Programs in Minnesota

Full funding of students in doctoral and PhD programs in Minnesota is uncommon, but there are a few programs that offer it. Examples include the PhD in Mathematics and PhD in Psychology programs at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. “Full funding” typically includes full tuition costs plus a monthly stipend meant to cover the student’s basic living expenses (rent, food, transportation, insurance, etc.). Recipients are typically required to work as graduate assistants and maintain good standing in their degree programs to continue receiving full funding.

No-GRE PhD/Doctoral Programs in Minnesota

The submission of GRE scores, once an absolute requirement for admission into any doctoral program, is no longer required by many programs while others have made GRE scores optional. Minnesota doctoral programs without a GRE requirement include the PhD in Management and Public Service at Hamline University and the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) at the University of St. Thomas.

Accelerated PhD/Doctoral Programs in Minnesota

Simply put, an accelerated PhD or other doctoral program is one that provides students with the ability to complete their studies in less time than a standard program. Examples of doctoral programs in Minnesota offering an accelerated format include the EdD programs at Winona State University and Minnesota State University-Moorhead. While both of these programs are designed to be completed in three years, accelerated program lengths vary from program to program.

No Dissertation PhD/Doctoral Programs in Minnesota

Most doctoral degrees — particularly PhDs and other research-oriented doctorates — require students to write and defend a dissertation, however, there are a number of doctoral degrees available in Minnesota without a dissertation requirement. Such programs often require students to complete comprehensive exams and/or a practice-based capstone project as an alternative to a dissertation. Examples of doctoral programs in Minnesota with no dissertation requirement include the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Minnesota State University-Mankato and the Executive Doctor of Education (EdD) at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.


With the enormous popularity of MBA programs, business professionals seeking to distinguish themselves today often consider earning a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or PhD in Business Administration degree. DBAs may be categorized as either research or professional doctorates, while PhDs in Business Administration are typically research-intensive. As you might expect, research-based PhDs and DBAs primarily prepare graduates for careers in advanced research and academia while professionally-oriented DBAs focus on top-tier professional business practice occupations. Unlike many MBA programs, you’ll find that Minnesota doctoral programs in business are campus-based. Like MBA programs, however, most (though not all) business doctorates are offered in part-time formats to best accommodate working students.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs


Advancement into top-level leadership positions is what doctoral degrees in education are all about. Doctor of Education (EdD) programs are designed primarily for educators seeking administrative and academic leadership roles in K-12 and higher education. EdD jobs may be found in individual schools but are more often on the school district and state levels. PhDs in education are typically geared toward research and academic roles at the post-secondary level. Education doctorates, especially EdDs, are among the most popular and most commonly offered doctoral degrees in Minnesota and across the country. You’ll find education doctoral programs in Minnesota available across schools and in a number of specialized fields. You’ll also find these programs offered in a variety of formats (full-time, part-time, on-campus, online, and hybrid).

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs


Like doctorates in education doctoral degree programs in nursing are among the most popular and most commonly offered among all disciplines. They’re also offered in a wide range of specializations, particularly when it comes to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. DNP degrees prepare graduates to take on top clinical and leadership positions in both clinical and non-clinical settings, while PhDs in Nursing (which are far less common than DNPs) are geared primarily toward preparing graduates for positions in advanced research and post-secondary academia. Both campus-based and online nursing doctoral programs in Minnesota are available however, virtually all online programs are presented in hybrid formats.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs


Minnesota doctoral programs in psychology come in two forms: the research and teaching-focused PhD in Psychology and the patient/treatment-focused Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). Common specializations for psychology doctoral programs include clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and school psychology. There are online psychology doctoral programs available from colleges located outside of the state, but all the psychology doctoral programs in Minnesota at this time are campus-based.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Social Work

As is often the case with doctoral programs in a single discipline, doctorates in social work fill two general functions. The PhD in Social Work prepares graduates for careers in research, academics, policymaking, and administration while the practice-focused Doctor of Social Work (DSW) prepares graduates for both management and other leadership positions, as well as for advanced clinical practice. There are currently only two social work doctoral programs in Minnesota, one campus-based PhD and one primarily online (with annual two-week on-campus residencies) DSW.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs

Earning Your PhD or Professional Doctorate Online in Minnesota

Online college degree programs have become more common at an unprecedented pace that doctoral degrees has not yet matched, although that is slowly changing. More and more schools are introducing fully and partially-online doctoral programs in a number of disciplines, most notably education and nursing. This is certainly true for PhD programs in Minnesota — while their number may be small relative to campus-based programs, they are available. Check out the following school websites, as well as the program spotlights above as examples:

Be sure to contact all of the programs you’re considering to find out about the availability of online study. The components of online doctoral programs are somewhat different from program to program. Classes may be delivered in asynchronous or synchronous formats, with synchronous classes typically facilitated via live stream video. Synchronous classes are often scheduled in the evening and on weekends to best accommodate working students. Some online doctoral programs (like the Doctorate in Education at Hamline University and EdD in Educational Leadership & Learning at the University of St. Thomas) include short-term on-campus residencies but are otherwise offered remotely.

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

It’s entirely appropriate to think of the cost of a doctoral degree as a wise investment in your future but it can be an expensive one, nevertheless. The good news is that there are plenty of funding resources available to qualifying students that can substantially lower the number on your doctorate’s price tag. They include scholarships and grantsfellowships, work-study jobs, and research and teaching assistantships. Along with help in paying for your doctorate, some of these resources (like work-study positions and assistantships) offer the added benefit of providing you with valuable professional experience and networking opportunities. 

It’s never too early to begin your financial aid search, and a good way to start is by visiting the graduate financial aid websites of the schools you’re considering. Here are a few examples:

Earnings for Doctorate Holders in Minnesota

Earning potential is an important factor for anyone thinking of pursuing their doctorate to consider. And, as earnings go, the benefits of holding a doctoral degree are pretty impressive. According to figures recently taken in December of 2023, the average annual salary for PhD holders in Minnesota is $93,600. By comparison, the current average annual salaries for those with master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in the state are $63,783 and $39,293, respectively.

For a closer look at earning potential by profession, take a look at the table below, which lists the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent salary projections for jobs typically held by those with doctoral degrees. Keep in mind that these are median figures for the U.S. as a whole. What you will actually earn with your doctoral degree will depend on factors like your geographic location, level of professional experience, specific employer, and job title.

PhysicistsPhD in Physics$125,340$208,000
Job TitleRelated Doctoral Degree(s)Median Earnings90th Percentile Earnings
Chief ExecutivesDoctor of Business Administration (DBA) / Online PhD in Business$167,540$239,200+
Civil EngineersDoctorate in Engineering (DEng/PhD)$91,160$130,970
Clinical and Counseling PsychologistsDoctor of Psychology (PsyD) / PhD in Psychology$100,510$174,510
Computer and Information Research ScientistsPhD in Computer Science$111,230$193,430
EconomistsPhD in Economics$93,660$146,090
Education Administrators, PostsecondaryDoctor of Education (EdD)$97,820$168,460
Education Teachers, PostsecondaryPhD in Education / PhD in Special Education$75,840$116,600
Financial ManagersFinance Doctorate (PhD/DBA)$133,040$233,790
Nurse PractitionersDoctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)$128,020$151,580
PharmacistsDoctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)$137,190$168,100
Physical TherapistsDoctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)$91,610$103,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022