Jan 31, 2024
Earning a PhD or doctoral degree is one of the best ways to become an expert in your field. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, only 4.5 million Americans have a doctorate, which is about 2% of the population; this means if you get this degree, you’ll be in a small subset of experts in your field. This expertise often provides more job opportunities and higher pay. Yet PhD programs in Virginia do come with challenges. High costs, an additional three to seven years in school, and the potential stress of completing a dissertation can be tricky to deal with if you don’t have the right strategies.
This guide outlines those strategies as well as stand-out doctoral programs in Virginia. Read on to learn everything you need to start applying for PhD programs in this historic state.
Top-Rated PhD and Doctoral Programs in Virginia for 2024
The first step in researching your future graduate school is determining which program is best for you. While the word “best” means something different to everyone, there are some objective indicators of high-quality PhD programs in Virginia. These include flexible study options, affordability, accreditation, and a rigorous curriculum. Below, we’ve spotlighted three such programs. Even if these doctoral programs in Virginia are not the perfect fit for you, they can act as a quality gauge when researching other schools.
Liberty University hosts dozens of doctoral degrees, most of which can be completed online or in a hybrid format — though some require residential intensives that are completed in person. The school’s PhD programs cover various subject areas including education, business administration, nursing, public administration, and leadership. They also have professional doctoral degrees that can be completed in a variety of fields including history, public policy, and criminal justice. Because the school does have a religious affiliation, they also have doctoral degrees in pastoral care, theology, and worship studies. Most of Liberty’s doctoral programs can be completed in two to three years, making them much faster than some other programs. Liberty University also offers a part-time option for those who work full time while getting their degree.
Virginia Commonwealth University
For students who want a variety of doctoral degrees to choose from, check out Virginia Commonwealth University. Their doctoral programs range from med school to nonprofit management to applied statistics. No matter which program type a student chooses, they are eligible for the university’s generous financial aid packages for graduate students. Because of the wide variety of degrees, the format and curriculum vary greatly as well. For example, the Doctor of Education in Leadership is offered fully online and can be completed virtually except for three in-person sessions during the summer. The Doctor of Philosophy in Media, Art, and Text, on the other hand, must be completed entirely in person. For a complete list of online and hybrid programs — and what type of in-person components are required — explore the online campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University hosts over 50 doctoral degrees in subjects ranging from aerospace engineering to workforce organization and development. Of these programs, 10 are offered either online or in a hybrid format. Online programs include multiple nursing doctorates, a degree in community college leadership, an engineering management doctorate, an instructional design and technology PhD, a public administration and policy doctorate, and the workforce organization doctorate. The English PhD can also be completed in a hybrid format. No matter which program or learning format you choose as a student, you are eligible for various financial aid options from the university, including fellowships, assistantships, and scholarships. Because Old Dominion University also promotes multicultural education, you’ll find opportunities to study abroad incorporated into many of its PhD programs.
Types of PhD and Doctoral Programs Available in Virginia
Not all PhD programs in Virginia are created the same. Some require a student to attend full time, while others can be taken on a part-time basis. Still others are fully funded, on an accelerated timeline, and/or don’t require a GRE or dissertation. Read on to learn about these different types of PhD programs and to discover which choice is right for you.
Popular Fields to Earn Your PhD and Doctoral Degree in Virginia
Earning Your PhD or Professional Doctorate Online in Virginia
When you’re attending graduate school, traveling to and from campus can be both time-consuming and costly. To make your degree more affordable and efficient, consider one of the many online doctoral programs in Virginia. In these programs, students attend either all or a certain portion of their lectures in a virtual classroom. In some programs, like the Nursing PhD from Virginia Commonwealth University, these classes are held in live virtual class sessions. Other programs, like Virginia Commonwealth University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Health-Related Sciences, provide asynchronous lectures that students can take on their schedule.
From our research, many of these programs don’t require students to step foot on campus, such as the many doctoral degrees at Liberty University Online. Others, like Virginia Commonwealth University, do have an in-person orientation and some on-campus program components.
While online PhD programs in Virginia are ideal for students with work or family obligations, you’ll need to be aware of some challenges inherent to the modality. Online learning is more independent, requiring students to hold themselves accountable. You’ll also need to stay focused in online lectures, occasionally troubleshoot your own tech issues, and feel engaged despite the lack of face-to-face contact with faculty and peers. Good online PhD programs will offer extra support to help students overcome these potential obstacles, such as tech support and virtual office hours.
Where to Get Help Paying for Your PhD or Doctoral Degree in Virginia
Research reveals that the average loan debt for a doctoral degree is $112,080. While you can earn a PhD in Virginia without incurring this kind of debt, you’ll still find hefty tuition costs that can eat into your bank account and may require student loans. Fortunately, there are plenty of financial aid opportunities for doctoral students. Some of the most popular include graduate research assistantships, scholarships/grants, fellowships, and work-study programs.
In Virginia specifically, examples of financial aid options include graduate funding for veterans through Virginia’s GI bill, Scholars’ Lab Fellowships in the Digital Humanities from the University of Virginia, and PhD fellowships, assistants, and scholarships from Virginia Tech University
When researching PhD programs in Virginia, ask about how their financial aid works. Typically, they should have some combination of assistantships, scholarships, and work-study grants for which doctoral students can apply.
Earnings for Doctorate Holders in Virginia
The average annual wage in Virginia is $65,590, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As you’re researching your PhD, you may wonder how your salary after graduation will stack up. For many professions, you’ll far out-earn this average. Some fields, such as instructional coordinators, earn $10,000 over the average. Other fields that require a PhD, such as computer and information research scientists and financial managers, earn almost double the annual average.
Yet research reveals a wide range of salaries can be found nationally, depending on the different fields PhD graduates enter. For a better idea of the median earnings for a specific degree, explore the table below.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022