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Best PhD and Doctoral Programs in Washington State: Online & Campus

By attending one of the many PhD programs in Washington state, you can advance your career and boost your income — regardless of your field.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Kenya McCullum

Last updated

Jul 14, 2023

Maybe you’re in a career you love, and you want to solidify your standing by boosting your expertise and conducting research. Or perhaps you’re considering how graduate school can help you achieve your goals once you earn your bachelor’s degree. It’s also possible that you want to position yourself to qualify for higher-level jobs and earnings.

Whatever the reason you’re investigating PhD programs in Washington state, you’re not alone in your interest. According to Statista, 910 people earned doctorates in 2021 from colleges and universities around the state. Are you ready to join the ranks of those who have reached the pinnacle of their education? Continue reading for information on doctoral programs in Washington state, including the best schools for this degree level, the most popular disciplines among doctoral students, and the salaries you can anticipate after graduation.

Top-Rated PhD and Doctoral Programs in Washington State for 2023

While you may want to earn a PhD degree in Washington state, you don’t want to go just anywhere; obviously, you’ll want a high-quality program that’s best for your needs. Below is a sampling of schools that may fit the bill. These schools have the qualities graduate students care about most: affordability, flexibility, and a top-notch education. Review this list for an idea of the standards to use when judging other schools, whether you want to attend traditional or online PhD programs in Washington state.

University of Washington

From humanities to STEM to social sciences, the University of Washington offers diverse PhD options with 112 degree programs to choose from. No matter what type of degree you want, the school offers services through its Graduate Student Affairs department to help you succeed. For example, if you need assistance navigating the graduate school experience, a staff member can help you learn how to adjust and understand the resources available to you. Also, the department organizes programming for graduate students, including events tailored to specific academic disciplines.

In addition, students at the University of Washington have access to a variety of funding opportunities to help defray the cost of their education. You can get financial assistance by working as a teaching, staff, or research assistant or receive a fellowship provided by the school or an outside organization.

Washington State University

Washington State University offers dozens of doctoral programs in areas such as chemical engineering, agricultural economics, clinical psychology, and mathematics. The school is well-known for its robust research projects in multiple disciplines, so you have access to some of the leading pioneers of academic scholarships. This provides a great opportunity to learn from the best and help contribute to your field by assisting faculty members with their research.

To help students become successful in both their graduate studies and careers, the school’s Professional Development Initiative offers events aimed toward academic, professional, and personal growth. Through this initiative, you can learn invaluable skills like how to format your dissertation, apply for a fellowship, and manage multiple projects effectively. All doctoral students can also apply for grants, assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships to help pay their educational expenses. Also, if you’re a parent juggling family responsibility alongside your education, Washington State University offers family resources that include housing and childcare services.

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University offers doctoral degree programs that allow students to get an education tailored to their specific goals. For example, if you aspire to become an attorney, you can earn the school’s Juris Doctor (JD) degree in three years to gain a deep understanding of constitutional, criminal, and tort law. The school also provides opportunities to combine a JD with a master’s in another discipline like social work, accounting, business administration, and taxation. This gives students the best of both worlds because they’re able to gain expertise on the law and how it applies to their master’s degree discipline.

To support current graduate students and alumni, the school offers advice on degree programs and careers. Students also have access to networking events and mentorship opportunities to help them grow academically and professionally.  

Types of PhD and Doctoral Programs Available in Washington State

Naturally, not all PhD programs in Washington state are the same. Since there are different types of doctoral-level programs available, you’re likely to find one that suits you well. The following is a glimpse of the different types of programs and how you can benefit from them.

Full-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Washington State

Attending a full-time graduate program is a great way to focus on intensive, advanced work so you can obtain your degree more quickly. Full-time students can earn a PhD or doctoral degree in Washington state in four to six years; this includes the time it takes to finish classes, a dissertation, and any other graduation requirements. Examples of full-time PhD programs in Washington state include the two economics PhDs offered by Washington State University and Seattle University’s Juris Doctor Program.

Part-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Washington State

Earning a doctorate full-time is not always practical, especially if you need to work while attending school. Luckily, some schools offer part-time degrees for doctoral students, which generally take six to ten years to complete. While the timeframe is longer, studying part-time is a great option for people who need to balance their jobs or families with their education. Part-time PhD programs in Washington state include the University of Washington’s doctoral programs in engineering and the Doctor of Nursing Practice at Seattle University.

Fully Funded PhD/Doctoral Programs in Washington State

The costs of a doctoral-level degree can add up quickly, even in an online PhD program in Washington state, so enrolling in a fully funded program is ideal. These programs completely waive all tuition and fees, and in some cases, even offer a stipend to cover student living expenses. Examples of fully funded PhD programs in Washington state include the Clinical Psychology and American Studies and Culture programs at Washington State University. The doctoral-level programs at the University of Washington’s College of Engineering are also fully funded.

No-GRE PhD/Doctoral Programs in Washington State

Traditionally, evaluating graduate record examination (GRE) scores has been part of the admissions process for graduate schools; however, this practice is rapidly changing. More schools are making GRE scores optional or dropping them altogether, opting instead to evaluate students on other relevant factors like GPA, work experience, and previous graduate study. Some no-GRE doctoral programs in Washington state include the University of Washington’s PhD in Health Services and Northwest University’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership programs.

Accelerated PhD/Doctoral Programs in Washington State

For students who want to complete their degrees more quickly, accelerated doctoral programs are a great way to save time. Depending on the program, these degrees can be completed in as little as two years. Programs are intensive and require a great deal of commitment, but it’s worth it for students who can dedicate a lot of time to their studies. While there are no quality accelerated PhD and doctoral programs at Washington state-based schools, you can find online degrees at schools in other states.

No Dissertation PhD/Doctoral Programs in Washington State

In some cases, PhD programs have no dissertation requirement; instead, the school often expects students to participate in a capstone course or a project to demonstrate their understanding of program material. While there are currently no quality PhD programs in Washington state without a dissertation requirement, many schools based in other states have online PhD programs with no dissertation necessary.


If you earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering and want to become even more specialized in your field, a PhD program in Washington state may be a good choice. In addition to gaining advanced knowledge, you become an expert researcher during your studies. This helps you ultimately add to the knowledge base of the field while significantly increasing your earning potential. A PhD in engineering is also a great degree for those who want to become professors and train the next generation of engineers.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Physical Therapy

To practice as a physical therapist in the U.S., you must earn a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited program and pass a state licensure exam. The length of professional DPT programs is typically three years. What’s more, a doctorate in physical therapy allows you to choose a specialization that matches your interests and goals — from pediatrics to geriatrics and everything in between.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs


Are you a teacher with your eyes on an administrative position in a school district? Are you interested in training new teachers? Earning a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree is a good investment that can help you achieve these objectives. In addition, continuing your education to the terminal point can help you acquire advanced skills and learn about pedagogical developments to help you progress as a teacher.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs


If you aspire to become a clinical psychologist, a doctoral degree is required to earn a license. Also, you may be able to start a consulting practice, become a researcher or professor, or rise through the ranks to a managerial role at a healthcare facility after completing a psychology doctoral program in Washington state.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Business Administration

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, a business administration PhD program in Washington state can help you prepare for the realities of running a business by teaching you cutting-edge advanced concepts in every area — from employee relations to marketing to finances. Now is a great time to start a business in Washington, too, with several industries in the state experiencing growth, including the information, insurance, waste management, and construction sectors.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Example of Hybrid/Online Program

Earning Your PhD or Professional Doctorate Online in Washington State

Online PhD programs in Washington state provide quality education and student services, all while allowing you to take advantage of the convenience of distance learning. This is the perfect solution for working professionals who need to fit an education into their busy lives, since many programs allow students to take all their coursework online or only come to campus for specific activities.

For example, the PhD in Education through Seattle Pacific University conducts courses online during the fall and spring semesters, and students do an annual summer residency on campus each year. Meanwhile, City University of Seattle’s Doctor of Business Administration is offered completely online. This program allows students to connect with each other and their professors through live, one-hour weekly sessions via the university’s eLearning platform.

Financing Your PhD or Doctoral Program in Washington State

There are several financial aid options you can benefit from when you enroll in doctoral programs in Washington state. In addition to loans from the federal government, there are research and teaching assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships and grants, which are often provided by the school you enroll in.

For instance, the University of Washington’s Doctorate in Information Science program provides tuition waivers for students participating in teaching or research assistantships. Additionally, the school offers dissertation funding to offset the costs related to research, including travel and compensation for study subjects. Washington State University also has several scholarships for doctoral students, as well as awards for dissertation and leadership excellence.

Income Outlook for Doctorate Holders

The more education you have, the higher your earning potential becomes. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that the difference in average weekly salary between a high school and college graduate with a bachelor’s degree is significant, with high school graduates earning $809 per week and bachelor’s degree holders earning $1,334 on average. This rise in earnings continues with higher levels of education, and those with master’s degrees make roughly $1,574, while individuals with doctoral-level degrees make around $1,909 each week.

The amount of money you can make after completing a doctorate depends on the academic discipline you focus on, as well as the specific job type you pursue. Below is a look at data outlining what PhD holders in different careers earn each year.

Job TitleRelated Doctoral Degree(s)Median Earnings90th Percentile Earnings
Computer Research ScientistPhD in Computer Science$152,940
EconomistPhD in Economics$103,210$155,040
EpidemiologistPhD in Public Health / Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)$104,100
Human Resources ExecutiveDoctor of Business Administration (DBA)$138,640
Nurse PractitionerDoctor of Nursing Practice$128,980$164,900
Physical TherapistDoctor of Physical Therapy$99,330$126,940
Political ScientistsPhD In Political Science$119,770$152,680
PsychologistDoctor of Psychology (PsyD) / PhD in Psychology$111,030
School Principal/AdministratorDoctor of Education (EdD)$127,670
Speech Language PathologistPhD in Applied Language and Speech Science$92,590

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021