Ph.D. in Philosophy Online

By Nikita Nath

Updated March 15, 2024

Nikita Nath

Nikita is a psychologist working primarily with children using a child rights-based approach. She also writes content for various websites and blogs on diverse topics, focusing primarily on academia. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and discovering different coffee-making techniques.


Bachelors in English, Journalism, and Psychology; Masters in psychology with clinical specialization

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

  • 2 years of experience working as a content writer with various start-ups
  • 1 year of experience working as a child psychologist with Insight
  • Working on various projects of inclusion for neurodivergent children
  • 2+ years of experience teaching psychology online

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In the discipline of philosophy, students learn to systematically study fundamental and general questions about reason, knowledge, existence, and mind. A Ph.D. in philosophy online enables students to continue their passion for the field with specializations like social philosophy, ethical philosophy, legal philosophy, etc. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 57% of people engaged in philosophy and religious careers have advanced degrees[1] because employers seek responsibility, keenness of mind, and the ability to understand matters surrounding us, all of which a doctoral degree provides. After an online Ph.D. in philosophy, one can work in management, legal services, healthcare, marketing, business, finance, community and social service, and other diverse occupations.

Philosophy Online

Best Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Programs

Finding the right Ph.D. in philosophy online USA or elsewhere, could present students with a wide range of career and research opportunities. Therefore, it is essential to find a college that is reputed, has experienced and qualified faculty, provides excellent research facilities, allows access to mentors and guides, and is accredited and affordable. Bearing these and other factors in mind, some of the best Ph.D. in philosophy online programs in the country are:*

The State University of New York at Buffalo, sometimes called SUNY-Buffalo, and commonly called the University at Buffalo (UB), is a public research university founded in 1846. UB offers bachelor’s degrees in 140+ areas of study, 220+ master’s programs, 95+ doctoral programs, and 55+ combined degree programs to over 32,000 students.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
University at Buffalo 12 Capen Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260 $11,310 74%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Programs

The online Ph.D. in philosophy is an advanced degree program that leads to occupations in almost all spheres of life. The curriculum of this doctorate ranges from around 42 to 72 credits covering the core theological and biblical foundation, along with different academic specializations and choices of additional elective courses. Students can expect to take courses on metaphysics, ethics, historical concepts, epistemology, and various topics in philosophy.

The Ph.D. philosophy online also entails passing the qualifying exam, an oral defense of a thesis proposal, a written thesis approved by the department, and an oral defense of the written dissertation. All these factors together could determine the length of the program. Although Ph.D. students are allowed to customize or tailor their degrees to align with their interests and objectives, most programs will have the following common components:

(a) Coursework

The coursework for a Ph.D. in philosophy focuses on the history of philosophy, logic, ethical theory, etc. Students can customize their coursework depending on their specialization and research topic.

(b) Teaching

At some institutions, teaching for a prescribed minimum duration is mandatory. Teaching benefits students who wish to become philosophy teachers after they earn their doctorate.

(c) Research Seminars

Most colleges have a certain requirement for students to attend research seminars. These research seminars help them expand their knowledge in the field and gain additional insights on how, where, and what to research and valuable information for their dissertations.

(d) Dissertation

A dissertation is a crucial part of every Ph.D. program. Students are required to work with their supervisors, mentors, or guides to prepare their dissertations and then defend them in front of select committees or a panel of professionals.

Some past research and dissertation topics online philosophy doctorate programs have brought forth include:

  • Sociological Functionalism
  • Human Life and Culture
  • Reconstructing The Meaning of Loneliness
  • Religion Paramount for People
  • Evaluating Life Existence
  • Ethics Behind Cyber-Currency Applications
  • Pros And Cons of Utilitarianism
  • Social Media Affect People’s Moral Behavior
  • Logic and Metaphysics
  • Boosting Creativity
  • Reconstructing the Meaning of Loneliness
  • Social Development of Loneliness
  • Factors Of Morality and Religion
  • Ideal Society- Plato’s Philosophy
  • Customs of Dowry Eliminated from the Minds of People
  • Exploring Women’s Perspective on Feminist Philosophy
  • Value of Truth
  • In-Depth Knowledge of Making Human Life Meaningful
  • Separation of Social Behavior and Ethics

Students interested in pursuing an online philosophy doctorate can read the Guide to Ph.D. Programs for information on this advanced degree.

Areas of Specialization in Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Programs

Specializations are a way of gaining in-depth knowledge in a particular field within a subject. Students currently enrolled in an online Ph.D. philosophy degree or prospective students should evaluate the different specialization options available to them in which they might be interested in gaining expertise. Ph.D. students can benefit from specializing in an area related to their dissertation topics as it will help in their research and coursework. Here are some examples to consider:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Modern PhilosophyModern Philosophy is a concentration that focuses on applying and studying different methods of thought, which are considerably different from the earlier types of philosophy.Technical writers, critics, cultural affairs officers
Philosophy of ScienceThis concentration helps students understand the progress made by scientific research and how the progress motivates scientists to carry on further research in different fields of science.Careers in political science, business, social science, and academics.
Philosophy of ReligionThis specialization understands philosophical appraisals of different attitudes toward human religions. Students learn to understand different cultural ideas, values, and morals.Librarians, social workers, museum conservators, clergy, journalists
Social and Political PhilosophyIn this concentration, students learn how to recognize the impact of philosophers’ views on the nature of human behavior and their possible implications in political systems. They learn to define and interpret concepts like freedom, justice, etc.Careers in politics, government offices, and academia.
EthicsIn this specialization, students explore the different influences that politics, religion, and psychology have had on ethical choices and theories. They will learn how to apply ethical theories concerning particular situations in healthcare, government, business, etc.Careers in writing, journalism, academics, etc.
HealthcareIn this specialization, students learn about information and analytics in health informatics, health management, and management of healthcare services. They also learn about healthcare administration and managing healthcare data and its governance. They will focus on applying philosophical reasoning to healthcare topics.Careers in health care fields of acute care, public health, etc.
Legal TheoryIn this concentration, students learn about ethics in criminal justice, ethics and law in business settings, cyberlaw and privacy achieved in the digital age and legal issues in the field of information security.Legal professionals, medical ethics experts, public administrators

Why should I do a Ph.D. in
Philosophy Online?

Doing a Ph.D. in philosophy online helps students build a good foundation for a research career. They will also be able to use their skills to assess policies on issues like the environment, society, and politics affecting society in recent times. The program’s curriculum helps students think deeply and complexly about society’s problems and learn how to develop well-reasoned and probable solutions. After completing a Ph.D., students will not only be able to find work in academic careers (mainly as R1 or R2 professors), but they also can venture into a host of different fields like law, business, social service, healthcare, etc.

An online Ph.D. philosophy gives students numerous opportunities to engage in in-depth, analytical, and independent thought about issues crucial to understanding one’s place in the natural and social world. The skills one would have acquired from a Ph.D. in philosophy online would be invaluable and much sought after. Apart from research and teaching skills, one would have the ability to:

  • display transferable skills like problem-solving, analytical thinking, and critical evaluation of texts;
  • demonstrate competence in diverse topics of philosophy like the philosophy of logic, moral philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology;
  • partake in debates and discussions while critically examining texts related to ancient and contemporary philosophers, and efficiently put points forward;
  • build curricula in philosophy that shows deep philosophical orientation and connect the curricula with current events and requirements;
  • display professional ethics in the field of philosophy, and exhibit professionalism in all activities;
  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge of specifications and topics of dissertations taken up during coursework and be able to apply theories from them in a real-world application.

Free Courses for Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Students

When a student is at the Ph.D. level, they already have a certain foundational background in the field of philosophy. However, Ph.D. students would still need to be updated with current goings-on in the field and understand the developments happening in philosophical circles. To give themselves an edge, students could take free courses online to build upon their knowledge of philosophy or help with their research efforts. Examples of some free Ph.D. in philosophy online courses include:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Ancient Philosophy: Plato and His PredecessorsThe University of Pennsylvania designs this course. The course traces the different philosophical concepts of Plato and his predecessors and successors. Students would trace different origins of philosophy in thinkers of Ancient Greece.Coursera
The Path to Happiness: What Chinese Philosophy Teaches Us About the Good LifeThis course provides students with animations, discussions, reflection diaries, and lectures focusing on readings of prominent Chinese philosophers. Students would not need any prior knowledge of Chinese history or philosophy to understand the texts discussed in the course.edX
JusticeIn this course, students look at the different writing by court cases, articles on political controversies, writings of contemporary philosophers, and more. Students can evaluate and articulate different philosophical arguments and ask philosophical questions.Harvard University

How to get into the Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Program?

Entering a Ph.D. program can be quite competitive, and since it is an advanced degree, there is much more scrutiny when selecting students for admission into a program. Therefore, prospective doctoral students need to understand the Ph.D. in philosophy online admission requirements at the college they are applying to and prepare themselves to improve their chances of acceptance. Although a master’s in philosophy is not necessarily a requirement to enroll in the Ph.D. program, those with a master’s degree will have a competitive edge over other applicants. Admission requirements differ from one institution to another, but some of the most common ones across programs include:

  • A minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0
  • Official academic transcripts of prior university-level degree(s)
  • GRE scores (not mandatory at some colleges)
  • A Statement of Purpose or Personal Statements
  • Samples of one or more written works (of around 15-25 pages on average)
  • At least an undergraduate degree with a major in philosophy or an equivalent level of preparation or degree
  • A Graduate Résumé
  • At least two years of work experience (required by some colleges)

Ph.D. in Philosophy Online No
GRE Programs

Graduate Record Examination or GRE scores reflect the academic abilities of students pursuing advanced degrees. Universities consider the GRE score as a central component of applying to a doctoral degree program. However, several institutions across the U.S. have been increasingly waiving off this requirement or making it optional for students to submit their scores. Some such universities offering Ph.D. in philosophy online no GRE programs or making the GRE optional are the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, and Western University.

How Long does it take to complete a Ph.D.
in Philosophy Online?

On average, it could take a doctoral student about five to six years to complete a Ph.D. in philosophy online program. During the program’s first two years, students devote their time to finishing their coursework. The rest of the time is devoted to research, writing a dissertation, and defending the dissertation. The duration of the program could depend on how much time individual components of the program take to complete, including the required credits that typically range between 42 and 72. The upper limit to complete the Ph.D. in philosophy is about eight years.

Accelerated Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Programs

Students can fast-track their Ph.D. programs in various ways, which will help them complete the program in a shorter duration. Many institutes providing Ph.D. programs follow a trimester-based or quarter-based system to offer their coursework. However, an accelerated Ph.D. in philosophy online program might not necessarily follow this schedule. Students will take classes throughout the years rather than specific periods and include summer classes. Fast-tracking the curriculum can save at least a year or two over a traditional program, allowing students to earn their Ph.Ds. in about 4 to 5 years (or less).

Accreditations for Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Programs

Accreditation is essentially a quality mark. When a college is accredited, it satisfies standards and offers its students a high-quality education, which employers value. Most institutions receive regional accreditation from one of the six independent accrediting organizations, which have been approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and/or the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). These organizations are:

Philosophy programs may sometimes be programmatically accredited by agencies like the Association of Theological Schools. Read the Guide to College Accreditation to understand more about accreditation, its process, and its importance.

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools anad Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

How to Pay for a Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Program?

An online Ph.D. philosophy comes with a hefty price tag. The average cost of a doctorate in the United States is $98,800, according to Education Data. Even the cheapest Ph.D. in philosophy online could cost well over $20,000. A prospective online student might be unable to afford the high tuition and related research costs even if they have no other out-of-pocket costs such as transportation or accommodation. To ease the financial burden students may face, several individuals, organizations, businesses, and universities offer financial aid, which may include:


Scholarships are awarded to students who have demonstrated academic and/or extracurricular excellence. Students prefer them because they do not require repayment and can be obtained relatively quickly and easily.


In contrast to a loan, a grant is a type of financial assistance that does not require repayment. And while scholarships are typically awarded for academic achievement, grants are awarded to students who demonstrate financial need.


Predoctoral fellowships, also known as Ph.D. fellowships, are available to doctoral students. Accepting a fellowship as a Ph.D. student usually comes with conditions, such as completing a specific research project or spending the awarded funds in a specific way. The most promising students can apply for one of several awards and fellowships aimed at assisting them in remaining in school and being recruited after graduation.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs enable students to earn money for college expenses while remaining enrolled full-time. Students earn money while gaining valuable work experience and bridging the gap between classroom theory and the workplace through these programs.

Graduate Assistantships

A graduate assistantship is an opportunity for students where they can work a specified number of hours per week in their college and receive either a tuition waiver or fee reduction. There are two kinds of assistantships – the graduate research assistantship and the graduate teaching assistantship.

Student Loans

Student loans are available to assist with the cost of a doctoral student’s education. They are available from various banks, credit unions, and government agencies. The cost of higher education will rise if a loan is obtained because of the interest that must be paid. Understand how one can apply for loan forgiveness to avoid repaying student loans by reading about Donors for Student Loans and Grants for Student Loans.

The Free Application For Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is an application for federal financial aid that all prospective and current college students can complete to check if they qualify or are eligible for aid. The FAFSA Student Aid guide explains more.

Fully Funded Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Programs

Ph.D. programs could take several years to complete, taking a toll on students’ finances. Therefore, looking for fully funded Ph.D. programs that pay for tuition and provide other monetary benefits is prudent. Getting admission into fully funded Ph.D. programs can be difficult for the student but not impossible. Here are some universities offering fully funded Ph.D. in philosophy online programs:

Harvard UniversityHarvard University provides funding in tuition remission for Ph.D. students. The Ph.D. students receive a full stipend for the first four years of their program and the opportunity for graduate assistantships. Graduate students receive around $5,000 for research work.
Fordham UniversityFordham University offers a fully funded Ph.D. in philosophy. Students have an option of a fellowship or a graduate assistantship, which includes a monthly stipend and tuition fees.
Columbia UniversityColumbia University awards incoming Ph.D. students with funds that cover the cost of their tuition and health insurance for five years. Students can receive $33,990 as a standard nine-month stipend or salary payment for those working in research or instruction.

FAQs Related to the Ph.D. in Philosophy
Online Program

How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. in philosophy?

On average, it could take about five to six years to complete an online Ph.D. in philosophy. However, this timeline would depend on the student’s efficiency in completing their coursework and research and finishing their dissertation, including its defense.

What are the employment opportunities for a Ph.D. in philosophy graduate?

Do I need a master’s in philosophy to apply to a Ph.D. in philosophy?

How long does it take to complete the coursework in a Ph.D. program?

Should I do a Ph.D. in philosophy online?

How do you get an online Ph.D. in philosophy?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after a Ph.D.
in Philosophy Online

Philosophy can be applied to a wide range of topics and life’s problems. Therefore, philosophy students can enter various occupations – from healthcare and law to education and business. Students can rest assured that the education, expertise, and skills they would have gathered from their philosophy Ph.D. programs will always be useful and can be applied in most sectors. Here are a few examples of careers one could take up, listed with their median annual salary and job growth (note that salaries mentioned are not necessarily for those with advanced degrees such as a Ph.D.):

OccupationJob DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030)
Financial AnalystsFinancial analysts guide individuals and businesses in managing finances and spending money to gain profit. They identify and analyze business and economic trends are prepare written financial reports.Mathematical, statistical, and analytical skills$95,5709% (much faster than average)
Market Research AnalystsMarket research analysts are professionals who study business conditions, consumer preferences, and other factors that could help increase potential sales of services and products. Philosophy students can help interpret data from different sources and devise suitable sales strategies.Team building skills, verbal skills, creative skills$63,92019% (much faster than average)
WritersPhilosophy students could become niche writers, summarize philosophical materials, and develop their arguments through writing. They can also provide written content for different media like print and social media.Verbal skills, creative skills, analytical skills$69,5104% (as fast as average)
Human Resources SpecialistsHuman resources specialists recruit people for a company or client. They often train recruits, manage compensation and benefits, and maintain employment records.Analytical skills, interpersonal skills, organizational skills$62,2908% (as fast as average)
Public Relations and Fundraising ManagersPublic relations managers direct the creation of materials that will enhance the public image of their clients and employers. They coordinate campaigns that help in bringing donations to nonprofits or customers to businesses.Verbal skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, rhetorical skills$119,8608% (as fast as average)

Certifications and Licensing for Ph.D. in
Philosophy Online Students

Individuals who hold board or professional certifications show the public and employers that they have the necessary knowledge and skills in their field. They are an excellent way to increase employability while also attracting higher pay. Students with a Ph.D. in philosophy online degree have no mandatory certification or licensing requirements. Nevertheless, when the opportunity arises, obtaining certification in a field that complements philosophy is always recommended.

Additional Resources for Ph.D. in
Philosophy Online Students

The field of philosophy is vast and extends far beyond what the eye can see. Interacting and collaborating with like-minded individuals and eminent philosophers can thus yield new discoveries, narratives, and insights helpful to students and recent philosophy Ph.D. recipients. Joining a professional organization can also lead to internships, research grants, study resources, business leader mentorship, and other opportunities. These organizations can also help those researching for their Ph.D. programs or working on their dissertations. Here are some for Ph.D. in philosophy online students and graduates to consider:

The Philosopher’s CouncilThe Philosopher’s Council is one of the world’s first membership groups of Practical Philosophy, which guides its members into a space for thinking deeper. The organization is dedicated to supporting leaders in philosophy and expanding their knowledge of the world to be able to make a difference.
The American Philosophical AssociationThe American Philosophical Association promotes the profession and discipline of philosophy. They focus on the professional development of philosophers at varied levels and work to foster a better understanding and appreciation of the value of making philosophical inquiries.
American Association of Philosophy TeachersThe American Association of Philosophy Teachers is focused on advancing philosophy teaching. They sponsor many workshops and resources for learning and teaching philosophy.
American Philosophical SocietyThe American Philosophical Society is one of the oldest in the U.S. and continues to promote helpful knowledge through fellowships, public outreach, and research. They focus on supporting research and making discoveries and provide members with publications, prizes, and exhibitions.
Association for the Scientific Study of ConsciousnessThe Association for the Scientific Study of consciousness is a professional non-profit organization that aims to encourage consciousness research in neuroscience, philosophy, cognitive science, and other disciplines relevant to humanities and sciences.

Author Bio:

Nikita Nath

Nikita is a psychologist working primarily with children using a child rights-based approach. She also writes content for various websites and blogs on diverse topics, focusing primarily on academia. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and discovering different coffee-making techniques.


Bachelors in English, Journalism, and Psychology; Masters in psychology with clinical specialization

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

  • 2 years of experience working as a content writer with various start-ups
  • 1 year of experience working as a child psychologist with Insight
  • Working on various projects of inclusion for neurodivergent children
  • 2+ years of experience teaching psychology online


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.