Top 10 Most Popular PhD Fields

Choosing a PhD program can be difficult for many students. If you’re finding it difficult to choose a PhD field because you’re not sure which field would allow you many career options while earning a top salary, this list will show you which fields are the top ten most sought-after. This information can help in a lot of ways. Two of the most common reasons for obtaining a PhD are a higher salary and more career options. Knowing what field others are entering into will naturally show you what some of the more profitable and flexible PhD fields are.

Another reason knowing the top PhD fields of study is pertinent information is the fact that you will know which fields are currently the most sought out by employers. These fields not only pay well and offer a multitude of career options, they are also some of the most needed and wanted by corporations. We hope this list is informative and helpful for students looking to obtain a popular PhD. Here are the top ten most popular PhD fields:

Physical Therapy

With an online PhD in Physical Therapy, or a traditional one, the career options available to students are fairly varied between the private and public sectors. Students that decide to obtain a traditional or online doctorate in Physical Therapy are usually people concerned with the welfare of those less fortunate or with the well being of recovering trauma patients. This degree route is usually chosen by sympathetic individuals that want to help ease the suffering of those in their community. Occupational Therapists, for example, are tasked with assisting employees who have sustained injuries on the job and with teaching employees about ergonomics so they are less likely to sustain injuries in the first place. Social Workers with a PhD in Physical Therapy, on the other hand, are usually employed by homeless shelters and battered women’s shelters and are tasked with helping to heal injuries that could be sustained by people seeking shelter.

Average Starting Wage: $82,390 per year
Some Career Options Available: Physicians, Occupational Therapists and Social Workers.

Educational Leadership and Administration, General

Students that choose to obtain a PhD in Educational Leadership and Administration are generally students that are concerned with the quality of education that today’s students are receiving. They generally are passionate about making a difference in the lives of today’s youth, and wish to better the quality of education for the sake of the future leaders of America. With a PhD in this field, professionals are able to pursue careers all across the education board, including the Board of Education. Admissions Directors, for example, are those that choose whether or not a student would be a good fit at a postsecondary school. They generally are the ones that read student entry essays to decide if a student should attend the school. Education Administrators oversee day-to-day operation of a school and provide instructional leadership to those that are employed at the school.

[Check out our list of the best online doctoral programs in Education.]

Average Starting Wage: $70,010 per year
Some Career Options Available: Education Administrators, Primary and Secondary School Principals and Admissions Director.

Chemistry, General

A PhD in Chemistry will allow students to enter most scientific fields. This degree path is usually chosen by more analytical students who want to deconstruct the world down to its base parts and figure out how everything works. A PhD in Chemistry won’t limit students to a career that’s purely Chemistry-focused either. Students that have obtained a PhD in Chemistry have many career options available to them, some examples of which are careers in the healthcare sector, in the pharmaceuticals industry and in law enforcement as a member of the forensics team. Some of the more common career paths for those with a PhD in Chemistry are in the research and laboratory sectors, though chemical manufacturing draws a lot of chemists into the field.

Average Starting Wage: $82,175 per year
Some Career Options Available: Analytical Chemist, Research Chemist, Research Scientist and Quality Control (QC) Chemist.

Clinical Psychology

Those with a PhD in Clinical Psychology are usually concerned with the well being of others or are curious as to how the human mind functions and what can cause it to malfunction. These individuals will have several career options for them based on what about the human psyche interests them the most. Some Clinical Psychologists, for example, choose to enter into the Forensics field as forensics psychologists. These professionals are tasked with numerous things such as coming up with criminal profiles for wanted individuals, determining whether or not an individual is fit to stand trial or finding out the psychological reasoning behind criminal activity. Another option for these individuals is in a more traditional healthcare setting, such as a Clinical Psychiatrist who helps individuals suffering from depression, ADHD, schizophrenia and many other common mental health afflictions.

[Check out our ranking of the best online Psychology PhD programs.]

Average Starting Wage: $68,640 per year
Some Career Options Available: Forensics Psychologist, Behavioral Health Director, Clinical Psychiatrist and Clinical Services Director.

Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering

With a PhD in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering, there’s a multitude of career options available. Radio and Satellite Communications are two very popular career paths for these professionals. Satellite Communications is a career in which an engineer does things such as ensuring a satellite is orbiting properly and collecting data from satellites. A Radio Communications engineer’s job duties includes maintaining and operating the electronics and broadcasting equipment that keeps radio stations on the air. This PhD field is usually chosen by those that are very technical and analytical.

[Check out our ranking of the best online doctorates in Engineering.]

Average Starting Wage: $74,517 per year
Some Career Options Available: Robotics, Nanotechnologist, Radio and Satellite Communications and Control Engineer.

Psychology, General

Those that choose to obtain a PhD in General Psychology are usually individuals that have an interest in the more scientific side of psychology. These professionals usually have the same career options available to them as Clinical Psychologists, but are usually found more often in a laboratory or private setting than a clinical one. An example of a career option available to those with a PhD in General Psychology is a Rehabilitation Psychologist. These professionals seek to assist those that are addicted or were once addicted to substances or harmful behaviors be able to come clean and stay sober from whatever vice they are fighting to overcome. Individuals that seek a career in this field are usually very empathetic and fascinated by how the human mind functions.

[Check out our ranking of the best online Psychology PhD programs.]

Average Starting Wage: $70,180 per year
Some Career Options Available: Experimental Psychologist, Neuropsychologists and Rehabilitation Psychologists.

Education, General

With a traditional or online doctorate in Education, an individual is able to enter a career path where they are tasked with the ensuring students receive quality education. The kinds of individuals that seek out this degree are usually those who are concerned with the nation’s education levels and wish to provide a better quality of life for everyone through a better education. A possible career path for someone with a PhD in General Education would be a school counselor who is tasked with assisting students in picking a career path and assisting them to get on the right track to being able to start in that chosen career. They are also tasked with handing out information on colleges and assisting students in what electives to take. Another example would be a librarian, who is tasked with ensuring students have the resources needed available to them so they can broaden their horizons.

Average Starting Wage: $49,042 per year
Some Career Options Available: Curriculum Developer, Librarian, Primary and Secondary Educator and Counselor.

Physics, General

With a PhD in General Physics, an individual will have many career options available to them in both a laboratory setting and in the public sector. The people that seek to obtain this degree are usually very analytical and are interested with the mechanics of the world. An example of a career option for these professionals would be a design engineer. A design engineer is tasked with researching and developing working ideas for new products and for the systems used to manufacture them. They also work to improve the performance and efficiency of existing manufacturing techniques. Another possible field for these individuals would be an optical engineer, which handles the process of manufacturing lenses, microscopes and telescopes and comes up with ideas for new ways to utilize these items.

Average Starting Wage: $95,000 per year
Some Career Options Available: Laser Engineer, Optical Engineer, Design Engineer and Accelerator Operator.

English Language and Literature, General

With a PhD in General English Language and Literature, many professionals seek out a career in teaching at a collegiate level, however this is by no means the only career option available to them. These individuals could also seek out a career in technical writing, for example. A technical writer is someone who is responsible for creating journal articles or technical and instructional manuals, such as maintenance and operating instructions or various other documents that organizes highly complex material into a single document that can be easily understood, even by those that don’t have a background in the document material. This career path is usually sought out by those that love the written word, and who seek to instill others with a love for the written word.

Average Starting Wage: $59,000 per year
Some Career Options Available: Technical Writer, Office Manager and English Professor.

Audiology / Audiologist and Hearing Sciences

As a career path usually sought after by those that wish to help hearing-challenged individuals, a person that chooses this PhD field is usually very compassionate and empathetic. With a PhD in this field, an individual can pursue a career in various audiology industries, such as marketing for hearing aides or manufacturing audiology equipment. They can also choose to be a practicing audiologist or audiology researcher. An audiologist’s job is to diagnose, manage and/or treat hearing, tinnitus, or balance problems. An audiology researcher is someone who researchers new treatment options and new testing equipment.

Average Starting Wage: $73,000 per year
Some Career Options Available: Audiologist, Audiology Marketing and Manufacturing, Audiology Researcher