10 Best Online Doctoral Programs in California

California’s always been ahead of the curve, and that’s absolutely true of online PhD programs. From a state with two of the nation’s top public higher education systems, and enough elite private research universities to rival New England, it should be no surprise that there’s a wealth of top-ranked online PhDs. With an online PhD, students have no need to leave their current jobs, or relocate to earn their doctorate degrees; they don’t even need to be in California at all. From Education to Social Work, Nursing to Business Administration, Online PhD Programs is highlighting the Top 10 Best Online PhD Programs in California.

1. University of Southern California

University of Southern California, located in Los Angeles, has a long-standing reputation for grounded, rigorous academics, and rich student life resources. Applicants have an average S.A.T. score between 1320-1480, and only 16% of applicants make it to becoming matriculated first-year students. In 2017, USC received $764 million in sponsored research funds, much of which supported graduate studies and PhD research projects.

The University of Southern California through the platform, USC Online, offers four fully online doctoral studies programs, including one in Physical Therapy, one in Social Work, and two programs that are focused in education. The two education focused online Ed.D programs are a Global Executive, Ed.D. and an Organizational Change and Leadership, Ed.D. The admission requirements for USC Online are nearly the same as the on campus graduate school, including that each program may require a little more or less than another. As for these four, they each require A bachelor’s and master’s degree, submission of a GRE , 3.5 or higher average post secondary GPA.

2. University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

The University of St. Augustine (USA) for Health Sciences is an advanced degree granting institution with four campuses across the country. They are the largest physical therapy university, and one of the largest health science focused universities in the the U.S. The four colleges they feature are the College of Rehabilitative Sciences, College of Nursing, College of Health Sciences and Administration, Continuing Professional Education.

USAs main campus is located in St. Augustine, FL. Since 1988 campuses in Miami, FL, Austin, TX, and San Marcos, CA, near San Diego have also opened. They offer a range of academic programs for first-professional and post-professional students, including continuing education units, and continuing professional credits, along with master’s and doctorate degrees. Much of the course work St. Augustine’s offers can be completed as hybrid online programs, including their Doctorate degrees in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Nurse Practitioner, and Education for those who wish to teach in healthcare education, administration, or leadership. Each program can be completed between 2.5 and 3 years, at full time status.

3. California Southern University

California Southern University, located in Costa Mesa, was established in 1978 as an institution geared towards non-traditional adult learners, by offering both affordability and flexibility in their fully online academic programming. They offer high quality associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in select topics. They also offer flexible payment options, including interest-free opportunities that make studying on a budget possible. They are regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission. Students can get started in their program immediately upon enrollment, as there is no semester structure or even entrance exams.

California Southern University offers three online Doctorate programs including the Doctor of Business Administration, a Juris Doctor, and a Doctor of Psychology. All of these opportunities are considered applied or professional doctorates, meaning they are designed to be applied to theoretical and practical settings in the professional realm, and less oriented towards research and scholarly practice.

4. California Coast University

California Coast University was established in 1973, as a distance learning institution in Santa Ana, California. Even today, their classes can be taken is correspondence format or online, without the option of traditional classroom study. CCU is fully accredited by the Distance Education Accreditation Commission, and they are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Much of their programming is designed for mid-career adults to deepen their skillset and climb professionally, while requiring the flexibility of self paced coursework.

CCU offers three doctorate programs that are achieved entirely online and self-paced – in fact, the required coursework does not even correspond to semesters. To enter any of these programs students must have a completed masters degree or significant coursework graduate coursework that can be applied to one of the disciplines. The three programs include a Doctor of Education in Educational Psychology, a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration.

5. California Baptist University

California Baptist University was established in 1950 as a liberal arts private Christian University, in affiliation with the California Baptist Convention. They are located on a 75-acre campus is Riverside, California, in buildings known for their mission revival architectural style. Service is a tenant embedded in their mission, and many students engage in service projects overseas, facilitated by the university, in the summer months. CBU is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

CBU has extensive online and professional programming, including two doctorate programs that can be achieved entirely online; these include the Doctor of Business Administration and the Doctor of Public Administration programs. Both courses of study are designed towards building comprehensive leadership in a variety of sectors, including non-profits. The program can be completed in as little as three years, which includes the dissertation components. The Business Administration program prepares students to be flexible and adaptable to change, while the Public administration program engages students to be leaders finding creative solutions to global societal problems.

6. Sofia University

Sofia University was founded in 1975, under the original name, The Institute for Transpersonal Psychology. In 2012, they changed their name to Sofia University, the word sofia, meaning ‘wisdom’ in Greek. Though their roots are embedded in education surrounding psychological and spiritual modalities of counseling, with their new name change, several paths of study in computer science and human-computer-interaction have been added to their degree availabilities as well. That being said, many of their new opportunities are relevant to the Silicon Valley, which is appropriate, as their campus home is located in Palo Alto, California.

Beneath the programming umbrella at Sofia University are four programs, which include the School of Transformative Education, The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, The School of Technology and Engineering, and The School of Business and Social Entrepreneurship. One of the exciting programs Sofia offers is the Online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Psychology. Though the program is primarily online, residential seminars are required for completion. Students will have access to advisement and support as they thoroughly throw themselves into psychological research.

7. Adizes Graduate School

Adizes Graduate School was founded with a unique mission that includes producing a large interdisciplinary base of theory that can lead to new organization leadership and growth in an ever-changing society. This interesting example of a post secondary experience only has two fields of study which include an academic and a clinical program, both of which tie into the vast discipline of consulting. Each division at Adizes has a number of professional programs that are based on building skills and theories of change, which includes scientific, philosophical, and coursework related to the humanities. Students graduate with the ability to successfully enter the fields of consulting or education.

In line with their approach, Adizes offers a fully online PhD program in Organizational Transformation, that is unlike any other of its kind. Students entering the program must either have a masters degree, or have undergone 30 units of graduate credit. Each student will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on capstone project, where they design a prototype of transformation on and individual, organizational, or societal level.

8. California State University, Fresno

California State University, Fresno was first established as a Normal school, in an effort to train teachers in the year 1911, and they have been offering comprehensive degree programming, including graduate degrees since 1949. Most people refer to the school as “Fresno State,” and their mascot is a cuddly bulldog.

Fresno State offers an online Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree as a joint venture with nearby San José State University. The entire program can be completed online, as technology training is a large part of the DNP program.  Although the program is administered fully online, students will be required to attend an intensive course prior to each semester of the program and held alternatively between Fresno and San José campuses. The intensives are mandatory and range from 1 to 3 days, depending on the course work being administered. The DNP program at Fresno State is intentionally designed so that students can work full-time and, pending the sites permission, can complete their doctoral project on work done at their employment site.

9. Southern California Seminary

The Southern California Seminary is an affordable private institution of higher learning with a foundation of biblical teachings that integrate the ideology of the Shadow Mountain Community Church. Institutionally, they emphasize programming in behavioral science and theology, offered in English, Spanish and Korean. All of their programming is faith-based, with connections to biblical texts, including their many fully online options.

SCS has two doctorate degree programs that are primarily online. The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) is offered with “high-touch” interactive online coursework, with the addition of a two-week per year intensive residency. The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) was created to give students ministry opportunities within their local church, the option of private practice counseling, or work within institutional settings. The coursework that is mainly presented online, with the exception of one residential class and lab experience. Students will also undergo regular evaluations with professors in person, which will determine the students’ status within the program.

10. CSU Channel Islands

CSU Channel Islands is the colloquial way of referring to California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI), the baby of the 23 school California State University System, with its founding in 2002. Much of their mission includes offering integrative and experiential learning opportunities for all of their students, many of which include service, the cornerstone of their mission. 64% of their student body are women, and 59% are first generation college students, which clearly defines the institutions commitment to diversity.

In the summer of 2016 CSUCI began chartered their Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, is the first program in the CSU system that is delivered fully online. The program is committed to developing leaders in the praxis of democracy and social justice, and is in collaboration with CSU Fresno. There are two opportunities for specialization, which include P-12 Education Leadership and Post Secondary Educational Leadership, which can include community college administration and leadership.