North Carolina is home to the oldest public university (the University of North Carolina), the world-famous Research Triangle Park, and one of the world’s fastest-growing centers for banking and finance (Charlotte). With an unprecedented demand for higher education, North Carolina is also becoming a hub for online education, with online degree programs growing exponentially. The Top 10 Best Online PhD Programs in North Carolina include small religious universities, global research universities, and some of the nation’s finest regional institutions for variety, accessibility, and quality.
1. John Wesley University
John Wesley University is a Christian Liberal Arts University in High Point, NC. They offer a faculty who are gifted in the delivery of excellent instruction with the sensitivity and perspective of seasoned Christian disciples. The faculty, in the words of the University President, Steve Condon, are “the great men and women who form the critical core of our education here at John Wesley, while students remain the heart and soul of this institution”.
With students entering at multiple levels, ages, and career stages, as well as from varied backgrounds, John Wesley is quite a diverse community. They are also no stranger to innovative educational models, including an emphasis on online advanced degrees. JWU offers a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership that is designed to meet students needs, regardless of their church background. Requirements include an MDiv, MMin, MTS, or comparable degree and substantial experience in ministry. In this program, students will build upon previous studies within the context of current ministry to achieve greater leadership competency in today’s global environment. The program employs a cohort model, offering students a chance to engage with others doing the same work. JWU requires a one-week residency within the cohort model where students gather with their professor and fellow students twice a year for a time of intense personal and academic development.
2. NC State University
North Carolina State University is located in the state’s capital city of Raleigh, North Carolina. With more than $400 million in new sponsored research awards in 2017 for on campus and online research, NC State is dedicated to student-focused research activity that allows for a more expansive understanding of the world through their respective disciplines.
Within the realm of online education, NC State is ahead of the curve with their Online and Distance Education Departments. Beyond the breadth of subjects offered online, NC State ensures that online programming is the full academic equivalent of on-campus programs. Online material receives the same accreditation as on-campus programs, and are taught by world-leading faculty who are experts in their field, and have experience in the nuanced differences in on-campus and online education styles. They offer 3 Doctorate programs classified as either online or distance learning (lower residency requirements), including the Doctor of Design (DDes), the Adult and Community Education Program, and the Education Leadership Program.
3. UNC Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is famous for being the first public university in the country, while continuing to be at the front of the line in terms of training future innovators and leaders in a number of fields such as Business, Education and Public Health. UNC trains students who are motivated and engaged to meet their passions and bring excellence to the workforce. In fact, 78% of enrolled freshman were in the top 10% of their high school class.
UNC Online offers the same level of academic excellence and rigor, but allows students to achieve their degree entirely online without having to step foot on campus. The online graduate program at UNC-CH includes two distinct PhD programs that are offered 100% online. Both of these focus on a different aspect of the health sciences, including the Doctor of Physical Therapy transition program and the Public Health Executive Leadership program. They can be completed in 21 and 36 months respectively. Again, the online programs are treated one and the same as the traditional degree programming, same hard work expected, producing same trusted UNC brand outcomes (including the piece of paper at the end).
4. UNC at Greensboro
UNC Greensboro is one of the 17 Schools in the University of North Carolina System, though it certainly has its own identity with unique offerings and student population that it attracts. Though no longer an all women’s school, UNCG’s roots inform the many opportunities women and diverse populations have to succeed there. They actively pursue equity and inclusion as a mission to all of their programming.
Just like the other University of North Carolina institutions, UNCG offers extensive online course offerings that feature flexibility combined with the same high quality education that one would get on campus. They have a number of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well as the Interdisciplinary Doctor of Education in Kinesiology program, geared towards professionals who are already familiar with and engaged in the field. Though the program is delivered primarily online, there are three campus visits that are required throughout the course of the 4-year program.
5. East Carolina University
Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University is the third largest public school in the state. They are known for their high level of research and innovation. Inventions have come out of ECU, such as the electronic fluency device, a machine invented to help correct speech impediments such as stutters, by placing this device in the subjects ear so they can hear themselves when they speak. Also, fun fact, the first minimally invasive mitral valve heart surgery that was robotic-assisted was performed at ECU!
The ECU brand of excellence transcends the classroom and continues in the cyber world, as online course offerings geared towards adult learners are one of East Carolina’s specialties. Not only do they have a myriad of online bachelor’s and master’s degree granting programs, but they also offer a (DNP) Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and Nursing-Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program.
Applicants living outside of North Carolina seeking online study must first be sure authorization is secured from their state of residence, in order to achieve admission.
6. North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (also referred to as NC A&T or just A&T) is on a mission to change the world through research and initiatives that focus on leadership and community service. Institutionally, they pride themselves on inquiry and complex problem solving in disciplines such as business, technology, and the arts. They are located in Greensboro, North Carolina; the state’s third largest city.
A&T not only has extensive residential programs, but they have online program offerings that are equally resourced with the same faculty and curricula. A&T offers a variety of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree granting programs through their online institution, as well as offering two Doctoral programs. The Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies brings experienced students to the front lines of innovating holistic societal change. NC A&T Online also offers a unique Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management, which is a collaboration among a consortium of institutions offering PhDs in Technology Management.
7. UNC Wilmington
UNC Wilmington is often referred to by students as simply The Dub. They first opened their doors as a junior college in 1947, and their primary population were veterans returning from service in World War II. They have continued their tradition of training non-traditional adult learners, and have become known as a Master’s focused institution. Currently they have a number of programs that bring students from across the country and the globe to their campus, especially their renowned Marine Sciences program. They attract high achieving students, as noted by the average high school GPA of incoming freshman in 2016 was 4.16, and 1192 in SAT scores.
Not only does UNCW have noteworthy residential course offerings, but they have fully online PhD program offerings, including a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and several specializations within Education Leadership EdD, which requires no test scores for admission. Their online programming is geared towards flexibility, and meeting the needs of a diverse student body.
8. Gardner Webb University
Gardner-Webb University has become a nationally-recognized leader in Christian higher education. Since 1905, they have steadily grown their academic programs, student body, physical campus, and community relationships. GWU offers a low residency Educational Specialist (EdS) degree option within their School of Education. Those seeking this doctorate degree will learn the skills necessary to excel in education and executive leadership roles in a variety of settings.
Requirements for the EdS in Executive Leadership Studies program include having already obtained a master’s degree and minimum 3.0 GPA on all graduate-level work, as well as 3 years of administration experience. The program consists of 42-credit hours and can be completed fully online. The program employs an interactive model so that students can participate in discussions and web chats through their classes, providing the maximum benefit from individual experiences and communities of collaboration.
9. Piedmont International University
Piedmont International University is a leader in Bible Centered higher education, as well as an affordable choice for all levels of post-secondary education. Over 1.1 million dollars in financial aid is offered annually, and 96% of the student body receives some financial support.
Piedmont’s online options give students flexibility as they juggle work along with pursuing their degree. Furthermore, in many cases, students are given the opportunity to integrate their professional life with their course of study. One of their exciting programs is a PhD in Leadership/Doctor of Philosophy, and can be accomplished in as little as two years time. This online program requires one week long on campus residency in the first year of study. The major points of interest of this particular program are critical thinking, writing, learning, and scholarly research; all within a christian worldview biblical context.
10. Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University is located in North Carolina’s scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, which defines much of their spirit, as an institution committed to serving the communities in it’s surrounding region. They are one of the 17 institutions in the University of North Carolina System. Graduates of Appalachian State enjoy a high success rate in job placement and/or furthering their education with advanced degrees. In the class of 2015-16 93 percent of graduate students and 86 percent of undergraduates either enrolled in graduate education within one year of graduation, or were successfully employed.
To cater to all of their students, which includes a diversity of needs, Appalachian State offers extensive distance learning and online programming options, which includes a doctoral program in Education Leadership. This is a hybrid degree program which includes asynchronous and synchronous online coursework as well as face-to-face classes that meet one night per week, on alternating weeks, with occasional weekend classes.