Best Online Doctorate Degree No Dissertation Programs

Want to earn your doctorate without writing a dissertation? Discover the best doctoral programs with no dissertation requirement.
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Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
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An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D., has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a writer and consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern...
Updated on April 30, 2024
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Lorraine Mumby is an editor for BestColleges who focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is passionate about equipping students with the tools to succeed and have meaningful, equitable educational experiences. Lorraine has a bachelor's degre...
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Earning a doctorate is a major accomplishment. But did you know that you can earn a doctorate without defending a dissertation? Many popular doctoral programs do not require a dissertation, including in fields such as business, healthcare, and education.

What is a dissertation? A dissertation is an in-depth, original research project that can be well over 100 pages long. Research for a dissertation can add years to your doctoral program.

Instead of a dissertation, some programs use an applied research or capstone project. These programs often emphasize practical knowledge and skills intended to prepare you for a career in your chosen field. If you want to attend a doctoral program without a dissertation, check out these programs.

Featured Online Doctorate Degrees

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Doctorate Degrees Do Not Have Dissertation Requirements?

Earn your doctorate without a dissertation by choosing one of these programs. Many also offer a doctorate degree online with no dissertation requirement. Make sure to research the specific program requirements before applying.

1. Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Business is the most popular graduate degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And a doctor of business administration is one of the most popular doctoral programs without a dissertation.

During a DBA, you’ll explore applied management and business skills. Instead of a dissertation, a DBA culminates in an applied research project. Graduate students may evaluate a business problem, propose solutions, or analyze the effectiveness of different approaches.

Featured Online Business Administration Doctorate Program

2. Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

A doctor of education degree strengthens leadership and problem-solving skills for educators. While a Ph.D. in education trains researchers and academics, an Ed.D. prepares practitioners for careers in the classroom, school administration, and education policy.

You can earn an education doctorate degree online with no dissertation requirement. During an Ed.D. program, you'll complete an applied research project. This may include a case study of educational approaches, an in-depth policy analysis, or a data-focused analysis of student outcomes.

Featured Online Education and Teaching Doctorate Program

3. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

A doctor of nursing practice program trains nurses for advanced practice roles, including as a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist. In contrast, a Ph.D. in nursing emphasizes research, often for academic or research careers.

During a DNP, nursing students strengthen clinical and leadership skills. They often complete a project rather than a dissertation. Topics may include quality improvement, compliance, or nursing leadership.

Featured Online Nursing Practice and Healthcare Doctorate Program

4. Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Earning a doctor of psychology degree prepares you for licensure and careers as a psychologist. With its focus on clinical training, a Psy.D. emphasizes practice over the research-focused Ph.D. in psychology.

While psychology Ph.D. programs typically require a dissertation, in a Psy.D. program you’ll often gain clinical experience during a practicum and internship, which you’ll apply in a research project. These projects evaluate service delivery, therapeutic approaches, and clinical practice.

Featured Online Psychology Doctorate Program

5. Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA)

A doctor of healthcare administration program prepares graduates for executive roles in healthcare facilities. At the doctoral level, you can also earn a Ph.D. in healthcare administration. These programs are more likely to require a dissertation than DHA programs.

DHA students often complete an applied research project rather than a dissertation. These projects focus on healthcare decision-making and problem-solving. For example, doctoral students may evaluate policy implementation, quality control, or patient outcome data.

Featured Online Healthcare Administration Doctorate Program

6. Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Physical therapists need a doctor of physical therapy degree. A DPT, which typically takes around three years, instructs students in therapeutic care and advanced human movement.

Rather than a dissertation, DPT programs culminate in a research project. This capstone project examines the applications of physical therapy in different clinical settings, including projects focused on particular injuries or patient groups.

Featured Online Physical Therapy Doctorate Program

7. Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

A doctor of social work degree emphasizes social work practice. In contrast, a Ph.D. in social work leads to academic and research roles. During a DSW, you’ll explore advanced clinical practice, social work administration, and social work education.

DSW students often complete a capstone research project instead of defending a dissertation. Through applied data analysis, the capstone project evaluates a social welfare problem and develops a solution.

Featured Online Social Work Doctorate Program

8. Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership

A doctorate in organizational leadership prepares graduates for leadership positions in diverse sectors, including education, the public sector, and business. You’ll explore applied leadership research and learn how to resolve organizational problems.

While some organizational leadership Ph.D. programs include a dissertation, others incorporate a doctoral project that examines the application of leadership theories in practice. The project may analyze data on a specific organizational problem, recommend strategies to address issues, and evaluate the effectiveness of different approaches.

Featured Online Organizational Leadership Doctorate Program

9. Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

A doctor of public administration emphasizes leadership and management skills for advanced roles in government or the nonprofit sector. You’ll explore public policy, public administration ethics, and administration.

Graduates from DPA programs often complete a doctoral study that explores a real-world problem instead of a dissertation. This doctoral project strengthens skills applicable to the profession, including policy analysis, project implementation, and public planning.

10. Doctor of Public Health (DPH)

With a doctor of public health degree, you’ll advance your public health policy and leadership skills without a dissertation requirement. These programs emphasize applied skills for public health roles.

Unlike a Ph.D. in public health, doctor of public health programs often do not require a research-based dissertation. Instead, you may complete a doctoral project or an applied research project.

Featured Online Public Health Doctorate Program

How Much Do Online Doctorate Degrees Cost?

The cost of an online doctorate depends on the school, program length, and degree. On average, you can expect to spend around $41,000 per year for a Ph.D. program, according to BestColleges research. However, professional doctorates can cost around $58,650 per year.

Choosing an online format can help you save money. When researching doctoral programs without dissertation requirements, you can compare the most affordable options without needing to relocate. Attending an in-state public university can also mean lower tuition rates compared to an out-of-state or private school.

Finally, doctoral students at accredited universities qualify for several forms of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and fellowships.

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate Degree Without Dissertation Requirements

How long does a dissertation take?

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Researching and writing a dissertation can take several years. Dissertations often run 100-300 pages, and you must make an original contribution to the field. As a result, doctoral students spend a significant amount of time researching, drafting, and revising their dissertations.

At the end of their program, they defend the dissertation in front of a faculty committee to earn their doctorate.

Can you get a Ph.D. without a dissertation?

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Yes, you can get a Ph.D. without a dissertation. Some doctoral programs incorporate a capstone project rather than a dissertation. For example, DBA, Ed.D., and DNP programs often end with an applied project that evaluates a problem in the field.

These projects still require research and writing, but they’re typically less time-consuming than a dissertation.

What is a doctorate without a dissertation called?

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A doctoral student who has not completed their dissertation is often called all but dissertation, or ABD. You can also earn a doctorate without completing a dissertation, depending on the program.

Many professional doctorates do not require a dissertation. In fields such as business, psychology, and education, you can choose between a practice-focused doctorate with no dissertation or a Ph.D. with a dissertation.

When can you call yourself a doctoral candidate?

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You can call yourself a doctoral candidate after passing your comprehensive exams and advancing to candidacy. In most programs, doctoral candidates move from coursework and exams to the dissertation phase. During this phase, doctoral candidates research and write their dissertations. After defending their dissertation, they earn a doctorate.

What is a dissertation vs. thesis?

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A dissertation and a thesis are both culminating research projects. In the U.S., undergraduate and master’s students may complete a thesis, while doctoral students complete a dissertation. However, in the U.K., undergraduates and master’s students write a dissertation, while doctoral students write a thesis.

Dissertations are typically longer and more comprehensive than a thesis. Dissertations also require original research. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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