Accelerated PhD Programs

Sep 23, 2019

Accelerated PhD programs are available for learners looking to earn their doctorates in less than the normal time span. Some degree options are profiled below to give you a better idea of the accelerated programs available.

View Popular Schools

Many universities offer accelerated PhD programs that promise faster degree completion by giving credit hours for work done in masters' programs or combining requirements for the masters' and doctoral degrees. There are also accelerated programs that go all the way from a bachelor's to a PhD in less time than it would take completing those courses of study separately. These accelerated programs can take three to five years to complete, whereas a traditional PhD averages eight years.

PhDs Available Through Accelerated Programs


A PhD in nursing is a research-based (rather than clinical-based) program. Schools with accelerated PhD paths often offer three- to five-year course studies. The curriculum often combines the masters' and PhD programs to achieve the accelerated pace. Students can choose from a number of different research areas, including infectious disease prevention, health care policy, and pediatric/neonatal care. They are offered to graduates of nursing bachelor's degree programs as well as applicants who've already earned a master's degree.


Accelerated PhD programs in communications also last between three to five years, depending on whether one already holds a master's degree. BA to PhD communications students can receive a non-thesis MA on the way to completing their dissertation. Students who already have an MA might be required to submit their thesis as a part of the application to the accelerated PhD program. In general, students in this type of program have the opportunity to focus their research on such areas as interpersonal communication, rhetoric, and the interaction between communication and technology.


Many universities offer accelerated degrees for science fields, such as engineering, biology, and physics. Accelerated PhD programs in these areas are selective and could require a minimum GPA ranging as high as 3.5 or 3.75. Some programs are available as soon as the conclusion of freshmen year in undergraduate school, but other programs require a full bachelor's degree before applying. Accelerated programs might allow students to apply research begun at the undergraduate level to doctoral requirements or skip their thesis in lieu of a doctoral dissertation and transfer their master's level courses to the doctoral program.


Accelerated PhD programs in history often require a master's degree for admission, but some are open to students who have completed a bachelor's. These programs, however, are highly selective. Programs may require foreign language proficiency depending on the area of study. Accelerated PhDs may also have major and minor fields of study in which students can choose to specialize. Examples include non-US based history, specific time periods (usually narrowed to specific geographic areas), or certain topics, such as women's history or military history. Students discusses their preferred area of study with a school's PhD faculty before beginning their studies in order to ensure they have faculty available for advising.

Program Admittance Requirements

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for entrance to these combined programs, preferably in a like discipline. GRE scores are also among common admissions requirements, especially for programs in nursing and the sciences. Students might need to submit a thesis or other type of writing sample, such as an academic paper, and a statement of purpose as well. Letters of recommendation and a minimum GPA of 3.0-3.75, depending on the program, are also requirements for application to accelerated PhD programs.

Benefits of Accelerated PhD Programs

Although completing your PhD at a faster than average pace might require more concentration, work, and sacrifice on your part, there are benefits to accelerated programs. Spending less overall time on a degree means you will be qualified faster. You can get into the job market faster. Additionally, the less time you spend in the program, the less overall tuition you are accruing, therefore the less your student debt will be. During this rigorous course of study, you might also develop time management skills and improve your writing efficiency.

This article went over several accelerated PhD program options, including degrees in nursing, science, and the humanities. It also went over the general requirements of these programs, which can range from three to four years in length, as well as the potential benefits of enrolling in such courses.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?