Many students interested in an online Ph.D in Finance have a hard time finding schools that are not only well respected in the field, but will also lead to great employment options. But finance is a growing industry, and it has now become clear that Ph.D degrees are in demand from employers. To meet the demand, many schools have built online finance doctorate degrees.

This ranking highlights 10 of the most affordable programs in this field. Ranging from well-known online colleges to prestigious universities that are respected for their finance programs, these 10 schools all have Ph.D in Finance online options. Whether a student is looking for an online-only program or enjoys the hybrid option of education, there is a school on this list that is perfect for everyone.


This ranking was designed using the information that can be found at the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator. After looking at an initial pool of 80 potential colleges and universities, the final ten were chosen based on in-state graduation tuition rates. They are listed below in descending order.

Ranking Low-cost Online Finance PhD Programs

10. City University of Seattle

Seattle, Washington

Doctor of Business Administration

Average Graduate Tuition: $16,748 per year

For more information: City University of Seattle

The City University of Seattle offers an online option for completing the DBA, or the Doctor of Business Administration. This degree was created for graduate candidates interested in becoming leaders within businesses or work as businesses consultants. The degree takes around three to four years to complete and the online option has no residency requirements. Students taking the online path will notice that their education is bolstered by new technology that allows professors to chat live with them during lectures and online office hours. The degree requires 91 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation for graduation. Sample courses include Industry Analysis and Market Innovation, Financial Decision Making, and Organizational Development Theories and Trends.

9. Rutgers University

Newark, New Jersey

Ph.D in Finance

Average Graduate Tuition: $14,372 per year

For more information: Rutgers University

Rutgers University is known to be a great institution for finance professionals. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that this university has a finance doctorate online option. The school does require a semester-based residency requirement, but nearly all of the coursework can be completed online. Rutgers is known for its comprehensive programs and its competitiveness for spots in its doctoral program, so students who are interested in applying for this are advised to apply as soon as possible. This degree suggests that students focus on coursework for the first two years of the curriculum plan and work on their dissertation for the last two years. This degree requires 60 credit hours of coursework, a research paper, and a dissertation. Sample courses include investments, corporate finance, and special topics in finance.

8. Capella University

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Doctor of Business Administration

Average Graduate Tuition: $14,365

For more information: Capella University

Capella University actually offers two Business Administration Ph.D programs that graduate candidates may want to research. The first is the Doctor of Business Administration, which is an academic degree that sees students engage in research and business theories within a concentrated point of view within the industry. This is perfect for students who are interested in becoming academics and enjoy research. The Ph.D in Business Management is a practical degree that focuses a student's education on the pragmatic aspects of the business world. This degree is perfect for students who wish to go into the business industry after graduation. Both degrees can be earned online; however, residencies may be required depending on a student's chosen concentration.

7. Walden University

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Doctor of Business Administration

Average Graduate Tuition: $12,075

For more information: Walden University

Walden University is a well-known online university that has made its mark with its business degrees. The Doctor of Business Administration is no different. The school's hybrid program enables students to continue learning from their area of residence with only a few trips need for intensive residencies throughout the degree plan. Walden also holds a concentration in finance for students who have already begun specializing their education in this field. This degree requires 60 semester credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and two four-day residencies, which provide students with real-world experience, at the school's campus. Sample courses include Fiscal Leadership in a Global Environment, Organizational Leadership, and Seminar in International Finance.

6. University of South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

Doctor in Business Administration – Finance

Average Graduate Tuition: $11,454

For more information: University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina offers a hybrid Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in finance. This degree was designed specifically for students interested in building a career in the government or teaching industries; it is not a practical degree for finance professionals. Research is also a large part of the degree, with many students building an academic portfolio based on the research projects they take on while at USC. While residency must be established at the beginning of the degree, nearly all of the courses for this degree can be earned online.

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4. Northcentral University

San Diego, California

Doctor of Business Administration – Financial Management

Average Graduate Tuition: $10,368

For more information: Northcentral University

Northcentral University offers a finance Ph.D. online that has no residency requirements, making it an ideal option for any student who is hoping to find a cheap Ph.D. finance degree that can also be completed wholly online. The DBA requires 54 credit hours of coursework and can be completed in as little as 39 months with no residency requirement. Students will benefit from learning from a group of professors who all hold terminal degrees in their area of specialization as well as have real-world work experience. Students also have access to an online portal that was built specifically for their needs; everything from an online bookstore to one-on-one tutoring services is available for online doctoral students.

3. University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland

Ph.D in Finance

Average Graduate Tuition: $10,181

For more information: University of Maryland

The University of Maryland confers an online Ph.D in Finance and is buoyed by the recognition of the Smith School and its faculty. The degree offers opportunities for students to take on research projects and work on dissertations, all from the comfort of learning from home. Courses are generally given via asynchronous format and research projects are supervised through online office hours and phone calls to the school. This degree is made up of 36 credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and at least one research project of the student's choosing. Sample courses include Theory of Finance, Topics in International Finance, and Empirical Studies in Industrial Organization.

2. Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

Ph.D in Personal Financial Planning

Average Graduate Tuition: $9,874

For more information: Kansas State University

Kansas State University has an incredible opportunity for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D in Personal Financial Planning. This cohort program offers students the chance to do most of their coursework at home while requiring each student make a trip to the school for ten days every summer for three consecutive years. This program format gives students the feeling of actually knowing their classmates and professors while also enabling them to continue to pursue their career and their education. This degree requires 90 credit hours of coursework in four different competency areas: research, professional, supporting, and electives. Sample courses include Personal Income Taxation, Money and Relationships, and Introduction to Financial Therapy.

1. Trident University

Cypress, California

Ph.D in Business Administration – Accounting/Finance

Average Graduate Tuition: $9,000

For more information: Trident University

Trident University offers a Ph.D in Business Administration that is conferred entirely online. This program was designed for the scholars and professors of tomorrow; it is a research and academic degree that is best sought after by students who are interested in becoming researchers or teachers. With five concentrations to choose from, this degree opens up worlds of possibility in terms of academic research, especially for the finance sector. The degree requires 45 credit hours of coursework, a research project that is supervised by the department, a qualifying exam, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Auditing, Financial Management, and Economic Growth and Development.

Additional Ph.D in Finance Offerings:

Liberty University

DBA – Concentration in Finance

Average Graduate Tuition: $21,292

For more information: Liberty University

University of Dallas

DBA – Concentration in Finance

Average Graduate Tuition: $37,230

For more information: University of Dallas

Creighton University

DBA – Concentration in Finance

Average Graduate Tuition: $37,606

For more information: Creighton University


What are the Career Options for an Online Doctorate in Finance Degree?

It can feel as though there are not many career options for those who hold a Ph.D in finance, but it depends on a person's point of view of the industry. There might just be some positions that a student is not aware of that they qualify for with their degree and still others that they aren't interested in.

The first and most common career option is that of a university professor. Most students with this degree take on an associate or assistant professorship after graduating, enabling them to work towards tenure and a stable career teaching MBA students. Many graduates with this degree will go on to work at four-year universities and have a steady income.

Another academic-related option is that of a researcher. While many professors do research while teaching, and indeed this is common, there are some think tanks and firms that hire researchers who work solely in the field of finance. This enables the researchers to work on their projects without being distracted by school requirements.

In the professional world of business and finance, there is a slew of career options, ranging from financial analyst to CFP. It's also possible to open a consulting firm or work as a freelancer. However, the main reason to earn a doctorate degree in finance is to become a chief financial officer or earn a leadership position within a company. These jobs are always competitive, but a finance degree can make the difference between being hired and having to look for another job.

What is the Average Salary for a Doctorate in Finance?

Like other business-related professions, students who earn a doctorate in finance will find themselves eligible for a variety of positions and salaries. Depending on the track they have chosen to follow, academic or professional, the salaries can be quite different.

Most academic-based online Ph.D finance holders work as university professors, which have an average salary range from $59,000 to $100,000. The discrepancy can be accounted for with the different levels of professors; there are assistant, associate, and tenured professors. Students should also be aware that a position at a two-year college will pay less than a position at a four-year university.

For professional positions, such as a financial or investment analysis, the salary can also vary depending on where a student works and what the financial market is like in that area. These positions, when bolstered by a doctorate in finance, can have a starting salary of around $75,000 that would have added benefits and bonuses.

The most lucrative positions, such as those in leadership at a company, can fetch anywhere from $70,000 at the beginning of a professional's career to around $250,000. These positions can range from chief financial officer to chief executive officer and often come with bonuses, profit sharing, and commission.

What are the Various Disciplines of Finance?

There are several disciplines found in the world of finance; economics, math, accounting, and business are just a few that can be named. But disciplines can actually go a little further and include financial theory, capital, and different forms of finance. Management and risk analysis are also necessary disciplines in this field and are often used by financial managers and researchers.

Is Accreditation Important for Finance Degrees?

There are two types of accreditation for colleges and universities, and each is important. Both institutional and specialized accreditation provides students and potential employers with the knowledge that a particular school holds up to a national or regional standard. In fact, accreditation means more on an application than most students realize, so it's time to pay attention to the labels these schools carry.

Institutional accreditation is not up for debate as a prerequisite for colleges. With regional accrediting bodies covering the entirety of the United States, there is no excuse for a college not to receive accreditation. In fact, no accreditation could mean that the school does not have high enough academic achievements, or could be on probation for a multitude of violations.

Specialized accreditation, however, differs from institutional accreditation in that it focuses on one field of study, setting some programs apart from others. It is done by independent accrediting bodies. There are three main accrediting bodies students should look out for when looking up online finance PhD degrees. They are:

  • AACSB – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International
  • ACBSP – Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • IACBE – International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education

Students will note that two of these accreditation bodies are international; that means that the schools that carry these accreditations are in fact designed with high standards and should be taken into consideration for the online finance Ph.D. Doctoral programs are not exempt from the necessity of accreditation either. In some cases, the accreditation gives that program its reputation. It's always a good idea to check for accreditation prior to applying to a school.

Is Getting an Online Degree the Same as a Traditional Degree?

The academic field has come a long way from thinking that online degrees are not the same as traditional degrees and should not carry the same weight. This is thinking that has thankfully been buried through years of online study and research into the careers of online degree holders.

Today, most doctoral programs do not differentiate between pathways to the same degree. This means that the school does not distinguish which degrees were conferred online and which were conferred in the traditional format. It is thought that if a student earned their doctoral degree in finance, it shouldn't matter whether they did it traditionally or took advantage of online options.

In the world of finance, no one is going to stare hard at a student's degree and make a determination of their talent based on how they earned the degree. Most employers look at dissertation topics, work experience, research papers, and more in order to make their decision. Students should keep that in mind when striving to reach their goals.

Finance is changing; technology and commerce are making it much faster and easier than ever to create an investment portfolio, invest in a company, trade stocks, and more. But the finance industry is so much more than that; one meeting with the GSH staff will tell you that finance changes rapidly from month/year. It's never been more important for students to find their place in the landscape, so start researching today. These programs are excellent starting points on your journey to an online Ph.D in Finance.

Published January 2018

This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Doctorate in Finance Online for 2018.