Getting a PhD is a major commitment that requires years of intense study and research. However, some PhDs are considered “easier” than others based on factors like program length, admissions competitiveness, and dissertation requirements. In this article, we’ll explore some of the PhDs that are generally viewed as the easiest options.
PhD in Education
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education is considered one of the more accessible doctoral degrees. Here are some reasons why:
- Admissions requirements may be less stringent than other fields. Many education PhD programs don’t require candidates to have a master’s degree already.
- The program length tends to be shorter than PhDs in other subjects. Students can often complete an education PhD in 3-4 years.
- The dissertation process may be more flexible and less intensive since education doctorates often involve applied research rather than basic research.
- PhD in Education programs tend to be widely available, giving applicants many options to choose from.
That said, an education PhD is still a major commitment. Students will need to conduct extensive research and analysis and make an original contribution to academic knowledge in the field. But overall, education is considered one of the more accessible PhDs.
PhD in Psychology
A Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology is another degree that is considered easier to obtain compared to other disciplines. Here’s why a psychology PhD may be a good option:
- Admissions requirements are typically not as strict as fields like physical sciences or engineering. Strong GRE scores and undergraduate GPA are important but research experience is often valued more.
- Many psychology PhD programs don’t require applicants to have a master’s degree already.
- The program length is usually around 5 years on average.
- The dissertation usually involves extensive research but may be slightly less intensive than lab-based science PhDs.
- There is high demand for psychology graduates, so programs have incentive to accept more students.
Psychology PhD students still need to be prepared for intensive research and statistics coursework. But overall it’s one of the more obtainable options.
PhD in Business Administration
A business PhD is another degree that is considered accessible compared to other fields. Here are some of the factors that make it an easier PhD option:
- Admissions requirements may focus more on professional experience vs undergraduate academics.
- Many programs accept students before they complete a master’s degree.
- The program length ranges from 3-5 years typically.
- The dissertation research may be more closely tied to real-world business issues.
- Strong industry demand makes business PhD programs incentivezed to accept qualified applicants.
That said, business PhD programs still require extensive coursework in areas like research methods, economics, and statistics. But the applied nature of the research makes it an easier PhD path for some students.
PhD in Communications
A PhD in Communications is often considered one of the more accessible doctoral degrees. Here’s why it may be a little easier than other disciplines:
- Admissions requirements are typically flexible – work experience may be valued as much as academics.
- Many programs don’t require a master’s degree beforehand.
- Shorter program length of around 4 years on average.
- Dissertation research can involve real-world projects and partnerships.
- High demand for communication and media graduates makes admissions less competitive.
While communications PhDs still require extensive research skills, the applied focus makes it an easier path for some students. Strong writing and analytical skills are a must.
PhD in Public Administration
A Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration is another degree option considered easier to obtain. Reasons include:
- Admissions often focus on professional experience over test scores and GPA.
- Many programs don’t require completion of a master’s degree.
- Shorter program length of around 4 years.
- Research and dissertation can focus on applied policy issues.
- High demand for public administration graduates makes programs incentivezed to accept students.
While still rigorous, the real-world policy focus of a public administration PhD can make it more accessible than traditional academic research degrees.
PhD in Nursing
A Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing is also considered one of the more obtainable PhDs due to factors like:
- Flexible admissions requirements – work experience is highly valued.
- Many programs accept students without a prior master’s degree.
- Average program length around 4-5 years.
- Research and dissertation focus on applied clinical issues.
- High demand for nursing PhDs, especially doctorally-prepared faculty.
Nursing PhD programs still require extensive research methods and statistics coursework. But the clinical focus of the degree makes it a relatively accessible option.
PhD in Special Education
A PhD in Special Education is considered easier to obtain than many other doctorates. Reasons include:
- Admissions requirements are fairly flexible – experience with special needs valued.
- Many programs accept candidates without a master’s degree already.
- Average program length around 4 years.
- Applied research focus on real-world special education issues.
- High demand for special education professionals makes admissions less competitive.
While still a major commitment, the applied focus and high demand makes a PhD in Special Education more accessible for some students.
PhD in Criminal Justice
A Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice is also considered an easier PhD option. Factors include:
- Work experience valued highly in admissions decisions.
- Many programs accept candidates with only a bachelor’s degree.
- Average program length around 4 years.
- Research and dissertation focus on real-world policy issues.
- High industry demand creates incentive for programs to accept students.
Criminal justice PhDs still require strong research skills and intensive study. But the applied nature of the degree makes it a relatively obtainable option.
Factors That Influence Ease of Obtaining a PhD
While no PhD is “easy” to obtain by any means, some are considered more accessible than others. Here are some of the key factors that influence how attainable a PhD may be:
- Admissions Requirements – Programs with flexible requirements and a focus on experience over test scores/GPA tend to be easier to get into.
- Prior Master’s Degree – Programs that don’t require a master’s degree already expand the pool of eligible applicants.
- Program Length – Shorter PhDs (3-5 years) are considered easier than longer ones (6+ years).
- Research Focus – Applied research on real-world issues tends to be less intensive than pure scientific research.
- Industry Demand – High demand for graduates incentivizes programs to accept more students.
Degrees that align with several of these criteria, like education and business PhDs, tend to be the most accessible options for doctoral studies.
Things to Consider When Choosing a PhD Program
When evaluating potentially “easy” PhDs, it’s important to weigh all factors of the degree program, not just perceived ease of completion. Here are some things to consider:
- Is the subject area a good match for your skills and interests?
- Does the program provide strong mentoring, research support, and funding?
- What types of career options are available after graduation?
- Is the program respected and accredited in its field?
- How satisfied are graduates with the program experience?
Choosing a PhD program is a very personal decision that goes beyond just perceived difficulty. Make sure the degree aligns with your goals and will provide value long-term.
Obtaining any PhD is a challenging endeavor that requires years of dedication. However, some doctoral degrees are generally considered more accessible than others. Based on factors like flexible admissions, shorter length, and applied research focus, PhDs in fields like education, psychology, business, communications, and nursing are often viewed as the easiest to get into and complete. However, ease should not be the only consideration when choosing a PhD program. Make sure to evaluate alignment with your goals, research interests, career outcomes, and overall program quality. While a PhD will never be easy, finding the right program fit can help make the process more attainable.