The 8 Best PhD Programs To Pursue In 2021

Pursuing a PhD is a major life choice for most people, but one that nearly always pays off in the form of better career opportunities. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, some choose to continue on to a PhD program to broaden their knowledge, earn a higher salary, and/or work in a more specific niche.


There are various reasons for getting a PhD. Some people might want to work in research or academia, where a PhD is required, and others simply enjoy learning a subject in depth. Whatever the reason is, getting a PhD is sure to open a lot of doors. 


There are some areas of study where a PhD is more expected than others. It’s good to get a general idea of the most common PhD programs to understand if you’ll need to take one and if it’s right for you. Keep reading to learn more about PhDs, if you should take one, and what are the best programs. 



Students studying in university library

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash


What is a PhD?


PhD is short for Doctor of Philosophy. 


Essentially, a PhD is the highest level of schooling and degree a student can get, so after completing a PhD, you’re often considered a top expert in your field.


Most of the time, this degree qualifies someone to teach the subject they studied at a university level, so if you want to work as a professor, then you’ll need to earn a PhD. 


Most PhD programs last three to four years, but this can vary depending on where you’re studying and the topic and scope of your research. 


At the end of the degree, you’ll often have to present original research or a dissertation that you conducted in the duration of your studies. Some places require you to defend your research in an oral defense in order to receive your doctorate degree. 



Why Should You Get a PhD?


Many people wonder whether or not a PhD is right for them. The truth is, there are a lot of reasons people opt to continue their education with a PhD. Working in academia is just one reason to do a PhD, but there are a number of other things to take into consideration when choosing to do a doctorate degree, like gaining a huge advantage in the job market. 


PhD students often have large aspirations to do work that allows them to achieve significant breakthroughs. Especially in the fields of science and technology, a PhD gives you the tools to understand your field on a deeper level, which can help push your research to new levels.


It’s also common for PhD students to be interested in discovery. During your PhD, you work closely with other experts, so the chances of discovering or learning something totally new are much higher than in your bachelor’s or master’s degree. 


Overall, PhD students have an insatiable sense of curiosity that drives them to pursue the highest levels of education.



Woman studying for her PhD

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


Best PhD Programs


There are many different PhD programs out there, and the one you choose will depend on the degrees you’ve earned up until now as well as your personal preferences. 


Here are just a few of the best PhD programs you can study to increase your employability and deepen your knowledge and expertise.

Accounting and Finance

With a PhD in Accounting and Finance, you’ll be able to get more knowledge in financial research methods and theory. During your PhD studies, you’ll acquire both critical and analytical skills and you’ll learn how to assemble high-level financial reports. 


With this degree, you’ll be able to work in any financial institution or corporate environment. Some of the positions you can get include account manager or chief financial officer.


Applied Mathematics


Since math applies to so many things, with this degree, you’ll be able to work in a number of fields, including technology, engineering, business, and more. With a PhD in Applied Mathematics, you’ll acquire a more fine-tuned understanding of topics and concepts like problem-solving, communication skills, analytical thinking and reasoning, and a lot more. 


This degree is ideal if numbers and equations are your passion and you want to work with them on a high level of research. 


Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical Engineering is becoming an increasingly popular area of study since it’s such an important part of modern medicine and science. In this degree, you’ll research topics in fields such as computer engineering, life sciences, mathematics, and more. 


The goal of this program is to understand how to use modern technology in practice and in research. Common jobs after graduation include becoming a research scientist or biomedical engineer. 


Business Administration


As one of the most popular degrees at any level, a PhD in this field will be sure to land you a job in a business leadership position. During your degree, you’ll enhance your analytical and reasoning skills in order to understand how to make better business decisions. You’ll also improve your management skills, paving the way for a role in leading companies of any size. 


Typically, graduates with a PhD in Business Administration can expect to work as a Chief Executive Officer, business professor, or operations manager.




With a PhD in Statistics, you’ll likely end up working as a statistician. In this position, you can work with various businesses to help them analyze data and solve issues. During your studies, you’ll further your collaborative skills and study advanced methods of computation, formulations, as well as advanced equations, and how to solve problems. 


Many industries hire statisticians, such as governments, healthcare, financial institutions, as well as scientific institutions. 


Computer Science


In a PhD in Computer Science, you’ll work on mastering a specific area of computer science and developing and designing creative projects that are relevant to your subject. You’ll likely work on an independent project as part of your studies. 


Graduates from this degree don’t only work in academic settings, but they’re also likely to become computer research scientists. Other possible roles with this PhD degree include computer hardware engineer, robotics, programming, and more. 




If you’re looking to conduct studies or research in this field, then you’ll need a PhD in Economics. As part of this degree, you’ll conduct a research project and you’ll learn how to conduct advanced scholarly research. 


Many people who graduate with a PhD in Economics go on to work as economics professors, economists, work with governments, or as other types of specialists in this field.


Organic Chemistry


It’s common for people who pursue a higher degree in organic chemistry to have a background in chemical engineering, so if this sounds like you, then this PhD can be a good option. During your PhD, you’ll conduct research and work with other experts. 


Most graduates with a degree in organic chemistry find jobs teaching at the university level or leading advanced research and study teams.



Should You Get a PhD Online?



As studying online becomes more popular, it’s not uncommon for students to seek out online PhD programs. Since a lot of the work in a PhD is independent study and research anyways, it’s not difficult to make the jump to an online program. 


With an online PhD program, you’ll get flexibility in terms of when you want to do your coursework, you’ll find it convenient to study from anywhere, and the online PhD programs are usually more affordable since you don’t need to factor in moving or being on campus to complete your degree. 


Best Online PhD Programs


While the offered PhD programs will depend on the university, here’s a short list of great schools in the US to consider for an online PhD. These schools are affordable and offer online courses, seminars, exam preparation, and more. 



To Wrap Up


Choosing to get a PhD is not a decision most make lightly, so it’s important to get a good idea of the different PhD programs out there and find one that really fits your academic and professional goals. 


If you’re still in the earlier stages of your higher education, you might want to consider taking your undergraduate or graduate degree online as well. University of the People offers multiple great online BA and MA programs in majors like computer science, health science, and business administration. The best part? All the programs are tuition-free. 

You might also be interested in: