The cost of going to a college or university has been one of the crucial issues in education. In most cases, students end up having massive loan debts that may take several years of their professional careers to pay in full. If the goal is to pursue academic and career advancement, it pays to be aware of the ways to lessen student debt and repayment concerns.

Most Ph.D. programs require the payment of application fees which serve to offset certain costs of graduate admissions, and importantly, weed out the less serious and less suitable applicants.

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A significant step for incoming Ph.D. students is lessening school expenses while searching through college alternatives. One way to reduce this financial burden is to obtain an application fee waiver. In choosing an online school, it is best to look for an accredited college or university that has no application fees or have application fee waivers.

There are top-rated online Ph.D. schools which have application fees from $40 to $90. For financially struggling students applying at multiple universities and colleges, there is a growing dilemma of shelling out money for application fees to numerous colleges without guaranteeing acceptance. This is the reason why Ph.D. online schools without application fees are considered as a way for students to save money, especially when planning to apply in numerous schools.

Our 10 Best Online Programs With No Application Fees list the academic institutions accepting doctorate applications minus the fee. Aside from helping prospective students save on application expenses, these academic institutions believe in fostering a learning environment that values affordability amidst the unfavorable economic climate

We present the zero-application-fee online Ph.D. schools, an overview of their doctorate programs, and the accreditation obtained by the institution. Acceptance and retention rates are disclosed to emphasize compliance with quality education standards.

Walden University

walden university

Walden University mainly prioritizes adult learners, and it potentially offers online doctoral programs in the areas of health sciences, human services, criminal justice, psychology, education, public health, social work, nursing, and information technology. Currently, there are no application fees at the university. Incoming Ph.D. students can apply online, and enrolment advisors are present to guide students in answering questions during the screening process. The university also offers a fast track option, which enables students to save at least 20% in tuition and other fees.

Campus Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota


  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)

Retention Rate: 33%

Acceptance Rate: 98%

Accelerated Online Ph.D. Programs With No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Criminal Justice
  • Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Human and Social Services
  • Ph.D. in Psychology

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University is regarded as an evangelical school that has numerous online programs. There are accessible online resources, extracurricular activities, excellent faculty members, and amenities. The online Ph.D. programs provide the same challenging and prestigious opportunities as that of the traditional degree programs, which may be completed in two to three years. Students elsewhere may earn the highest possible academic status in Liberty University without disrupting the personal and professional lives of students.

Campus Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Retention Rate: 79%

Acceptance Rate: 99%

Accelerated Online Ph.D. Programs With No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Education
  • Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration
  • Ph.D. in Theology and Apologetics

Tulane University

tulane university

Tulane University is a public medical college that offers 70 majors among its five schools. It is one of the members of the Association of American Universities, an organization that gives recognition to high-ranking academic institutions in the country. One of its core values is global awareness, and this is one of the foremost reasons why it annually holds community activities outside of the campus. Most of its students receive financial aid, but the university itself has developed strategies on how to minimize student debt. As such, students can apply for merit-based awards to offset the tuition cost. The university also boasts of the fact that it has no application fee.

Campus Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Retention Rate: 93%

Acceptance Rate: 10%

Online Ph.D. Programs With No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Bioinnovation
  • Ph.D. Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering
  • Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Aging Studies
  • Inter-School Programs and Interdisciplinary Ph.D.
  • Ph.D. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Ph.D. Chemistry
  • Ph.D. Computer Science
  • Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Ph.D. Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Ph.D. Materials Physics and Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Mathematics
  • Ph.D. Neuroscience
  • Ph.D. Physics
  • Ph.D. Psychology
  • Ph.D. Bio-Medical Portal

Baylor University

baylor university

Baylor University is an academic institution that has at least 41 doctoral programs. The university focuses more on honing the analytical and critical thinking skills, which have helped the university earn popularity in being excellent in innovation and research. Research emphasizes issues such as social justice, economic development, healthcare quality, poverty, and sustainability. Baylor also partners with top-ranking organizations like Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which enables students to obtain real-world experience and make a difference. Students may apply through the online application of Baylor, namely ApplyTexas, or Common Application (Common App). The university has no application fees for both local and international students. After being admitted to Ph.D., students will be able to complete 6 hours of dissertation work. Program completion requires students to decide on a research topic that has a significant impact on society, then write and defend the dissertation in the form of three publishable articles. Application for doctoral degrees also requires that students pass the comprehensive examination and enroll in nine credits of summer research practicums. Students are guaranteed to be funded for four years.

Campus Location: Waco, Texas

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Retention Rate: 91%

Acceptance Rate: 46%

Online Ph.D. Programs With No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship
  • Ph.D. in Health Services Research

Ohio Northern University

ohio northern university

Ohio Northern University is a private, rural university that focuses more on personal growth, civic engagement, and global awareness. The university is strongly affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and it also has five colleges that offer bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs online. The university provides academic support services and career planning to support the success of students. There are also internships, volunteer programs, and study abroad programs available for all students. The university also takes full effort towards student loan debt reduction. In line with this, Ohio Northern University provides multiple scholarships up to $19,000 yearly. Also, the university does not even charge an application fee. To be admitted into a second non-professional Ph.D. program, the student needs to obtain approval from the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School of the university. A minimum of 80 graduate credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree is needed to earn a Ph.D. as well.

Campus Location: Ada, Ohio

Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)

Retention Rate: 86%

Acceptance Rate: 69%

Online Ph.D. Programs With No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Criminal Justice

Point Park University

point park university

Point Park University is an academic institution that has no application deadline and that it does not charge application fees for online application submission. There are no rolling admissions, no separate application for scholarship considerations, and no tuition cost differential for both international and non-Pennsylvania based students.

Campus Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylania

Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Higher Education

Retention Rate: 73%

Acceptance Rate: 82%

Online Ph.D. Programs With No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Community Engagement

Simmons University

simmons university

Simmons University is a liberal arts academic institution that accepts nontraditional students and professionals through its accelerated and online programs. The university also emphasizes dynamic engagement between professors and students through its small online class sizes. Since obtaining a doctoral experience is vital for the improvement of professional and academic educators, the Ph.D. program of Simmons University can be completed in three years along with an intensive research study. This is to help prepare students to work in professional education and higher education programs in healthcare. The Ph.D. program of Simmons University enables students to be ready for training clinicians and faculty members to meet the healthcare needs of communities, families, and individuals in the healthcare field. Both local and international students of the university may apply online for free.

Campus Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Retention Rate: 73%

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Online Ph.D. Programs With No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Health Professions Education

Clarkson University

clarkson university

Clarkson University provides hands-on college learning and carries multiple program accreditation to support the marketability of its graduates. The university also offers a broad range of online course-delivery approaches. Depending on the program curriculum and requirements, online classes can be attended synchronously with peers from the traditional classroom or meet in a virtual classroom setup, while the instructor does the discussion or lecture online. Some traditional students participate in on-campus courses, yet Clarkson University tries to reach out and aid distance learners and nontraditional students through online classes. Students with strong financial needs may be eligible for multiple scholarships in the university. Potential students may apply online for free or through the Common App. As for Ph.D. coursework, the research is in line with the needs of students aside from those from the employer. Ph.D. students may work intensively with a research advisor from Clarkson together with a co-advisor from the workplace. The online advisor should also be a member of the dissertation committee.

Campus Location: Potsdam, New York

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Retention Rate: 80%

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Online Ph.D. Degrees with No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Bioscience & Biotechnology
  • Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Chemistry
  • Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science
  • Ph.D. in Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Engineering Science
  • Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Mathematics
  • Ph.D. in Physics

Indiana Wesleyan University

indiana wesleyan university

Formerly Marion Normal College, Indiana Wesleyan University is a non-profit, private Methodist Liberal Arts Institution with a population of about 15,800 students. Most of the online programs of the university are in a flexible format. The university’s Ph.D. program strongly focuses on Organizational Leadership and covers online coursework. The goal of this degree program is to demonstrate a creative, challenging, and Christ-centered doctorate program, allowing students to be competent in current knowledge, research, best practices, teaching, and self-directed education. The program curriculum has been created to aid in the enhancement of the student as servant leaders who have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills for a specific field of study. The Ph.D. program can also be completed in 40 months as cohort groups give mutual support. There are two simultaneous, technology-supported virtual class sessions, wherein students may participate for three courses every term.

Campus Location: Marion, Indiana

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Retention Rate: 79%

Acceptance Rate: 92%

Online Ph.D. Degrees with No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership

Alvernia University

alvernia university

Alvernia University is a Catholic teacher’s seminary that offers about 50 bachelor’s programs and multiple master’s and doctoral programs. The program curriculum focuses on real-world experiences to train students well for their respective careers. Students may complete numerous internships, research projects, field experiences, clinical assignments, or study abroad programs during the entire duration of the degree. The university also makes an effort to reduce tuition costs through multiple scholarship opportunities. For example, the Alverina Reading Collegiate Scholars Program provides full tuition scholarships, aside from mentoring and tutorial support.

Moreover, there are no application fees for those who wish to enter the organization. On a side note, the Ph.D. program of Alvernia allows students to obtain competent leadership skills that shall position students to become specialists in a specific field of study. This Ph.D. program is also ideal for scholar-practitioners, though there are a few differences in terms of the three areas of focus of the program. Because of its three semesters yearly, this online program enables students to earn their degree programs at a faster pace compared to brick-and-mortar programs. Due to the busy schedules of most online students taking Ph.D. degree programs, classes typically meet once weekly per semester.

Campus Location: Reading, Pennsylvania


  • Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Retention Rate: 71%

Acceptance Rate: 58%

Online Ph.D. Programs with No Application Fees:

  • Ph.D. in Leadership

What are application fee waivers?

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Application fee waivers are generally offered to students who fulfill the criteria as that of being a school alumnus, attending an open house, and financial need.

Every school may carry their qualifications in giving a fee waiver. For instance, in the Graduate School of Brown University, documentation reflecting the student’s financial need as that of FAFSA or proof of unemployment is needed.

Though there are online Ph.D. schools that have no application fees, there are greater options in terms of application fee waiver graduate programs. Normally, these waivers are for those who may have gone to an open house or for active members of the military. Nonetheless, every sponsored school has a different requirement in terms of Ph.D. application fee waivers, and this is the reason why it is necessary to check each school before the application process.

If there are salary issues, and you are looking for online Ph.D. programs that are less costly, it would be best to consider academic institutions that charge $30 to $50 for application fees. However, try looking for competitive online Ph.D. schools that waive application fees.

Students need to keep in mind that Ph.D. school application fee waiver policies and application fees may be subject to change. The student needs to check their school of interest to learn more about specific requirements and whether there is a need to waive the application fee or not.

Are online Ph.D. programs more expensive than the traditional ones?

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You may be pondering whether online Ph.D. programs are more or less costly compared to the traditional classroom experience. The truth is that there are several factors to take into consideration. Therefore, students need to research before deciding to enroll in any Ph.D. if the cost will be a factor to consider.

Online Ph.D. programs may be seen as less costly compared to a traditional Ph.D. program. But this is not always the case. If the school only offers the program in the online format, then most likely, the tuition may be less expensive. This is because fully online schools do not have campus buildings, grounds, and facilities to maintain and have fewer faculty members to pay.

Traditional universities and colleges, on the other hand, have several acres of land and on-site buildings with significant utility costs, aside from several faculty members to pay. Also, private colleges and universities are more expensive compared to public, academic institutions. Thus, traditional Ph.D. programs, whether from a public or private academic institution, will normally be more costly than an online Ph.D. program.

For academic institutions that offer both Ph.D. programs in the traditional and online formats, online Ph.D. programs may have the same cost as the on-campus programs. Nevertheless, through attendance in an online program, money can be saved through the elimination of transportation expenses, housing costs, student parking fees, extra food and wardrobe expenses. Taking into consideration the online school of your choice, there are books and significant resources that can be provided through online means as well. This eliminates the need to buy textbooks or modules, which are generally. Expensive. Aside from this, the curriculum or coursework for a traditional Ph.D. program is the same for an online Ph.D. program.

What are the advantages of taking an online Ph.D. over a Ph.D. from a traditional academic institution?

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Earning an online Ph.D. would not have been the main priority of students years ago. Currently, there are numerous online Ph.D. programs. Some Ph.D. programs as that of biology or chemistry cannot be completed entirely online, but some courses such as sociology and business are available mostly online.

There are a few Ph.D. programs that are online but need personal attendance in campuses such as psychology and nursing, for instance. As such, these are hybrid Ph.D. programs. There are also cases that you cannot earn an online Ph.D. degree in a specific field, even if the degree was obtained previously from an online academic institution.

As compared to a master’s degree which can be earned in two to three years, a doctorate can be completed in eight years depending on the degree program or specialization. Students also need to take comprehensive exams before the presentation of a dissertation to the panelists. Students are required to defend their ideas, and the thesis may entail long hours of research.

There are numerous advantages to online Ph.D. programs. Before deciding to enroll, students need to reconsider these advantages and requirements. Online Ph.D. degree programs are offered in certain courses like organizational leadership, education, health administration, and business. Some online program transcripts have no significant difference in content compared to what is provided from a school’s brick-and-mortar program.

The most significant benefit of being able to earn an online Ph.D. is the flexibility of the program itself. A student taking a Ph.D. degree online experiences more significant advantages in terms of flexible scheduling, and they can complete classes at their own pace and convenience. This is ideal for students who are working full-time or have family obligations. Since being able to achieve a Ph.D. is a long process, it entails a balancing act for family, academics, work, and recreation.

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Students can interact with their co-students better through an online class compared to a traditional classroom, and this is advantageous in the sense that faculty members are accessible anytime. Though students do not attend formal lectures, online coursework enables students to interact one-on-one with faculty members as compared to a lecture in a traditional classroom where students compete for the professor or instructor’s attention. Through online classes, communication is possible through email, instant messaging, video chats, and discussion boards. On certain occasions, online Ph.D. programs are generally taught by instructors who have strong connections with industries in any field of study.

Another advantage of online Ph.D. degree programs is their cost. Students are not required to spend on car or gas insurance, as well as transportation. Online students are not required to pay parking fees. Moreover, students who have children can study at home and do not need to spend money on childcare services.

Online Ph.D. degree programs are also advantageous to graduates since it demonstrates that one has practical time management skills and the ability to be more self-motivated. Online coursework also aids students to improve more on their Internet research skills, computer technology, and typing skills.

Is searching for Ph.D. programs with no application fee worth it?

Depending on the number of programs you are applying to, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars in application fees. It is definitely worth it if you want to save money during the application process. Many universities and colleges offer programs with no application fees, so researching and exploring your options can be beneficial.

Additionally, some universities may offer fee waivers or discounts on application fees, so make sure to check into those opportunities as well.