Education is closely related to social, political, and economic realities. It is often the case that trends outside the halls of academe strongly influence academic research and education. Perhaps it is more often the case that education helps determine trends in economics, politics, religion, health, business, industry, and many, many other areas. With the rise and ever-increasing importance of global developments in digital media, finance, and security, new and updated doctoral fields of study will have a major impact in the near future.

Advances in health care and social sciences have also shifted towards global concerns and rapidly changing technologies. This has given rise to new and updated areas of inquiry that are set to become leading academic fields in the next decades. This article looks at 10 doctoral degree programs, new or updated, that are the most likely candidates to prepare you for the future!

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Earning a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning puts you at the forefront of many of the most important developments in technology and its application. Artificial Intelligence, in general, refers to the field of machine design and programs that seeks to create machine systems that “appear” intelligent or mimic human intelligence. Machine Learning, as an application of Artificial Intelligence, focuses upon data analysis and processing, using algorithms to solve problems, in a manner that mimics human intelligence, but goes beyond it in terms of size and scope of the data that are considered.

Some of the most important areas in which AI and ML are impactful are:

  • Image recognition
  • Online Fraud detection
  • Speech recognition
  • Self-driving cars
  • Translation
  • Stock market trading
  • Medical diagnostics

Big Data Analytics

As with AI and ML, Big Data Analytics deals with massive amounts of information. Big Data Analytics is all about bringing large and disparate bodies of information into an interpretable and applicable order. Data Analytics uses advanced software to create statistical analyses that are designed to detect patterns, trends, and preferences in order to create and implement strategies as well as to make predictions about future trends. Data Analysts collect information from a variety of electronic sources. The data is then processed and cleansed. After this the data is analyzed, using a variety of techniques and technologies.

Data Analytics has become central to every aspect of social, political, economic, and religious life. As human interaction becomes ever more digital and global, with more information relevant for policy decisions, data analysts will be indispensable. Earning a doctorate in Big Data Analytics puts you in the best position to not only succeed but rise to the top of your field. You will possess both the learning and the credentials needed to lead in a job market that promises to expand in the future.

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering is an incredibly diverse field, that, with the continuing advances in AI and computer-aided technologies, will grow in importance by leaps and bounds in the future. Pay is excellent in this field, and earning a doctorate will provide opportunities for advanced research, teaching, and promotion.

Biomedical Engineering is an interdisciplinary field that can take on very different and quite specific accents. Biomedical Engineers are responsible for designing medical equipment, such as artificial organs and body part replacements. They also design medical diagnostic equipment and maintain and service this equipment. From the practical to the theoretical, Biomedical Engineers also design models and simulations, as well as conduct research, and give presentations.


Along with statisticians of all stripes, Biostatisticians earn excellent pay. As our knowledge and tools of analysis in the life sciences (biology) become more precise and advanced, Biostatistics will remain a key component in the field. In fact, Biostatistics promises to remain pivotal because it supplies data for analysis that are relevant to every area of biology. This includes medicine, pharmaceuticals, evolutionary and genetic biology, and many other areas. Biostatisticians carry out statistical analyses to make predictions or draw conclusions.

A doctorate in Biostatistics puts the practicing biostatistician in a position to lead in industry, education, consultation, and research.

Urban Studies

Although Urban Studies has been around for a while it has achieved a newfound prominence. This is, at least in part, because of current and foreseeable trends in immigration and the global economy. The focus of Urban Studies has been historically on the growth and development of urban communities and networks in terms of architectural design and city layout. As an interdisciplinary field, Urban Studies looks into both theoretical and practical subjects, using data from economics, geography, history, sociology, and anthropology. Urban Studies is poised to make a profound impact upon the day-to-day lifestyles across many communities in terms of both identifying and shaping the development of value systems and physical environment as societies and their matrices become more explicitly multi-ethnic and international.

A doctorate in Urban Studies positions future leaders in city planning and management as well as researchers and educators.

Cyber Security

As national defense and planning as well as international finance and personal security are more and more transferred to digital platforms, Cyber Security specialists will continue to provide essential security for nations, businesses, and all types of communities and organizations in terms of assuring, anticipating, and responding to cybersecurity threats and breaches against vital information. Cyber Security analysts see to the safe-keeping and transfer of digital information for both hardware and software. Pay is excellent with an average salary of over $100,000 per year. As human activities and information become more and more digital, so also will the number and the sophistication of threats to such activities increase. Cyber Security specialists and analysts will be called upon to stand in the gap as sentinels of information security.

Earning a doctorate in this future-oriented field will put graduates in positions to educate, consult, research, and develop new and more effective means of securing vital information and blocking potential threats.

Digital Marketing

Marketing, whether in the realm of commerce and trade or in the competition of world views, has always been a leading discipline. In the digital age, the means, scope, and speed of “marketing” products and ideals have undergone a major shift. Now new and old potential markets are accessible in ways unheard prior to the digital age. Digital Marketers have new tools and methods at their disposal, with modern internet search engines accounting for a majority of first contacts for marketers in reaching consumers. With the expansion of digital information and marketing, accessibility has greatly increased, but so has the sheer amount of products and ideas seen an increase in the same cyberspace. Digital marketers are called upon to cut through the mass of marketing to see what really works in the digital space, and to develop strategies that give their organizations a clear edge in visibility and attraction.

A doctorate in Digital Marketing will give graduates the knowledge and the tools needed to effectively discern and anticipate the most efficient digital channels to make their product most desirable in an environment of stiff competition and rapidly evolving consumer desires.

Environment and Sustainability

A recognition of the need to address the environment and questions of sustainability, in the wake of industrialization and globalization, is now commonplace in modern institutions. Because of climate change and pollution, concern for the purity of the physical environment on local, regional, and global scales now informs the operation and strategic vision of virtually every major institution. Environment and Sustainability practitioners look for ways to improve existing environmental quality through the development of better uses of resources, green technologies, and the transition to sustainable energy sources. In this highly interdisciplinary field, Environment and Sustainability practitioners work with experts in other fields to design and implements policies that will improve our current situation and clear the way to a better, more equitable future.

Doctoral programs in Environment and Sustainability will give graduates the knowledge and tools to be effective leaders for positive change as consultors, researchers, professors, and practitioners, whether one works in government or private organizations.

Fintech (Financial Technology)

Fintech is a shortened way of referring to advances that technology brings to questions of traditional financial methods. Fintech is the uniting of more traditional finance with cutting-edge technology, such as mobile business, smartphones, digital investing and borrowing, and cryptocurrency, to list a few examples. The specific purpose of Fintech is to use existing financial technologies or to develop new ones that will create or benefit business models, financial services, products, methods, and industries. As finance and technology become more integrated, the need for creative and dynamic Fintech leaders and specialists will only increase.

A doctorate in Fintech will augment existing knowledge and skills, and it can be applied in a number of careers and fields. With a doctorate in Fintech, an entry or mid-level manager could move into an executive position. A doctorate would also allow for a career in Fintech education or consultation, among many potential options.

Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) is so cutting edge that it is yet to be clearly defined and distinguished as an academic field. New technologies have only recently made this field a possibility, and most graduate education is at the Master’s degree level, but if you do some digging, doctoral programs dealing with this budding field can be found. A definition of the Internet of Things is forthcoming. However, leading indicators or characteristics are now apparent. IoT refers to the new increasingly interrelated web of mechanical devices, appliances, computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as animals and people that have electronic or digital markers that allow for identification and direct electronic activity and interaction.

As it now stands, IoT is shaping up as an interdisciplinary engineering field that spans living and non-living objects. Experts and practitioners in IoT seek to develop and improve interfacing and interconnectivity between all these platforms and entities, making this web of reality more direct, efficient, cost-effective, organic, and seamless. Getting into this field at its earliest stages and eventually earning a doctorate in IoT puts people in their present situations and outlooks in relation to a real and shortly forthcoming future.