The Doctoral Education Market: Trends and Insights in Key Disciplines

Last updated on: January 26, 2022

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On the up: The doctoral degree market has increased a notable 18% since 2010. While some programs are positioned to thrive over the coming decade, others are likely to decline.

Based on the latest data from the 2018/2019 academic year, here’s a snapshot of the four largest doctoral verticals and programs within to watch.


44% of all doctoral grads

Health is growing steadily and has consistently been the largest doctoral level vertical for the last decade.

Largest Health Program
19k+ grads, 2% growth, 0% online

Doctoral Health Programs
Highest Online Adoption

Most health programs are still ground-only, but certain programs have significant online adoption.

(min. 40 programs reporting grads)

51% Nursing Practice
44% Occupational Therapy
39% Registered Nursing
29% Family Nursing Practice
29% Nursing Science

Fastest-Growing Health Programs

Numerous health and nursing accreditation bodies are considering doctoral-level study as a new requirement for licensure. This has spurred some health doctorates to grow significantly in recent years.

Nurse Anesthetist
Occupational Therapy
Family Practice Nursing
Nursing Practice


18% of all doctoral grads

With the Juris Doctor (J.D.) as the largest doctoral program, law is the second-largest vertical in the doctoral education market.

Largest Law Program
Juris Doctor
34k+ grads, -5% growth, 1% online

After peaking with 47,549 graduates in 2013, this program has leveled out with about 35,000 annually in recent years.


7% of all doctoral grads

Education is growing steadily and has consistently been the third largest doctoral-level vertical for the last decade.

Largest Education Program
Educational Leadership and Administration
4,836 grads, 4% growth, 23% online

Doctoral Education Programs
Highest Online Adoption

Most education programs are currently ground-only, but there has been a steady shift to online instruction.

(min. 40 programs reporting grads)

28% Higher Education Administration
24% Educational Leadership and Administration
19% Education, General
18% Curriculum and Instruction

Fastest-Growing Education Programs
Doctoral-level education and the job market are aligned. Jobs for post-secondary education administrators are projected to grow 4% by 2029, closely in step with the growth of top doctoral education programs.

Higher Education Administration
Curriculum and Instruction
Education, General


6% of all doctoral grads

Engineering has consistently been the fourth-largest doctoral-level vertical for the last decade.

Largest Engineering Program
Electrical and Electronics Engineering
2,272 grads, 0% growth, 4% online

Doctoral Engineering Programs
Highest Online Adoption

Few doctoral-level engineering programs are online. Industrial engineering and electrical engineering are the only programs that are more than 2% online.

(min. 40 programs reporting grads)

6% Industrial Engineering
4% Electrical Engineering

Fastest-Growing Engineering Programs
The engineering job market is expected to grow 3.8% by 2029, leading to about 69,000 new jobs.

Materials Engineering
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Chemical Engineering

Wiley University Services can equip your university with in-depth analytics to help you meet learners’ needs.

For more insights, download the full report, State of the Education Market: Trends and Insights in Key Doctoral Disciplines.

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