is phd and doctoral degree the same

  • October 11, 2023
  • Education Advice

Ph.D. vs. Doctorate: What are the Differences?

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For those who have a deep-seated attitude, pursuing a doctoral degree can be a tough yet beneficial journey. Currently enrolled in a doctorate program means that a person has already scooched over college admissions, went through high stake tests and exams, and finished all those research papers and long hours spent in university libraries hitting the books. While studying for a doctorate entails asserting oneself to an extensive amount of quality time and money , its significance and purpose usually pave the way to a lucrative end.

After having finished the Master’s Degree , students begin to think about their next step in their academic career. Then, paradoxically, while navigating through academia, they find themselves baffled by the immense terms and terminologies used to label specific degrees. Because the terms “Doctorate” and “Ph.D.” are somehow interlocked and overlap, and because “PhD” is sometimes used inconsistently, it can lead to considerable confusion. Ph.D. vs. Doctorate? You might wonder what their difference is, and why they are important. E xplaining what each of these terms stands for, the difference between them, and why they are valuable, can help you steer yourself down the right path from the outset.

Doctorate Degree vs. Ph.D.

what-is-a-phd

At first glance, it is pretty easy to confuse these two terms. But it is important for everyone to be able to make a distinction between the two. In this article, we will discuss the difference between Ph.D. and Doctorate in detail in order to get rid of any confusion you may have. In the academic world, the terms Doctorate and Ph.D. are currently used interchangeably. Both of them are the top cap of the ladder. However, a doctorate is mostly used as an umbrella term covering many fields ranging from professional degrees, humanities, and scientific disciplines.

A Ph.D. or Doctor of Philosophy, on the other hand, is a subcategory of a doctoral degree, it is much more distinct and clear-cut and is usually narrower in nature encompassing only humanities and scientific fields. In plain English, when someone says they are enrolling on a doctoral degree, it means they are doing a Ph.D. in a specific field. So, technically, in common parlance, there is no difference between the two terms.

But at the other end of the spectrum, one should be careful not to confuse a professional doctoral degree with a Ph.D. The former is more practical and is designed to prepare students to apply existing knowledge to find solutions to real-life problems and has a direct application to a particular profession.

A Ph.D. is theoretical by nature and is more academic and research-focused. it is often fixed on disseminating knowledge by conducting authentic research which means reviewing and identifying gaps in current literature and evaluating the relevance of existing and emerging theories within a particular field.

What Is a Ph.D. Degree and Why Should You Go for It?

Students who acquire a Ph.D. are justly proud — they wear it as a badge of identity in the academic elite. Traditionally, a Ph.D. was associated with teaching, which from Latin licentia docendi meant “license to teach”. However, the concept of Ph.D. has been on shifting sands nowadays and has become a more general term that isn’t necessarily confined to teaching only.

The Value of a PhD

types-of-doctorate-degrees

Obtaining a Ph.D. helps you capitalize on the emerging academic opportunities making you more easily identifiable to employers or businesses seeking to fill professional, higher-level job positions. Many of these career options, conversely, are not available to those who do not belong to the Ph.D. club. While pursuing a Ph.D. requires devoting a tremendous effort and time and making significant personal sacrifices pushing the boundaries of knowledge, it’s all in service of the area of study you’re most passionate and zealous about. Ultimately, once you’ve attained your Ph.D., you will have achieved the pinnacle of education— something not too many people have or are able to accomplish.

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is phd and doctoral degree the same

A Guide to Choosing and Applying to Ph.D. Programs

Learn everything you need to know about selecting and applying to Ph.D. programs. Learn tips and tricks for a successful application and find your ideal program today!

What Is a Doctorate Degree?

A doctoral or doctorate degree is usually the most advanced degree one can earn in an academic discipline. Many pursue a doctorate degree to increase their professional credibility, be acknowledged as an expert in a specific field, and improve their resume.

A doctorate degree is a graduate-level credential that is usually earned after multiple years of graduate school. Earning a doctoral degree requires a significant level of research and work. In order to get this degree, one has to research a subject thoroughly, conduct new research and analysis, and provide a solution or interpretation into the field. But what types of doctoral degrees are available?

Types of Doctorate Degrees

There are two categories of doctorate degrees: an academic degree and a professional doctorate degree. An academic degree focuses on research, data analysis, and the evaluation of theory. A professional doctorate degree, on the other hand, is considered a terminal degree, which means that one has achieved the most advanced degree in the field. This degree is specifically designed for working professionals who want to grow in their careers.

Professional Doctorate Degrees

A professional doctorate is designed for working professionals who have experience in the field and want to increase their knowledge, improve their credibility, and advance their careers. This degree focuses on applying research to practical issues, coming up with interpretation and solutions, as well as designing effective professional practices within a particular field.

Professional doctoral degrees include:

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

The DBA degree is ideal for students who already have a general business background and are interested in delving deeper into the practical and theoretical aspects that underpin business education. More to the point, in DBA you will develop the ability to solve real-life problems, discover the relevant expertise to innovate and uphold complex business issues and so much more. Upon completion, DBA students will possess enhanced leadership and strategic skills as well as the tools to propel their careers in today’s marketplace. The Business Administration industry is keen on finding such graduates with business skills and this is indicated by the immense job positions currently available.

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

If you are interested in setting your eyes on creating lifelong learning among your students, making a positive influence in educational culture, contributing to the growing body of research in the education realm , or just enhancing your subject matter expertise, the Doctor of Education program ticks all the boxes. This degree maintains a rigorous approach in academic education that prepares graduates to showcase the skills and expertise to devise solutions in tackling the challenges in contemporary education practice and become transformational leaders in the industry.

Doctor of Computer Science (DCS)

The demand for computer scientists has reached its peak and it is among the most sought-after positions nowadays. With a degree in DCS, you will have the opportunity to design, apply innovative experiments, predict trends and, ultimately, develop a richer understanding and contribute to your area of expertise. After all, who doesn’t want an exciting and financially stable career?

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Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

The Doctor of Medicine degree is designed to prepare you for various medical challenges in different settings nationally and internationally. This program will further develop your critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills required for safe, high-quality medical practices. It will also improve your leadership, communication, and teamwork skills for collaborative patient care.

Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)

This professional degree typically requires four years of study. It focuses on basic biological sciences such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology, neuroanatomy, and so on. This doctoral degree will prepare, educate, and train professionals to practice at the highest level of proficiency, professionalism, and integrity.

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

The Doctoral of Psychology degree concentrates on the clinical and applied aspects of psychology. This type of doctorate prepares students for professional practice and clinical placement. This degree will be highly beneficial when working directly with patients who need psychology services. In addition, this degree allows doctors of psychology to confidently function as researchers and clinicians.

How to Choose a Ph.D. Program?

Choosing a Ph.D. program can be pretty challenging; it is a big academic decision and investment that requires commitment and perseverance. But how can you pick the right Ph.D. program for you? Well, there are some tips to help you choose the best fit for your goals and preferences:

  • Think about the reasons why you want a Ph.D., what you expect to gain from it, and whether it is compatible with your professional goals.
  • Consider your research environment.
  • Take your time to research, compare, and consider multiple opportunities carefully.
  • Pick a subject that interests and motivates you but is also practical.
  • Ask your professors and other scholars in the field for advice.

All in all, the terms “Doctorate’’ and “Ph.D.” are in essence the same, which means all Ph.D. students are Doctoral students as well. On the other hand, earning a Ph.D. degree is no joke. If anything, Ph.D. students have the tenacity, patience, persistence, and years of hard work that you can vouch for. Ultimately, deciding what type of doctoral degree you should hop on, depends on your career goals, what you are passionate about and how you are going to achieve it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a doctorate and a ph.d..

In academic contexts, the terms “Doctorate” and “Ph.D.” are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction. A Doctorate is an umbrella term covering a wide range of fields, including professional degrees, humanities, and scientific disciplines. A Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy, is a specific type of doctoral degree, typically focused on research and academic pursuits in the humanities and scientific fields.

Why should I pursue a Ph.D.?

Pursuing a Ph.D. can be a valuable endeavor, as it opens up academic and research opportunities, enhances your expertise in a specific field, and makes you more attractive to employers seeking candidates for high-level positions. It’s a chance to push the boundaries of knowledge and become an expert in your chosen study area.

What are the benefits of a professional doctorate?

Professional doctorate degrees, such as Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), are designed for working professionals who want to apply research to practical issues in their field. These degrees can enhance your career prospects, leadership skills, and problem-solving abilities within your profession.

How do I choose the right Ph.D. program?

To choose the right Ph.D. program, consider your career goals, research environment, and personal interests. Take your time to research and compare programs, seek advice from professors and experts in your field, and ensure that the program aligns with your professional aspirations.

What are the main differences between academic and professional doctorate degrees?

Academic doctorate degrees focus on research, theory evaluation, and data analysis, often leading to careers in academia or research. Professional doctorate degrees are more practical, designed for working professionals, and concentrate on applying research to real-world problems within a specific field.

Can I earn a Ph.D. in any field?

Ph.D. programs are available in various fields, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and more. However, the specific availability of Ph.D. programs may vary by field and university.

Is a Ph.D. a challenging journey?

Yes, pursuing a Ph.D. can be a challenging journey that requires dedication, patience, and years of hard work. It involves conducting original research, writing a dissertation, and often teaching or assisting in courses. It’s a significant commitment, but it can be highly rewarding.

What are the potential career opportunities after earning a Ph.D.?

With a Ph.D., you can pursue careers in academia as a professor or researcher, work in research and development roles in various industries, or take on leadership positions in organizations. The specific career path will depend on your field of study and personal interests.

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Doctorate vs. PhD: Understanding the Key Differences [2024]

If you’re interested in pursuing a doctoral degree, you may wonder about the differences between a doctorate vs. PhD.

Doctorate vs. PhD: Understanding the Key Differences

A doctorate and a PhD are both terminal degrees that allow you to develop specialized knowledge and skills in your chosen field. But these degrees typically have different areas of focus, requirements, and career outcomes.

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Understanding the difference between PhD and doctorate can help you pick the degree that most aligns with your career aspirations and interests.

What’s the Difference Between Doctorate vs. PhD Degrees?

is a doctorate a PhD

A doctorate and a Ph.D. are the highest college degrees students can earn. Graduates of both types of programs receive the title of “doctor” and may qualify for specialized careers in their fields.

But, while doctorate programs focus on professional competencies and knowledge, PhD programs prioritize academic research.

What Is a Doctorate Degree?

Man pursuing a Doctorate degree

A doctorate degree is a professional degree that enables students to become experts in a specific field or industry. This degree focuses on applying academic research and theories in the workplace to improve performance and solve problems.

Courses vary by field and program but typically emphasize professional skills like collaboration, leadership, and project management. Additionally, many doctorate programs require students to complete a capstone project that addresses real issues affecting their industry.

Graduates often qualify for advanced administrative, leadership, and managerial positions in their fields.

What Is a PhD Degree?

Woman taking PhD degree

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is an opportunity to strengthen your academic research skills and generate original knowledge. This degree trains students to become independent scholars who conduct cutting-edge research in their areas of expertise.

PhD curriculums cover advanced concepts and theories in a discipline. They also teach students qualitative and quantitative methodologies to design studies and conduct research. Additionally, most PhD programs require students to produce a dissertation that contributes fresh knowledge to the field.

Current professionals with PhDs often work as academic researchers and professors. They may also secure government and industry jobs.

Key Differences Between a PhD vs. Doctorate Degree

What’s a PhD degree ? What’s a doctorate degree? The main difference between a doctorate and a PhD is their area of focus. A doctorate prioritizes applied knowledge and professional skills, while a PhD emphasizes academic research. Let’s compare some more differences between a professional doctoral degree vs. PhD.

students taking PhD degree doing research works

A doctorate enables students to become expert practitioners in their discipline. Students study existing concepts and theories and learn how to apply these ideas in the workplace.

By contrast, a PhD prepares students to conduct innovative research and educate others.

Goals and Outcomes

Doctorate students working on their research task

Doctorate programs help prepare students for senior administrative and leadership positions in their industries. They also help students enhance their professional competencies and tackle industry-specific challenges.

Students who pursue PhDs aim to advance their disciplines by generating new knowledge. They may also publish peer-reviewed research and teach undergraduate courses.

Student Population

students attending a doctorate program

Doctorate degrees are designed for current or aspiring working professionals who want to become industry leaders. These programs also enable students to increase their knowledge and credibility.

PhD programs attract students who want to expand their knowledge of research methodologies and theories. These learners also frequently pursue academic careers.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for PhD degree

Doctorate and PhD programs typically require students to have bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Additionally, prospective doctorate students may be asked to provide evidence of work experience, while PhD students might demonstrate their research abilities with a writing sample.

Program Length

People pursuing PhD degree

Requirements vary by program, but full-time students typically complete a doctorate in 3 to 5 years. Programs that require a capstone project may take longer. For those considering quick degrees, a number of universities now offer accelerated doctoral programs online .

PhD programs often take 4 to 7 years to finish. The speed at which students research and write their dissertations can significantly impact the timeline.

Doctorate student doing online research works

The curriculum for doctorate programs typically centers on practical skills and contemporary issues in the field. Topics may include communication, ethics, and leadership.

PhD programs offer classes on research methods, theories, and disciplinary trends. Students also learn how to write journal articles and present at conferences.

Assessment and Completion Requirements

PhD student working on his dissertation

Doctorate and PhD students both complete 2 or more years of coursework. They also demonstrate their knowledge during comprehensive exams.

Doctorate students may produce a capstone project that applies their knowledge to real problems. By contrast, PhD students write dissertations based on original research.

If You Have a PhD, Are You a Doctor?

are PhD doctors

Is a PhD a doctor ? While graduates who earn a PhD are referred to as doctors, a PhD is different from a Doctor of Medicine (MD).

Doctors with MDs are medical doctors who can legally prescribe medications, perform surgery, and treat patients. They typically apply existing medical knowledge instead of conducting research. Doctors with PhDs don’t have any of these abilities. Instead, they have specialized knowledge and perform academic research in a particular field.

PhD or Doctorate Degree – Which Is Right for You?

students taking doctorate degree

Understanding the difference between a doctorate and a PhD can help you select the right degree for you.

Professional doctorate degrees help students become leading practitioners and problem solvers. By contrast, PhD degrees enable students to hone their research skills and learn advanced concepts. Both degrees allow you to enrich your understanding of your chosen discipline or profession. They also help you boost your credentials and develop new skills.

After you decide between a doctorate degree vs. PhD, you can explore program options from accredited schools to find the best fit.

is phd and doctoral degree the same

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  • ACADEMIC ADVICE

What’s the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a Doctorate?

  • May 1, 2023

Table of Contents

Research (academic), applied (professional), what is a ph.d., is a ph.d. higher than a professional doctorate, doctoral study vs. dissertation, who is it for, what do you learn in each, can a ph.d. be called a doctor, the bottom line.

The terms Ph.D. and Doctorate are often used interchangeably when considering advanced degrees in academia. Both degrees involve rigorous academic study and research, but their focus, duration, and requirements differ. Hence, these significant differences between the two are worth understanding before deciding which path to pursue.

In this article, we will explore the key differences between doctorate vs. Ph.D., including their definitions, the types of programs they are offered in, and the career opportunities they lead to. By the end, you should have a clear understanding of the differences between these two degrees and which one is right for you.

What Is a Doctorate?

A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic degree that can be awarded by a university. It typically requires a minimum of three to five years of advanced study and research beyond a bachelor’s or master’s degree . Doctoral programs are designed to prepare individuals for advanced careers in academia, research, or other professional fields. There are two main types of doctorates: Research (Academic) and Applied (Professional). Let’s talk about each in more detail.

A research doctorate, also known as an academic doctorate, is a type of doctoral degree focused on original research and advancing knowledge in a specific academic field. These programs require students to take advanced coursework in their field and complete original research contributing to the body of knowledge in their study area. The research component is typically the program’s centerpiece, and students are expected to produce a dissertation or thesis that represents a significant contribution to their field of study.

A research doctorate is highly valued in academia, and graduates often pursue careers as professors, researchers, or scholars in their field. While a significant time commitment and dedication are required, they provide individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to make contributions to their field and advance their careers in academia. Examples of research doctorates include the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.), and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) , among others.

An applied doctorate, or professional doctorate, is a type of doctoral degree that focuses on applying knowledge and skills in a specific profession or industry. These programs emphasize the practical application of research and theories to solve real-world problems in their field.

The curriculum includes coursework designed to enhance students’ professional skills, including leadership, management, or organizational behavior. An applied doctorate program’s capstone project or dissertation addresses a real-world problem or issue within the student’s profession or industry. The research is conducted in collaboration with professionals in the field.

While applied doctorate programs require a significant time commitment and dedication to a specific profession, they provide individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to become experts in their field and make a great impact. Graduates of such programs are well-prepared to take on leadership roles in their profession. The degree can lead to career advancement and higher salaries.

Examples of applied doctorates include the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), and Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), among others.

Students who have completed advanced studies in a particular academic field and contributed original research to that field are awarded a Ph.D., also known as a Doctor of Philosophy. Ph.D. programs are geared toward developing independent scholars who can conduct original research and advance knowledge in their chosen fields.

The coursework of a Ph.D. program involves advanced studies in the student’s area of interest, coupled with a significant research component. Students must produce a dissertation or thesis that adds to the existing body of knowledge in their field of study.

Ph.D. programs generally require multiple years to complete and lead to opportunities for graduates to work as professors, scholars, or researchers within their field of specialization. While Ph.D. degrees are commonly associated with academic careers, they can also offer advantages for graduates seeking positions in government or industry, as they demonstrate expertise in a specific area and an aptitude for original research.

Comparing a Ph.D. to a professional doctorate is difficult, as both degrees have distinct characteristics and are designed for different purposes.

A Ph.D. is primarily a research-focused degree focused on producing independent scholars who can conduct original research and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in a particular field. On the other hand, a professional doctorate focuses on the application of knowledge and skills in a specific profession or industry.

These programs typically emphasize the practical application of research and theories to solve real-world problems in their field. Graduates of professional doctorate programs are well-prepared to take on leadership roles in their profession, and the degree can lead to career advancement and higher salaries.

So, in terms of purpose and focus, Ph.D. and professional doctorate degrees are different. It’s not a matter of one being higher than the other, but rather, it depends on an individual’s career goals and aspirations. Both degrees are considered terminal degrees, meaning they represent the highest level of academic achievement in their respective fields.

Ph.D. vs. Professional Doctorate: Differences

Understanding the differences between a Ph.D. and a professional doctorate can help you make an informed decision about which program is right for you and your career goals. And while both types of degrees require extensive study and research, there are significant differences between the two.

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One of the key differences between a Ph.D. and a professional doctorate is the focus of the doctoral study. Ph.D. programs typically focus on producing independent scholars who can conduct original research and advance knowledge in their chosen field. In contrast, professional doctorate programs emphasize the practical application of research and theories to solve real-world problems in their field.

While both degrees require extensive research, Ph.D. programs often require a significant original contribution to the field in the form of a dissertation, while professional doctorate programs typically require a capstone project or applied research project that demonstrates the student’s ability to apply their knowledge to a real-world problem.

Ph.D. programs are geared toward individuals interested in pursuing an academic career, such as becoming a professor or researcher. These programs prepare students for a life of scholarship and original research.

On the contrary, professional doctorate programs are geared toward professionals already working in a specific profession or industry and wanting to advance their careers through further education. These programs provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to take on leadership roles in their profession or industry.

The content of the curriculum in Ph.D. and professional doctorate programs differs significantly. Ph.D. programs aim to give students extensive knowledge of their field of study and equip them with the skills to conduct original research. On the other hand, professional doctorate programs have a practical focus, with students taking courses that prepare them for leadership positions in their respective professions or industry, including management, ethics, and professional communication.

The title “Doctor” is used to refer to someone who has earned a doctoral degree, whether it is a Ph.D. or a professional doctorate. In academic and professional settings, it is common for individuals with a Ph.D. to be referred to as “Dr.” along with their name, just as someone with a professional doctorate would be.

However, it’s important to note that the title “Doctor” does not necessarily indicate that the person is a medical doctor or a physician. Additionally, it is worth noting that different countries and cultures have different conventions for how the title “Doctor” is used, so it’s always a good idea to check local customs and norms to ensure proper usage.

In conclusion, the decision to pursue a Ph.D. or a professional doctorate ultimately depends on your individual career goals and aspirations. Both degrees are highly respected and can lead to exciting and fulfilling careers.

Remember, the pursuit of advanced education is a challenging but rewarding journey that leads toward new opportunities, personal growth, and the chance to make a positive impact in your field.

Bay Atlantic University

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What Is a Doctorate Degree?

A doctorate is usually the most advanced degree someone can get in an academic discipline, higher education experts say.

What Is a Doctorate?

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It's unwise to apply to a doctoral program if you don't have a clear idea of how you might use a doctorate in your career.

In many academic disciplines, the most advanced degree one can earn is a doctorate. Doctorate degree-holders are typically regarded as authorities in their fields, and many note that a major reason for pursuing a doctorate is to increase professional credibility.

"If someone wants to be respected as an expert in their chosen field, and also wants to have a wider array of options in research, writing, publishing, teaching, administration, management, and/or private practice, a doctorate is most definitely worth considering," Don Martin, who has a Ph.D. in higher education administration , wrote in an email.

A doctoral degree is a graduate-level credential typically granted after multiple years of graduate school, with the time-to-degree varying depending on the type of doctoral program, experts say.

Earning a doctorate usually requires at least four years of effort and may entail eight years, depending on the complexity of a program's graduation requirements. It also typically requires a dissertation, a lengthy academic paper based on original research that must be vetted and approved by a panel of professors and later successfully defended before them for the doctorate to be granted.

Some jobs require a doctorate, such as certain college professor positions, says Eric Endlich, founder of Top College Consultants, an admissions consulting firm that helps neurodivergent students navigate undergraduate and graduate school admissions.

Endlich earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree, commonly known as a Ph.D., from Boston University in Massachusetts. He focused on psychology and notes that a doctoral degree is generally required to be a licensed psychologist.

"Since a Ph.D. is a research-focused degree, it can be advantageous to those seeking high-level research positions in scientific fields such as astrophysics or biotechnology," he says.

How Long it Takes to Get a Doctorate Degree

Martin, founder and CEO of Grad School Road Map, an organization that helps grad school applicants navigate the admissions process, says obtaining a doctorate is often a lengthy endeavor.

"Typically it can take between four and six years to complete any doctoral program," he says. "If comprehensive examinations and a dissertation are part of the graduation requirements, it may take a year or two longer. There is no standard amount of time – some students take seven to 10 years to finish."

Endlich says doctoral degree hopefuls should be aware that completing a dissertation may take a long time, especially if unexpected hurdles arise.

"My dissertation, for example, involved recruiting college students to complete questionnaires, and it took much longer than I anticipated to recruit enough subjects for my study," he says.

The standards for a dissertation, which include the proposal and research, are rigorous and usually involve a review and approval by a faculty committee, says Hala Madanat, vice president for research and innovation at San Diego State University in California.

"As part of dissertation requirements, some programs will require publication of the research in high-impact peer-reviewed journals," Madanat wrote in an email.

Types of Doctoral Degree Programs

According to professors and administrators of doctoral programs, there are two types of doctorates.

Doctor of Philosophy

A doctor of philosophy degree is designed to prepare people for research careers at a university or in industry, and teach students how to discover new knowledge within their academic discipline. Ph.D. degrees are offered in a wide range of academic subjects, including highly technical fields like biology , physics, math and engineering; social sciences like sociology and economics; and humanities disciplines like philosophy.

A Ph.D. is the most common degree type among tenure-track college and university faculty, who are typically expected to have a doctorate. But academia is not the only path for someone who pursues a Ph.D. It's common for individuals with biology doctorates to work as researchers in the pharmaceutical industry, and many government expert positions also require a Ph.D.

Professional or clinical doctorates

These are designed to give people the practical skills necessary to be influential leaders within a specific industry or employment setting, such as business, psychology , education or nursing . Examples of professional doctoral degrees include a Doctor of Business Administration degree, typically known as a DBA; a Doctor of Education degree, or Ed.D.; and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, or DNP.

A law degree, known as a juris doctor or J.D., as well as a Doctor of Medicine degree, or M.D., are also considered professional doctorates.

How to Get a Doctorate

Getting a doctorate is challenging. It ordinarily requires a series of rigorous classes in a field of study and then passage of a qualification exam in order to begin work on a dissertation, which is the final project.

Dissertations are difficult to write, says David Harpool, vice president of graduate and online programs at Newberry College in South Carolina. Some research indicates that only about half of doctoral students go on to finish their degree, and a main reason is that many never finish and successfully defend their dissertation

"Many of them are in programs that permit them to earn a master’s on the way to a doctorate," Harpool, who earned a Ph.D. from Saint Louis University in Missouri and a J.D. from the University of Missouri , wrote in an email. "The transition from mastering a discipline to creating new knowledge (or at least applying new knowledge in a different way), is difficult, even for outstanding students."

Learn about how M.D.-Ph.D. programs

There is a often a "huge shift in culture" at doctoral programs compared to undergraduate or master's level programs, says Angela Warfield, who earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa.

Doctoral professors and students have more of a collaborative relationship where they function as colleagues, she says. And there's pressure on each student to produce "significant and original research."

Many full-time doctoral students work for the school as researchers or teaching assistants throughout their program, so time management is crucial to avoid burnout. However, the dissertation "is by far the biggest battle," she says. The goal is to avoid an "ABD," she says, meaning "all but dissertation."

"In my writing group, we had two motivational slogans: 'ABD is not a degree,' and 'a good dissertation is a done dissertation,'" Warfield, now the principal consultant and founder of admissions consulting firm Compass Academics, wrote in an email.

How Are Doctorate Admissions Decisions Made?

Admissions standards for doctoral programs vary depending on the type of doctorate, experts say.

The quality of a candidate's research is a distinguishing factor in admissions decisions, Madanat says. Meanwhile, leaders of clinical and professional doctorate programs say that the quality of a prospective student's work experience matters most.

Doctoral programs typically expect students to have a strong undergraduate transcript , excellent letters of recommendation and, in some cases, high scores on the Graduate Record Examination , or GRE, Endlich says.

"The size of the programs may be relatively small, and universities need to be sure that applicants will be able to handle the demands of their programs," he says.

Because professional doctorates often require students to come up with effective solutions to systemic problems, eligibility for these doctorates is often restricted to applicants with extensive first-hand work experience with these problems, according to recipients of professional doctorates.

In contrast, it's common for Ph.D. students to begin their programs immediately after receiving an undergraduate degree. The admissions criteria at Ph.D. programs emphasize undergraduate grades, standardized test scores and research projects , and these programs don't necessarily require work experience.

Admissions decisions may also depend on available funding, says Madanat, who works with doctoral students to provide funding, workshops and faculty support to help their research.

Who Is a Good Fit for a Doctoral Program?

Doctoral degree hopefuls "should be interested in making a deep impact on their field, open-minded, eager to learn, curious, adaptable and self-motivated," Madanat says. "Doctoral programs are best suited for those whose goals are to transform and change the fields they are studying and want to make a difference in the way the world is."

Someone who loves to study a subject in great depth, can work alone or in teams, is highly motivated and wants to develop research skills may be a good candidate for a doctoral program, Endlich says.

Because of the tremendous effort and time investment involved in earning a doctorate, experts say it's foolish to apply to a doctoral program if it's unclear how you might use a doctorate in your career.

"The students are being trained with depth of knowledge in the discipline to prepare them for critical thinking beyond the current state of the field," Madanat says. "Students should consider the reasons that they are pursuing a doctoral degree and whether or not it aligns with their future professional goals, their family circumstances and finances."

Rachel D. Miller, a licensed marriage and family therapist who completed a Ph.D. degree in couples and family therapy at Adler University in Illinois in 2023, says pursuing a doctorate required her to make significant personal sacrifices because she had to take on large student loans and she needed to devote a lot of time and energy to her program. Miller says balancing work, home life and health issues with the demands of a Ph.D. program was difficult.

For some students, the financial component may be hard to overlook, Warfield notes.

"Student debt is no joke, and students pursuing graduate work are likely only compounding undergraduate debt," she says. "They need to really consider the payoff potential of the time and money sacrifice."

To offset costs, some programs are fully funded, waiving tuition and fees and providing an annual stipend. Some offer health insurance and other benefits. Students can also earn money by teaching at the university or through fellowships, but those adding more to their plate should possess strong time management skills, experts say.

"Graduate school, and higher education in general, can be brutal on your physical and mental health," Miller wrote in an email.

But Miller says the time and effort invested in her doctoral program paid off by allowing her to conduct meaningful research into the best way to provide therapy to children affected by high-conflict divorce and domestic violence. She now owns a therapy practice in Chicago.

Miller urges prospective doctoral students to reflect on whether getting a doctorate is necessary for them to achieve their dream job. "Really know yourself. Know your purpose for pursuing it, because that's what's going to help carry you through."

Searching for a grad school? Access our complete rankings of Best Graduate Schools.

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Doctorate vs PhD: What’s the Difference?

Quick Highlights:

  • Professional doctorates and PhDs differ in focus , duration , and potential career earnings .
  • Both are doctoral degrees, but a PhD is specifically academic and focused on original research.
  • Professional doctorates (like an Ed.D, M.D., DBA) are applied and tailored to specific professions.
  • In most cases, you’ll need to complete a bachelor’s and a master’s degree before pursuing a doctoral degree.

In the academic world, achieving a doctoral degree represents the highest level of study within a field. These degrees grant their recipients not only more knowledge within their particular field, but also more respect and more upward mobility in their careers. 

Is a doctorate a PhD? Often, the terms doctoral degree and doctor of philosophy, or Ph.D., are used interchangeably. This isn’t 100% accurate, though. There are subtle but important differences that set a doctoral degree apart from a Ph.D. degree. These differences are critical to understand before you plan your own path through higher education.  Doctorate vs PhD, what is the difference ?

Related:  How to Prepare for your Graduate School Interview

What Is a Doctoral Degree?

Doctorate vs PhD: Diploma and tassel

A doctoral degree is a general term for a terminal degree that usually is awarded when someone pursues their studies beyond the level of a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Doctoral degrees can be awarded in any number of fields, from education and English literature to chemistry and calculus.

Doctoral degrees typically come in two forms:

  • a professional (also known as applied doctorate)
  • an academic doctorate

Related: What is a Terminal Degree?

What is an Applied Doctorate Degree?

Professional or applied doctorate degrees qualify someone to work in a specific profession. This includes things like:

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Degree holders with a professional doctorate degree are qualified to work at the highest level within their field. 

These professional degrees require academic research. It will culminate in a dissertation which must be defended in front of a group. A dissertation, like a thesis, is a lengthy and involved paper that incorporates research and applies a theory to make advances within the field.  

Some of the most common fields for a professional doctoral program are:

  • Physical therapy
  • Osteopathic medicine
  • Occupational therapy
  • Educational leadership
  • Medicine 

We’ll discuss a few of the most common professional doctorate degree programs below.

Related: What Is The Difference Between College and University?

An Ed.D. is a professional doctorate for educators with teaching and administration responsibilities as well as those working in nonprofits and governmental agencies. These programs offer advanced leadership training which can help students advance their career. Students learn effective strategies to solve real-world problems they’ll encounter out in the field.

Ed.D. programs do not follow a standard curriculum. Each program is unique, and many can be tailored to meet the needs of each individual student. Some are offered online while others follow a more traditional format.

Doctor of Business Administration

The DBA is a professional degree for business professionals. These programs build upon the skills taught in an MBA program. Students are often accomplished executives who want to be better, more innovative business leaders.

DBA students conduct practical research that directly applies to the business world. Students will develop new insights and solutions to business challenges.

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Psychology is an area where students can choose to complete either a Ph.D. or a PsyD degree. A PsyD degree emphasizes the clinical and applied aspects of psychology. This degree is growing in popularity for several different reasons:

  • Completion time is often less than a traditional PhD
  • Specialization options
  • Opportunity to complete a dual degree (MSW or MPH are popular)

The PsyD focuses on practice over research so students begin working on fieldwork sooner in the program. This hands-on experience is valuable as students begin to build their professional portfolio.

Related: Best Online Doctorates in Psychology

An M.D. is the degree of choice for students planning a career in medicine. These highly competitive and rigorous programs include the classroom and intensive training students need to join the medical field.

M.D. programs usually require students to complete four years of medical school followed by a residency. The residency can take between two and five years depending on the area of medicine.

While an M.D. degree requires a significant commitment of time and money, the investment plays off with a high salary and job security.

Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)

An O.D. an expert in primary eye care. They diagnose and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. An O.D. degree can take between eight and nine years of education beyond high school. Students take classes in areas like:

  • gross anatomy
  • neuroscience
  • biochemistry

An optometrist can determine if an individual needs corrective lenses or contacts to improve their vision. They can check for signs of glaucoma or other degenerative eye conditions. In some states, an optometrist can prescribe certain medications.

Regardless of the individual field that you pursue, you can know that a doctoral degree will make you a highly qualified candidate for upper level positions in your field. 

What Is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree?

Doctorate vs PhD: Graduates wearing toga

Academic doctorates, on the other hand, are degrees that qualify someone to study, research, or teach at the highest level in his or her field. At some schools, like Franklin University, professional doctorates are referred to as an application oriented-degree while Ph.D.s, or academic doctorates, are referred to as research degrees. 

A Ph.D. is actually a specific type of doctoral degree. This means that rather than being completely separate from one another, Ph.D.s are really just a specific subtype of the umbrella term “doctorate degree.” 

A Ph.D. is an academic degree focused on original research and the application of new ideas to existing knowledge. This research based degree emphases research skills that allow student to contribute to the advancement of their field. Lots of people falsely believe that a Ph.D. is limited to fields in the social sciences. This is likely due to the word “philosophy” in the title. Rather than meaning philosophy in the modern sense, though, the word philosophy in a Ph.D. refers to its Latin origins, meaning “love of wisdom”. 

The reality is that Ph.D.s are research degrees available in many fields. Some of the most common degree fields for a Ph.D. include:

  • Applied mathematics
  • Accounting and finance
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Chemical engineering 
  • Clinical psychology
  • Computer science
  • Counseling psychology
  • Data analysis

No matter what kind of Ph.D. you undertake, you will always graduate from a Ph.D. program with a high level of competence, respect, and mobility within your career field. 

How To Apply for a PhD vs Doctorate Program

Doctorate vs PhD: Application form

Once you’ve made the choice between a professional degree versus doctorate , you’ll need to figure out how to apply to your chosen program. Because Ph.D. programs are simply a specific type of a doctorate program, the application process varies more by school than it does by degree type. 

In general, when you apply to a doctoral program, you’ll need to have already completed a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. In many cases, your bachelor’s degree can be in any field. It does not need to be related to the field you’re pursuing at the professional level. In most cases, your master’s does need to be related in some way. 

If it’s not, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll need to complete some prerequisite graduate-level classes before you can apply for your doctorate program. You’ll need to check with each program about the prerequisites before you apply. 

Once you’re sure that you meet the prerequisites required of a doctoral student, you’ll also need to get your application materials. Generally this means:

  • transcripts from your undergrad and graduate school coursework
  • letters of recommendation
  • an essay or statement of purpose
  • recent GRE or GMAT scores

Again, application requirements will vary by school so you’ll want to check directly with those you’re applying to. 

PhD vs Doctorate Degree: Which is Longer?

Doctorate vs PhD: Doctorate toga

The amount of time it takes to complete your doctorate vs PhD degree will largely depend on what work you’ve done before it, and whether you’ll be pursuing it part-time or full-time. If you have completed a master’s in the field already, you will need to complete fewer credits to complete the doctoral degree. 

At some schools, there is an option to combine your master’s with your doctorate degree. These accelerated programs usually allow you to take a year of study off your total commitment.

Still, terminal degrees are no small time commitment. Most degrees take anywhere from five to eight years to complete when pursued full-time. In general, Ph.D. programs tend to take slightly longer than professional doctorates. For example, to complete a doctor of education (Ed.D.) degree, doctoral students must complete at least 60 credits. In contrast, Ph.D. students completing a Ph.D. in Education must complete 90 credits. 

Earning Potential of a Professional Doctorate vs PhD

Doctor using microscope

While a professional doctorate and a Ph.D. are seemingly very similar, they do differ in terms of earning potential. 

This is likely because many Ph.D. programs lead to careers in teaching or research. These are two fields that are notoriously low in funding, unless you find one of the relatively less common highly paid positions in these fields. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a postsecondary teacher at colleges or universities is about $80,000. The average salary of postsecondary teachers in the field of scientific development and research is more, at nearly $110,000, and the average salary of a researcher in the field of medical science is nearly $90,000. 

Compare these salaries to those of professional doctorates like a medical doctor or a lawyer. A medical doctor earns an average salary of $208,000 while a lawyer receives an average salary of roughly $123,000. 

Doctoral Degree vs PhD: How Do They Stack Up?

Toga hat, diploma and books

While a Ph.D. is simply a subtype of doctorate, there are some distinct differences that set it apart from professional doctorate degrees. 

While Ph.D.s are typically heavy on research, professional doctorates are heavy on application of knowledge to a specific professional field. The body of knowledge developed in a Ph.D. program may be slightly broader, while the knowledge built in a professional doctorate program is tailored more directly to a specific career. 

Both programs have similar application processes, but the Ph.D. program may take slightly longer to complete on average than the professional doctorate program does. Finally, professional degree PhD program graduates tend to earn slightly more than Ph.D. graduates. 

If you’re interested in pursuing a doctorate degree, you’ll need to consider a professional doctorate degree vs PhD. You’ll want to research your programs before applying. Sites like CollegeRank can help you to narrow your options by providing curated college rankings geared to a number of different factors, from campus size to return on investment, and more. 

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is phd and doctoral degree the same

Applied Doctorate vs. Ph.D.: What are the Differences?

Making a choice between two similar but different things can be a challenge.

Oh, sure, some things don’t fall under the “do-or-die” category of decision making. With some things, there simply is no wrong choice.

Take a sports car versus an SUV, for example. Either is a great choice, depending on your budget, your lifestyle and your personal preferences.

What about an angus beef burger versus a textured soy protein patty? When it comes to radically opposing food choices, there’s usually a clear-cut winner.

Yet what about the more important things in life … like your career, your future and your doctoral education?

You already know the drill when it comes to deciding if a Ph.D. or doctorate is right for you:

  • Investigate each type of degree program.
  • Make a list of personal and professional pros and cons for each type of degree.
  • Seek the wise counsel of colleagues, academic advisors and professional mentors.
  • Make a confident decision about which degree is right for.

But first, let’s define the Ph.D. and the professional doctorate and then look at how they’re different from one another.

What is a Ph.D.?

A Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy, is a high-level degree earned after a period of three or more years of graduate-level study, culminating in the creation, submission, presentation and defense of a research dissertation.

The Ph.D. can be awarded in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, engineering and humanities. The term “philosophy,” according to Wikipedia, “does not refer solely to the field or academic disciple of philosophy, but is used in a broader sense in accordance with its original Greek meaning, which is ‘love of wisdom.’”

For some professions, such as university professor or researcher, the Ph.D. is pretty much de rigueur. Most Ph.D.s are earned as a means of contributing original research findings to an academic community, field of study or professional discipline.

Earning a doctorate is challenging and rewarding, but do you know what to really expect? Download this free guide for tips and insights to help you prepare for success.  

What is an applied professional doctorate.

This doctorate is an advanced, high-level degree, too, earned after a period of three or more years of graduate-level study across a wide variety of disciplines. Like the Ph.D. it, too, culminates in the creation, submission, presentation and defense of a research dissertation or similar type of comprehensive final project.

The professional doctorate is also a research-based degree, only it emphasizes looking at existing bodies of knowledge and raising questions for the purposes of solving a problem and applying theories to a real-world setting.

Applied doctorate degrees first became well established in the United Kingdom and Australia and were initially offered in the United States by for-profit colleges and universities. Employer demand for higher skill levels and actionable problem-solving, however, opened up new programs at accredited non-profit institutions.

Different than a theoretical, Ph.D. degree, the professional doctorate is often the best terminal degree for the working professional who’s driven to lead and innovate.

Applied doctoral degree programs offer the opportunity to earn a practical degree that enables both subject mastery and field application.

What is the difference between the Ph.D. and doctorate?

It’s often assumed that a Ph.D. is a teaching-only degree while a professional doctorate is for the corporate player. The truth is, either degree can be valued in an academic or professional setting, depending on the type of institution or organization. Furthermore, either degree could be right for you.

Dr. Christopher Washington, Franklin University’s provost and chief academic officer explains the fundamental difference between the Ph.D. and the applied professional doctorate degree this way:

“With a Ph.D., you generate new theory. With the professional doctorate, you start from a place of practice and what’s going on in the world. You look at existing bodies of knowledge to see what theories have been created. Then you raise questions to determine how to design experiences that test theory to practice. In cultivating these types of practitioner-oriented scholars, there’s potential for a stronger and better relationship between the scholar and the community he or she serves. Such a connection helps us convene people to tackle the hard questions.”

Here we offer a side-by-side comparison of the Ph.D. and the professional doctorate to further demonstrate the differences (and similarities):

As you can see, the differences between the Ph.D. and the applied doctorate are few – and many – most of which are directly related to how earning the degree will impact your career.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before deciding which degree is right for you :

  • Do you want to conduct research or analyze and apply it?
  • Do you want to work in an academic or professional setting?
  • Do you want to identify problems or lead solutions to them?

Explains Dr. Washington, “If you want to generate new theory and conduct pure science within the pursuit of an academic life, then the Ph.D. is probably more in line with what you’ll need. If, however, you want to advance knowledge within a complex, global practice context while challenging yourself professionally, consider the applied doctorate degree.”

is phd and doctoral degree the same

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  • What’s the difference between a PhD and a doctorate?

25 Aug 2022

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In this post, we’ll explore the definitions, differences and similarities of PhDs and doctorates, as well as what a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) entails.  

After completing a master’s degree and spending time building a career, many professionals consider continuing their education and pursuing a higher level of academic achievement.

Two of the most common options are a PhD or a doctorate, but what is the difference between the two?

Defining a PhD and a doctorate 

A PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, is a specific type of doctorate degree that focuses on research in a particular field. It is highly theoretical and involves extensive research to generate new knowledge.

On the other hand, a doctorate degree is an umbrella term for any doctoral-level degree. It can be further categorised into two types: academic and professional.

Academic doctorates, such as a PhD, are focused on research, while professional doctorates, like the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) , focus on practical application in professional settings.  

Want to know more about the benefits of a DBA? Explore our guide:

Show me DBA benefits 

Differences between a PhD and a doctorate 

While both a PhD and a doctorate are doctoral-level degrees, there are some key differences between the two. One of the main differences is that a PhD is typically an academic degree, while a doctorate can be either academic or professional. Additionally, a PhD is highly theoretical and research-focused, while a professional doctorate is practical and geared toward applying research to specific professional settings.  

Similarities between a PhD and a doctorate 

Despite their differences, there are also some similarities between a PhD and a doctorate. Both degrees require significant research, critical thinking, and independent study. They are both highly respected and recognised as top-level degrees in their respective fields, and both confer the title of “Doctor” upon completion.  

Weighing up your options? Read our guide to the benefits and drawbacks:

PhDs and doctorates: Pros and cons 

Examples of professional doctorates 

Examples of professional doctorates include the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), Doctorate of Education (EdD), Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP), and Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD), among others. These degrees are typically designed for individuals who want to apply research to specific professional settings.  

What is a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)? 

A DBA is a professional doctorate degree that is focused on applying research to real-world business problems. It is typically designed for individuals who are in senior-level or executive positions in private or public sector organisations. A DBA is often seen as a practical alternative to a PhD in business, as it allows professionals to apply research directly to their work .  

Benefits of pursuing a Global DBA 

Portsmouth Online offers a Global DBA that is online and part-time, making it accessible from anywhere in the world. This course  is specifically designed for senior-level professionals who want to become more qualified in the field of business.

The structured modules will help you develop your ability to challenge current thinking and provide authoritative solutions to practical and research problems. Additionally, the applied research in the DBA thesis will allow you to conduct research on a topic that is directly relevant to your organisation.  

Choosing between a PhD and a doctorate 

Choosing between a PhD and a doctorate depends on your goals and aspirations. If you are interested in academic research and generating new knowledge, a PhD may be the right path for you.

However, if you want to apply research to specific professional settings, a professional doctorate like a DBA may be a better fit. Ultimately, it is important to choose the degree that aligns with your career goals and interests.  

Get more guidance on whether a PhD or a doctorate is right for you:

PhD or doctorate: How to choose 

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The difference between a PhD and professional doctorate

March 27, 2018

What’s the difference between a PhD and a professional doctorate?

Some people say that a PhD prepares you to teach, while a professional doctorate is more geared toward a professional career. But the answer to the question is more complex.

Leaders in corporate organizations often benefit greatly from having a PhD, and individuals with a professional doctorate may hold adjunct or even regular faculty posts at universities. Everyone who obtains a doctoral degree from Capella University is a scholar-practitioner—meaning they are equipped with a deep understanding of foundational theory and how it directly applies to the current and future needs of their profession, as well as the skills and knowledge to research, teach, consult, and lead.

Deciding whether to pursue a PhD or professional doctorate can be a complex process. The differences between the two doctoral program types vary in every field—and they are also evolving. In terms of programs at Capella, all doctoral programs require coursework and an independent research project. Some require comprehensive exams, and many include residencies.

The primary difference between PhD and professional doctorate programs is the type of research conducted in the independent research phase.

PhD students are expected to create, expand, and contribute to knowledge, research, and theory in their field of study. This kind of discovery is often called original research.

Professional doctorate students are expected to expand and apply existing knowledge and research to existing problems in their professional field. This is often referred to as applied research.

The following graphic shows the differences between a PhD program and a professional doctorate program:

  • Degree Focus
  • Independent Research Project
  • Career Intention*

Contribute new knowledge aimed at solving real-world problems.

Professional Doctorate

Apply existing knowledge aimed at solving real-world problems.

Five-chapter dissertation.

Five-chapter applied dissertation or paper, product, or portfolio

More interest in consulting and/or conducting research.

More interest in practicing directly in the profession.

*In many instances, both a PhD and professional doctorate prepare students for teaching at the college or university level.

Ultimately, deciding whether to pursue a PhD or professional doctorate in your field of study should start with assessing your career goals  and how you plan to apply your degree, and determining the kind of research that interests you most.

Capella University offers PhD and/or professional doctorate degree programs in business, information technology, education, nursing, health care, psychology, counseling, social work, and public service. Learn more about Capella’s doctoral degree programs.

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Comparing the differences between MD vs. PhD vs. professional doctorate

By Michael Feder

Collage image with books, sculptures, xray, and hands

This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee.  Read more about our editorial process.

Reviewed by Marc Booker, PhD, Vice Provost, Strategy

At a glance

  • MD is the abbreviation for Doctor of Medicine and PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. These are two types of doctoral degrees in addition to professional doctorates. 
  • An MD is a doctoral degree for medical professionals, while a PhD is an academic degree focused on original research. Somewhat similar to a PhD are professional doctorates, which focus on applying practical research to problems in workplaces or communities.   
  • A professional or practice-based doctorate (EdD, DBA, etc.) can be medical, and others are for scholar-practitioners in disciplines like education, business or psychology.
  • University of Phoenix does not offer MD or PhD programs, but students can earn a doctorate in business, nursing, education or healthcare that allows them to build upon their industry expertise. Learn more about the differences between these degree programs and if one of the  five doctoral programs  at University of Phoenix is right for you !

What is a doctorate? Breaking down the three types

Some people might confuse an  MD (Doctor of Medicine)  with a  PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) , and vice versa. While both an MD and a PhD are prestigious degrees near the top of the  academic ladder , they each have a different meaning and come with very  different requirements .

Different still from both of those degrees are professional doctorates, which allow industry professionals to translate their education and experience into credibility and leadership through research. Professional doctorates have similar requirements to PhDs, such as a dissertation and residency, but focus on the application of research and professional growth over original research.

Upon graduation, those who have earned any of these three degrees can call themselves a “doctor,” but the path to a degree, the purpose behind it and its applications vary based on the choice. MD graduates want to work in medicine and healthcare. PhDs want to bring new knowledge and research to the world. A practice-based doctoral graduate wants to grow in their professional expertise. (If the last one sounds like you, University of Phoenix can help!)

Keep reading to learn more about these doctoral programs and which is right for you.

What does MD stand for?

MD is an abbreviation for Doctor of Medicine and identifies a  medical practitioner  who has completed undergraduate studies and four years of medical school. An MD program teaches medical students about the human body and diseases through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical labs.

Several  types of physicians  might have this degree, depending on their area of study. For example, medical practitioners with an MD degree might become a medical doctor and potentially specialize in dermatology, cardiovascular disease, family medicine, oncology, pediatrics, neurology or preventive medicine. As you can see, this degree  can lead to a variety of career paths , depending on which specialty interests you and what your medical education is.

Learn more about online doctoral degrees at University of Phoenix. 

How to earn an MD

Becoming a Doctor of Medicine  requires a significant investment of time and money, but the reward can be well worth it. Before medical school, you’ll need to  take the Medical College Admission Test  (MCAT ® ) and earn a passing score. You’ll also need to build a portfolio of coursework and experience to help you gain admittance to medical school.

Medical school typically takes students four years to complete. You’ll learn the latest techniques and approaches for patient assessment, diagnosis and treatment. Medical schools commonly provide a combination of classroom,  research and clinical experience . You’ll work alongside peers and healthcare professionals as you develop skills in general medicine.

You’ll choose a field to specialize in during your final year of medical school. Students have more than 120 options to choose from when specializing, including  primary care,   pediatrics, geriatrics, emergency medicine and family medicine .

After graduating, you’ll complete residency training to further develop skills in your specialty. Residency typically lasts three to seven years, depending on the field you’ve selected. During the residency portion of your education, you’ll treat patients under the supervision of more experienced physicians.

Even after you begin to practice as an MD,  the educational portion of your career never stops . As practices change, patient needs evolve and research continues, MDs benefit from ongoing education to stay current.

What does PhD stand for?

A PhD, or  Doctor of Philosophy , is a doctoral degree that recognizes graduates who have completed a full postsecondary program. Students can earn a PhD in more fields than philosophy. After completing the necessary coursework, original research and hands-on experience, you can earn a PhD in fields like science, the humanities and engineering.

Earning a PhD can help unlock a wide range of potential career opportunities. Computer engineers, research scientists, statisticians, healthcare administrators, professors, chemists and other careers commonly require a PhD degree, in addition to appropriate undergraduate study.

How to earn a PhD

Becoming a PhD is also a  serious commitment  that requires an investment of  time, money and energy .

Here is what’s typically required to become a PhD:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in your field
  • Complete a master’s degree in an appropriate field
  • Pass any program entrance exams
  • Fulfill coursework, research and hands-on lab requirements in your program
  • Finalize and defend your dissertation as a  doctoral candidate  (unless your program specifies otherwise)

It’s important to note that many PhD  programs have different requirements , prerequisites and parameters for students. Check with your preferred institution for a more detailed explanation of these requirements.

What is a professional doctorate?

While some professional or practice-based doctorate programs are medical,  others are designed for professionals in other fields . These programs are meant for  scholar-practitioners  in disciplines like education, business or psychology. One of the key differences between this degree and a PhD is the focus on applying research to a professional setting rather than conducting theoretical and research-focused studies. Often, programs are differentiated as academic versus professional.

Examples of doctoral degrees are Doctor of Education, Doctor of Nursing Practice and Doctor of Business Administration. Each of these programs focuses on a specific discipline and applying research in those areas to a professional setting.

How to earn a doctorate

While  practitioner doctoral programs  teach different skills, they all share common requirements. You’ll need to  complete a bachelor’s degree  in your field and sometimes a master’s degree, depending on program requirements.

After completing the necessary coursework and research, students also typically need to finish a supervised thesis and defend their dissertation or capstone project-specific coursework, research and hands-on labs alongside other students in the same field. However, this will depend on the specific program and its requirements.

What does the title “Dr.” really mean?

The term “doctor” or “Dr.” is commonly used today to describe a wide variety of occupations. Students who complete a doctoral degree can earn the title of “Dr.” even though they earned their credentials in a non-medical field like education or business management.

While a variety of professionals can earn a doctorate, the term is often still  reserved for medical practitioners . In conventional use,  doctors typically refer to medical physicians . However, it is appropriate to use “Dr.” if you graduated from any of the three programs discussed above.  

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is phd and doctoral degree the same

What is doctoral candidacy?

Practitioner doctoral degree programs at university of phoenix.

While University of Phoenix (UOPX)  does not have  MD or PhD programs, it does offer several professional doctoral degrees that can be earned completely online. Students might choose the UOPX programs because classes are flexible and offered online, and because of the University’s unique “ Scholar-Practitioner-Leader model .”

If you are curious about a doctoral degree, the following programs are available at UOPX:

  • Doctor of Business Administration  — This doctorate can help you gain strategic vision and skills to position yourself as a business leader. It explores how to solve organizational problems, how to design and conduct research studies, how to introduce innovative business ideas to the industry and more.
  • Doctor of Management   — This doctorate equips you with critical thinking skills to find creative solutions to complex problems.
  • Doctor of Education  — This doctoral program prepares you to use analytical, critical and innovative thinking to improve performance and solve complex problems in education.
  • Doctor of Health Administration  — If you’re a health professional who is seeking greater responsibility in shaping the future of the health sector, this doctorate can help you meet the challenges inherent to today’s healthcare landscape, including economic fluctuations, burgeoning patient needs and industry-changing legislation.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice  — This doctorate is designed for working nurses who require a doctorate for advanced practice or nurses who desire their terminal degree. It does not prepare students for professional certification or state licensure as a nurse or as an advanced practice nurse.

These doctoral studies are only some of the many options for professionals who want to gain the  highest academic credentials  in their fields. Doctoral programs offer significant benefits to program graduates, including  newly developed skills , insight into field trends, hands-on research opportunities and  leadership capabilities .

Completing a doctoral program is also a strong indication to employers that you’re serious about your career and your field. With so many options for advanced study, these programs are available for most major fields. Even if you have already completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree in your discipline, a doctorate lends further credibility to your reputation and  can help prepare you for a leadership position .

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!

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  • Masters vs PhD – Differences Explained
  • Types of Doctorates

The decision of whether or not to pursue a Masters or PhD (or both) after you complete your undergraduate studies is not necessarily a straightforward one. Both are postgraduate degrees but are different in terms of the academic experience and the career paths taken afterwards.

In short, a Masters degree involves a year of study, primarily through taught lectures and a final dissertation research project, whilst a PhD (also referred to as a doctorate degree) is a three-year commitment of independent research on a specific subject.

There’s more to it than that, however – read on for more information.

What Is a Masters Degree?

A Masters degree is the next level of education after the completion of an undergraduate degree, commonly known as a Bachelors.

These degree levels are often referred to in terms of cycles so that a Bachelor’s is a first-cycle degree, a Masters is a second-cycle and finally, a PhD is the third-cycle of higher education (and the highest).

Masters degrees demand an intense period of study, usually centred around a core series of lectures and taught modules, coupled with coursework assignments and exams, followed by the completion of a contained research project usually taking students 3-4 months to complete.

These types of degrees are attractive to recent graduates who want to delve deeper into their specific field of study, gaining some research experience and more specialised knowledge beyond what an undergraduate degree can offer.

Equally, some pursue a Masters degree program in a subject that is only tangentially related to their Bachelors degree, helping them gain a broader depth of knowledge.

These degrees also serve as a significant stepping stone for those already in employment who want to progress their current career development and earn a higher salary. They can also be an excellent method for helping in changing careers completely by learning new skills and subject knowledge.

What Is a PhD Degree?

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest academic degree that can be awarded and is the third and final cycle in the progression of higher education.

A doctoral degree is earned on the basis of producing a significant, independent and novel body of work (a Thesis) that contributes new knowledge to a particular research topic.

These are research degrees that are a significant investment of a candidate’s time, resources and energy and are all but a pre-requisite for anyone considering a career in academia, such as eventually becoming a professor.

There are some exceptions to this, such as those with a medical background who may earn an MD (Doctor of Medicine), which is the equivalent of a PhD.

Doctoral degrees can also have a significant positive impact on career development outside of academia, especially in fields such as engineering, business and finance that have a high demand for highly qualified and capable people.

A graduate student engaged in PhD study is commonly known as a PhD student, PhD candidate or doctoral student.

What are the Benefits of a Masters Degree?

There are several reasons one might consider doing a Masters degree rather than a PhD in their graduate education. These include:

  • It takes approximately a third of the time to do compared to a doctorate degree and costs less too.
  • It’s a good way to differentiate yourself from those that hold only an undergraduate degree without having to commit to a substantial research degree.
  • The end goal is more career-focused as opposed to research-focused. For example, it is practically an ‘easier’ route to changing or progressing your career if that aligns with your professional goals.

What are the Benefits of Doing a PhD?

You may continue on into a doctoral program after a Masters or you may even dive straight in after completing your undergraduate studies. So, what are the advantages of completing this third-cycle?

  • You’ll have developed a wealth of transferable skills at graduate school, such as effective communication of complex concepts, multi-tasking time-management and the ability to adapt to and solve unexpected problems.
  • A doctorate helps to establish you as an expert within your chosen subject area; your work will hopefully have furthered the knowledge in this.
  • It will open up career paths and teaching positions within academia that may otherwise be very difficult to get a hold in (although these career paths will still be very competitive).
  • You can add the title ‘Dr’ in front of your name!

Which Degree Is More Impactful: A Masters or a PhD?

On paper, the answer should be clear: A doctorate degree is the highest degree you can earn, so has more impact than a Masters, which in turn has more impact than a Bachelors.

The reality is that the size of the impact (if any) really depends on the subject area and the career path you choose (if the measure of impact is how it positively improves your career prospects, that is).

For someone with aspirations of becoming a professor, a PhD will be of greater value than a Masters alone.

Equally, it’s also possible that someone with a PhD entering a different field or one that doesn’t require a PhD may find that their degree has no bearing on their career or in some cases may even be seen as a ‘negative’ with a concern of the person being ‘over-qualified’ for a position. There are many scenarios in which professional experience would be more valuable to an employer than a doctorate degree.

Check out the links below to our interviews with Prof. Debby Cotton and Dr Nikolay Nikolov to read their experiences of when a going through a PhD program has had a clear benefit (Prof. Cotton) and when it hasn’t been helpful (Dr Nikolov).

Debby Cotton_Profile

Do You Need to Have a Masters to do a PhD?

This really depends on the university, department and sometimes even the project and supervisor.

From a purely application process perspective, some institutions may formally require you to hold a Masters degree relevant to the subject of the PhD project before you can enter their doctoral program.

In another scenario, most universities are unlikely to accept candidates that were awarded below a 2:1 (in the UK) in their undergraduate degree but may consider someone who has ‘made up’ for this with a high-grade Masters.

Lastly, some universities now offer PhD programmes that incorporate an additional year of study in which you would complete a Masters degree before carrying directly on into a PhD project. As you’d expect, even if a university doesn’t formally require you to hold one, a Masters degree can help separate you from other applicants in being accepted on the project.

Check out our detailed guide to doing a PhD without a Master’s .

Why Do a Masters before Your PhD?

Even if you don’t need to have one, it could still be beneficial to begin your postgraduate study by doing a Masters first before you embark on your doctorate journey.

As mentioned previously it’ll help you stand out from applicants that don’t have one, but beyond that, it’ll give you a taster of what research life could be like, especially if you stay at the same university and department for your PhD.

The one-year commitment (in the UK at least) of carrying out a Masters first, and in particular your research project, will help you better understand if this is truly something you want to commit the next three or more years to.

You’ll learn some of the skills of independent research, from performing detailed literature searches to more complex, analytical writing.

At the end of it, you should be in a stronger position to consider your options and decide about whether to continue into a PhD at graduate school.

Finding a PhD has never been this easy – search for a PhD by keyword, location or academic area of interest.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters Degree?

In the UK, a full-time Masters degrees take students one calendar year to complete: The programme of study usually starts in September, the final research project the following April and final project viva around August. Part-time degrees are usually double the time.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD?

In the UK, most PhD projects take 3-4 years to complete , as reflected by the majority of funded projects offering stipends to cover living expenses of about 3.5 years.

For many reasons, projects may end up taking longer to complete, however. This might be because of difficulties in collecting enough data, or if the project is being done part-time.

Which One is More Expensive to Do?

As you’d expect, as a PhD takes three times as long to complete as a Masters degree, it will cost you more to do as far as university fees are concerned.

Another thing to consider is that many PhD projects come with some level of funding equivalent to a low salary, which may cover the cost of tuition fees and living expenses, whilst it is usually more difficult to obtain funding for Masters study.

Conversely, a Masters graduate may progress into a higher (versus PhD funding) salary sooner whilst a PhD student will endure three years of a comparatively low income.

A Masters vs a PhD: Conclusion

If you’re considering continue further graduate study after your undergraduate degree, the question of doing a Masters vs a PhD is likely to come up. They are both considered an advanced degree, each with their own advantages.

There are benefits to doing either of these graduate programs or even both of them; your decision here can be easier if you have an idea of the career you want to follow or if you know you have a love for research!

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Land your dream job, the difference between a masters and a doctorate.

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There are a lot of degree types out there. Many fall into one of two camps: doctorates and master’s degrees. Both graduate degrees offer a narrower educational focus than the undergraduate experience. The higher the degree, the longer it takes to earn and the more specialized is its focus. We’re taking a closer look at the master’s and doctorate degrees to highlight differences and help you determine which might be most useful to you.

Master’s Degrees

Master’s degrees are more versatile than doctoral degrees, and have a wide range of professional and academic applications. The most common master’s degrees are Master’s of Arts (M.A.) and Master’s of Science (M.S.) . Additionally, there are three types of master’s programs:

  • Research Master’s degrees are typically for academic and applied research disciplines. Examples include a Master’s of Arts in Comparative Literature, and Master’s of Science in Biology. In some fields, earning a research master’s degree without going on to earn a Ph.D. restricts your professional options. Figure out what's best for you and your career trajectory by talking with professors or professionals in your field.
  • Professional Master’s degrees prepare candidates for professional work by introducing practical skills and frameworks for understanding issues in their field. These degrees may also qualify a person to practice in their field. Examples include a Master’s of Social Work, Master’s of Architecture, or Master’s of Art in Teaching. Most of the degrees featured at Idealist Grad Fairs are professional master’s degrees supporting careers in the social good sector.
  • Terminal Master’s degrees are the highest academic degree in their field. While some master’s degrees may serve as the first step towards a doctorate, others—such as a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing or a Master’s in Library Science—are as high as you can go for academic accreditation in those fields of study.

Before pursuing a master’s degree, candidates must have already earned a bachelor's degree. Master’s programs take one to three years to complete and consist of advanced-level courses and seminars. In some programs, students go on to research, write, and defend a master’s thesis. In professional master’s programs, the thesis is often replaced by final projects and exams.

Doctoral Degrees

The most common doctorate is the Doctor of Philosophy or PhD. These research doctorates prepare students to contribute to the collective knowledge base of the field and offers a unique opportunity for an individual to conduct intensive and prolonged research on a very particular topic, which often leads to publication. With a PhD, many seek careers as professors and researchers, but may also pursue roles in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Additionally, there are professional doctorates like the MD (Medical Doctor), and the JD (Juris Doctor). Before pursuing a doctorate, candidates must have already earned a bachelor's degree and in some cases a master’s depending on the program. Due to the nature of specialization, PhD programs tend to be smaller than master’s programs.

PhD candidates begin by taking courses and exams. They go on to take advanced seminars and complete their requirements by researching, writing, and defending a dissertation. A dissertation is one of the central components of earning the PhD and is a doctoral-level thesis about the candidate’s original research. A doctorate degree may take up to eight years to earn depending on the program, whether the candidate has already completed a master’s degree (or is coming straight from undergraduate), and the amount of time it takes to complete the dissertation.

Dual Degree Programs or Joint Master’s and PhD Programs

If you decide both degree programs sound right for you, there are some programs that offer the option to pursue both degrees at the same time. A dual degree program allows you to double count your earned credits towards the completion of both degrees. You can find more information here .

How to decide which degree is right for you?

Figuring out whether to pursue a master's or PhD will depend on your career field and educational goals. You can learn more about requirements in your field by doing some research or your own as well as networking with colleagues. Reaching out to a mentor in the field or alumni from your preferred program can also help you navigate graduate school decisions. Additionally, speaking with admissions staff at graduate schools can help provide insight into the kinds of graduate programming available. 

It can be tricky to offer general guidance on graduate programs since so much is dependent on the field of study. That said, we wanted to offer examples of how master’s and doctorate degrees can set you up for success. We've selected social work and business as fields to illustrate this:

Social Work

If you want to go to graduate school to study social work, you can study at the master’s level or the PhD level. To determine what is best for you, consider what role you’d like to play in the field of social work. If you’d like to be a social welfare direct service provider or government agency administrator, a master’s program may be most appropriate. If you’d like to become a faculty member at a post-secondary institution, a social welfare research scholar, or a social welfare policy analyst, a Ph.D. program will be a better fit. Outside of academic settings—where a doctorate is required for most faculty positions—a master’s combined with practical work experience may provide ample preparation for a career as a researcher, policy analyst, or mid-level manager.

For business administration, you have the option of a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA), or a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). If your long term goal is to take on a leadership role in a nonprofit or business enterprise, the MBA (or nonprofit management degree) may be best. If instead, you’re interested in a career in academia teaching and researching on business practices, the DBA will be the better option.

Knowing your professional goals will help guide your choices for graduate study. Certain career paths, such as becoming a public defender or a medical doctor, are more clearly marked with the necessary steps, including the required educational level and graduate degree. Other career paths are less regimented and therefore require more investigation and consideration of what is right for you. Thoroughly researching your field of interest and having a strong understanding of the skills and knowledge you want and need from your graduate education will inform which degree options make the most sense for your goals.

Planning on returning to school? Check out our Grad School Resources . And if you’re interested in speaking with an admissions representative, find out which cities near you are hosting an Idealist Grad School Fair this fall.

What Comes After a Master's Degree?

Know Your Graduate School Options Beyond a Master's

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  • Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, Fordham University
  • M.A., Developmental Psychology, Fordham University

After receiving your master's degree, there are still more options to study in graduate school, including an additional master's degree, doctorate programs (Ph.D., Ed.D., and others) and certificate programs to consider. These degree and certificate programs all vary in level, time to complete, and more.

Additional Master's Degrees

If you have already earned a master's degree and wish to continue your studies, you might consider a second master's degree. Since master's degrees tend to be specialized degrees, as you grow within your career you may find that a new specialty is required or that two specialties will make you an even more desirable candidate when job hunting. In education, for example, many teachers earn a Master's of Arts in Teaching degree but may return to the classroom to study for a degree in the field in which they are teaching, such as English or mathematics. They may also wish to pursue a degree in organizational leadership, especially if they are looking to grow into an administrative role in the school.

Master's degrees generally take two, sometimes three, years to complete (after earning a bachelor's degree), but pursuing a second degree in a similar discipline might allow you to carry over some credits and complete the program sooner. There are also some accelerated master's programs that can earn you a degree in less than a year; just be prepared for a lot of hard work. All master's programs entail coursework and exams , and, depending on the field, possibly an internship or other applied experience (for example, in some fields of psychology ). Whether a thesis is required to obtain a master's degree depends on the program. Some programs require a written thesis; others offer an option between a thesis and a comprehensive exam . Some programs provide capstone courses, which are usually semester-long courses that provide a comprehensive overview of everything learned within the program and ask students to complete several small thesis statements to demonstrate mastery.

A meaningful way in which master's programs differ from many, but not all, doctoral programs is in the level of financial aid available to students. Most programs do not offer as much assistance to master's students as they do for doctoral students, and so students often pay most if not all of their tuition. Many top institutions even offer full scholarships for doctoral students, but a doctoral program is usually a much more comprehensive and time-consuming educational program, requiring a full-time commitment, versus the possibility of working your full-time job while going for a master's degree.

The value of the master's degree varies by field. In some areas such as business, a master's is the unstated norm and necessary for advancement. Other fields do not require advanced degrees for career advancement. In some cases, a master's degree may hold advantages over a doctoral degree. For example, a master's degree in social work (MSW) may be more cost-effective than a doctoral degree, given the time and funds required to earn the degree and the pay differential. The admission offices at the schools you're applying to can often help you determine which program is best for you.

Ph.D. and Other Doctoral Degrees

A doctoral degree is a more advanced degree and takes more time (often a great deal more time). Depending on the program, a Ph.D. could take four to eight years to complete. Typically, a Ph.D. in North American programs entails two to three years of coursework and a dissertation — an independent research project designed to uncover new knowledge in your field that must be of publishable quality. A dissertation can take a year or more to complete, with most averaging about 18 months. Some fields, like applied psychology, may also require an internship of one year or more.

Most doctorate programs offer various forms of financial aid , from assistantships to scholarships to loans. The availability and types of support vary by discipline (e.g., those in which faculty conduct research sponsored by large grants are more likely to hire students in exchange for tuition) and by the institution. Students in some doctoral programs also earn master's degrees along the way.

Certificate Programs

Certificates can usually be earned in less than a year and are often significantly less expensive than going after additional degrees. If you're wondering what should come after your master's degree and you're not sure if a doctoral program is right for you, this could be the way to go. Certificates range in scope greatly and can allow you to hyperfocus on the areas in which you wish to excel. Some schools even offer certificate programs that are of a masters degree caliber, so you can walk away better prepared for your career and without breaking the bank. Employers who offer tuition assistance may look favorably on a less expensive certificate program as well.

Which Is the Best?

There is no easy answer. It depends on your interests, field, motivation, and career goals. Read more about your field and consult faculty advisers to learn more about which option best fits your career goals. Some final considerations are as follows:

  • What types of jobs do a master's degree, doctoral degree, and certificate holders have? Do they differ? How?
  • How much will each degree cost? How much will you earn after obtaining each degree? Is the outcome worth the cost? What can you afford?
  • How much time do you have to invest in additional schooling?
  • Are you interested enough to pursue many years of schooling?
  • Will earning a doctoral degree offer a substantial benefit in your employment and advancement opportunities?

Only you know which is the right degree for you. Take your time and ask questions, then carefully weigh what you learn about each, its opportunities, as well as your own needs, interests, and competencies. What comes after a master's degree is up to you.

  • A Note About Masters and Doctoral Comprehensive Exams
  • Pros and Cons of Earning a Master's Degree Before a PhD
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PsyD vs PhD in Psychology

is phd and doctoral degree the same

When considering a graduate degree in psychology, students are confused between a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in psychology. We will discuss what you need to know about PsyD vs PhD in psychology. This will help you choose one that fits your career goals.

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Psyd vs. phd in psychology.

Understanding the human mind and behavior is the core of psychology. This knowledge opens doors to counseling, social work, and marketing careers.

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Your love of psychology can lead you to a fulfilling career. You can help others, from people to organizations. Both PsyD and PhD in psychology offer doctoral-level expertise in distinct focus areas. Let’s explore what makes the two programs different.

What is PsyD?

The PsyD, or Doctor of Psychology, is a doctoral degree to prepare graduates for clinical practice. Unlike a PhD that leans heavily towards research, a PsyD program prioritizes hands-on clinical training. This means you’ll spend a significant time of your studies improving the skills necessary to diagnose and treat mental health conditions.

PsyD programs typically focus on the following areas:

  • Psychological assessment : Developing and interpreting tests to evaluate a person’s mental health and cognitive functioning.
  • Psychotherapy theories and techniques : Learning various therapeutic approaches to treat different disorders.
  • Psychopharmacology : Understanding the effects of medications used in mental health treatment (though prescribing medication may require additional training).
  • Ethical and legal considerations : Navigating the ethical and legal aspects of practicing psychology.

PsyD programs also involve clinical practice. Students gain real-world experience working directly with patients under the supervision of licensed psychologists. This allows them to refine their skills, build confidence, and gain invaluable exposure to diverse clinical settings.

What is a PhD?

A PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, in psychology , equips you with the knowledge and skills to become a leading researcher. Some PsyD programs may include research training. A PhD program is a deep dive into scientific psychology research. You’ll develop expertise in research methodology, including designing experiments, analyzing complex data, and interpreting results.

The core curriculum focuses on areas like:

  • Statistics and research methods : Learning about the tools to conduct rigorous psychological research.
  • Psychological theory and research : Gaining a deep understanding of existing psychological theories and research findings.
  • Data analysis : Learning advanced statistical techniques to analyze and interpret research data.
  • Grant writing : Developing the skills to secure funding for your own research projects.

PhD programs require students to work on a research project called a dissertation. This allows them to make an original contribution to psychological knowledge by conducting independent research.

Comparing PsyD and PhD in Psychology

Choosing the right doctoral program in psychology  is important for your career, whether you aspire to conduct research or focus on clinical practice.

Similarities

The PsyD and PhD programs require a master’s degree or equivalent for admission. In addition, both programs are competitive, with applicants needing a strong academic background and relevant experience. In terms of curriculum, both degrees cover foundational psychological theories, ethics, and an understanding of diverse populations. Standardized tests like the GRE are part of the enrollment requirements.

Differences

A PhD in Psychology tends to be research-oriented, preparing students for an academic or specialized research career. In contrast, a Psy.D. program focuses on clinical practice, aiming to develop your skills for therapeutic and assessment interventions.

A PhD generally provides more research opportunities, while a Psy.D. focuses more on practical clinical experience. Psychology PhD programs often take longer to complete  – usually around 5 to 7 years – compared to the shorter duration of 4 to 6 years for most Psy.D. programs.

Distinguishing Factors

One of the key distinguishing factors is the end goal of each program. If your goal is to enter into academia or high-level research positions, a PhD in Psychology is ideal. The reason is that it provides a strong emphasis on research and teaching.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a career where you can work directly with clients and provide therapy, a Psy.D. is the better fit.

Therapist showing test materials to her patient

When Can a PsyD in Psychology Be Useful?

A Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) is ideal for those who aim to engage with patients directly in a clinical setting. With a PsyD, you’ll be trained in various therapeutic techniques, giving you the tools to support and understand your patients’ mental health needs.

Applications of a PsyD

  • Clinical Practice : As a clinical psychologist, you can diagnose and treat mental health disorders, offering much-needed care.
  • Healthcare Teams : Work collaboratively within healthcare systems, contributing psychological expertise to complement the physical healthcare other medical professionals provide.
  • Private Practice : Establish your own practice, giving you the flexibility and autonomy to work with the patients you’re most passionate about helping.

Benefits and Opportunities

  • Career Opportunities : A PsyD can lead to positions in hospitals, schools, private practice, or even corporate settings where psychological expertise is valued.
  • Salary Potential : While salaries can vary widely based on location and specialty, your expertise as a PsyD may provide you with a competitive salary in the healthcare sector.
  • Impact on Patients:  Directly influence and improve patient lives through various therapeutic modalities and personalized care.

When Can a PhD in Psychology be Useful?

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology could be instrumental in your profession. Let’s look at where this degree can take you:

  • Academia and Teaching : With a PhD, you can shape future generations of psychologists as a professor. Your days might consist of conducting lectures and seminars, assisting in departmental duties, and guiding graduate students.
  • Research : A PhD equips you with the knowledge and skills to perform advanced psychological research. Whether in labs, universities, or private sectors, you could be at the forefront of discoveries in the field of psychology.
  • Clinical Training : Although a Psy.D. is clinically focused, a PhD offers clinical training. If you want to combine research with practice, a PhD may fulfill that balance, allowing you to provide evidence-based therapies while conducting research.
  • Career Opportunities Beyond Psychology : With the skills you acquire with a PhD, you can pursue rewarding careers in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or consulting roles.

Your education in a PhD program would be thorough and often includes a combination of coursework, comprehensive exams, research projects, and a dissertation. Pursuing this degree positions you for a career that can influence the educational landscape, contribute to valuable research, and extend beyond traditional psychology roles.

Which is Better - A PsyD or a PhD in Psychology?

When choosing between a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) and a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology), your career goals significantly influence your decision. A PsyD might be better if you aim for a career in clinical practice, therapy, and patient care. On the other hand, a PhD is ideal for those who see themselves in research roles or academia, contributing to the science of psychology through research and teaching.

Clinical Practice

  • PsyD : Focuses on practical, hands-on training in psychology. Great for those looking to interact directly with clients.
  • PhD : Includes clinical training with a greater emphasis on research methodology.

Research Roles

  • PsyD : Provides research training , less than a PhD.
  • PhD : Prepares you for a career in psychological research. Conduct studies and publish findings.

Woman taking notes while using her laptop

Carefully consider how each degree aligns with your professional goals. For value for money, consider tuition and funding opportunities. Generally, psychology PhD programs can be costly , but they do offer more substantial funding options, such as assistantships that can reduce tuition costs.

If you value versatility, a PhD provides diverse opportunities, from teaching to consulting. Your scope with a PsyD can be equally broad and more clinically oriented. Some appreciate the PsyD’s practical focus, while others value the PhD’s research opportunities. Both degrees can lead to licensure and are respected in their fields.

Tips for Choosing Between a PsyD and a PhD

A PsyD is ideal for those who aim for clinical practice, focusing on therapy and counseling. In contrast, a PhD prepares you for a career in research or academia. Interests also play a key role. If your passion lies in applied psychological work and direct patient care, choose a PsyD. If you love teaching, theory, or scientific exploration, a PhD might be more suitable.

When looking at universities with strong psychology programs , ensure they offer robust programs with quality training opportunities. Regardless of your psychology degree preference , checking for accreditation is vital . Accredited programs meet professional and educational standards important for future licensure.

Your decision will influence the type of licensure you’ll be eligible for after graduation. Address this early by understanding the licensure requirements in your state or the region you wish to practice. This will ensure you choose a program that aligns with those goals. Keep in mind that the route to becoming a licensed psychologist often varies depending on your degree.

Psychology Careers Outside Clinic Psychology and Research

A PsyD and a PhD in psychology open diverse career paths  for you. Following are some careers outside the traditional clinical and research roles:

Jury Consultant

Ever wondered how courts select jurors? Jury consultants use psychology to help attorneys understand juror biases, personality traits, and decision-making processes. They assist courts in jury selection and develop strategies to present cases persuasively.

An empty court room

Forensic Psychologist

This role applies psychological principles to the legal system. Forensic psychologists consult with law enforcement , attorneys, and courts on various issues, such as criminal profiling, eyewitness testimony, and assessing competency to stand trial.

Rehabilitation Counselor

This role focuses on helping individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses improve their quality of life. You’ll work with clients to develop rehabilitation plans, provide counseling support, and connect them with resources to address specific challenges.

Addiction Counselor

Specializing in substance abuse and addiction, addiction counselors provide vital support to individuals struggling with addiction. You’ll use evidence-based interventions like motivational interviewing and cognitive-behavioral therapy to help clients overcome addiction and build healthier lifestyles.

Sports Psychologist

Mental health plays a critical role in athletic performance. Sports psychologists use psychological principles to help athletes enhance focus, build confidence, manage stress, and achieve peak performance.

Related Questions

Do most psychologists have a phd or psyd.

A PhD is the more commonly held degree among professionals. This is due to its long-standing presence in the academic and research area compared to the PsyD.

What Is the Difference Between a Psychiatrist and a PsyD?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in mental health, meaning they’ve pursued an MD or DO and are qualified to prescribe medication. In contrast, someone with a PsyD is an expert in therapy and psychological testing. They do not typically have a medical license.

What Are the Origins of a PsyD?

In the 1960s, the need for more rigorous clinical training instead of research led to the introduction of PsyD programs. Psychologists at the time recognized a gap in preparing professionals directly for working with patients, as opposed to solely research in a lab setting.

PsyD and PhD in psychology offer rewarding paths that cater to different passions. The PsyD equips you with direct patient care, while the PhD hones your research skills to push the boundaries of psychological knowledge. Remember, the degree you pursue shapes your contribution and journey in psychology.

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She Just Earned Her Doctorate at 17. Now, She’ll Go to the Prom.

Dorothy Jean Tillman II of Chicago made history as the youngest person to earn a doctoral degree in integrated behavioral health at Arizona State University.

Dorothy Jean Tillman II stands at a lectern wearing a black cap and gown at Arizona State University’s commencement.

By Alexandra E. Petri

When Dorothy Jean Tillman II successfully defended her dissertation in November 2023 to earn her doctoral degree from Arizona State University, she couldn’t wait to share the news with her best friend.

“It was a surreal moment,” Dr. Tillman said, “because it was crazy I was doing it in the first place.”

Dr. Tillman, at only 17, became the youngest person to earn a doctoral degree in integrated behavioral health from Arizona State’s College of Health Solutions, all before she was eligible to vote. Earlier this month, Dr. Tillman, now 18, took part in Arizona State’s commencement ceremony and delivered remarks as the outstanding 2024 graduate at the College of Health Solution’s convocation.

Lesley Manson, program director for the doctorate of behavioral health at Arizona State and Dr. Tillman’s doctoral chair, said Dr. Tillman displayed extraordinary perseverance, hard work and dedication for her young age, tackling every challenge head-on.

“She can serve as a real role model,” Ms. Manson said.

Dr. Tillman, called D.J. by her family and friends, was an early bloomer. She grew up in Chicago and was home-schooled from a young age, first in a group setting through online classes, and then by her mother, Jimalita Tillman, a single parent with a background in community theater.

Dr. Tillman was part of a gifted program before transitioning to home-schooling. Jimalita Tillman continued her daughter on an accelerated track: By the time she was 8, she was taking high school classes. While most 9-year-olds were learning math and reading, Dr. Tillman was starting college online.

At the time, they lived with Jimalita Tillman’s mother, Dorothy Wright Tillman, a civil rights activist who worked alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was a Chicago alderman. Dr. Tillman is her grandmother’s namesake (hence the II at the end of Dr. Tillman’s name).

During her early college days, Dr. Tillman’s classroom was often a Starbucks in Chicago, and her days began as soon it opened, she said. Her go-to order was an iced peach green tea with lemonade.

“Around the time when kids went to lunch, we’d be closing the computer,” said Dr. Tillman, who said her discipline and focus come from her grandmother.

Because of her age, Dr. Tillman lived at home while pursuing her higher education, and most of her coursework was online — a challenge for a self-described social butterfly. “I do love meeting new people and talking to people and understanding them and how their brains work,” she said. She found other ways to stay connected with friends through after-school activities.

At 10, she earned her associate degree in psychology at the College of Lake County in Illinois. At 12, she received her Bachelor of Science in humanities at Excelsior College in New York, and at 14, she earned a Master of Science from Unity College in Maine. She chose those fields because they can help scientists “understand why people treat the environment the way they do,” she told Time for Kids in a July 2020 interview.

Ellen Winner, a professor of psychology at Boston College and the author of “Gifted Children: Myths and Realities,” said that children like Dr. Tillman have a motivational intensity she calls a “rage to master.”

“One of the reasons they push themselves is they have a high, innate ability of some kind, and so learning, in whatever they are gifted in, comes easily to them and it’s very pleasurable,” she said. Schools are often not equipped for such gifted children, she added, which may lead parents to home-school their children. The trade-off, she and some experts say, is missing out on socialization and learning with children their age.

“There’s no perfect solution to kids like this,” Ms. Winner said.

Jimalita Tillman said she was sure her daughter was finished with higher education after earning her master’s degree. Dr. Tillman had just launched an organization to support Black youth in Chicago interested in STEM and the arts called the Dorothy Jeanius STEAM Leadership Institute. It was 2020, just after the beginning of the pandemic.

She was surprised when her daughter said she wanted to pursue her doctorate, and even tried to dissuade Dr. Tillman. But Dr. Tillman wanted to help young people with their mental health. She told her mother to trust her.

“I had to follow her lead,” Jimalita Tillman, 42, said.

Dr. Tillman was accepted into the management concentration at Arizona State’s College of Health Solutions, an online doctorate program. Her thesis on developing programs to reduce the stigma for college students seeking mental health services was based on a study she conducted for an in-person internship at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Dr. Tillman hopes her story resonates with girls who are talkative, outgoing “out-there kind of girls who are trying to figure themselves out but are very smart.”

“I want them to see someone who has taken that energy, sparkle and excitement and packaged it in a way that is classy and beautiful,” she said.

Dr. Tillman may now have her doctorate, but she’s also excited about teenage things — like attending a prom. On Saturday, she going as her best friend’s date to his senior dance. They’re taking an Escalade outfitted with stars on the ceiling, she said, a feature she requested and that her mother made happen.

Dr. Tillman has been focused on school and her professional pursuits, and she plans to host her institute’s summer camp again. Then, she said, she plans to take a beat and have a “fun teenage summer,” doing things she loves, discovering new hobbies and figuring herself out in the process.

“I want to focus on who I am,” she said.

In a split vote, Morehouse faculty votes to award Biden an honorary doctorate

Joe Biden speaks to a crowd at the Atlanta University Center Consortium in Atlanta, on Jan. 11, 2022.

ATLANTA — Morehouse College's faculty voted in favor of conferring an honorary doctorate on President Joe Biden during its upcoming graduation ceremony, where he is slated to deliver the commencement address .

But dozens of faculty members either voted against the honor or abstained from voting amid frustrations with some of the president's policies and the school's decision to host him as its commencement speaker.

The motion to award Biden the honorary degree passed 50-38, with roughly a dozen faculty members opting to abstain from the vote, according to two faculty members on the call.

The White House declined to comment, and Morehouse did not return a request for comment.

Morehouse leadership announced plans for Biden to receive the honorary degree last month, a decision it said was first made in September, prior to the historically Black college inviting Biden to serve as its commencement speaker.

But procedurally, administration officials overlooked a key step in the process, in which the faculty must vote to authorize that decision.

“It is imperative to clarify that the recent decision to convene to vote to award Biden an honorary degree is not in question because of current political affairs. The decision to call for a faculty vote is due to a mistaken oversight in the process, which traditionally includes a faculty vote that usually takes place in September,” Morehouse said in a statement last week.

Still, the new timing of the vote — coming as college campuses nationwide saw protests over the war in Gaza — turned a typically mundane faculty vote into a vehicle for the staff members to, once again , voice their opposition to Biden’s visit.

In the week leading up to the vote, a small group of faculty members circulated a letter stating their opposition to the honorary degree, citing in part Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza.

“We recognize the honor that typically comes with having the most powerful elected person in the world speak at Morehouse. At this time, however, salient policies of the United States government are responsible for the suffering of millions of people around the planet,” the letter read.

Cedric Richmond, a co-chair of the Biden-Harris re-election campaign and a Morehouse alumnus, said Biden “deserves” to be recognized by Morehouse, citing his track record that ranged from appointing the first Black woman to the Supreme Court to overseeing the lowest level of Black unemployment in history.

“In my eyes, he’s earned an honorary degree,” Richmond said.

In response to some of the sustained opposition over Biden's visit to campus, Morehouse arranged a meeting last week between a small group of students and faculty members and Steve Benjamin, who heads the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Some attendees expressed concern over the controversy surrounding Biden’s policy toward Israel and his handling of the war in the Gaza Strip taking center stage at Sunday’s ceremony, and implored Benjamin to ensure the president's commencement address doesn't turn into a campaign speech.

A White House source familiar with Biden's commencement address plans said the president will "focus on the students" during his remarks while also using the speech to "address their concerns.”

is phd and doctoral degree the same

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Max the cat is now a ‘doctor of litter-ature’ from Vermont State University

A Vermont university has bestowed the honorary degree of “doctor of litter-ature” on Max the cat, a beloved member of its community, ahead of students’ graduation on Saturday. (AP produced by Javier Arciga)

This photo provided by Vermont State University shows Max the Cat stands in front of Woodruff Hall at Vermont State University Castleton on on Oct. 12, 2023 in Castleton, Vt. Vermont State University's Castleton campus has bestowed the title of “Doctor of Litter-ature” on Max, a beloved member of its community, ahead of students' graduation on Saturday. The school is not honoring the feline for his mousing or napping but rather for friendliness. (Rob Franklin/Vermont State University via AP)

This photo provided by Vermont State University shows Max the Cat stands in front of Woodruff Hall at Vermont State University Castleton on on Oct. 12, 2023 in Castleton, Vt. Vermont State University’s Castleton campus has bestowed the title of “Doctor of Litter-ature” on Max, a beloved member of its community, ahead of students’ graduation on Saturday. The school is not honoring the feline for his mousing or napping but rather for friendliness. (Rob Franklin/Vermont State University via AP)

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This photo provided by Vermont State University shows Max the Cat stands in front of Leavenworth Hall at Vermont State University Castleton on Oct. 12, 2023 in Casteton, Vt. Vermont State University’s Castleton campus has bestowed the title of “Doctor of Litter-ature” on Max, a beloved member of its community, ahead of students’ graduation on Saturday. The school is not honoring the feline for his mousing or napping but rather for friendliness. (Rob Franklin/Vermont State University via AP)

In this photo provided by Vermont State University, students pet Max the Cat in front of Leavenworth Hall at Vermont State University Castleton on Oct. 12, 2023 in Castleton, Vt. Vermont State University’s Castleton campus has bestowed the title of “Doctor of Litter-ature” on Max, a beloved member of its community, ahead of students’ graduation on Saturday. The school is not honoring the feline for his mousing or napping but rather for friendliness. (Rob Franklin/Vermont State University via AP)

This photo provided by Vermont State University shows a special diploma for Max the Cat at Vermont State University Castleton on Oct. 12, 2023 in Castleton, Vt. Vermont State University’s Castleton campus has bestowed the title of “Doctor of Litter-ature” on Max, a beloved member of its community, ahead of students’ graduation on Saturday. The school is not honoring the feline for his mousing or napping but rather for friendliness. (Rob Franklin/Vermont State University via AP)

Max the cat stretches outside a building at Vermont State University Castleton campus on Friday, May 17, 2024 in Castleton, Vt . The school has bestowed an honorary degree on the beloved member of the campus community, ahead of graduation on Saturday, May 17. (Kaitlyn Tanner via AP)

CASTLETON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont university has bestowed the honorary degree of “doctor of litter-ature” on Max the cat, a beloved member of its community, ahead of students’ graduation on Saturday.

Vermont State University’s Castleton campus is honoring the feline not for his mousing or napping, but for his friendliness.

“Max the Cat has been an affectionate member of the Castleton family for years,” the school said in a Facebook post.

The popular tabby lives in a house with his human family on the street that leads to the main entrance to campus.

“So he decided that he would go up on campus, and he just started hanging out with the college students, and they love him,” owner Ashley Dow said Thursday.

He’s been socializing on campus for about four years, and students get excited when they see him. They pick him up and take selfies with him, and he even likes to go on tours with prospective students that meet at a building across from the family’s house, she said.

“I don’t even know how he knows to go, but he does,” Dow said. “And then he’ll follow them on their tour.”

The students refer to Dow as Max’s mom, and graduates who return to town sometimes ask her how Max is doing.

Max won’t be participating in the graduation, though. His degree will be delivered to Dow later.

is phd and doctoral degree the same

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  1. PhD vs Doctorate: What's the Difference?

    A doctorate is a graduate-level college degree that a person earns if they want to work in a more practical environment. It is a terminal degree, meaning it's the final level of education someone can achieve in their professional field. ... A student pursuing a doctorate has most of the same admission requirements as a Ph.D. student. The ...

  2. Doctorate Degree vs. Ph.D.

    Ask your professors and other scholars in the field for advice. All in all, the terms "Doctorate'' and "Ph.D." are in essence the same, which means all Ph.D. students are Doctoral students as well. On the other hand, earning a Ph.D. degree is no joke. If anything, Ph.D. students have the tenacity, patience, persistence, and years of ...

  3. Doctorate vs. PhD: Understanding the Key Differences [2024]

    A doctorate degree is a professional degree that enables students to become experts in a specific field or industry. This degree focuses on applying academic research and theories in the workplace to improve performance and solve problems. ... A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is an opportunity to strengthen your academic research skills and ...

  4. PhD vs Doctorate: What's the Difference?

    Doctorate, or doctoral, is an umbrella term for many degrees — PhD among them — at the height of the academic ladder. Doctorate degrees fall under two categories, and here is where the confusion often lies. The first category, Research (also referred to as Academic) includes, among others: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)**.

  5. Ph.D.s vs. Doctorates

    In the hierarchy of U.S. college degrees, the highest level of education is known as a terminal degree, more commonly called a doctorate or doctoral degree. Very few people — 4.5 million out of the 258.3 million adults in the U.S., or less than 2% of the adult population — have earned the highest degree available.

  6. PhD vs. Doctorate: Everything You Need to Know

    Key Takeaways. Both a PhD and doctorate are the highest level graduate degrees one can earn. PhDs focus on theoretical research while doctorates put theory into practice. On average, PhDs require a more time to complete vs doctorate. Salaries for PhD or doctorate degree earners vary depending on the career entered. Start your scholarship search.

  7. What's the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a Doctorate?

    The title "Doctor" is used to refer to someone who has earned a doctoral degree, whether it is a Ph.D. or a professional doctorate. In academic and professional settings, it is common for individuals with a Ph.D. to be referred to as "Dr." along with their name, just as someone with a professional doctorate would be.

  8. What Is a Doctorate or a Doctoral Degree?

    A doctoral degree is a graduate-level credential typically granted after multiple years of graduate school, with the time-to-degree varying depending on the type of doctoral program, experts say ...

  9. What's the Difference Between a Doctorate and a PhD

    Professional doctorates and PhDs differ in focus, duration, and potential career earnings. Both are doctoral degrees, but a PhD is specifically academic and focused on original research. Professional doctorates (like an Ed.D, M.D., DBA) are applied and tailored to specific professions. In most cases, you'll need to complete a bachelor's and ...

  10. Applied Doctorate vs. Ph.D.: What are the Differences?

    A Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy, is a high-level degree earned after a period of three or more years of graduate-level study, culminating in the creation, submission, presentation and defense of a research dissertation. The Ph.D. can be awarded in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, engineering and humanities.

  11. PhD vs. Doctorate: Decoding the Highest Academic Achievements

    Doctorate is an umbrella term that refers to the highest degree you can earn in a field of study. Holding a doctorate means you have achieved a significant level of expertise. Doctorates can be either: Professional or applied degrees such as a Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Education (EdD), or Juris Doctor (JD). Research degrees like a PhD.

  12. What is a PhD?

    Definition of a PhD - A Doctor of Philosophy (commonly abbreviated to PhD, Ph.D or a DPhil) is a university research degree awarded from across a broad range of academic disciplines; in most countries, it is a terminal degree, i.e. the highest academic degree possible. PhDs differ from undergraduate and master's degrees in that PhDs are ...

  13. What's the difference between a PhD and a doctorate?

    Defining a PhD and a doctorate . A PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, is a specific type of doctorate degree that focuses on research in a particular field. It is highly theoretical and involves extensive research to generate new knowledge. On the other hand, a doctorate degree is an umbrella term for any doctoral-level degree.

  14. The difference between a PhD and professional doctorate

    The following graphic shows the differences between a PhD program and a professional doctorate program: PhD. Contribute new knowledge aimed at solving real-world problems. Professional Doctorate. Apply existing knowledge aimed at solving real-world problems. *In many instances, both a PhD and professional doctorate prepare students for teaching ...

  15. Doctorate Degree: What Is a Doctorate or Doctoral Degree?

    A doctorate degree — also called a doctoral degree — is the most rigorous and advanced type of degree that a student can earn in any field of study. Regardless of which academic area is being studied, successful completion of a doctorate program demands years of intensive research — and the ability to contribute meaningful new data ...

  16. PhD Types

    Many people believe that the DPhil and PhD are different degrees. This is not true. 'DPhil' is an abbreviation of 'Doctor of Philosophy'. Essentially, 'DPhil' and 'PhD' are two different ways of referring to the same doctoral degree. 'DPhil' is traditionally a British term and so only a few universities (most notably, the ...

  17. Master's vs PhD

    The two most common types of graduate degrees are master's and doctoral degrees: A master's is a 1-2 year degree that can prepare you for a multitude of careers. A PhD, or doctoral degree, takes 3-7 years to complete (depending on the country) and prepares you for a career in academic research. A master's is also the necessary first ...

  18. What's the Difference Between a PhD and a Professional Doctoral Degree

    A PhD is a Doctor of Philosophy. In answer to the question, "Is a PhD a doctor," the answer is yes. Both a PhD and a professional doctorate like an EdD earn you the title of "doctor.". But there are differences between the types of doctoral degrees. Learn more about a PhD vs. a professional doctorate below.

  19. MD vs. PhD vs. Professional Doctorate Comparison

    MD is the abbreviation for Doctor of Medicine and PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. These are two types of doctoral degrees in addition to professional doctorates. An MD is a doctoral degree for medical professionals, while a PhD is an academic degree focused on original research. Somewhat similar to a PhD are professional doctorates, which ...

  20. Masters vs PhD

    A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest academic degree that can be awarded and is the third and final cycle in the progression of higher education. A doctoral degree is earned on the basis of producing a significant, independent and novel body of work (a Thesis) that contributes new knowledge to a particular research topic.

  21. The Difference Between a Masters and a Doctorate

    Doctoral Degrees. The most common doctorate is the Doctor of Philosophy or PhD. These research doctorates prepare students to contribute to the collective knowledge base of the field and offers a unique opportunity for an individual to conduct intensive and prolonged research on a very particular topic, which often leads to publication.

  22. So Is It Doctoral Degree or Doctorate Degree

    Doctor is an academic title that originates from the Latin equivalent for "teacher.". It represents someone who has earned a doctoral degree, which is the highest academic distinction awarded by a college or university. A person with a doctorate has completed coursework, exams, a dissertation, and an articulated reasoning for that dissertation.

  23. Master's and Doctoral Degrees: What's the Difference?

    Other fields do not require advanced degrees for career advancement. In some cases, a master's degree may hold advantages over a doctoral degree. For example, a master's degree in social work (MSW) may be more cost-effective than a doctoral degree, given the time and funds required to earn the degree and the pay differential.

  24. PsyD vs PhD in Psychology

    The PsyD, or Doctor of Psychology, is a doctoral degree to prepare graduates for clinical practice. Unlike a PhD that leans heavily towards research, a PsyD program prioritizes hands-on clinical training. ... When choosing between a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) and a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology), your career goals significantly ...

  25. A Chicago teen entered college at 10. At 17, she earned a doctorate

    In between came associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. When Tillman successfully defended her dissertation in December, she became the youngest person — at age 17 — to earn a doctoral degree in integrated behavioral health at Arizona State, associate professor Leslie Manson told ABC's "Good Morning America" for a story ...

  26. Chicago teen Dorothy Tillman graduates, earns doctorate from ...

    At just 17 years old, Chicago's Dorothy Jean Tillman received her doctorate degree from Arizona State University. ... Ronald Yancey, Georgia Tech's first Black student to graduate, presents his ...

  27. PhD Graduates Anticipate Careers of 'Benevolent Achievement'

    "One of the biggest lessons [in science] is accepting failure," said graduate Sara Hakim prior to the ceremony. Hakim, who received her PhD in biological and biomedical sciences, noted that failures in research can be understood as useful pieces of information that allow people to come closer to uncovering the truth.

  28. She Just Earned Her Doctorate at 17. Now, She'll Go to the Prom

    Dorothy Jean Tillman II at Arizona State University's commencement in Tempe, Ariz., this month. Ms. Tillman earned her doctoral degree in integrated behavioral health from the school at age 17.

  29. Morehouse faculty vote to award Biden an honorary doctorate in a split vote

    The motion to award Biden the honorary degree passed 50-38, with roughly a dozen faculty members opting to abstain from the vote, according to two faculty members on the call.

  30. At Vermont State University, Max the cat is now a 'doctor of litter

    CASTLETON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont university has bestowed the honorary degree of "doctor of litter-ature" on Max the cat, a beloved member of its community, ahead of students' graduation on Saturday. Vermont State University's Castleton campus is honoring the feline not for his mousing or napping, but for his friendliness.