Doctorate Degrees and PhD Programs
What is a Doctorate Degree vs a PhD Degree?
A Doctorate, or Doctoral Degree, is the highest level of academic degree awarded by a university. A doctorate typically signifies that the individual is qualified to teach at the post-secondary level or work in a specific field of profession. There are two major types of doctoral degrees; the research-oriented degree, and the professional doctorate degree.
Doctorate Degrees are sometimes referred to as terminal degrees which means it is the final degree available in graduate school for students wishing to study in the chosen subject. In most fields, the terminal-level degree is the doctor of philosophy, or PhD, but in some fields, it's a professional degree, such as a doctor of medicine or law degree.
We commonly associate a doctorate degree with the field of medicine and the abbreviation ‘M.D’, or medical doctorate, and the Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy Degree. In fact, there are different types of doctoral degrees, including the DBA degree, and several reasons why earning one might be just what the doctor ordered.
Is a PhD and a Doctorate the Same?
Doctoral degrees encompass both PhD degrees and other 'Doctor of' degrees. While these may be equivalent academically, there are differences to learn between PhD degrees and other degrees such as the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or Juris Doctor (JD). Essentially, the differences appear in terms of the type of research and the focus for each degree - whether it is research-focused (PhD) or professional practice-focused (e.g. DBA degree, JD degree, PsyD degree).
What Is a PhD?
Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD degrees, are research-based academic degrees which are awarded in many fields. A PhD degree is granted to students who have conducted publishable, original research in a peer-reviewed academic publication. Additionally, to get to that research, doctoral candidates have to complete a substantial amount of coursework beyond the master’s degree level. Many holders of this degree might pursue academic careers as college professors, scholarly writers and researchers. While the most common research degree is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree, other research doctorates are available.
Some popular PhD Majors include:
- Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
- Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
- Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)
- Doctor of Professional Studies (DProf)
- Doctor of Social Science (DSocSci)
- Doctor of Management (DMan)
- Doctor of Engineering (D Eng)
- Doctor of Theology (ThD)
What Is A Professional Doctorate Degree?
A professional doctorate degree is awarded in fields where both research and study are required, but the type of research is ‘applied’. This means it is designed to be used for professional purposes, such as to solve a real-world problem in their domain. These can be seen in psychology, medicine, engineering, education, law and business. Unlike the PhD, some professional doctorates while considered terminal degrees within their specific profession, may serve as a prerequisite or platform to a research degree in that field.
Examples of professional doctorates might include:
- Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
- Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
- Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)
- Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)
- Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)
- Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.)
- Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.)
- Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)
- Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)
- Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.)
- Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.)
- Doctor of Osteopathic
- Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
- Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)
- Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
Note that the Ed.D., D.Min., D.B.A. and M.D. are both research and professional doctorate degrees. Original research for a dissertation may have a combination of both theory and practical components.
PhD programs are available within various fields of study. In each of these disciplines, there may be doctorate programs in several specialties and concentration areas. This may allow you to tailor your program to your interests and career goals.
Popular PhD and Doctorate Programs
DID YOU KNOW?
About 3 percent of all jobs in the United States were in occupations that typically require a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) or first professional degree, such as in law or medicine. In May 2013, the median annual wage for those jobs was $97,550 according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What is Higher Than a PhD?
A higher level of research doctorates, called Higher Doctorates, are sometimes awarded to those whose research is of a very high standard. These higher doctorates are also bestowed if a university wishes to formally acknowledge an individual for their achievements or contributions in the field. A Higher Doctorate typically signals that you have authoritative standing in your field.
Preparing for a Doctoral Degree in Your Field
Earning a doctoral degree may require a major investment of time and energy, but at the same time, climbing that mountain may give you excellent results and recognition. Just remember to do some homework as early as college. Choosing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, taking coursework during the preliminary degree(s), and making sure you are up to the commitment are some of the building blocks to earning your PhD degree or doctorate degree in any field.
How to Earn a Doctorate Degree
While each doctorate degree has its own requirements, doctorate degree curriculum typically involves coursework plus research. In the event you are in a four-year doctoral degree program, you may need to complete the following steps.
- Complete 60 to 120 semester credits (varies between graduate schools)
- Pass final examinations
- Write and defend a research thesis or dissertation
Other doctoral programs may involve a capstone project and supervised placement in your field. Format may vary depending on the type of doctoral degree you are pursuing. However, usually the courses are taken first. Rigorous examinations follow subsequent to test a candidate's knowledge. A dissertation topic is proposed and the latter part of one's doctorate program may be spent in research - collecting, recording, analyzing data, testing a hypothesis or whatever is pertinent to the field of study. Programs may vary, so follow up directly about individual programs to learn more.
DID YOU KNOW?
To receive a doctoral degree, students must often complete a dissertation, a lengthy research project that contributes new knowledge to the field. Occupations that require a doctoral degree include animal scientists, computer and information research scientists, and physicists.
How Many Years is a Doctoral Degree?
Typically, a doctorate degree program can take about 4 to 6 years to complete after the bachelor’s degree. If you hold a master’s degree, you may be able to complete your doctorate in about 3 years of full-time study - or you may be able to find a dual masters and phd program. However, this is going to depend on the institution and the type of program. In some universities, it may be possible to find part-time doctoral degree programs, a factor that might extend time to completion.
What Are the Prerequisites for a Doctorate?
Doctoral applicants were previously required to have a master's degree, but many programs accept students immediately following undergraduate studies. Many programs gauge the potential of a student applying to their program and grant a master's degree upon completion of the necessary Ph.D. course work.
Is a Doctorate Degree 'Right' for You?
Doctoral degrees are not required in every field, which doesn't mean you shouldn't go for it. However, if you are thinking ahead to plan your scholastic path, or pave the way to a potential career, it is important to find out whether a doctoral or professional degree is required for professional practice. Is a PhD degree ultimately best for you? According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the answer may be ‘yes’ if any of the below statements are true.
- Your goal is advanced computer and information research.
- You are interested in a medical field (dentist, doctor, chiropractor).
- You want to do independent research in medical science, physics, biochemistry, biophysics.
- You want to work as a librarian in an academic library.
- Your ambition is to work as a licensed clinical psychologist.
Are Online PhD Programs Available?
Yes, some schools do offer online PhD programs. These may allow you to pursue your education without compromising your schedule. Generally, online programs will make course readings, syllabi, assignments and lectures available through an online platform. Online doctoral programs may also use chatrooms, discussion boards and email to encourage communication with professors and classmates. Fully online PhD programs are not always available. However, if this is the case, you might find hybrid doctoral programs which combine web-based courses with intensives on campus. Contact schools to learn more. You can even find online PhD programs that don't require you to take a GRE!
Accreditation and Doctoral Degrees
Accreditation in the United States focuses on institutions and programs. Institutional accreditation takes into account the integrity of the graduate school (faculty, mission, achievement). Specialized program accreditation takes into account courses and educational standards. Accreditation may help you evaluate the quality of a PhD program or school. It may also be an important factor if you are interested in federal aid.
An institution can be accredited nationally by the United States Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. These national agencies recognize 6 regional organizations in turn.
Standards for PhD program accreditation differ, and you are wise to see what they are in your field. For instance, the American Psychological Association (APA) accredits doctoral programs in psychology (PhD and PsyD), but look to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. Visit the US Department of Education or individual accrediting bodies websites to learn more.
Top 554 Graduate Schools with Doctorate and PhD Programs
- Accredited online university.
- Capella University offers doctoral programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession.
- Competency-based curriculum delivers both foundation knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.
Northcentral UniversityDoctor of Philosophy in Technology and Innovation Management - Cybersecurity Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science Doctor of Philosophy in Data Science Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Curriculum and Teaching Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Early Childhood Education Doctor of Philosophy in Education - E-Learning Doctor of Philosophy in Education - English Language Learning Doctor of Philosophy in Education - General Education Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Global Training and Development Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration - Public Administration Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Instructional Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Leadership in Higher Education Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Learning Analytics in Higher Education Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Learning Analytics in K-12 Education Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Organizational Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Special Education Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Sport and Athletic Management Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Human Resource Management Doctor of Philosophy in Education - International Education Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration - Project Management Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration - Organizational Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration - Marketing Doctor of Education - Learning Analytics in K-12 Education Doctor of Education - Nursing Education
University of West AlabamaEd.D. in Rural Education, Teaching and Learning Ed.D in Rural Education, Organizational Change and Leadership
Loyola University ChicagoBSN-DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work Doctor of Philosophy in School Psychology Doctor of Education in School Psychology Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Pharmacology & Therapeutics Integrated Program in Biomedical Sciences (IPBS) PhD Doctorate in Bioethics
Saint Mary's University of MinnesotaEd.D. in Leadership Ed.S. in Educational Administration
Purdue University GlobalM.S. - DNP Family Nurse Practitioner M.S. - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) M.S. - DNP Adult Nurse Practitioner M.S. - DNP Executive Leader
Walden UniversityPhD in Forensic Psychology - Legal Issues in Forensic Psychology PhD in Human & Social Services - Criminal Justice (BS Entry) PhD in Forensic Psychology - Victimology PhD in Forensic Psychology - Self-Design PhD in Forensic Psychology - General PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership - Industrial & Organizational Psychology PhD in Forensic Psychology - Crisis Response PhD in Forensic Psychology - Crisis/Leadership Management PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership - Health Psychology PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership - General PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership - Public Health PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership - Teaching Psychology PhD in Clinical Psychology - Health Psychology PhD in Clinical Psychology - General PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership - Healthcare Management PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership - International PhD in Clinical Psychology - Teaching Psychology PhD in Forensic Psychology - Criminal Justice PhD in Human & Social Services - Military Families & Culture (BS Entry) PhD in Developmental Psychology - BS Entry - General PhD in Developmental Psychology - BS Entry - Health & Human Development PhD in Human & Social Services - Social Policy Analysis & Planning (BS Entry) PhD in Developmental Psychology - BS Entry - Internat'l Persp Develop Psyc PhD in Human & Social Services - Mental Health Facilitation (BS Entry) PhD in Human & Social Services - Human Services Nonprofit Administration (BS Entry)
Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityDoctor of Pharmacy
Baylor College of MedicineQuantitative & Computational Biosciences Chemical, Physical, & Structural Biology Neuroscience Graduate Program Genetics & Genomics Cancer & Cell Biology Medical Scientist Training Program Development, Disease Models, & Therapeutics Immunology & Microbiology Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Training Program
Grand Canyon UniversityEd.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Christian Ministry Ed.S. in K-12 Leadership Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Marketing) Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Industrial and Organizational Psychology Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Special Education Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Health Care Administration Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership in with an Emphasis in K-12 Leadership Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Data Analytics) Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision D.B.A. with an Emphasis in Management D.B.A. with an Emphasis in Marketing Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Behavioral Health Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Higher Education Leadership Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Ed.S. in Teaching and Learning Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning D.B.A. with an Emphasis in Data Analytics Bridge (Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision)
South UniversityDoctor of Nursing Practice DBA Doctor of Business Administration
Notre Dame de Namur UniversityArt Therapy PhD
The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyPh.D. Counselor Education and Supervision Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis Ph.D. Business Psychology, Consulting Track Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis, Credential Track Ph.D. Business Psychology, I/O Track Ph.D. Organizational Leadership Psy.D. Clinical Psychology Psy.D. School Psychology
Colorado Technical UniversityDoctor of Computer Science (Executive Format) Doctor of Computer Science - Information Assurance (Executive Format) Doctor of Computer Science - Enterprise Information Systems (Executive Format) Doctor of Nursing Practice Doctor of Computer Science - Big Data Analytics (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Criminal Justice Doctor of Management - Global Leadership (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - General Concentration (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Nonprofit Leadership (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Environmental and Social Sustainability (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Healthcare Management and Leadership (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Executive Leadership (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Project Management (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Higher Education Teaching and Learning Doctor of Management - Homeland Security (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Organizational Development and Change (Executive Format) Doctor of Management - Technology Management (Executive Format)
Trident University InternationalDoctor of Business Administration Business Administration (Ph.D.) Educational Leadership (Ed. D.) Educational Leadership (Ph.D.) Health Sciences (Ph.D.)
Union Institute and UniversityPH.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies
Sacred Heart UniversityDoctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Finance Doctor of Nursing Practice-Family Nurse Practitioner Doctor Physical Therapy
Capella UniversityPhD - Information Technology Management (ACBSP-accredited) EdD - Educational Leadership EdD - Performance Improvement Leadership EdD - Reading and Literacy PhD - Accounting (ACBSP-accredited) PhD - Advanced Studies in Human Behavior PhD - Business Management (ACBSP-accredited) PhD - Counselor Education and Supervision (CACREP-accredited) DEM - Emergency Management PhD - Special Education Leadership EdD - Curriculum and Instruction PhD - Psychology PhD - Project Management: Business (ACBSP-accredited) PhD - Project Management: IT (PMI-GAC-accredited) PhD - Nursing Education PhD - Multidisciplinary Human Services PhD - Leadership in Educational Administration PhD - Leadership for Higher Education PhD - Strategy and Innovation EdD - Adult Education DrPH - Public Health PhD - Leadership (ACBSP-accredited) PhD - Postsecondary and Adult Education DBA - Accounting DBA - Business Intelligence (ACBSP-accredited)
Baker CollegeBusiness Administration (DBA - All-But-Dissertation Option) Business Administration - DBA
Rivier UniversityDoctor of Nursing Practice
Nova Southeastern UniversitySchool Psychology, Psy.D.
Liberty University OnlineDoctor of Business Administration: Strategic Management Doctor of Business Administration: Supply Chain Management and Logistics Doctor of Business Administration: Non-Profit Leadership & Management Doctor of Philosophy: Counselor Education and Supervision DMN: Church Revitalization DMN: Biblical Studies DMN: Chaplaincy DMN: Theology and Apologetics Doctor of Business Administration: Finance Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership PHD: Public Policy EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Middle Grades Education EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Elementary Education EDD: Curriculum and Instruction/Special Education EDD: Curriculum and Instruction/Secondary Education EDD: Curriculum and Instruction/Middle Grades Education EDD: Community Care & Counseling: Traumatology EDD: Community Care & Counseling: Marriage and Family EDD: Christian Leadership: Ministry Leadership DSL: Strategic Leadership Doctor of Ministry: Expository Preaching Doctor of Ministry: Evangelism and Church Planting Doctor of Ministry: Worship Doctor of Ministry: Pastoral Counseling Doctor of Ministry: Discipleship
University of the SouthwestDoctorate of Business Administration - Strategy and Innovation Doctorate of Business Administration - Leadership and Organizational Development Doctor of Business Administration
Temple UniversityExecutive EdD in Educational Leadership EdD in Higher Education Doctor of Nursing Practice Doctor of Philosophy in Bioengineering Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Engineering Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering
Colorado Christian UniversityDoctor of Nursing Practice in Visionary Leadership
University of DaytonDoctor of Education in Leadership for Organizations
Baylor UniversityDNP - Nurse-Midwifery Track DNP - Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Track DNP - Family Nurse Practitioner Track Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Maryland University of Integrative HealthDoctor of Oriental Medicine Doctor of Acupuncture
University of Western StatesDoctor of Education in Sport and Performance Psychology
Northern Illinois UniversityOnline MSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
Indiana Wesleyan UniversityDoctor of Nursing Practice Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership