Iowa Doctoral Degree Programs

Many accredited graduate schools offer both Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctorate degrees as residential, or on-campus programs. It's worth spending some time actually thinking about how to choose a graduate school program so that when it comes time to sorting through doctoral degrees you can marry the two components: the university and the program.

Doctorate Degrees and PhD Degrees: Choosing a Doctoral Program

Essentially, doctorate degrees are not all created equal in that some are geared to students who want to practice their profession and need a doctorate to do so (Medical Doctor: MD) and others are oriented to students who want to conduct research in their field. Choosing a doctoral program is often a reflection of both career goals and personality. You may love psychology but would prefer to stay in the laboratory than see patients in a clinic.

The Professional Doctorate Degree 

While usually considered equivalent in academic status and challenging coursework to a PhD, a professional doctorate degree is oriented to those pursuing professional, rather than academic, careers.

Professional doctorate degrees can take 4 years of study past the Bachelor’s degree. In fact, many students prefer to skip a Master’s degree and apply to a doctoral program straight from college. This may be an option for you, however you may have to make up some Master’s level qualifications and have more years of professional experience. As a professional doctorate student, you are expected to take courses and conduct research. The research you do is typically to take existing knowledge and acquired skills and apply it to a specific topic or issue. This is done through a dissertation, a paper or innovation.

Some examples of professional doctorate degrees include:

What Is a Doctor of Philosophy?

The Doctor of Philosophy, popularly referred to as the PhD, is as you may notice also a ‘doctor’ degree. However, the PhD degree is a little different. In some cases, there is less coursework, with more time devoted to research methodology. This is to a certain extent because the dissertation is the central focus. And, unlike the professional doctorate, PhD candidates are expected to produce an original theory or concept to solve an issue or address a problem in their field of study. Their body of research needs to be published in a peer-reviewed journal and defended in front of others. Typically, the entry point to a PhD is a Master’s degree. Also common is that a PhD could take about 3 to 4 years to complete after that. Some universities do let students ‘fast-track’ their master’s to a PhD, but you need the grades, skills, and research abilities in place.  

Some examples of doctor of philosophy degrees are:

  • PhD in Economics
  • PhD in Computer Science
  • PhD in Psychology
  • PhD in English
  • PhD in Nursing
  • PhD in Social Work

What Should I Look for in a Graduate School?

First off, there is no one answer to what makes a great graduate school or doctorate degree program, since everyone has unique tendencies and needs. That being said, factor in whether you are looking for a professional doctorate or a PhD degree as that may be useful in your search for a university.

5 Things You Must Know Before You Go!

  1. Location! Location! You can certainly search for doctorate degrees by location (city, state, country). When evaluating, you should factor in whether you are free to re-locate, and if so, whether you prefer a university in a large urban city, or a quieter suburban town. If you are unrestricted in where you go to graduate school, you may want to consider studying abroad for the international perspective. In any case, scheduling a campus visit should be on your ‘to-do’ list.
  2. Interaction: Attending a residential program gives you that face-to-face component that online programs can’t really mimic. Your future classmates are people you will be brainstorming with or discussing journal articles with. You may want to choose a program where you sense there will be good collaboration or support.
  3. Advisors and Advice: Your advisor is someone who will be guiding you through the phases of your doctoral degree. In the beginning of your research, he or she may suggest topics, while later on, your advisor should be someone who inspires you to think creatively, poses interesting research questions and is well-funded in their own research.
  4. Coursework and Accreditation: Choosing a graduate school means evaluating the course curriculum with a critical eye. Some programs, such as law and psychology need to be accredited by specific accreditation organizations. Make sure you know what to look for in terms of industry standards.
  5. Research: Some universities have research grants and amenities that may make them stand out to you. Think, as well, that you will be spending a lot of time doing research so if you do need to be affiliated with a laboratory of other type of facility you factor this in.

How Do I Search for Accredited PhD Programs?

Finding accredited graduate schools for a professional doctorate degree or PhD is easy on There are diverse program listings that might include residential Pharm.D, Doctorate of Social Work. Doctor of Philosophy in Textile Engineering and Science, Doctor of Education – Educational Leadership. In fact, you can look for doctorate degrees-Campus programs in these broad categories to filter your search results:

  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Fine Arts
  • Health and Medicine
  • Liberal Arts
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Math
  • Public Affairs & Social Sciences
  • Religious Studies
  • Technology

Get Started Now!

Once you have found the category of doctorate degree program you are interested in, you can scroll through the sponsored listings or filter by the location settings mentioned above. The next thing to do is to open a spreadsheet so you can put the name of the graduate school, the date you requested information, the date the admissions office responded, program specifics and application deadline date.

The application itself usually entails some advance preparation, so start looking for accredited graduate schools well in advance. It is not a last minute decision, but one that might set you up for personal and professional success.



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