Doctorate Degrees and PhD Programs
Doctoral Degrees are the highest level of academic degree awarded by a university, and typically signify that the bearer is qualified to teach at the post-secondary level or work in a specific profession.
Sometimes referred to as terminal degrees, no degree follows the doctorate, although scholars may pursue other degrees for their own reasons.
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.
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.i
What is the Difference Between a PhD Degree and a Doctorate Degree?
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 are PhD Degrees?
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. These might include the following.
- 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 are Professional Doctorate Programs?
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 those listed below.
- 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.
Aim High: The Higher Doctoral Degrees
A higher level of research 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.
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 Does it Take to Earn a Doctorate Degree?
Typically, a doctorate degree program can take about 4 to 6 years to complete after the bachelor’s degree. However, if you hold a master’s degree, you may be able to complete your doctorate in about 3 years of full-time study. 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
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 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.ii
- You are interested in a medical field (dentist, doctor, chiropractor).iii
- You want to do independent research in medical science, physics, biochemistry, biophysics.iv
- You want to work as a librarian in an academic library.v
- Your ambition is to work as a licensed clinical psychologist.vi
In What Fields of Study Are Doctoral Degrees Available?
Doctoral degrees are available within various fields which we have identified for you in a subject directory.
- Criminal Justice and Legal Education
- Fine Arts and Design
- Health and Medicine
- Liberal Arts and Humanities
- Math, Science and Engineering
- Public Affairs and Social Sciences
- Religious Studies
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 goals. Consider what topics you are interested in researching, read program descriptions and talk to a program advisor to find a doctorate degree perfect for you.
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.
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),vii but look to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs.viii Visit the US Department of Education or individual accrediting bodies websites to learn more.
Search Doctoral Degrees
Ready to browse our directory of accredited PhD programs and accredited doctoral programs? Finding the research or professional doctorate degree that aligns with your interest is easy. First, choose your category and then filter by subject . If you are looking for graduate schools with a residential, on-campus program, you will want to think “location!”. Filter your search for on-campus programs by state, city or country. Alternatively, you can filter by online under Program Type. Next, follow the link to contact the graduate school for full program details. Be sure to pay attention to deadline dates for applications for each potential graduate school so you don’t miss out!
Sources: |[i] https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/article/education-level-and-jobs.htm |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm |i[v] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/home.htm [v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/librarians.htm |[vi] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm e |[vii] apa.org |[viii] aacn.nche.edu/ccne-accreditation/Standards-Amended-2013.pdf
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
University of San Francisco
Training Critical Scholars and Engaged Practitioners...
- San Francisco, CA
- Irvine, CAIrvine, CA
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Chicago School’s Applied Clinical Psychology Doctoral program teach students about directive, non-directive, and systematic approaches. ...
- Irvine, CA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Chicago, IL
- San Diego, CA
- Baltimore, MDBaltimore, MD
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is the largest and oldest graduate school of public health. Founded in 1916 as part of the Johns Hopkins University, the School has served as the model for public health schools, creatin...
As a seasoned nurse practitioner, you do far more than care for the sick. You elevate the practice of patient-centered care and help transform the way healthcare is delivered. Now it’s time to gain the doctoral-level credentials that support th...
Liberty University Online
Liberty University’s Education Specialist program is designed to prepare competent and effective leaders, like you, with a Christian worldview who will model high academic standards and assume a leadership role in the field of education. Course...
- Fort Lauderdale, FLFort Lauderdale, FL
Nova Southeastern University
Nova Southeastern University Department of Audiology is dedicated to the education of future Doctors of Audiology.
- Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Schaumburg, ILSchaumburg, IL
Colorado Technical University
The Doctor of Computer Science with a concentration in Enterprise Information Systems at Colorado Technical University's Institute for Advanced Studies is designed to develop people into leaders in designing, implementing and managing large-scale sys...
- Greenwood Village, CO
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Stony Brook, NYStony Brook, NY
Stony Brook University (S.U.N.Y.)
The program builds on our successful, internationally renowned PhD program in political psychology. The M.A. degree program teaches advanced skills in political psychology, public opinion, and political attitudes. The Political Science M.A.
Colorado State University
Colorado State University offers innovative and unique M.E., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees shaped by input from industry and government leaders in engineering, and taught by renowned faculty with real-world experience. In our programs you will cover critical...
- South Orange, NJSouth Orange, NJ
Seton Hall University
The Department of Biology offers three graduate programs: a Ph.D. in Molecular Bioscience, a Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology (M.S. available with a Neuroscience track or a minor in Business Administration), and a Master of Science in Microbiology...
- Cookeville, TNCookeville, TN
Tennessee Technological University
he Environmental Sciences Ph.D. program's mission is to advance scholarly knowledge and promote leadership necessary to effectively address environmental problems by incorporating multiple perspectives from the sciences and other disciplines...
- Cookeville, TN
- Bethesda, MDBethesda, MD
Uniformed Services University
Our interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program provides a broad curriculum designed to take advantage of blurring of boundaries between academic disciplines, to include training in the classes of pathogenic organisms and the mechanisms of infectious diseases as...
- Bethesda, MD
- Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia, PA
Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University)
The three-year Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership program creates a community of mid- and senior-career professionals in which each participant can grow, learn and develop as an organizational leader, consultant, entrepreneur, scientist, researc...
- Philadelphia, PA
- Lombard, ILLombard, IL
National University Of Health Sciences
Chiropractic medicine is a comprehensive health care profession that addresses the wide variety of factors that impact upon human physiology...
- Lombard, IL
- Pinellas Park, FL
Frontier Nursing University
The ADN Bridge Entry Option allows registered nurses holding an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) as the highest degree earned (no bachelor’s in any field), to directly enter our Family Nurse Practitioner Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.
Albany Medical College
The Alden March Bioethics Institute’s Online Graduate Programs provide mid-career professionals, joint degree students, and highly motivated post-baccalaureate students with an opportunity to supplement current education or career training with cutting-...
Earn your Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology from a distinguished nonprofit university that is uniquely dedicated to engaging communities and advancing social justice...