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abbreviation or noun

Definition of phd, examples of phd in a sentence.

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'PhD.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

New Latin philosophiae doctor

1839, in the meaning defined above

Dictionary Entries Near PhD

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“PhD.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/PhD. Accessed 13 Nov. 2023.

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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?

Shot in a university campus

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. (Getty Images)

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.

30 Fully Funded Ph.D. Programs

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Cambridge Dictionary

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Meaning of PhD in English

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  • associate's degree
  • baccalaureate
  • bachelor's degree
  • double major
  • first degree
  • Master's degree
  • postgraduate
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education
  • summa cum laude

Ph.D. | American Dictionary

Translations of phd.

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What is a PhD?

As the highest degree level achievable at university, completing a PhD shows that you've made a meaningful new contribution to your chosen research field

PhDs at a glance

  • Involves three or four years of full-time study, or up to seven part time.
  • Typically undertaken after achieving a Masters degree.
  • Can either be funded or self-funded.
  • Assessed through a written thesis and oral exam.
  • Many Doctoral graduates choose to pursue an academic or research career.

What is the meaning of PhD?

The term PhD or Doctorate of Philosophy is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase 'philosophiae doctor'.

A PhD degree typically involves students independently conducting original and significant research in a specific field or subject, before producing a publication-worthy thesis.

While some Doctorates include taught components, PhD students are almost always assessed on the quality and originality of the argument presented in their independent research project.

How long is a PhD in the UK?

Full-time PhDs usually last for three or four years, while part-time PhDs can take up to six or seven. However, the thesis deadline can be extended by up to four years at the institution's discretion. Indeed, many students who enrol on three-year PhDs only finish their thesis in their fourth year.

While most PhD studentships begin in September or October, both funded and self-funded PhDs can be undertaken at any point during the year.

If you're planning on studying for a PhD abroad, take a look at our individual country profiles .

Do I need a Masters to do a PhD?

The majority of institutions require PhD candidates to possess a Masters degree , plus a Bachelors degree at 2:1 or above. However, some universities demand only the latter, while self-funded PhD students or those with significant professional experience may also be accepted with lower grades.

You may need to initially register for a one or two-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Master of Research (MRes) degree rather than a PhD. If you make sufficient progress, you and your work will then be 'upgraded' to a PhD programme. If not, you may be able to graduate with a Masters degree.

If you need an MPhil or MRes before enrolling on your PhD, search Masters degrees .

What does a PhD involve?

A standard PhD degree is typically split into three stages. A three-year PhD may follow this pattern:

  • First year - You'll meet with your supervisor to discuss your research proposal and agree an action plan with deadlines. You'll then complete your literature review, in which you'll evaluate and critique existing works to inform the direction of your project and ensure that your research will be original.
  • Second year - Your focus will shift to gathering results and developing your thesis, and potentially begin writing chapters of your thesis. You may also present your results and ideas at academic conferences, gain teaching experience, collaborate with other students on similar projects, communicate the benefits of your research to the general public through workshops, lectures and presentations, or submit work for publication in an academic journal or book.
  • Third year - Primarily involves writing your thesis, though your research may still be in progress. After your supervisor gives their approval, you'll submit your thesis before undertaking a one to three-hour oral exam ( viva voce ) in which you'll discuss and defend your thesis in the presence of at least one internal and external examiner.

How do I find a PhD?

As a PhD is different to other degrees, you're committing to more than simply an advanced qualification. You've chosen to engage in a large-scale independent research project and so you'll need to take into account a range of factors that will drive your search.

A methodical approach to the process is required and you'll need to consider the subject you're interested in carrying out research in and the type of Doctorate you're looking for, making sure this is the right project for you. Only when you're fully prepared and have a good idea of your research proposal should you search for PhD opportunities .

What other types of Doctorate are there?

Alternative types of PhD include:

  • Higher Doctorate - These are usually granted on the recommendation of a committee of internal and external examiners, which assesses a portfolio of published, peer-reviewed research you've undertaken over the course of many years. This type of Doctorate is usually for those with several years of academic experience. Common award titles include the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL), Doctor of Divinity (DD), Doctor of Literature/Letters (DLit/DLitt/LitD/LittD), Doctor of Music (DMus/MusD), Doctor of Science (DS/SD/DSc/ScD) and Doctor of Law (LLD).
  • Integrated/New Route PhD - This four-year PhD course is offered by over 30 universities and involves taking a one-year MRes before studying a three-year PhD. It combines taught elements with independent research, allowing students to learn different methodologies while building their transferable skills.
  • Professional Doctorate - Geared towards students of vocational subjects such as medicine, education and engineering, professional Doctorates are focused on teaching and so normally involve smaller research projects and thesis component. They're often favoured by those aiming for a career outside of academia and are usually supported by employers.

How much does a PhD cost?

Tuition fees vary, but usually fall between £3,000 and £6,000 per year for UK students and those from the European Union (EU) with settled status. UK Research Councils pay universities £4,596 per year (from 2022/23) on behalf of each funded PhD student, so this gives a good indication of the average figure.

For EU students looking to pursue a Doctorate in 2022/23, you'll need to have gained settled or pre-settled status to be eligible for student finance - see PhD loans .

Non-EU students may pay considerably more for their tuition fees.

Despite this, many PhD students are now part or fully funded - scholarships and bursaries are widely available, and particular attention should be paid to Research Council grants .

PhD studentships and assistantships involving a mixture of research and teaching are also common, with scientific studentships usually paid at a higher rate.

How do I apply for a PhD?

Some students propose their own research area and apply for funding, while in some cases a supervisor may already have funding for a project and advertise it like a job. When making a PhD application, you'll typically be asked to submit:

  • an academic CV
  • your academic transcripts
  • two or three academic references
  • a personal statement
  • a research proposal.

International students without settled UK status looking to study certain courses in medicine, mathematics, engineering and material sciences are required to comply with the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) . This involves undergoing a security clearance process with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. International students may also have to prove their English proficiency.

What can I do next?

Your ability to critically analyse, display intellectual maturity, and research independently and honestly is highly valued within academia and the workplace.

Many students who undertake a PhD get an academic job or become an industry researcher, possibly following the PhD with postdoctoral study, then a fellowship or lectureship.

Other career options will depend on your study area.

Discover what a PhD degree can lead to at your PhD, what next?

Find out more

  • Consider your PhD options at 5 routes to getting a Doctorate .
  • Get help with choosing your PhD supervisor .
  • Explore funding postgraduate study .

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phd doctorate meaning

  • 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.


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


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.


phd doctorate meaning

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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  • 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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phd doctorate meaning

We are proud to offer some of the best PhD and professional doctorate degree programs in Australia, representing groundbreaking research in business, psychology, design, engineering, health, IT, law, science, technology and more.

What is a PhD?

PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy and is considered the highest postgraduate achievement you can earn. To complete a doctorate you must produce significant and original research. You’ll develop critical knowledge and understanding of a particular research area. 

A PhD is a doctoral degree with an academic focus. Under appropriate academic supervision, you’ll develop a significant, original piece of research, usually equivalent to 70,000 to 100,000 words.

Professional doctorate

While a PhD focuses on academic research, a professional doctorate makes a significant and original contribution to furthering professional practice. A professional doctorate consists of coursework and a thesis of between 70,000 and 100,000 words.

A new way to complete your PhD, that is unique to Swinburne. You will complete your PhD as part of a team of research students, from across a range of disciplines, to work collaboratively on a broad challenge identified by a partner. Each team member will focus on a different aspect of the problem. Your team might look at a new or developing innovation, with individual projects focused on areas such as:

  • new technology
  • challenges in community acceptance
  • social impact
  • new legal or regulatory frameworks
  • ethical issues.

You’ll undertake research at the university as well as spending time immersed in the work environment of your industry partner. Through this, you'll simultaneously grow your knowledge of communication, leadership and business as well as develop your research skills. You’ll see first-hand the significance and impact your work can have.

Browse our PhD and professional doctorate degree courses

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What Is a Doctorate?

Learn more about the two major types of doctorate degrees, academic and professional, and when you might need each.

[Featured image] A Black female doctorate student in a coral pink sweater smiles into the camera while holding a yellow folder.

A doctorate is the highest degree you can earn in an academic field or profession. Earning your doctorate can help advance your career and increase your salary, while also showing others that you’re an expert in your subject area. 

In this article, we’ll review the two different types of doctorate degrees, the areas you can study, and the benefits of graduating with a doctorate. 

Types of doctorate degrees

There are two types of doctorate degrees available to earn: academic and professional . Each type is a terminal degree , meaning it’s the highest degree you can earn and shows true mastery over a subject. The type of doctorate you earn will largely depend on what you want to study. 

Academic doctorate 

An academic doctorate, often called a PhD (short for Doctor of Philosophy), is a research degree that typically requires completing a dissertation. Students enrolled in a PhD program may be interested in working in academia as a professor or conducting research in their field. However, a growing number of PhD students go on to apply their specialized knowledge and skill set to various careers outside of academia as well. 

Examples of academic doctorates include:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Doctor of Design (DDes)

Doctor of Fine Arts (DFA)

Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS)

Doctor of Theology (ThD)

Professional doctorate

A professional doctorate is also referred to as an applied doctorate, and has more to do with a specific profession, such as medicine, law, or business. Students in professional doctorate programs enroll to learn specific knowledge and skills they will need to pursue their chosen career path.  

Examples of professional doctorates include:

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)

Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)

Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND)

Juris Doctor (JD)

Learn more: What is a Professional Degree?

Doctorates: Time and costs

On average, it takes between four and seven years to earn an academic doctorate. That lengthy timeline often has to do with the dissertation phase, which requires extensive original research. 

The time it takes to earn a professional doctorate varies. A JD degree takes three years of full-time study to complete while earning a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree takes four years of full-time study before you begin a residency, which can last between three and seven years depending on your specialty. Careers that require a professional doctorate also often include studying and passing a licensure exam.  

Costs of a doctorate

As with timing, the costs of a doctorate degree will depend on what you choose to study and where you go to school. The average cost of a PhD in 2021 was $98,800, while a Doctor of Education degree cost an average of $111,900 [ 1 ]. The average total cost of medical school in 2021 was $218,792 [ 2 ].

What does it take to earn a doctorate? 

Both types of degrees involve completing advanced coursework and conducting original research. With a professional doctorate, you'll tend to focus your research on solving existing problems, whereas with an academic doctorate, you'll tend to focus your research on contributing a new theory or analysis to your field.

Beyond that, the path to earning your doctorate will depend on what you want to study—an academic subject or a professional one—and where you go to college or university.

Professional doctorates

Your time in a professional doctorate program will be spent advancing your knowledge in your field—medicine, law, or otherwise—and developing important skills to begin doing the work required by your chosen profession. 

The common requirements include: 


Internship (clinical rotation) 

Medical students spend around two years taking courses in a pre-clinical phase, followed by two years rotating through various medical specialties in a clinical phase. On the other hand, law students might spend two years completing their coursework before enrolling in a capstone project in their third year that might include interning or completing a writing project. 

Both medical and law students will need to seek licensure after finishing their program. Law students who pass the bar exam can go on to practice, while medical students will typically need to be licensed before beginning their residency program. 

Academic doctorates

Your time in an academic degree program will also be spent advancing your knowledge in your field by learning more about its history, theories, and key figures. From there, you will begin exploring how you can contribute original research to further people’s understanding of some aspect of the subject.

Comprehensive exam 


Learn more about the requirements to get an PhD .

Applying for a doctorate 

Each type of doctorate requires similar admissions criteria. Requirements generally include: 

Institution’s application

Resume or CV


Entrance exam (MCAT, LSAT, GRE, or GMAT) 

Personal statement

Letters of recommendation

Learn more: GMAT vs GRE: Which Should I Take?

Requirements for a professional doctorate

Professional doctorate students must first earn their bachelor’s degree in a related subject. For example, many law students study English or communications as an undergrad given the amount of writing they will undertake as JD students. Med students, on the other hand, might study biology or chemistry.

It can be helpful to pursue an undergraduate degree that will prepare you for the advanced coursework a professional doctorate requires, but it is not always necessary. If you’re interested in beginning a professional doctorate after studying a completely unrelated subject, you will likely have to first complete prerequisite courses to show you can succeed in advanced science courses. In fact, postbaccalaureate programs are designed to help students interested in the medical profession become stronger applicants. 

Prepare for medical school with a series of specialized, free courses from Stanford University, University of Michigan, Duke University, the University of Chicago, and other leading US institutions.

Requirements for an academic doctorate

As with a professional doctorate, you will need to earn your bachelor’s degree, but you will also likely need to earn your master’s degree unless you are accepted into a dual degree program that combines the master’s and PhD into a shorter timeframe. Depending on what you study, a master's degree takes between one and three years to complete and further prepares you to go on and earn your doctorate.

Learn more: MA vs MS Degrees: A Guide

Demand for doctorates

The demand for experts who hold a doctorate degree depends largely on the field. The need for lawyers is expected to grow by nine percent (about average) between 2020 and 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [ 3 ]. But the demand for doctors and surgeons has slowed in recent years, though other health care professions, such as physicians assistants and nurse practitioners, which often require less education, are expected to increase significantly [ 4 ].

In certain professions, like business, it’s more common to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) , but executives with several years of experience and an MBA may want to further their education and solve real-world business problems by earning their DBA. Doing so can be a lucrative venture. Because DBA graduates are not as common as MBAs, there may be more demand for their services.

Salaries for doctorates

For professional doctorates, earnings can be significant. For example, veterinarians make a median salary of $100,370 and lawyers make a median salary of $127,990, according to BLS.

Overall, both doctorates tend to make more than those who earn a master’s or bachelor’s degree, according to BLS. A doctoral degree graduate has median weekly earnings of $1,909 and a professional degree graduate has $1,924 compared to $1,574 for master’s degree holders and $1,334 for bachelor’s degree holders [ 5 ]. 

Is a doctorate right for you?

If your goal is to work in a specific field, like medicine, or to become an authority in your field, a doctorate can help you achieve either outcome. When considering whether you should begin a doctorate program, ask yourself the following questions to help outline the best path forward.  

Do you enjoy working with this subject matter?

What kinds of job opportunities are available after graduation?

How competitive is the job market for your chosen career?

Will a doctorate give you a unique career advantage?

Do you have time to dedicate to earning a doctorate? 

Can you afford the cost of a doctorate? 

Are there financial aid options available?

Alternatives to doctorate degrees

Depending on your career path and goals, a master’s degree may be a better option. Master’s degrees take less time and cost less than doctorate degrees, and are available in nearly every field, including health care , business , the social sciences , natural sciences , and humanities . 

If you’re more interested in skills development, a professional certificate program can be a strong option to help you develop job-ready skills in popular fields like data science, project management, and UX design. You’ll find an array of programs from industry leaders like Google, Meta, IBM, Salesforce, and more on Coursera . 

Learn more: Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?

A doctorate can be financially, academically, and personally rewarding, adding important knowledge to your wheelhouse and a standout credential to your resume. Earning your master's can also help you discern whether an academic doctorate makes sense for your larger objectives. Explore degrees in computer science , business , management , or public health from leading US institutions on Coursera, all while enjoying greater flexibility than an in-person degree program tends to offer. 

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How to Pay for Graduate School: 8 Ways

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Article sources

1. Education Data Initiative. “ Average Cost of a Doctorate Degree , https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-a-doctorate-degree.” Accessed June 22, 2022. 

2. Education Data Initiative. “ Average Cost of Medical School , https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-medical-school.” Accessed June 22, 2022. 

3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “ Lawyers , https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm.” Accessed June 22, 2022. 

4. BLS. “ Physicians and Surgeons , ​​https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm.” Accessed June 22, 2022. 

5. BLS. “ Education Pays , https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm.” Accessed June 22, 2022. 

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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phd doctorate meaning

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.”

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A Doctor of Philosophy or Doctorate

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More than 54,000 students earned doctoral degrees in 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, a 30 percent increase since 2000, according to the  National Science Foundation . A Ph.D., also called a doctorate, is a "Doctor of Philosophy" degree, which is a misleading moniker because most Ph.D. holders are not philosophers. The term for this increasingly popular degree derives from the original meaning of the word "philosophy," which comes from the ancient Greek word  philosophia , meaning "love of wisdom."

What Is a Ph.D.?

In that sense, the term "Ph.D." is accurate, because the degree has historically been a license to teach, but it also signifies that the holder is an "authority, in full command of (a given) subject right up to the boundaries of current knowledge, and able to extend them," says  FindAPhD , an online Ph.D. database. Earning a Ph.D. requires a hefty financial and time commitment— $35,000 to $60,000  and two to eight years—as well as research, creating a thesis or dissertation, and possibly some teaching duties.

Deciding to pursue a Ph.D. can represent a major life choice. Doctoral candidates require additional schooling after completing a master's program to earn their Ph.D.: They must complete additional coursework, pass comprehensive exams , and complete an independent dissertation in their field. Once completed, though, a doctoral degree—often called a "terminal degree"—can open doors for the Ph.D.holder, especially in academia but also in business.

Core Courses and Electives

To obtain a Ph.D., you need to take a group of core courses as well as electives, totaling about 60 to 62 "hours," which are roughly the equivalent of units at the bachelor's degree level. For example, Washington State University offers a  Ph.D. in crop science . Core courses, which make up about 18 hours, include such subjects as introduction to population genetics, plant transmission genetics, and plant breeding.

Additionally, the student must make up the remaining required hours through electives. The  Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health  offers a doctoral degree in Biological Sciences in Public Health. After core courses such as laboratory rotations, biological sciences seminars, and core principles of biostatistics and epidemiology, the Ph.D. candidate is required to take electives in related fields such as advanced respiratory physiology, advanced respiratory physiology, and ecological and epidemiological control of parasitic diseases. Degree-granting institutions across the board want to ensure that those who earn Ph.D.s have broad knowledge in their chosen field.

Thesis or Dissertation and Research

A Ph.D. also requires students to complete a large scholarly project known as a  dissertation , a research report—usually 60-plus pages—which signifies that they are able to make significant independent contributions to their chosen field of study. Students take on the project, also known as a  doctoral thesis , after completing the core and elective coursework and passing a  comprehensive examination . Through the dissertation, the student is expected to make a new and creative contribution to a field of study and to demonstrate her expertise.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, for example, a strong medical dissertation relies heavily on the creation of a specific hypothesis that can be either disproved or supported by data collected through independent student research. Further, it must also contain several key elements starting with an introduction to the problem statement, conceptual framework, and research question as well as references to literature already published on the topic. Students must show that the  dissertation  is relevant, provides new insight into the chosen field, and is a topic that they can research independently.

Financial Aid and Teaching

There are several ways to pay for a doctoral degree: scholarships, grants, fellowships, and government loans, as well as teaching.  GoGrad , a graduate school information website, provides such examples as the:

  • Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program, which provides full tuition and an annual stipend of $25,000 to $38,000.
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, a three-year graduate fellowship that is designed to support doctoral students across 15 engineering disciplines
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, a three-year program that provides an annual stipend of $34,000 and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees

As it does for bachelor's and master's degrees, the federal government also offers several  loan programs  to help students finance their Ph.D. studies. You generally apply for these loans by filling out the free application for federal student aid ( FAFSA ). Students planning to go into teaching after obtaining their doctoral degrees often also supplement their income by teaching undergraduate classes at the schools where they are studying. The University of California, Riverside, for example, offers a "teaching award"—essentially a stipend applied toward tuition costs—for Ph.D. candidates in English who teach undergraduate, beginning-level, English courses

Jobs and Opportunities for Ph.D. Holders

Education accounts for a large percentage doctoral awards, with elementary education, curriculum and instruction, educational leadership and administration, special education, and counselor education/ school counseling topping the list. Most universities in the United States require a Ph.D. for candidates who seek teaching positions, regardless of the department.

Many Ph.D. candidates seek the degree, however, to boost their current salaries. For example, a health, sports, and fitness educator at a community college would realize a bump in annual pay for obtaining a Ph.D. The same holds for educational administrators. Most such positions require only a master's degree, but obtaining a Ph.D. generally leads to an annual stipend that school districts add to the annual salary. That same health and fitness instructor at a community college could also move on from a teaching position and become a dean at a community college—a position that requires a Ph.D.—boosting his pay to  $120,000 to $160,000  a year or more.

So, the opportunities for a doctoral degree holder are wide and varied, but the cost and commitment required are significant. Most experts say you should know your future career plans before you make the commitment. If you know what you want to get out of the degree, then the years of required study and sleepless nights may well be worth the investment.

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the highest degree, a doctorate, awarded by a graduate school in a field of academic study, usually to a person who has completed at least three years of graduate study and a dissertation approved by a committee of professors.

a person who has been awarded this degree.

Origin of Ph.D.

  • Also called Doctor of Philosophy [ dok -ter uh v fi- los - uh -fee] /ˈdɒk tər əv fɪˈlɒs ə fi/ .

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Ph.D. in a sentence

He also bragged about earning a PhD, a point Smerconish did not question.

Even his nametag played up his dweeby nature, labeling him “Mr. Gruber, PhD.”

Throughout her life, she faced public ridicule, legal persecution and, eventually, redemption through a PhD in clinical sexology.

“It is impossible by elections to choose normal people,” argues Yoram Gat, an Israeli software engineer with a PhD in statistics.

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, he grew up in California and earned his PhD in neuroscience at Stanford.

Damn few of them got it from me, I'm happy to say, and those that did, knew more about the subject than most PhD's.

It was a great diversion from the late nights working on my PhD.

British Dictionary definitions for PhD

Doctor of Philosophy : Also: DPhil

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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Is a PhD Degree for Me? This is What it Means


Wherever you are in your educational journey, you’ve likely heard of the graduate degree called a PhD degree. You may be wondering what is a PhD degree, what are PhD requirements, and what it means to earn a PhD. At this point, you may be questioning if getting a PhD is the right next step for you.

To receive a PhD, you will add the title “Dr.” to you name, but there is much more to it than that. Here, we will dive into what a PhD means, what it takes to earn one, the different kinds of PhD degrees that exist, and the reasons why you may choose to take the path to graduate with one.

What is a PhD?

First thing’s first, let’s define all the ins and outs of what a PhD means. PhD is an abbreviation for “Doctor of Philosophy.”

A PhD is the ultimate academic degree you can earn in a field of choice. To earn a PhD, you must complete original research and evaluate a theory. More often than not, this includes data analysis. This fact is true no matter where you are in the world.

Unlike undergraduate degrees, a PhD is heavily focused on research. As such, lectures are not all that common when working towards earning the degree, but they do still exist. Rather, students will focus particularly on an aspect of the subject choice to create a dissertation. Along with a written thesis, students must present their work orally (known as a “viva voce”) to a group of examiners.

A PhD is recognized around the world as the highest academic achievement. Therefore, no matter where you go, it bears with it an international standard of understanding and a level of respect. It allows for you to be a professor in academia and work in a highly specialized position within the field.

Requirements and Length of Time

While the payoffs of a PhD may seem enticing, the journey to earn your PhD is not an easy or short one.

More often than not, a PhD comes after a master degree. Yet, that’s not always true. Some institutions allow students to skip the master degree and move straight from a bachelor degree into a PhD program.

The time length of a PhD program can vary, but it generally takes three to four years to complete. If a student chooses to study part-time, it could take upwards of six or seven years to graduate.

In order to be accepted into a PhD program, there are a variety of PhD requirements. The most important requirement tends to be proof of high academic standing from your master degree. Some schools may also factor in your bachelor degree grades.

Grades also play a role in assessing the type of funding you may receive. If you have low grades, but still want to pursue a PhD, you’ll likely have to self-fund.

Along with grades, most institutions will also require the following:

1. Proof of language proficiency in the language you will pursue your PhD.

2. resume of work experience and transcript of academic courses., 3. a personal statement sharing your reasons why you want to pursue a phd in your respective field and perhaps why you are choosing the institution., 4. a phd research proposal, which includes:.

  • Your proposed research topic
  • Experience regarding the subject matter
  • Gaps in current knowledge, your understanding of current findings
  • Your research methodology
  • How your research and its implications will affect the world

Student working on a dissertation for a PhD

Photo by  Wadi Lissa  on  Unsplash

How to get a phd.

Getting a PhD requires planning, research, and commitment. Some schools vary in their requirements to apply, so it’s best practice to create your list of desired schools and research their needs.

You can choose to get a PhD at any age, but it’s best to start thinking proactively when you are moving along your graduate degree program.

Here are the main steps it takes to get a PhD:

1. Get a bachelor’s degree

2. complete the gre, 3. apply to graduate schools, 4. begin master’s or phd program, 5. if master’s, graduate and then apply again for a phd program, 6. complete phd coursework, 7. start research and write a dissertation, 8. share dissertation and get published, 9. graduate with a phd, types of phd.

There are different categories of PhD degrees. However, students only choose between professional and academic. Higher and honorary PhDs are awarded later in one’s career.

These include:

Granted in traditional subjects by performing academic research (PhD/Doctor of Philosophy/Th.D – Doctor of Theology)


These contribute directly to a specific vocational field (Doctor of Business Administration, Doctor of Engineering, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Social Science, Doctor of Architecture, etc.)


To honor esteemed researchers and professionals, an honorary PhD may be rewarded (Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Science – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, Doctor of Science – Arts and Humanities)

Reasons to Get a PhD

Everyone has their own reasons for why they want to get their PhD. Here are some motivations behind why you may choose to pursue the degree:

1. Intellectual challenge:

As the final degree in academics, a PhD will challenge your intellectual abilities.

2. Career goals:

Your chosen career requires that you have the degree (i.e., becoming a professor).

3. Personal passion:

You enjoy the subject matter and want to be an expert in the field.

4. Research:

You have something to contribute or know how to fill a gap in the current information.

Research and PhD publication

Photo by  Abby Chung  from  Pexels

The bottom line.

Earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree is not only for those who wish to become a professor . Whether your future career requires the degree or not, you may still want to pursue the academic challenge.

The most common trait of a PhD relies on research. As such, a government agency or organization may also want to fund you in performing research if you have something worthwhile to contribute to your field of study.

As the ultimate destination in terms of degrees, the title of PhD next to your name is well-respected and universally acknowledged. However, before enrolling in a program, make sure that you have the time, resources, and personal passion to fulfill all the necessary requirements.

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  • Master’s vs PhD | A Complete Guide to the Differences

Master's vs PhD | A Complete Guide to the Differences

Published on November 27, 2020 by Lauren Thomas . Revised on June 1, 2023.

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 step to a PhD. In the US, the master’s is built into PhD programs, while in most other countries, a separate master’s degree is required before applying for PhDs.

Master’s are far more common than PhDs. In the US, 24 million people have master’s or professional degrees, whereas only 4.5 million have doctorates.

Table of contents

Master’s vs phd at a glance, which is right for you, length of time required, career prospects, costs and salaries, application process, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about master's and phd degrees.

The table below shows the key differences between the two.

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A PhD is right for you if:

  • Your goal is to become a professor at a university or some other type of professional researcher.
  • You love research and are passionate about discovering the answer to a particular question.
  • You are willing to spend years pursuing your research even if you have to put up with a lot of dead ends and roadblocks.

A master’s degree is the better choice if any of the following apply:

  • You want to continue studies in your field, but you’re not committed to a career as a professional researcher.
  • You want to develop professional skills for a specific career.
  • You are willing to pay a higher upfront cost if it means finishing with your degree (and thus being able to work) much faster.
  • You want the option to study part-time while working.

The length of time required to complete a PhD or master’s degree varies. Unsurprisingly, PhDs take much longer, usually between 3–7 years. Master’s degrees are usually only 1–2 years.

Length of a master’s

Master’s degrees are usually 2 years, although 1-year master’s degrees also exist, mainly in the UK.

Most of the degree consists of classes and coursework, although many master’s programs include an intensive, semester-long master’s thesis or capstone project in which students bring together all they’ve learned to produce an original piece of work.

Length of a PhD

In the US, a PhD usually takes between 5 and 7 years to complete. The first 2 years are spent on coursework. Students, even those who choose to leave without finishing the program, usually receive a master’s degree at this point.

The next 3–5 years are spent preparing a dissertation —a lengthy piece of writing based on independent research, which aims to make a significant original contribution to one’s field.

Master’s degrees tend to prepare you for a career outside of academia, while PhDs are designed to lead to a career in research.

Careers for master’s graduates

There are two types of master’s degrees: terminal and research-intensive. The career prospects are different for each.

Terminal master’s degrees are intended to prepare students for careers outside of academia. Some degrees, known as professional degrees, specifically prepare students for particular professions; these include the Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees.

Other master’s degrees, usually Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Sciences (MS or MSc) degrees, do not necessarily lead to a specific career, but are intended to be a final degree. Examples include an MS in Communications or MS in Data Analytics.

In research-intensive master’s programs, students take coursework intended to prepare them for writing an original piece of research known as the master’s thesis . Such programs are usually intended to prepare for further study in a doctoral program.

Careers for PhD graduates

As research degrees, PhDs are usually intended to lead to an academic career. A PhD can be thought of like an apprenticeship, where students learn from professional researchers (academics) how to produce their own research.

Most students aspire to become a university professor upon the completion of their degree. However, careers in academia are highly competitive, and the skills learned in a doctoral program often lend themselves well to other types of careers.

Some graduates who find they prefer teaching to producing research go on to be teachers at liberal arts colleges or even secondary schools. Others work in research-intensive careers in the government, private sector, or at think tanks.

Below are a few examples of specific fields and non-academic careers that are common destinations of graduates of those fields.

  • Computer Science
  • Lab Sciences

Many government jobs, including economists at a country’s central bank, are research-intensive and require a PhD. Think tanks also hire economists to carry out independent research.

In the private sector, economic consulting and technology firms frequently hire PhDs to solve real-world problems that require complex mathematical modeling.

Graduate students from the humanities are sometimes hired by museums, who can make use of their research and writing skills to curate exhibits and run public outreach.

Humanities PhDs are often well-suited to research and grant-writing roles at nonprofits. Since so much of research is funded by grants, PhD students often gain a lot of experience applying for them, which is a useful skill in the nonprofit sector.

There are a wide range of non-academic research jobs for lab scientists with doctorates in subjects like chemistry, biology, ecology and physics.

Many PhD graduates are hired by pharmaceutical companies that need to perform research to create and test their products. Government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), also hire lab scientists to work on research projects.

Job prospects after graduation vary widely based on the field. In fields like management, computer science, statistics, and economics, there’s little underemployment—even graduates from less well-known programs can easily find jobs that pay well and use the skills they’ve gained from the PhD.

However, in other fields, particularly in the humanities, many PhD graduates have difficulty in the job market. Unfortunately, there are far more PhD graduates than assistant professor roles, so many instead take on part-time and low-paid roles as adjunct instructors. Even non-academic careers can sometimes be difficult for PhDs to move into, as they may be seen as “overqualified”  or as lacking in relevant professional experience.

Because career options post-PhD vary so much, you should take the time to figure out what the career prospects are in your field. Doctoral programs often have detailed “placement” records online in which they list the career outcomes of their graduates immediately upon leaving the program. If you can’t find these records, contact the program and ask for them—placement information should play an important role in your choice of PhD program.

Although PhDs take far longer to complete, students often receive a living stipend in exchange for being a teaching or research assistant. Master’s degrees are shorter but less likely to be funded.

Both master’s degrees and PhDs lead to increased salaries upon graduation. While PhDs usually earn a bit more than those with a master’s degree, in some fields, the wages are identical, meaning that no financial benefit is gained from going on to a PhD.

Cost of a master’s

The upfront cost of a master’s degree is usually higher than a doctoral degree due to the lower amount of financial aid available. However, increased salaries also arrive faster than with a doctoral degree, because people graduate much earlier from a master’s program.

Some master’s students do receive stipends for their degrees, usually as compensation for being a teaching or research assistant. In addition, many people complete master’s degrees part time while working full-time, which allows them to fund their living costs as well as tuition.

The cost varies significantly by school and program. Public schools are usually cheaper than private ones. Some master’s degrees, such as MBAs, are notoriously expensive, but also result in much higher wages afterwards that make up for the high cost.

The master’s wage premium , or the extra amount that someone with a master’s degree makes than someone with just a high school diploma, is 23% on average. Many universities provide detailed statistics on the career and salary outcomes of their students. If they do not have this online, you should feel free to contact an administrator of the program and ask.

Cost of a PhD

PhDs, particularly outside the humanities, are usually (though not always) funded, meaning that tuition fees are fully waived and students receive a small living stipend. During the last 3–5 years of a PhD, after finishing their coursework (and sometimes before), students are usually expected to work as graduate instructors or research assistants in exchange for the stipend.

Sometimes students can apply for a fellowship (such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program in the United States) that relieves them of any obligations to be a teaching or research assistant. Doctoral programs in the US tend to be better funded than in the rest of the world.

Sometimes, PhD degrees can be completed part-time, but this is rare. Students are usually expected to devote at least 40 hours a week to their research and work as teaching or research assistants.

The main cost of doctoral programs comes in the form of opportunity cost—all the years that students could be working a regular, full-time job, which usually pays much better than a graduate school stipend.

The average wage premium for PhDs is 26%, which is not much higher than the master’s degree premium.

In the US, the application process is similar for master’s and PhD programs. Both will generally ask for:

  • At least one application essay, often called a personal statement or statement of purpose .
  • Letters of recommendation .
  • A resume or CV .
  • Transcripts.
  • Writing samples.

Applications for both types of programs also often require a standardized test. PhDs usually require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which tries to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative, critical thinking , and analytical writing skills. Many master’s programs require this test as well.

Applying for a master’s

Master’s degrees programs will often ask you to respond to specific essay prompts that may ask you to reflect upon not just your academic background, but also your personal character and future career ambitions.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg Business School requires Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) applicants write two essays, one about a recent time they demonstrated leadership and the second about their personal values.

Who you should ask for your letters of recommendation varies by program. If you are applying to a research-intensive master’s program, then you should choose former professors or research supervisors. For other programs, particularly business school, current work supervisors may be a better choice.

Some professional master’s programs require a specific test. For example, to apply to law school, you must take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. For business school, you must take either the GRE or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).

Applying for a PhD

When applying for a PhD, your resume should focus more on your research background—you should especially emphasize any publications you’ve authored or presentations that you’ve given.

Similarly, your statement of purpose should discuss research that you’ve participated in, whether as an assistant or the lead author. You should detail what exactly you did in projects you’ve contributed to, whether that’s conducting a literature review, coding regressions, or writing an entire article.

Your letters of recommendations should be from former professors or supervisors who can speak to your abilities and potential as a researcher. A good rule of thumb is to avoid asking for recommendations from anyone who does not themselves have a PhD.

If you want to know more about college essays , academic writing , and AI tools , make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

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A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

This depends on the country. In the United States, you can generally go directly to a PhD  with only a bachelor’s degree, as a master’s program is included as part of the doctoral program.

Elsewhere, you generally need to graduate from a research-intensive master’s degree before continuing to the PhD.

This varies by country. In the United States, PhDs usually take between 5–7 years: 2 years of coursework followed by 3–5 years of independent research work to produce a dissertation.

In the rest of the world, students normally have a master’s degree before beginning the PhD, so they proceed directly to the research stage and complete a PhD in 3–5 years.

A master’s degree usually has a higher upfront cost, but it also allows you to start earning a higher salary more quickly. The exact cost depends on the country and the school: private universities usually cost more than public ones, and European degrees usually cost less than North American ones. There are limited possibilities for financial aid.

PhDs often waive tuition fees and offer a living stipend in exchange for a teaching or research assistantship. However, they take many years to complete, during which time you earn very little.

In the US, the graduate school application process is similar whether you’re applying for a master’s or a PhD . Both require letters of recommendation , a statement of purpose or personal statement , a resume or CV , and transcripts. Programs in the US and Canada usually also require a certain type of standardized test—often the GRE.

Outside the US, PhD programs usually also require applicants to write a research proposal , because students are expected to begin dissertation research in the first year of their PhD.

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The Pros and Cons of Getting a PhD

phd doctorate meaning

Getting a doctorate is a decision that will impact both your personal and professional life for many years to come. In this blog, we explore the benefits and drawbacks of attaining a doctoral degree, aiming to provide you with an unbiased view to help you make an informed decision.

Why Consider A PhD?

The benefits of a phd.

When it comes to enhancing your knowledge and contributing to your chosen field, few pathways can match the depth of a PhD. The benefits of a PhD extend beyond mere academic gains – they permeate each dimension of your professional enhancement.

1. Mastery in Your Field A PhD equips you with comprehensive knowledge about a specific area, amplifying your analytical, critical thinking and research skills to a level far beyond what a bachelor’s or a master’s degree could offer.

2. Opportunity for Ground-breaking Research As a PhD student, your primary role is to create new knowledge. The sense of fulfillment derived from contributing something novel to your field can be incredibly rewarding.

3. Networking Opportunities During your PhD program, you'll attend conferences and seminars, presenting you with opportunities to mingle with like-minded individuals, renowned academics and industry professionals, expanding your professional network substantially.

4. Enhanced Career Prospects With a PhD, a broader horizon of career opportunities opens up. You become a university professor, a leader in research organizations, or even a policy-maker influencing critical decisions in your field.

Practical Reasons to Get a Doctorate Degree

1. Societal Impact PhD holders can influence policy, promoting changes that positively impact society at various levels.

2. Teaching Opportunities For those passionate about educating others and impacting future generations, a Doctorate degree is often a prerequisite for higher-level academic positions.

3. Potential Higher Earnings A direct benefit of a PhD is the possibility of higher earnings over the course of your career, although this can vary considerably depending on the field.

The Flip Side: Challenges of a PhD 

Just like any significant endeavor, getting a doctorate comes with its fair share of challenges.

The Cons of a PhD

1. Time and Financial Commitment A typical PhD can take 4-7 years to complete. Not only does this require a substantial investment of your time, it can also strain your finances. While scholarships and stipends may alleviate some costs, there is the foregone income to consider as well.

2. Pressures and Stress Levels The demands of a PhD — meticulous research, endless writing and frequent presentations — are often high. The intense pressure can lead to stress and burnout.

3. Work-Life Balance The long hours often required to complete a PhD can lead to a blurring of lines between work and personal life.

Practical Disadvantages of a Doctorate Degree

1. Over-Qualification Depending on your field, you might find potential employers outside academia who view you as overqualified, thus narrowing your pool of job opportunities.

2. Limited Practical Experience Dependent largely on theoretical work, a PhD sometimes lags in offering industry-specific training, which some employers may seek.

3. Opportunity Costs You should consider alternative achievements you might forego during the years spent on your PhD. This includes work experience, career progression, or even personal life events.

Making an Informed Decision: PhD or Not?

Deciding whether or not a PhD is worth it for you is a deeply personal decision, highly dependent on your long-term career goals and current life situation.

Evaluate your reasons to get a doctorate degree. 

  • Are you genuinely passionate about research?
  • How essential is a PhD for your career aspirations?
  • Are you ready for the financial implications?

Have you considered the opportunity cost? 

Seeking advice from PhD holders, mentors, and career advisors can offer valuable insights in answering these questions.

The decision to pursue a PhD is undoubtedly complex and multifaceted. It requires careful consideration of both the benefits of a doctorate degree and its potential disadvantages. Ultimately, though, it is a personal decision. What is very clear is this: when used as a stepping stone for specific career goals, a PhD can be an exceptionally powerful tool.


learn more about what it takes to get a PhD

Explore our guide How to Get a PhD: A Guide to Choosing and Applying to PhD Programs. 


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phd doctorate meaning

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  1. PhD vs Doctorate: Difference and Comparison

    phd doctorate meaning

  2. PhD meaning and its tale

    phd doctorate meaning

  3. The Difference Between A Doctorate And A PhD

    phd doctorate meaning

  4. The Importance of PhD In Your Academic Career Journey!

    phd doctorate meaning

  5. What is a Doctorate Degree?

    phd doctorate meaning

  6. What is a Professional Doctorate Degree? How is it different from PhD

    phd doctorate meaning


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  5. PhD

  6. PhD Meaning?


  1. PhD Definition & Meaning

    ˌpē-ˌāch-ˈdē variants or Ph.D. plural PhDs or Ph.D.s : the academic degree, title, or rank of doctor of philosophy He was awarded a PhD in economics. Jane Smith, Ph.D. also : a person who has earned the academic degree of doctor of philosophy

  2. Doctor of Philosophy

    A Doctor of Philosophy ( PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin: philosophiae doctor or doctor philosophiae) is the most common degree at the highest academic level, awarded following a course of study and research.

  3. Doctorate

    There are a number of doctoral degrees; the most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to scientific disciplines.

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

    The PhD, also known as the Doctor of Philosophy, is a research degree, which is one of the most common types of doctoral degrees, and is awarded to graduates in many different fields. For those asking, "Is a PhD higher than a doctorate?" the answer is simple: no. A PhD lies within the doctorate category, so one is not better than the other.

  5. What Is a Doctorate or a Doctoral Degree?

    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...

  6. What Does 'PhD' Stand For?

    PhDs—also known as doctorates—are terminal degrees, meaning they are the highest level of degree that you can achieve in certain fields, such as cognitive psychology, mathematics, English, economics, evolutionary biology, and public health. Read more: What Is a PhD? What does it take to earn a PHD?

  7. What is a PhD?

    A PhD is a doctoral research degree and the highest level of academic qualification you can achieve. The degree normally takes between three and four years of full-time work towards a thesis offering an original contribution to your subject.

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

    A Ph.D., also called a Doctor of Philosophy, is the designation of a graduate-level university degree that a student earns over the course of several years. Ph.D. programs teach students about a specialized field with an emphasis on research, analysis and theory.

  9. What Is a PhD?

    A Doctor of Philosophy, often known as a PhD, is a terminal degree —or the highest possible academic degree you can earn in a subject.

  10. PhD

    PhD definition: 1. abbreviation for doctor of philosophy: the highest college or university degree, or someone who…. Learn more.

  11. What is a PhD?

    What is the meaning of PhD? The term PhD or Doctorate of Philosophy is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase 'philosophiae doctor'. A PhD degree typically involves students independently conducting original and significant research in a specific field or subject, before producing a publication-worthy thesis. While some Doctorates include taught ...

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

    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.

  13. What's the difference between 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. What is a PhD or Professional Doctorate Degree?

    What is a PhD or Professional Doctorate Degree? | Swinburne ethical issues. You'll undertake research at the university as well as spending time immersed in the work environment of your industry partner. Through this, you'll simultaneously grow your knowledge of communication, leadership and business as well as develop your research skills.

  15. 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 ...

  16. What Is a Doctorate?

    An academic doctorate, often called a PhD (short for Doctor of Philosophy), is a research degree that typically requires completing a dissertation. Students enrolled in a PhD program may be interested in working in academia as a professor or conducting research in their field.

  17. Doctorate vs. 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.

  18. A Doctor of Philosophy or Doctorate

    A Ph.D., also called a doctorate, is a "Doctor of Philosophy" degree, which is a misleading moniker because most Ph.D. holders are not philosophers. The term for this increasingly popular degree derives from the original meaning of the word "philosophy," which comes from the ancient Greek word philosophia, meaning "love of wisdom."

  19. PH.D. Definition & Usage Examples

    Ph.D. definition: . See examples of PH.D. used in a sentence.

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

    A PhD is an academic degree focused on original research, data analysis, and the evaluation of theory. A professional doctorate focuses on applying research to practical problems, formulating solutions to complex issues, and designing effective professional practices within your field. Is a PhD Higher Than a Professional Doctorate?

  21. Is a PhD Degree for Me? This is What it Means

    PhD is an abbreviation for "Doctor of Philosophy.". A PhD is the ultimate academic degree you can earn in a field of choice. To earn a PhD, you must complete original research and evaluate a theory. More often than not, this includes data analysis. This fact is true no matter where you are in the world.

  22. 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 ...

  23. MD-PhD

    The Doctorate of Medicine and of Philosophy (MD-PhD) is a dual doctoral degree for physician-scientists, combining the professional training of the Doctor of Medicine degree with the research expertise of the Doctor of Philosophy degree; the Ph.D. is the most advanced credential in the United States. Other dual degree programs exist, such as the joint MD-JD degree; both the JD ...

  24. The Pros and Cons of Getting a PhD

    1. Societal Impact. PhD holders can influence policy, promoting changes that positively impact society at various levels. 2. Teaching Opportunities. For those passionate about educating others and impacting future generations, a Doctorate degree is often a prerequisite for higher-level academic positions. 3.