What Is A Doctorate Degree?

You might be wondering what the difference is between a Ph.D. and a professional doctorate. Some people say that while a Ph.D. prepares you to teach, a professional doctorate is geared toward a professional career in your selected field. However, the answer is a bit more complicated than that.

Choosing the type of degree you earn can play a huge role in the careers you can pursue, the salary you can expect and the total cost of obtaining the degree.​

Differences Between a Doctoral Degree and a Professional Doctorate

A doctoral degree is the very highest academic degree that you can obtain. You can earn a doctorate in nearly all subject areas. If you already hold a master's degree in your field, you might be able to complete a doctorate in three years of additional full-time study.

If you don't have a master's degree, you will most likely be required to spend four to eight years studying to obtain your doctoral degree.

Anyone who is a leader in a corporate organization can significantly benefit from having a Ph.D. If you intend to hold a post at a university, a doctoral degree is a definite must-have. Making the decision to choose a Ph.D. or a professional doctorate is not necessarily an either/or choice.

The differences between these programs vary depending on the field of study and can occasionally change as improvements and adjustments are made.

The main difference between Ph.D. programs and professional doctorate programs is the type of research the student is required to perform. Ph.D. students are required to create a solution based on the knowledge gained in their particular field to solve a real-world problem. They prove their problem-solving abilities by producing a dissertation.

On the other hand, professional doctorate students are expected to draw from previous experiences and knowledge and apply the information to a problem in the real world. They demonstrate this ability by creating an applied doctoral capstone comprised of paper, product or portfolio.

To sum it up, a Ph.D. student must create a five-chapter dissertation and contribute new solutions to solve real-world problems. Ph.D.s are more interested in consulting or conducting research than in practicing in the profession. Those with a professional doctorate apply existing knowledge to solve real-world problems and have more interest in working directly in their business than in consultation or research.

What Type of Degree Should You Get?

In order to decide what type of degree you should pursue in your field of study, be sure to carefully consider your career goals and the type of research you are interested in performing. Ask yourself the following questions: What do you hope to do? What type of research would you like to perform? Where do you intend to apply your education? Which degree is required or expected in the organization where you would like to advance your career?

Most career areas do not require a doctoral degree. If your job selection requires state licensing (engineering, public school teaching, psychology), you might wish to pursue a doctoral degree to have the opportunity for higher-paying positions and government positions in the government.

A four-year doctorate will take about 90 to 120-semester credits to complete. These credits are equal to 30 or 40 college courses. The length of the courses and the number of required credits can vary based on the doctoral program.

Some programs require the completion of a research thesis. Online doctorates may be designed as "practitioner's degrees" and may not require a research thesis. Instead, you may be required to complete a capstone paper and/or a supervised placement working in your chosen career area.

Because market demand is extremely low, doctorate degrees are rarely found online. Online doctoral degrees tend to be for career areas requiring doctorates for licensing purposes such as psychology. As a high-demand career, it can be easier to obtain an online doctoral degree in business. Most of the online doctorate degrees require you to satisfy supervision requirements by a short residency or campus visits.

If you are thinking about attending a graduate program, you may be wondering what type of degree to get. Once you understand the differences between doctorates and masters, the decision becomes simple.

Keep in mind that both master's and doctoral degrees will give you in-depth training in a specialized field. The higher the degree, the more specialized the focus and the longer it takes to earn it.

What is the Most Common Type of Doctoral Degree?

The most common doctoral degree is the Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D. All research doctorates prepare the student to create new projects with the ability to add to the collective knowledge base of the field. Those who hold Ph.D.s often seek careers as advisors and researchers although some will enter other careers.

When you enter graduate school for any field, you should expect a different experience from your undergraduate years. Those enrolling in graduate degree programs will do best if they are motivated by professional and academic goals. If you have a few years of work experience under your belt, all the better.

Those entering a Ph.D. program have already earned a bachelor's degree in their chosen field. In some cases, a master's degree is also required.

The Ph.D. candidate will begin by taking courses and exams. After completing these, they will take advanced seminars and design dissertation research. Finally, they will complete the requirements by creating and defending a dissertation.

A dissertation is a thesis that demonstrates the candidate's ability to research and support a topic. The dissertation is usually the deciding factor of whether or not the candidate earns his or her doctorate. Failure to complete the dissertation is a major reason for the inability of many candidates to complete their studies.

Depending on the program, a doctoral degree can take up to eight years to earn. If a student has already completed the education required for a master's degree or is coming straight from an undergraduate program, acquiring the doctoral degree may take less time. The length of time also depends on how long the student takes to write the dissertation.

The possession of a Ph.D. demonstrates the person's competence in a certain field and qualifies the holder to become a professor. Having a Ph.D. can also allow the person to hold other roles such as policy development in private, non-profit and public sectors. Because this degree is hard to obtain, you may wish to pursue a master's degree instead if your professional goals do not require a Ph.D.

Successful Completion of a Ph.D. Program

To successfully complete a Ph.D. program, you will need to establish a schedule for completing your course requirements. Stick to your deadlines to avoid falling behind. To prepare for your exams, you will need to save your coursework and organize your study materials.

Take time to connect with your committee members either in person, by phone or by Skype to get to know them and to learn their expectations of you as a student. Work with your committee to determine the best method of approaching your exams. To help improve your oral presentation skills, spend time practicing with a real person.

Preparing your dissertation is one of the most significant accomplishments in your life. As such, it can be extremely challenging. Proper communication with your committee and advisors is crucial toward a successful development and completion of your final project.