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Difference Between PhD and Doctorate

PhD vs Doctorate
 

There are many who think that PhD and doctorate is one and the same, and to an extent this theory is correct. Doctoral degrees are the highest point of learning in any field of study and people who complete their doctoral degrees obtain an honorary title of Doctor in their chosen field of study. Indeed PhD is a doctoral degree, but it is not the only certification that leads to a doctoral degree. There are many other degrees that are not PhD’s but still considered equivalent to a PhD. Let us find out the difference between a PhD and a doctorate to properly discern between the two.

Difference Between PhD and Doctorate

What is a Doctorate?

Considered to be the highest points of learning in any field of study, Doctorates are awarded in all fields of study. A good example for this would be J.D in the field of law known as Juris Doctor or a Doctor of Law. Similarly, a Doctor of medicine is what you commonly refer to as a M.D. A doctor of Business Administration is called a D.B.S and a Doctor of Dentistry is called a D.D.S. Similarly, a Doctor of Philosophy is referred to as a PhD. A Doctorate is a highly prestigious and a hard-earned accomplishment, and most universities require their lecturers to obtain one in order for them to be accepted as a lecturer.

What is a PhD?

A PhD or Doctor of Philosophy is a postgraduate academic degree that is awarded for several subject areas which vary from country to country, time period or the institution. However, the term philosophy does not merely refer to the field of philosophy, but it is used in a broader sense. For example in most part of Europe, all field except the field of theology, law, and medicine are known as philosophy while in Germany and elsewhere the faculty of (liberal) arts is referred to as the faculty of philosophy. The recipient of a PhD is automatically awarded the title of Doctor since a PhD is considered as the pinnacle of one’s study. In order to be qualified for a PhD, one has to possess an Honours degree or a Master’s Degree with high academic standing. The PhD candidate is required to submit a thesis or dissertation of original academic research that is worthy of publication and he or she is required to defend this work before a panel of expert examiners appointed by the university. The degree of PhD is a prerequisite to get tenure as a teacher in most Universities and colleges. PhD is recommended for students who are interested in a career in academia and for research enthusiasts driven by scientific and humanistic curiosity.

What is the difference between Doctorate and PhD?

• PhD and Doctoral degrees are similar in the sense that they are considered to be the highest learning point in a field of study

• A PhD is more focused on a career in academics whereas most doctoral degrees focus on a profession outside a university or research environment

• PhD is a prerequisite for tenure as a teacher in colleges and universities

• PhD is also awarded by universities to persons who have provided exceptional services to the community in certain fields. These PhD’s are honorary in nature.

Therefore, we can conclude that while a doctorate can be seen as an umbrella term for most post-graduate academic degree, a PhD is one doctoral degree that falls under that umbrella term.

 

Photo By: Victoria Catterson (CC BY 2.0)

Further Reading: 

  1. Difference Between PhD and Masters
  2. Difference Between PhD and DSc
  3. Difference Between PhD and PsyD


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  • WL

    • A PhD is more focused on research and teaching profession whereas a doctoral degree is more academic in nature and completed to engage in professions other than teaching

    Not really. Majority of academics have PhDs. PhD students and grads are more research-focused compared to doctorates, the latter is more of a professional degree. Most people who solely want to teach, won’t go for a PhD, it’s a waste of time. However, most universities or institutes linked to universities require certain hours of teaching for most researchers (ie: 4 hours per year). It’s easy to see why the average person would emphasis PhDs as more teaching-focused instead of research, when it’s heavily the other way round. Most PhDs I know don’t even teach.

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