If you’re interested in pursuing a doctoral degree, you may wonder about the differences between a doctorate vs. PhD.
A doctorate and a PhD are both terminal degrees that allow you to develop specialized knowledge and skills in your chosen field. But these degrees typically have different areas of focus, requirements, and career outcomes.
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Understanding the difference between PhD and doctorate can help you pick the degree that most aligns with your career aspirations and interests.
What’s the Difference Between Doctorate vs. PhD Degrees?
A doctorate and a Ph.D. are the highest college degrees students can earn. Graduates of both types of programs receive the title of “doctor” and may qualify for specialized careers in their fields.
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But, while doctorate programs focus on professional competencies and knowledge, PhD programs prioritize academic research.
What Is a Doctorate Degree?
A doctorate degree is a professional degree that enables students to become experts in a specific field or industry. This degree focuses on applying academic research and theories in the workplace to improve performance and solve problems.
Courses vary by field and program but typically emphasize professional skills like collaboration, leadership, and project management. Additionally, many doctorate programs require students to complete a capstone project that addresses real issues affecting their industry.
Graduates often qualify for advanced administrative, leadership, and managerial positions in their fields.
What Is a PhD Degree?
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is an opportunity to strengthen your academic research skills and generate original knowledge. This degree trains students to become independent scholars who conduct cutting-edge research in their areas of expertise.
PhD curriculums cover advanced concepts and theories in a discipline. They also teach students qualitative and quantitative methodologies to design studies and conduct research. Additionally, most PhD programs require students to produce a dissertation that contributes fresh knowledge to the field.
Current professionals with PhDs often work as academic researchers and professors. They may also secure government and industry jobs.
Key Differences Between a PhD vs. Doctorate Degree
What’s a PhD degree? What’s a doctorate degree? The main difference between a doctorate and a PhD is their area of focus. A doctorate prioritizes applied knowledge and professional skills, while a PhD emphasizes academic research. Let’s compare some more differences between a professional doctoral degree vs. PhD.
A doctorate enables students to become expert practitioners in their discipline. Students study existing concepts and theories and learn how to apply these ideas in the workplace.
By contrast, a PhD prepares students to conduct innovative research and educate others.
Goals and Outcomes
Doctorate programs help prepare students for senior administrative and leadership positions in their industries. They also help students enhance their professional competencies and tackle industry-specific challenges.
Students who pursue PhDs aim to advance their disciplines by generating new knowledge. They may also publish peer-reviewed research and teach undergraduate courses.
Doctorate degrees are designed for current or aspiring working professionals who want to become industry leaders. These programs also enable students to increase their knowledge and credibility.
PhD programs attract students who want to expand their knowledge of research methodologies and theories. These learners also frequently pursue academic careers.
Doctorate and PhD programs typically require students to have bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Additionally, prospective doctorate students may be asked to provide evidence of work experience, while PhD students might demonstrate their research abilities with a writing sample.
Requirements vary by program, but full-time students typically complete a doctorate in 3 to 5 years. Programs that require a capstone project may take longer. For those considering quick degrees, a number of universities now offer accelerated doctoral programs online.
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PhD programs often take 4 to 7 years to finish. The speed at which students research and write their dissertations can significantly impact the timeline.
The curriculum for doctorate programs typically centers on practical skills and contemporary issues in the field. Topics may include communication, ethics, and leadership.
PhD programs offer classes on research methods, theories, and disciplinary trends. Students also learn how to write journal articles and present at conferences.
Assessment and Completion Requirements
Doctorate and PhD students both complete 2 or more years of coursework. They also demonstrate their knowledge during comprehensive exams.
Doctorate students may produce a capstone project that applies their knowledge to real problems. By contrast, PhD students write dissertations based on original research.
If You Have a PhD, Are You a Doctor?
Is a PhD a doctor? While graduates who earn a PhD are referred to as doctors, a PhD is different from a Doctor of Medicine (MD).
Doctors with MDs are medical doctors who can legally prescribe medications, perform surgery, and treat patients. They typically apply existing medical knowledge instead of conducting research. Doctors with PhDs don’t have any of these abilities. Instead, they have specialized knowledge and perform academic research in a particular field.
PhD or Doctorate Degree – Which Is Right for You?
Understanding the difference between a doctorate and a PhD can help you select the right degree for you.
Professional doctorate degrees help students become leading practitioners and problem solvers. By contrast, PhD degrees enable students to hone their research skills and learn advanced concepts. Both degrees allow you to enrich your understanding of your chosen discipline or profession. They also help you boost your credentials and develop new skills.
After you decide between a doctorate degree vs. PhD, you can explore program options from accredited schools to find the best fit.