The PhD has had a considerable evolution and proliferation in the number and types of doctorates awarded by universities around the world, and practices vary from country to country.
Generally speaking, doctorates can be freely classified into the following categories:
PhDs in Philosophy
Commonly known as PhD
Doctorates in philosophy are research degrees or doctorates, which are designed to prepare people for research careers, either at a university or in industry, and which teach students how to discover new knowledge within their academic discipline.
Doctor of Philosophy. They include a wide range of academic subjects in highly technical areas such as biology, physics, mathematics, or engineering; social sciences such as sociology and economics; and humanities disciplines such as philosophy.
A doctorate is the most common type of degree among university teachers. But academia is not the only path for someone pursuing a doctorate. For example, it is common for people with doctorates in biology to work as researchers in the pharmaceutical industry. And many government expert positions also require a doctorate.
In some countries, especially the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and some Scandinavian nations, or the former USSR and other Eastern Bloc countries, there is a higher level of research doctorates, awarded on the basis of a formally submitted published research portfolio. A very high standard.
Professional or Clinical Doctorates
These are designed to give people the practical skills needed to be influential leaders within a specific industry or work environment, such as business, psychology, education or nursing. Examples of professional doctoral degrees include a Doctor of Business Administration degree, usually referred to as a DBA; a doctorate in psychology, often referred to as Psy.D.
A bachelor’s degree; a Doctor of Education degree, which is usually called Ed.D.; and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, or DNP, are other examples of professional or clinical doctorates. Aspiring doctoral students should know that obtaining a doctorate is often very difficult. It usually requires someone to take a series of rigorous classes in their field of study and then pass a qualifying exam to begin work on their dissertation, which is their final project.
A dissertation is a long original research project that must be examined and approved by a panel of professors in order to be awarded a doctorate.
When a university wishes to formally recognize an individual’s contributions to a particular field or philanthropic efforts, it may choose to award an honorary doctorate (i.e., «for honor»), the university waives the usual formal requirements for awarding the degree.
Some universities do not award honorary degrees, for example, Cornell University, the University of Virginia, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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