Different Types of Ph.D. degrees that you must know before applying

18 min read

The word Ph.D. stands for Doctor of Philosophy that originated from the Latin Phrase “Philosophiae doctor.” Through meaningful contributions to the chosen research field, it is the highest level of education that a student can achieve. A student attains a Ph.D. degree through independent and original research in a specific field or subject under a supervisor. In this article, we will cover all the basics of attaining a Ph.D. degree and different types of Ph.D. degrees.

It generally takes three to four years, full-time, depending on the research domain, university and supervisor, to complete. By the end of the Ph.D. program, the Ph.D. student is expected to publish a research paper, in a recognized journal. 

Before we continue further, let’s understand the difference between a Ph.D. and a Doctorate. A Ph.D. is an academic degree focused on original research, data analysis, and theory evaluation. A professional doctorate focuses on applying research to practical problems, formulating solutions to complex issues, and designing effective professional practices within your field. 

Please note that throughout this article, Ph.D. and Doctorate will mean the same thing. 

Do you need a master’s to get a Ph.D.?

Well, it depends. Having a master’s degree is not mandatory to get enrolled in a Ph.D. program. There have been many cases where a student with only an undergraduate degree got accepted to a prestigious Ph.D. programs. How are they able to do this, you ask? In short, they were able to enroll directly in a Ph.D. program because of their experience working in a lab or research they did during their undergraduate years along with a strong recommendation letter. 

Some Ph.D. degrees often include a master’s degree with it. So, after completing your master’s, you can start right into your Ph.D. journey. In most instances like this, you will be only awarded a Ph.D. degree at the end.

What is the typical Ph.D. process?

Unlike graduate or undergraduate programs, a Ph.D. degree involves pure research. As a Ph.D. student,, you will undertake research, with supervisor guidance, take high-level academic courses and assist your supervisor in an academic capacity.

A typical Ph.D. normally involves:

  1. Undertaking literature reviews 

  2. Conducting original research, collecting results and producing a thesis paper

  3. A complete thesis that presents the conclusion and submits a dissertation 

  4. Defending your thesis paper in a viva voce exam. 'Viva voce' = with living voice (oral)

  5. If everything goes in your favor, you will have a published academic journal(s), a book(s)s or other media.  

Four main types of doctorate/Ph.D. degrees:

There are four main types of doctorate/Ph.D. degrees: 

1. Academic Doctorate: This is the most common doctorate. These doctorate degrees are awarded to students who take on original research in traditional academic subjects. 

2. Professional Doctorate: Professional doctorates involve practical training, course work and doing original research and analysis. Doctor of Business administration is an example of a professional doctorate.

3. Higher Doctorate: Higher Doctorates are generally awarded to recognized researchers and practitioners. Work smart and diligently and one day, you may receive one.

4. Honorary Doctorate: Honorary Doctorates are awarded to celebrate an individual’s achievements (Not always exactly in the same field). This type of doctorate is purely honorary and doesn’t require any track record of academic or professional work in a particular field.   

You will receive the “Dr.” title upon completion of any of the doctorate degrees mentioned above.

Types of Popular Ph.D. degrees around the world:

The pinnacle achievement in a particular domain, the Ph.D. Holders of this title establish themselves as experts in their field. That is why they are likely to earn 9 percent more, in their lifetime, than master’s degree holders. Professionals or academicians are trying to differentiate themselves, in the fastest-growing fields, with a Ph.D. degree. These are the most popular Ph.D. degrees around the world. 

1. Doctor of Business Administration (DBA): The Doctor of Business Degree origram prepares a student to lead the innovation, evaluation and adaptation of the fastest growing industries. These students are taught to effectively lead and influence organizations by teaching them business tricks, how to be successful and how to analyse both successes and failures.

2. Doctor of Public Health (DPH): The Doctor of Public Health degree is tailored for individuals willing to lead policy making in public health sectors. It prepares a student to successfully develop critical skills to identify, validate and improve critical health strategies. 

3. Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA): The Doctor of Healthcare Administration is similar to the Doctor of Public Health. This degree prepares students to lead health care businesses through administration, policy, regulation, marketing, communication and management. 

4. Doctor of Social Work (DSW): If you get excited about social justice, reform, and equality, then a Doctor of Social Work is for you. A Doctor of Social Work teaches a student to take on independent practice or to work at driving social change and to improve the human experience, especially for marginalized populations. 

Note: A Doctor of Social Work degree doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to study social work. You will be conferred a DSW if you undertake any of these: Criminal Justice, Family Studies, Public Policy... The other doctorates are similar. 

Other Types of Ph.D. programs:

Integrated Masters with Ph.D.: An Integrated Master's program is a four-year postgraduate degree combination, with a one-year master's program and three-year Ph.D. program. This type of integrated master’s program, with a Ph.D. degree, first familiarizes students with the necessary appropriate research methods, modules, topics, research proposal development and academic writing, in ordert o complete a Ph.D.

Students who lack specialized knowledge and research skills opt for this program. They undertake this program to confer a master’s and a Ph.D. degree instead of a single qualification. 

Master of Philosophy (MPhil): Master of Philosophy is different from the traditional master's program. This advanced postgraduate research degree emphasizes independent research within a specific targeted topic. This degree is close to a Ph.D. degree. Students generally undertake MPhil to learn new research skills, explore research topicsand gain relevant research experience/doctoral training. 

MPhil students are expected to produce a thesis paper within 1-2 years of pursuing this degree. In some countries, such as the U.K., it is expected or mandatory that a Ph.D. student first register for an MPhil, and then register for a Ph.D.   

Have you ever got confused between Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)?

The key difference between the two is an M.D. focuses on the application of medicine to diagnose and treat patients. In contrast, a Ph.D. holder focuses on research in a chosen field to expand their and the 'world's' knowledge. One common thing is both degree holders are referred to as “Doctors”.

Other types of Ph.D. Degrees:

  1. Doctor of Architecture

  2. Doctor of Arts

  3. Doctor of Arts in Teaching

  4. Doctor of Applied Science

  5. Doctor of Business Administration

  6. Doctor of Canon Law

  7. Doctor of Chemistry

  8. Doctor of Church Music

  9. Doctor of Criminal Justice

  10. Doctor of Criminology

  11. Doctor of Comparative/Civil Law

  12. Doctor of Design

  13. Doctor of Education

  14. Doctor of Engineering

  15. Doctor of Environment

  16. Doctor of Fine Arts

  17. Doctor of Forestry

  18. Doctor of Geological Science

  19. Doctor of Health and Safety

  20. Doctor of Hebrew Letters/Literature

  21. Doctor of Hebrew Studies

  22. Doctor of Industrial Technology

  23. Doctor of Juridical Science

  24. Doctor of Juristic Science

  25. Doctor of Library Science

  26. Doctor of Medical Science

  27. Doctor of Missiology

  28. Doctor of Music

  29. Doctor of Music Education

  30. Doctor of Music Ministry

  31. Doctor of Musical Arts

  32. Doctor of Modern Languages

  33. Doctor of Nursing Science

  34. Doctor of Philosophy

  35. Doctor of Physical Education

  36. Doctor of Professional Studies

  37. Doctor of Public Administration

  38. Doctor of Public Health

  39. Doctor of Recreation

  40. Doctor of Rehabilitation

  41. Doctor of Religious Education

  42. Doctor of Sacred Music

  43. Doctor of Sacred Theology

  44. Doctor of Science

  45. Doctor of Science and Hygiene

  46. Doctor of Science in Dentistry

  47. Doctor of Science in Veterinary Medicine

  48. Doctor of Science of Law

  49. Doctor of Social Science

  50. Doctor of Social Work

  51. Doctor of Theology

Professional Ph.D. Degrees:

  1. Doctor of Acupuncture

  2. Doctor of Athletic Training

  3. Doctor of Audiology

  4. Doctor of Behavioral Health

  5. Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine

  6. Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Science

  7. Doctor of Computer Science

  8. Doctor of Professional Counseling

  9. Doctor of Dental Surgery

  10. Doctor of Dental Medicine

  11. Doctor of Economic Development

  12. Doctor of Health Administration

  13. Doctor of Health Science

  14. Juris Doctor

  15. Doctor of Jurisprudence

  16. Doctor of Management

  17. Doctor of Medical Physics

  18. Doctor of Medicine

  19. Doctor of Ministry

  20. Doctor of Practical Theology

  21. Doctor of Biblical Studies

  22. Doctor of Educational Ministry

  23. Doctor of Religious Science

  24. Doctor of (Christian) Ethics in Medicine

  25. Doctor of Church Music

  26. Doctor of Pastoral Music

  27. Doctor of Sacred Music

  28. Doctor of Worship Studies

  29. Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

  30. Doctor of Nursing Practice

  31. Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice

  32. Doctor of Occupational Therapy

  33. Doctor of Optometry

  34. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

  35. Doctor of Law and Policy

  36. Doctor of Pharmacy

  37. Doctor of Physical Therapy

  38. Doctor of Podiatric Medicine

  39. Doctor of Psychology

  40. Doctor of Social Work

  41. Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology

  42. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

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