If you asked an average person the difference between a PhD and a professional doctorate, they’d probably told you they refer to the same academic degree. Would that be the wrong answer? Well, yes, but actually no.
Both grant a person the doctor’s title, providing a graduate with specialized knowledge and advanced training. They even require the same study and research period of at least three years before getting a degree.
Yet, despite all these similarities, there’s a significant difference between getting a PhD and a professional doctorate degree. That’s why, if you’re wondering which program you should choose after getting your master’s, read on.
Below, you’ll find all the information you need to make the right choice when choosing to continue your education.
What Is a PhD
A PhD, also known as a doctor of philosophy or research doctorate, consists of writing a dissertation, conducting original research, or completing an innovative project. In short, it should demonstrate significant academic achievement.
Research doctorate students, however, concentrate more on developing new ideas. Their academic research should broaden and push their field of study boundaries, meaning it should be unique and innovative.
What Os a Professional Doctorate
Similar to a PhD, applied professional doctorate programs also culminate in the creation and defense of a research dissertation. However, what differs it from the research doctorate, is that it focuses more on raising questions and applying theories to a real-world setting.
It means that it doesn’t require you to come up with an innovative theory. Instead, doctorate university programs teach their students to analyze data and use them to solve an existing problem.
PhD vs. Doctorate
As you can now see, PhD and doctorate are two entirely different things. Sure, they may have their similarities, but overall, they require other sets of skills. In general, a PhD is more about a theoretical approach, whereas a doctorate program teaches students how to put theory into practice.
What also makes these two degrees different is that a doctorate student often doesn’t need to write a dissertation to get the title. Instead, they should show how to solve a certain problem based on quantitative research or data.
Which one should you choose then? Which degree will give you the advantage on the job market? Well, it depends on your life goal. It’s hard to say which one is better, as, despite their differences, they both require a lot of work and dedication.
When it comes to PhD graduates, they’re people who can conduct successful independent or group research. They question everything, trying to understand how things work. They’re constantly learning and looking for new pieces of information.
Sounds familiar? Well, we’ve just described to you an average academic. People with PhDs usually work at universities as researchers, consultants, or lecturers. That’s why if you love research and want to broaden your horizons, work in education may be your best call.
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On the other hand, doctoral studies graduates have a much less limited choice when picking their career path. They’re the ones who can solve problems using their skills and know-how. As such, many doctorates become lawyers, financial advisors, or physicians.
Other Doctorate Programs
Although a PhD and an applied doctorate are the two main choices standing before a student, you can also pick other programs. The third group covers all degrees that don’t meet the requirements of the first two groups.
Their names are often based on the school which gives them. For instance, you can become a Doctor of Business Administration or Doctor of Veterinary. In short, they focus on one field.
In some cases, getting a more specific degree is required to start a practice. For instance, if you want to become a teacher or an accountant, you may need to finish studies that allow you to take up such a career.
We don’t recommend obtaining licensure that way, though. At least not if you’re a hundred percent sure you know what you want to do for a living.
Acquiring a higher education degree is a significant accomplishment that can help you find a job. However, as you can see, graduating from a university is not enough. You also need to ensure you apply for the right doctoral program.
Keep in mind that despite their similarities, your decision whether to choose a PhD or doctorate will have a completely different career outcome. Getting the first degree is a great choice if you wish to pursue a research or education job.
Whereas if you’d like to become a professional in a specific field, it’s best to apply for a doctorate. Does that mean it has more qualitative benefits? Not necessarily. Sure, it gives you more opportunities, but it all depends on what you want to do for a living. That’s why it’s best to take your time and consider that before applying for one program.
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