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Doctorate Degree

Earn a Doctorate Degree and Lead in Academics

If there is any title that commands respect in our society, it’s Doctor. When someone earns either a PhD or a Professional Doctorate, they have reached the pinnacle of academic achievement. The difficulty of earning such a degree is commensurate with the accomplishment though; pursuing a doctorate is not a decision to make lightly.

The type of doctorate with which most people are familiar is the Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD. This degree prepares students to create academic projects, and add to the collective knowledge of their field. Those who earn a PhD are often working toward being an advisor, researcher, or professor, though they are not limited to these options. The lesser-known doctorate is known as the professional doctorate, and is geared more toward application in private-sector roles.

The major difference between the two types of doctorates is the capstone project they use to validate their education. A Doctor of Philosophy is expected to write a five-chapter dissertation that addresses and offers solutions to a real-world issue. The focus is on mastering the body of knowledge associated with their field of study in such detail that they’re able to address a gap or provide a new perspective on existing paradigms.

Professional doctorate candidates, on the other hand, take their knowledge mastery and apply it in the real world. While they have mastered the body of knowledge in their chosen field as well, their goal is to apply what they know in a practical way, rather than make an impact in academia. Both degrees bestow the title of Doctor on the recipient though, and make no mistake: whether they’re applying their knowledge in a physical or theoretical way, doctors are experts in their fields of study, and might even be responsible for having quantified and qualified the information that the rest of the world considers to be a fact. It’s important to point out that working these two versions of the doctoral degree do not represent an either/or choice. Depending on the field, a student might meet the requirements for both while working through the program.

Earning a doctorate usually takes about 90 to 120 credit hours, which translates into 30 or 40 classes. The doctorate program will determine how long the courses are, and the required number of credit hours. Also, it will depend on the degree level a doctorate candidate has previously achieved. Someone with a master’s will likely find themselves closer to a doctorate than a person with a bachelor’s.

There’s less flexibility when it comes to earing a doctorate as well. Because so few people actually pursue one, there are very few online options. Exceptions include those seeking what’s known as a “practitioner’s degree,” which does not require the student to create a research thesis. Instead, they’ll be expected to complete a set number of hours in a clinic, and perhaps write a capstone paper. PhDs in psychology and business are two of the more common online doctorates obtained.

If you’re determined to pursue a doctoral degree, we respect your commitment and offer these success tips. First, set strict deadlines for yourself and stick to them. You’ll be too busy to “wing it.” Also, connect with students, professors, and professionals who can help you absorb knowledge, retain it, or put it into context. Finally, whether you’re writing a dissertation or producing a doctoral capstone, recognize it for what it is: one of the most significant achievements a person can make.


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