Doctoral degrees are the Mt. Everest of higher education. It’s a lot of work to get there, but once you do, you’ve reached the highest peak of proficiency in your chosen field. Along with the sweet taste of success, you’ll find a doctoral degree opens the door to new career possibilities and a chance to increase your salary.
For some professions, a doctoral degree is necessary. To become a practicing psychologist, for example, you must have a PhD in psychology. Lawyers are required to have a Juris Doctor (JD) and medical doctors need a Doctor of Medicine (MD). Many colleges also require their tenured professors to hold a PhD in their field of teaching.
But lawyers, doctors and psychologists aren’t the only professionals who benefit from a PhD. Because of the intensity of research most doctoral degree programs require, the doctoral degree is a great tool for anyone who wants a career in research or academia.
It may also help professionals in fields such as public health, education, and nursing reach the highest positions in their professions. For example, a teacher looking to become a principal or school administrator would increase their chances by earning a PhD in education.
Doctoral degree programs typically last 4-8 years. They consist of approximately 3 years of coursework in your chosen field of study, followed by the preparation of a dissertation.
If you’ve already earned your master’s degree in the same subject, some schools may count this towards your doctorate degree, meaning you could complete the program in as little as 3 years.
If you haven’t earned a masters degree, many programs award a master’s degree during the course of study for a doctoral degree.
Types of Doctoral Degree Programs Available:
The Doctorate of Philosophy, or PhD, is the general doctoral degree. A PhD can be earned in a variety of subjects in both the humanities and sciences, such as psychology, engineering, education, public health or chemistry. In addition, some doctoral degrees are specialized for a specific career: an MD (Doctor of Medicine or Medicinae Doctor) is for medical doctors, and a JD (Juris Doctor) is for lawyers.