The Doctorate (Ph.D.): Everything You Need to Know

This is the peak degree awarded by academic institutions. It’s sometimes called a ‘terminal degree.’ There are two types of doctoral degrees, namely research doctorates, such as the Ph.D., and applied doctorates, such as the MD, JD, DBA, EdD, and DPT, among others.

The ‘first’ degree for most students is a bachelor’s degree, while the ‘second’ and ‘third’ are a master’s and doctoral degree, respectively. However, the path isn’t the same for all subjects or everyone. For example, students at some nursing schools can opt for nursing bridge programs, which let them go straight from an ADN to an entry-level MSN, which is created for students having a non-nursing degree. This means a student doesn’t always have to get a master’s degree before a Ph.D. Some graduate programs provide joint degrees, dual degrees, or combined degrees (like master’s and Ph.D.), cost-effective and faster ways to get both degrees together.

Students who hold a doctorate degree are usually considered to be authorities in their fields. A key reason for pursuing a doctorate is to boost one’s professional credibility and improve resume quality. Thus, getting a doctorate helps one earn the batch of ‘expert’ in their chosen field and enjoy a broader range of research, teaching, publishing, writing, management, administration, and/or private practice options.

The time taken to get a doctoral degree varies, depending on the doctoral program that one has chosen. Typically, it takes four years of effort, at the least, to earn a doctorate but may extend to eight years of hard work, depending on the doctoral program’s difficulty level and complexities involved in its graduation requirements. On average, it can take anywhere between four and six years to earn a doctoral degree. However, if the doctoral program entails dissertation and comprehensive examinations, it may take a year or two more. It’s important to note that no standard amount of time is specified to earn a doctorate, and some students may take as many as seven to ten years to finish their programs.

Over 90% of people possessing a doctoral degree work in managerial or professional occupations. Fields requiring state licensing, like engineering, psychology, etc., may require one to possess the doctorate for the highest-paid positions and posts in government facilities. A growing number of jobs today require doctoral degrees for career advancement and credentialing, such as physical therapists, healthcare administrators, advanced nurse practitioners, and the highest-level positions in several technical and scientific fields.