Like a master degree, a doctoral degree is a post-graduate degree. It usually follows the completion of a bachelor and master degree. However, some doctoral program do admit students who do not have a master degree. A doctoral degree is a "terminal degree", or the highest and final degree available in a particular field of study or discipline. Most doctoral programs require a full-time commitment, unlike bachelor and master degrees that can be completed on a part-time basis. Traditionally, doctoral programs were primarily academic or research focused. Today, a majority of doctoral programs are designed to help students acquire advanced skills and knowledge in preparation for a career. A doctoral degree typically takes anywhere from three to five years to complete.
There are four general types of doctoral degrees. These include:
- Professional Doctorate - As one might deduce, a professional doctorate is a doctoral degree for a specific profession. For example, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a professional doctorate in business.
- Research Doctorate - These doctorates are research oriented. The Ph.D. and Doctor of Philosophy are doctorate degrees that focus almost exclusively on research.
- Higher Doctorate - These doctorates are very uncommon in the United States. Countries including France, Ireland and the United Kingdom offer higher doctorate degrees. These degrees are tiered search degrees.
- Honorary Doctorate - These doctorate degrees are awarded as way of honouring or recognizing the contribution of an individual in a specific field or discipline.