4 Important Things to Know About Earning Your Doctoral Degree

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When you are ready to advance your professional qualifications and education, earning your doctoral degree may open many important doors. However, you may not know if this is the right educational path for you. It is important to learn about time commitment and other obligations associated with enrolling in a doctoral degree program.

What Is a Doctoral Degree?

A doctoral degree, or doctorate degree, is the highest degree you can earn in most academic fields. Holding a doctoral degree is a sign of mastery in a field. Graduates often work as researchers, university instructors or serve in administrative positions in their field. While some universities may offer post-doctoral education, doctorate degrees are the highest academic degrees awarded.

What Type of Doctoral Degrees Are There?

There are both research and professional doctoral degrees. Research degrees focus on heavy interaction with an academic area. To earn a research doctorate, you must have completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree. A Doctor of Philosophy of (PhD) degree is the most common type of research doctorate and covers many academic fields like psychology. A Doctor of Education (EdD) is the second most common type of research doctorate. EdDs focus on preparing learners to take on roles as instructors and academic administrators. Some other types of specific research degrees include:

  • Doctor of Music (DM)
  • Doctor of Public Health (DPH)
  • Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS)
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
  • Doctor of Engineering (DEng)

A professional doctorate is focused more on non-academic careers. Most professional doctorate degree programs require a bachelor's degree, but not all require a master's degree. Many professional doctoral programs consider your work experience in your field when making admissions decisions. Oftentimes professional doctorates are related to a bachelor's or master’s degree and feature a more advanced curriculum. Some well-known professional degrees include:

Why Should You Consider Earning a Doctoral Degree?

A doctoral degree often provides opportunities for a higher salary. Graduates of doctoral degree programs generally find steadier work than those with less advanced degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 1.6 percent of doctoral degree holders were unemployed.1 Additionally, those students who earn their professional doctoral degrees often advance within their fields. Many jobs that require doctorate degrees stay open because of the lack of qualified people to fill them.

In addition to overall work stability and higher pay, earning a doctoral degree can be relatively inexpensive. Some employers will pay down costs of doctoral programs to employ qualified people. There is also financial aid available to qualifying doctoral learners. Some learners are able to fund their research with grants and through other means, allowing them to focus primarily on their coursework.

If you are ready to enroll in a doctoral degree program, consider the wide range of options at Grand Canyon University. Our degree programs, most of which are available fully online, are designed to guide working professionals to achieve mastery in their field. To learn more about programs like our EdD in Organizational Leadership and its many emphases such as behavioral health and higher education leadership, visit the College of Doctoral Studies or click on the Request Info button on this page.

1 https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.