If you have been a working professional for a while and want to reach the next level in your career, you might consider going back to school to earn an advanced degree. A doctorate is a solid choice for professionals who aspire to pursue high-level positions in their organizations. One example of a doctoral degree is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), although there are many other options from which to choose. Continue reading to explore your educational options at the graduate level.
Is a Doctorate a PhD?
A PhD is one type of doctorate. All doctorates are terminal degrees. That means that individuals who have earned a doctorate are considered to have reached the highest level of academic achievement in their field. In other words, there is no higher degree available. There are many types of doctoral degrees, including the Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD). A PhD may be awarded in a wide range of fields, including engineering, history, computer science and psychology. In short, all PhDs are doctorates. However, not all doctorates are PhDs.
What Types of Doctoral Programs Are There?
In addition to the PhD degree, there are many professional doctoral degrees, such as:
These are just a few examples of some of the most common professional doctorates. Often, universities offer the option to specialize in a niche area. For example, you might earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership or a Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Marketing. All these options can pave the way toward a promotion to a high-level position within an organization.
What’s the Difference Between a PhD and a Professional Doctorate?
There is a significant difference between a Doctor of Philosophy degree and a professional doctorate. In general, a PhD program will focus on theory and research, whereas a professional doctorate will focus on the application of theory. A PhD student develops a dissertation project designed to add to the existing body of knowledge about a subject. This research may generate new theories or challenge existing theories. In contrast, a professional doctoral student works on a dissertation project designed to explore the application of theories in real-world situations.
It’s often thought that a PhD leads only to university teaching and academic research positions. In fact, both a PhD and a professional doctorate can lead to rewarding careers in virtually any setting—from the corporate boardroom to a nonprofit advisory committee to a university. However, to make the most of your degree, it is important to consider your desired outcomes. If you are a nurse who is choosing between a DNP and a PhD, you should know that a DNP degree facilitates direct patient care, whereas a PhD lends itself to medical research.
Is a Doctoral Program the Right Choice for Me?
Before you determine which specific doctorate is appropriate for your career goals, you will have to decide whether you are ready to take that next step in your professional life. No matter which doctoral degree you choose, it will require a significant investment of time and resources. However, most doctoral students find that the reward is worth the years of hard work. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the journal Nature, only 6% of doctoral students said they were “very dissatisfied” with their decision to get a PhD, compared to 38% who were “very satisfied” and 37% who were “somewhat satisfied.”
Of course, the decision to pursue a doctoral degree is a personal one. As you consider whether you are ready to take that step, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel stuck in your current job and are you ready to make a change for the better?
- Do you crave the professional recognition that comes from having a doctoral degree?
- Are you ready to pursue promotion to a high-level position and enjoy the increased earning potential?
- Are you able to commit to several years of hard work, study and research?
- Do you have a clear set of goals in mind for your educational outcome?
Everyone has uniquely personal reasons for pursuing a doctorate, and there is no right or wrong answer. However, to make the most of your experience, you should be able to articulate clearly why you want to earn this degree.
Students at Grand Canyon University can choose from a range of doctoral degree programs available from the College of Doctoral Studies. Our doctorate programs include the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and the Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology: Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Qualitative Research) program degree. Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to explore our online learning community, which is designed with the needs of working professionals in mind.
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.