Difference Between Ph.D. and Doctorate – A Complete Guide

Choosing a course from a list of two familiar courses is a confusing task, if you do not know deep about the courses, you might not be able to distinguish it. When it comes to Ph.D. and Doctorate courses, this is what happens. Most of the people today, believe that Ph.D. and Doctorate are the same, so instead of choosing, then blindly peruse one course assuming that both of them are the same.

We personally know people who have perused Ph.D. just because they thought Ph.D. and Doctorate are the same. While the difference is not so diverse, some differences might matter. Not too many people know the actual difference between the two qualifications. In this article, we will provide you with all the information related to both Doctorate and Ph.D. and will compare both the courses to point out the differences between them.

Ph.D. and Doctorate

Feature Ph.D. Doctorate
Definition A specific type of doctorate, focused on original research and contribution to knowledge in a particular field. A broad term encompassing various types of advanced degrees, including Ph.D., Ed.D., D.Sc., etc.
Focus Primarily research-oriented, with a significant emphasis on contributing new knowledge to the academic field. Can be research-focused, professional, or practice-based, depending on the specific type (e.g., Ed.D. for education).
Duration Typically takes 3 to 6 years to complete, depending on the field, research complexity, and program structure. Duration varies widely based on the type of doctorate and the specific program requirements.
Curriculum In-depth research, coursework, comprehensive exams, and the completion of an original dissertation. Curriculum may include a mix of coursework, research, and practical experience, depending on the program.
Career Focus Primarily prepares individuals for academic and research careers, but also valued in various professional sectors. Career outcomes can vary widely, including academia, research, industry, government, and professional practice.
Title Prefix The title “Doctor” is often used with the field of study (e.g., Dr. Smith in Chemistry). The title “Doctor” is used, and the specific field may be mentioned if relevant (e.g., Dr. Johnson, Ed.D.).
Common Degrees Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is a common title for research-focused doctorates. Examples include Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), etc.

What is a Ph.D.?

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the highest degree of education that a person could peruse after graduating with a Master’s degree. In simple words, peruse a Ph.D. degree, graduate this degree, and there is no more course to peruse. Like all the other courses, a Ph.D. degree also comes with specialization streams. A candidate who has completed his/her Master’s degree could peruse this course and become a Ph.D. holder. However, the path to this course is very long and difficult. The yearly enrolment for Ph.D. is not as high as other courses, not even as a Master’s degree.

Most commonly, a Ph.D. course is done by candidates based on the request from an employer or through fellowships. While this course is the highest level of education a candidate could peruse, this course could be perused as a regular course or an online course.

Ph.D. and Doctorate

Here are some of the common specialization streams of Ph.D.

Ph.D. courses in Humanities – popular courses

  • Ph.D. in Literature
  • Ph.D. in Economics
  • Ph.D. in English
  • Ph.D. in Arts
  • Ph.D. in Social work
  • Ph.D. in Geography
  • Ph.D. in Public Policy
  • Ph.D. in Psychology

Ph.D. courses in Science – popular courses

  • Ph.D. in Chemistry
  • Ph.D. in Science
  • Ph.D. in Biotechnology
  • Ph.D. in Physics
  • Ph.D. in Mathematics
  • Ph.D. in Zoology
  • Ph.D. in Bioscience
  • Ph.D. in Applied Sciences

Ph.D. courses in Commerce – popular courses

  • Ph.D. in Commerce management
  • Ph.D. in Accounting and Financial management

Ph.D. courses in Engineering – popular courses

  • Ph.D. in Genetic engineering
  • Ph.D. in Civil engineering
  • Ph.D. in Marine biotechnology
  • Ph.D. in Chemical engineering
  • Ph.D. in Production engineering
  • Ph.D. in Mechanical engineering
  • Ph.D. in Computer science engineering

Ph.D. courses in Business & Management – popular courses

  • Ph.D. in Management
  • Ph.D. in Aviation management
  • Ph.D. in Commerce and management
  • Ph.D. in Logistics and supply chain management
  • Ph.D. in Marketing and Brand management

Ph.D. courses in Law – popular courses

  • Ph.D. in Constitutional law
  • Ph.D. in Law and governance
  • Ph.D. in Legal studies

Ph.D. courses in Teaching and education – popular courses

  • Ph.D. in Education
  • Ph.D. in Teaching

Ph.D. Course Eligibility –

The eligibility criteria for Ph.D. courses are almost the same throughout the country. However, they could change in the future.

  1. The applicant should hold at least a Master’s degree to peruse a Ph.D. course.
  2. For some particular courses, the applicant should hold an M.Phil. degree.
  3. Top reputed colleges conduct their own entrance test and interviews, the applicant should attend and pass them.
  4. The applicant should have attended any one or more entrance test conducted by the State or Central boards.
  5. Some colleges/institutions/universities allow only candidates with work experience to enroll for the Ph.D. course, check with the colleges, and find out.

Ph.D. course duration –

The course duration of a Ph.D. course could vary based on the university/college/institution. However, in general, the minimum course duration that we know of is 2-years and a maximum of 3-years. The course would be completed within this duration and the candidate is given a maximum of 6-years to complete/graduate this course.

Ph.D. course structure –

Unlike other courses, Ph.D. course structure does not vary with state institute/college/university. In general, all the Ph.D. courses have almost the same structure. Here is the structure.

  • Coursework
  • Pedagogy
  • Examination (semester) and final
  • Preparation of research proposal
  • Thesis work

Ph.D. employment areas –

  • Magazines
  • Law firms
  • Research institutes
  • Human services industry
  • Consultancy
  • DRDO
  • ISRO
  • Educational institutes

Ph.D. job titles –

  • Professor
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Research scientist
  • Product manager
  • Researcher & scientist
  • Business development manager
  • Management consulting
  • Senior manager
  • Writer

Ph.D. graduate salary scale –

The pay scale for a Ph.D. graduate, in general, is comparatively higher than other graduates. Most commonly, the average salary could range from 7 lakhs to 20 lakhs per annum. If the Ph.D. graduate is skilled and mind-set in climbing the management or administrative ladder, he/she could draw a minimum of 10 to 15 lakhs per annum.

Doctorate Course Details –

What is a applied or professional doctorate course?

As already mentioned in the beginning, the doctorate course is slightly different from the Ph.D. course. When it comes to Doctorate courses, they are advanced courses and high-level qualifications too. The course duration and the structure of the course are slightly different too.

A professional doctorate course is a research-based degree course that focuses more on the existing fields of knowledge and raise questions and research on the field for the sole purpose of solving and making advancement in the field. In other words, a professional doctorate is more job oriented than other doctorate courses. This is one of the key differences between a doctorate and Ph.D. course.

The applied doctorate is yet another type of doctorate course that was first established in the United Kingdom and its commonwealth. The course began to gain popularity as employers started to recruit and demand more applied doctorate graduates.

When it comes to a doctorate course, there is nothing much to explain, the course structure is almost the same as that of a Ph.D. course. However, for the sake of better understanding, we will explain everything in detail.

Applied/professional doctorate course eligibility –

As mentioned, all the doctorate courses have the same eligibility criteria. This means both Ph.D. and Doctorate courses have the same eligibility criteria.

  1. The applicant should have graduated with a masters degree
  2. Some college/university/institution demands M.Phil. course graduation for perusing specific doctorate streams.
  3. The applicant should have secured at least 55% marks in the master’s graduation exam.
  4. If the college/university/institution is conducting an entrance test or personal interview, the applicant has to attend and pass it. If not, he/she has to attend any one or more doctorate eligibility entrance test conducted by the state or central boards.

Applied/professional Doctorate course duration –

Applied/professional Doctorate course duration is not as same as that of most of the other courses. The course duration of Applied/professional Doctorate courses is commonly 3 to 4-years maximum. However, a candidate could complete or graduate the course within 6 or 7-years. On average, a candidate would complete this course within a duration of 5 or 6-years.

Applied/professional Doctorate course structure –

Unlike most of the other courses, the applied/professional doctorate course structure is different. If compared to Ph.D. courses, the structure is slightly different.

  • Coursework
  • Developing professional and research skills
  • Examination (semester) and final
  • Development and approval of a proposal for independent research
  • Independent and supervised research (practical)

Applied/professional Doctorate course specializations –

  1. Doctor of Computer Science
  2. Doctor of Audiology
  3. Doctor of Dental Surgery
  4. Doctor of Management
  5. Doctor of Medical Physics
  6. Doctor of Nursing practice
  7. Doctor of Pharmacy
  8. Doctor of Social Work
  9. Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology
  10. Doctor of Commerce
  11. Doctor of Law and Policy

Applied/professional Doctorate employment areas –

  • Educational institutes
  • Space organizations
  • Magazines
  • Research institutes
  • Consultancy
  • Law firms
  • Human services industry
  • DRDO
  • ISRO

Applied/professional Doctorate job titles –

  • Professor
  • Hospital manager
  • Hotel and event management manager
  • Researcher & scientist
  • Business development manager
  • Management consulting
  • Senior manager
  • Writer
  • Scientist

Applied/professional doctorate pay scale –

When it comes to applied or professional doctorate graduates, the employment field could be the same, however, the salary scale could be different. The average salary scale of an applied/professional doctorate graduate is around 8 to 25 lakhs per annum. An exception graduate with experience and skill could earn up to 27 lakhs per annum.

The difference between a Ph.D. course and a Doctorate –

Core difference –

A Ph.D. is more of an academic degree and it is commonly focussed on the original research, evaluation of theory, and data analysis. On the other hand, when it comes to professional/applied doctorate courses, it focuses more on applying research to solving issues, practical problems, and to formulate solutions.

Key differences in the courses –

As you know, both Ph.D. and applied/professional doctorate courses are high-level courses with almost the same employment opportunities. However, there are differences in the course itself. Graduating each course offers a different set of advantages, here is the difference.

With a Ph.D. degree –

  • Course focuses more on analyzing theories and concepts within the specialized Ph.D. field.
  • Assess and identifies gaps in the current research materials and literature
  • Make advancement in the field of the original research
  • Help to communicate efficiently and effectively to an academic group or general stakeholders.

On the other hand, with professional/applied doctorate –

  • Helps to formulate effective and efficient solutions to existing complex and new problems in a specific field.
  • Apply the current research to practical problems in your employment field
  • Evaluate the current and emerging practices and theories in a particular field of your doctorate.
  • Design and employ research that increases the professional uses of a particular field.

Difference in completion of the course –

While there is always a difference in how the course would be completed. It could also vary based on the college/university/institute. However, in comparison, the course completion of Ph.D. and applied or professional doctorate differs a lot.

Ph.D. course graduation/completion –

To complete or graduate a Ph.D. course, the candidate could explore an area or field that has not yet been explored by others. Completion of the dissertation involves several steps.

  1. Drafting and orally defending the dissertation to a committee.
  2. Completing the research successfully
  3. Documenting research dissertation including the findings, review, literature, and conclusions.
  4. Orally defending the dissertation to a committee.

Applied/professional or doctoral study completion or graduation –

To complete a doctoral study or professional or applied doctorate, a real-world issue within the specialization doctorate field should be identified and researched. The identification and research should be done with an intent to draw a better conclusion, new conclusion, or uncover new understandings. To complete this type of study, a few steps have to be taken.

  1. Creating a proposal with the problem you have identified and plan to solve
  2. Design the study and create a methodology
  3. Orally defending the proposal to a committee
  4. Collecting all the raw data and documenting all the findings in writing
  5. Concluding what is found and how
  6. Orally depending on the proposal and study to a committee

Course fee and duration –

While the course duration of both might not be the same always, on average, the candidates almost take the same time to complete the course. So the duration of the course completion could be neglected. However, when it comes to the course fee, Doctoral study, or professional or applied Doctorate is comparatively more expensive than the Ph.D. course.

several institutions/colleges/universities offer Ph.D. h

However, when it comes to professional/applied doctoral study, the number of colleges/institutes/universities are comparatively less.

If you read all the facts mentioned above, you might find both the courses to be almost the same. However, if you consider the key differences we have mentioned, you might understand why we request you not to overlook the differences between Ph.D. and Doctorate courses.

Remember, while both Ph.D. and professional or applied doctorate could make you a doctorate holder, the knowledge and skill developed would be different. A Ph.D. graduate might have more theoretical knowledge than a professional or applied doctorate holder. On the other hand, an applied or professional doctorate holder might have more job-oriented skills and knowledge than a Ph.D. graduate.

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