What You Need to Know About Earning a Doctorate Degree
Those who earn doctorate degrees sit at the peak of academic achievement. Most career fields do not require a doctorate, and few people pursue them. Although they are demanding, doctorate programs will put you on the path to some lofty career achievements. If you want to earn the title of Doctor, there are a few key things you need to know.
Knowing which fields feature the most popular doctorate degree programs is a good place to start. Medicine, law, and psychology are a few of the prime areas where you’d expect to find people with doctorate degrees. Education and various business concentrations are also common fields for these advanced programs.
To earn a doctorate, you typically need to complete 90 to 120 credit hours. If you already hold a master’s degree in your field of study, you might be able to complete a doctorate program in three years as a full-time student. Without a master’s degree in your area, you can expect anywhere from four to eight years of study.
There are two types of doctorates, with the most common being the Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD. Possessing a PhD shows a person’s wide-ranging competence in a certain field and often leads to becoming a professor or researcher. Though not limited to those career areas, those who hold PhDs are ideally prepared to add to the collective knowledge in their chosen fields.
You can also pursue a professional doctorate, which is geared more toward practical applications. In other words, professional doctorate students are more interested in working directly in their fields rather than in research or consulting roles. Whether they apply their knowledge in physical or theoretical ways, anyone who holds the title of Doctor is an expert in his or her field of study.
The main difference between PhD and professional doctorate programs is the type of capstone project students must complete. PhD candidates are expected to create five-chapter dissertations that offer novel solutions to real-world challenges. These projects require extensive research and the writing process is lengthy. Those who earn professional doctorates display their mastery by creating portfolios or products for use in the real world.
Although not as common as other degrees, more online doctorate programs are being established. Education and nursing are two areas in which these programs are increasingly popular. You might also consider what’s known as a “practitioner’s degree,” which often involves supervised work in a field rather than a research thesis.
There are many career areas and program options to consider if a doctorate is your goal. The one thing to keep in mind is that the work will be demanding. You’ll need to create schedules and stick to them in order to keep up the pace. If you can do this and connect with as many fellow students and accomplished people in your field as possible, you’ll put yourself in line for major achievement and a rewarding career.