What Are the Common Types of PhD Degrees?

Students seeking an advanced degree in their field for the purposes of conducting research or preparing to work in academia may be interested in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program. Read below to find out more about the common types of Ph.D. degrees and other doctoral degree programs.

Common Types of Ph.D. Programs Available

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is one type of doctoral degree and is generally considered the most advanced degree available in any particular field. Graduating with a Ph.D. degree involves completing a wide range of classroom coursework, comprehensive exams and an original doctoral dissertation. Although most Ph.D. students enter these programs with a master's degree in a related field, some programs are designed to move students directly from an undergraduate degree to a Ph.D. Below are some of the more common fields in which a student can pursue a Ph.D. Also included is a description of other common, non-Ph.D. doctoral degrees.

Important Facts About These Programs

Psychology Art History
Possible Careers Child psychologist, counseling psychologist, college professor Architectural conservationalist, curatorial consultant, artist representative
Concentrations Organizational psychology, human factors, applied cognition, applied developmental psychology Curatorial and historical studies
Internships Some programs require an internship Some programs require an internship
Continuing Education Organizations such as the American Board of Professional Psychology offer workshops for professional certification Certificate programs are available

Ph.D. in Psychology

A Ph.D. in psychology is designed to build upon the knowledge gained in an undergraduate degree program. These programs can also prepare graduates to work in their field, as psychologists are required to have a doctoral degree for licensure. Students in these programs explore advanced psychology topics like neuroscience, cognition and personality. Psychology Ph.D. candidates are generally required to complete several advanced courses and write an original doctoral dissertation, which must be defended orally. Most students also serve as teaching assistants for one or more semesters. Some of the courses that may be included in the curriculum of this degree are:

  • Social psychology
  • Mind, culture and society
  • Emotion regulation
  • Foundations of cognition

Ph.D. in Art History

Students working towards a Ph.D. in art history generally choose a specific area in which to specialize. Although students' coursework is created around that concentration, students are also required to take certain general art history courses. Candidates complete an original thesis on a topic that is usually related to their area of concentration. Some of the courses that may be included in this degree's curriculum are:

  • Native American landscapes
  • Postmodernism and the visual arts
  • Contemporary African art
  • Ancient Near-Eastern art

Other Common Doctoral Degrees

Although the Ph.D. is probably the most well-known type of doctoral degree program, there are other post-graduate level programs students may choose to pursue. The field of study often determines the name or type of degree that is offered.

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

An M.D. degree is the most advanced degree that a medical student can earn and must be completed in order to practice medicine professionally. M.D. students generally choose an area of specialty.

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

The Ed.D. degree is the highest level of education available in the field of education. Professionals who hold an Ed.D. degree typically work in administrative, academic or research positions related to education.

Juris Doctor (J.D.)

The J.D. degree is the most advanced degree available to lawyers in the United States. A dissertation is generally not required in this degree program.

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