What Is a Doctorate Degree?

If you are looking to further your education after obtaining a bachelor's or master's degree, you might consider pursuing a doctorate degree. Some professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and university professors, are required to possess a doctorate degree before they can the field. Continue reading for more information about this degree.

Doctorate Degree Overview

A doctorate degree is the highest degree awarded by colleges and universities in the United States. A typical doctorate degree program can take up to five years to complete and includes live or online courses, a final examination and a dissertation. Doctorate degrees can prepare individuals for professions in medicine or law, but they can often prepare graduates to work in academia, research and consultation. The most common doctorate degrees are found in the following table.

Important Facts About Doctorate Degrees

Educational Training Additional experience and training will be required through educational-oriented work opportunities like internships and residencies
Common Courses Courses vary depending on area of study or school, however most programs generally require a dissertation or final exam
Online Availability A variety of distance learning doctorate degree programs are available
Prerequisites Most doctorate programs require candidates to have a master's degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) may be obtained in many areas, including business, education, engineering, social science and life sciences. In most cases, this type of doctorate degree is required for one to become a university professor. A researcher in the fields of science, engineering or social science must also typically hold a Ph.D.

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

Medical doctors and researchers in any field of medicine must hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). Many top universities in the U.S. have a school of medicine that grants these doctorate degrees. An M.D. program typically consists of a combination of classroom instruction and clinical internships and prepares graduates to enter residency programs at hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

A Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) might be pursued by those seeking administrative positions in the field of education. Secondary school superintendents, university department heads and educational researchers are examples of positions that might require one to have an Ed.D.

Juris Doctor (J.D.)

A Juris Doctor (J.D.) is a doctorate degree in law. Completion of three years of study in a J.D. program approved by the American Bar Association is required to obtain this degree. Courses in civil and criminal law, property law, legal methods and constitutional law are usually at the core of many J.D. programs.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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