A doctoral degree is the highest degree you can obtain in the United States. The most common forms are:

  • Research or academic (PhD) programs
  • Professional doctoral degrees

So, what’s the difference between a PhD and a professional doctoral degree? Although they sound similar, professional degrees and doctoral degrees are two different types of programs, each suited to a particular type of student.

A PhD, or doctoral degree, is an academic, research-based degree in which the main goal is to develop advanced research skills and create new knowledge to share with others.

Degree Completion Differences
While all colleges and universities establish their own policies on how you earn a degree, the methods by which you earn a PhD or a professional doctorate almost always differ. Though it can vary by degree program and university, PhD candidates usually complete a dissertation while many doctoral candidates complete a doctoral study.

A PhD dissertation requires you to conduct research into an approved area of study within your discipline. While this can be in an area that has not yet been explored, it often complements existing knowledge by adding new or missing research. Completing the dissertation takes multiple steps including:

  • Drafting a dissertation prospectus and orally defending your proposal to a committee.
  • Completing the research.
  • Writing the research dissertation, which includes your methods, findings, literature review, and conclusions.
  • Orally defending your completed dissertation to a committee.

We have more than 80 pre-described programs in the Professional Masters.