Doctorate Degrees are the highest degree awarded by academia, and since they are prestigious and difficult to complete, they afford graduates upper level employment options upon graduation. There are a wide variety of doctoral degrees available for prospective students to choose from, and therefore deciding on the program that’s best for you can become overwhelming. There are numerous fields of study that prospective students can choose from, and then there are concentrations available in each field as well. Prospective students should also look into the different types of formats available for their doctoral degrees, as universities are offering more online options than ever before. Online doctorate degree programs are designed for working professionals who require schedule flexibility to complete a higher education degree to increase their credentials and advance their career within their field. The amount of time that people invest into their doctoral degrees can be overwhelming, as doctorate degrees can take up to 10 years to complete, and on average take about 8 years to complete, so if being able to manage your time wisely is of utmost importance, an online degree could be your best option. Not all online doctorate degree programs are equal, so be sure to check out our list that ranks the Top 20 Best Online Colleges with Doctoral Programs. One of the most common dilemmas for prospective doctoral degree students is whether they should earn a PhD or a Professional Doctorate degree, so let’s break down the distinctions between the two.

The Difference Between a PhD and a Professional Doctorate

Doctor of Philosophy degrees (more commonly known PhDs) are similar to Professional Doctorate degrees, though there are differences between the two. As a general rule of thumb, PhDs cover the theoretical groundwork for different areas of study, while doctoral degrees cover the practical workplace applications of academic theory. PhD degree holders more commonly go on to careers in academia, while professional doctorate degrees often are hired by corporate organizations, though graduates are not penned in to one career option. During the degree programs, the difference in the curriculum between a PhD and a Professional Doctorate degree comes down to the type of research that students conduct in the independent research phase of their doctoral degree. PhD students are expected to form hypothesis so that they can expand and contribute knowledge to their field of study via academic research. Professional doctorate students on the other hand are expected to apply the existing academic knowledge to their career fields via applied research. Students in both types of degrees will have to take the conclusions of their research and draft a dissertation, which they will be expected to defend in front of an academic panel. Ultimately, prospective students who are looking to decide whether they should earn a PhD or a Professional Doctorate will have to assess their career goals and how they plan to apply their degree post graduation. Prospective doctorate degree students should be sure to look into the research that they will be expected to do in their program to see if it falls in line with their specific interests or not.