Difference Between PhD and Doctorate

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between PhD and Doctorate

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After a student graduates and earns his masters degree, there are two types of degrees that he/she can apply for to study a more advanced syllabus. These two academic degrees are Ph.D. and a Doctorate. While both of them are quite advanced and require high intelligence and hard work, they are not the same terms. Oftentimes, people get confused as they sound similar, but the courses provide very different outcomes.

Ph.D. vs Doctorate

The main difference between a Ph.D. and a Doctorate lies in their scope. An individual who is a Doctorate can apply for any academic or professional degree such as law, business, engineering, medicine, etc. Ph.D., on the other hand, falls only under academic degrees. Thus, it is more defined and focuses more on the research part of the field.

Difference Between Ph.D. and Doctorate in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Ph.D. Doctorate
Nature of Program It is an academic degree that concentrates on evaluating existing and new theories through original research and analyses. A Doctorate is a degree that requires the individual to apply his research knowledge to complex real-life problems and formulate solutions.
Nature of Study It requires theoretical knowledge of the individual’s subject of choice. It requires the application of extensive research and field study in the chosen subject or field.
Assessments Individuals need to go through theoretical and comprehensive exams along with a portfolio that certifies research knowledge and dissertation. Individual needs to go through comprehensive exams and create portfolios that show the individual’s capabilities to conduct research for practical applications.
Purpose Individuals who complete their Ph.D. successfully gain official certification that they have mastered the theoretical knowledge of a certain field. Individuals who have completed their Doctorate program successfully gain official certification and will also be allowed to move further for practical research.
Outcome Theoretical papers written will be reviewed and published after evaluation which will help them gain tenure for higher academic positions. Achieving a Doctorate will help gain allowance to conduct practical research or formulate innovative solutions.
Examples Some common fields where one can acquire a Ph.D. in Mathematics, Literature, Humanities, and a vast number of streams in Science. A doctorate can be either acquired as research or professional. A few examples of fields that which one can gain a Doctorate in Medicine, Business administration, Psychology, etc.

What is Ph.D.?

Ph.D. is the abbreviated form of the term Doctor of Philosophy. This degree concentrates highly on the theoretical knowledge and researches part of the field. A few examples of Ph.D. courses:-

  • Ph.D. courses in Humanities: Ph.D. in Social Work, Ph.D. in Literature, Ph.D. in Arts, etc.
  • Ph.D. courses in Science: Ph.D. in Zoology, Ph.D. in Biotechnology, Ph.D. in Applied Sciences, etc.
  • Ph.D. courses in Commerce: Ph.D. in Accounting and Finance Management, Ph.D. in Commerce Management.

Important Feature/ Stages of Acquiring a Ph.D.

  1. Coursework and Setting goals: This can be described to be the primary stage of studying Ph.D. When you look at what the course has to offer, you start to gain an idea of where you gain expertise in a certain course. Through such coursework, you can set your goals better, each setting a certain milestone concerning what the individual hopes to learn from the course.
  2. Research Proposal: Few universities offer projects to students whereas few universities expect the students to create a research proposal themselves. This can be done both following the process of choosing a Ph.D. supervisor or guide or before it. Whatever proposal that the student devises must be approved and the same must be confirmed by the respective university.
  3. Supervisor/ Guide: universities usually allow one chief guide and one or two co-guides to each student or a group of students. These supervisors or guides are supposed to provide advice and help the student when required, especially when devising their research papers. They will help their best in making it as comprehensible and accurate as possible.
  4. Project Budget: While designing any project, one of the most vital stages is to make conscious efforts toward making the project as pocket-friendly as possible. However, this must align well with the quality of your project. While sometimes, it may be a tradeoff between keeping it less expensive and increasing the reliability of the project, a student must strike a balance between the two and ensure through budget management.
  5. Time-management: Time can be a precious factor while studying complex courses. It is highly recommended that students must start writing well before they obtain results and collect data. If the student finds it hard to write and create concrete documentation, they can always create a rough document and keep developing it as they keep collecting data and achieving results. This helps the students save time and avoid panic at the last minute.
  6. Structure and Format: The appropriate structure of a paper will differ from university to university. The format of a paper will significantly depend on the type of project the individual takes and the department and the university the student belongs to. In this case, it is always better to look for example theses that would help the student gain an idea of the overall design.
  7. Constant Feeback: As previously stated, your guide will be helping you constantly throughout your project. This includes reviewing your paper frequently and providing their opinion and advice on improving the documentation, both in clarity and accuracy. This ensures a better quality of your paper.
  8. Research on Publishing: Most universities include the publication of the student’s paper as a part of their dissertation. Thus, the students must perform research as to how a paper must be published and what are the goals that must be fulfilled for that certain conference or textbook. This too can be done by looking through previous example theses that will help prepare a paper.
  9. Submission & Review: Some universities include the process of plagiarism or publication certificate or originality statement etc. This additional paperwork must be completed before the submission of a paper. Usually, there is a panel of reviewers, two or three in number, that will evaluate the student’s paper and provide remarks. The process of evaluation and the panel of reviewers will completely depend on the kind of university the student studies.
  10. Comprehensive Exams: Besides the concept of paper, there might be the inclusion of frequent tests, both oral or written, that keeps assessing your knowledge. These tests are graded and are typically included in your final score at the end of the semester. Thus, theoretical knowledge is very essential while studying for a Ph.D. degree.

What is Doctorate?

The zenith of educational achievement, a Doctorate is regarded very highly due to its complexity and how laborious it can prove to be. Any individual who has completed their master's degree successfully can apply for a Doctorate. Here are a few examples of common Doctorate degrees:-

  • Doctor of Education(Ed.D.)
  • Doctor of Business Administration(DBA)
  • Doctor of Medicine(M.D.)
  • Doctor of Computer Science(DCS)
  • Doctor of Psychology(PsyD)
  • Doctor of Optometry(O.D.)

Important Features of a Doctorate Course

  1. Coursework: Each degree has an enormous range of topics, out of which the university narrows down to a structured syllabus with the most important and useful topics. When the student starts learning and attends a few lectures alongside a little homework, they can sort their subjects according to which interests them the most. This helps them choose the topic that’ll then be the base of their thesis and provide comprehension of their research work in the field.
  2. Residency: While not all Doctorates might require it, there might be a requirement for students to attend these residencies depending on the type, of course, they’re learning. The students in residencies go through all types of activities that will prepare them for examinations better and provide exposure and motivation to do independent research. Usually, residencies replace lectures as they develop several required skills in a student.
  3. Field experience: Only certain fields will require this stage of field experience such as counseling or social work. While residencies and lectures will prepare you enough for comprehensive exams, it is the field experience that truly prepares the students for what research part of the field has in store for them. Sometimes, the students themselves need to search for such opportunities whereas some universities ask the respective guide to provide opportunities for hands-on experience in the field.
  4. Comprehensive Examinations: Similar to Ph.D., a Doctorate also requires the student to attempt comprehensive exams that will be added to their final grade and considered for the dissertation. These exams are typically conducted to assess the individual’s readiness for his research or project. They can be frequently conducted either as internal examinations or minor quizzes.
  5. Process of Dissertation: A dissertation can be described as the final piece of documentation that a student prepares to display his/her findings that have been accumulated through his course. While comprehensive tests and practical research can be quite strenuous, it is the dissertation writing process that is the most time-consuming part of the course. Almost all universities demand a dissertation to evaluate the student’s knowledge and efforts through that particular semester in the course. Similar to thesis writing in a Ph.D. course, there is an appropriate structure and format required that differs from university to university.
  6. Action Research: Action research is the stage that covers the damage repair part of the course. Action research involves solving issues or inconveniences in the project or creating a method or a community that involves teams who address their problems with each other. These communities help people share their skills to directly solve the problem or create a plan that would help overcome such challenges.
  7. Portfolio of the Project: Such a project portfolio can be prepared that is relevant to the individual’s work, research, or experience in the field. The portfolio acts as a medium that demonstrates a certain individual’s knowledge and expertise in that certain field. Any possible new inventions can be added to the portfolio that helps them acquire higher opportunities. While a portfolio isn't the same as a resume, it is still a detailed description of your work and your contribution to the field.
  8. Approval: A project needs approval by the university to be concluded and allow the student to complete your course. An approval is bestowed upon certain students after they submit the research findings along with proper documentation and dissertation. The panel that would review the dissertation would be decided by the university as some universities allow only the dean to make the final decision. There will be several questions asked about the project to test the candidate’s knowledge and his inferences from the research. Once the approval is given, considering that the candidate has passed all his other tests, he/she will officially receive his certification that they have completed their professional Doctorate successfully.

Main Differences Between Ph.D. and Doctorate In  Points

  • A Ph.D. is an academic degree that concentrates more on evaluating and studying the existent and new theories through research. Thus there is more theoretical research and knowledge required whereas a Doctorate is a degree that requires the individual studying it to apply the acquired knowledge to devise solutions for complex problems.
  • The nature of study required when an individual is studying Ph.D. is more theoretical whereas a Doctorate requires the practical application of extensive research knowledge in the subject of interest.
  • A Ph.D. requires the student to attempt comprehensive exams along with the publication of the paper for the dissertation whereas a Doctorate requires comprehensive exams as well as portfolios that will support the individual's capacity to conduct practical research.
  • People who studied Ph.D. usually require certification that proves the individual's expertise in the theoretical part of the field. On the other hand, individuals studying Doctorate use their certification to move further and acquire approval for practical research.
  • A theoretical paper that gets approval for publication can significantly help an individual gain tenure and advance to higher positions whereas achieving a Doctorate helps acquire greater convenience in conducting practical research to devise innovative solutions to complex issues.
  • A few examples of Ph.D. degrees are mathematics, literature, humanities, and a variety of courses in the field of science. On the other hand, a few examples of Doctorate degrees are medicine, psychology, business administration, etc. However, they can be either research Doctorates or professional Doctorates.


Thus, from the above discussion, we can summarize that a Ph.D. involves more theoretical research on the subject whereas a Doctorate involves a lot of fieldwork to advance in the course. While both the courses involve extensive research, a Doctorate helps apply the individual’s knowledge to practical use and formulate innovative solutions to complex problems.



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"Difference Between PhD and Doctorate." Diffzy.com, 2023. Tue. 06 Jun. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-phd-and-doctorate-325>.

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