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What Is A Doctoral Degree?

Understanding the specifics of doctoral degrees can help you choose the doctorate that’s right for you.

In today’s increasingly complex world, more and more employers and policymakers as well as local, state, and federal government agencies are turning to experts to help them build success. If you’re looking to advance your career by becoming a sought-after expert in your field, you can help yourself do that by earning a doctorate. But should you earn a PhD or a professional doctoral degree, such as a Doctor of Business Administration or a Doctor of Information Technology? To answer that question, you first have to understand what a doctoral degree is and what earning one entails.

PhD vs. Professional Doctorate: The Differences

A PhD and a professional doctorate are two different types of doctoral degrees. So, what is a PhD degree exactly and what is a professional doctorate? The difference is in the degree focus. A PhD is focused on adding new knowledge to the discipline. A professional doctorate is focused on the application of knowledge to advance the practice.

What Is A Doctoral Degree?

In short, a PhD primarily prepares you for an academic-focused career while a professional doctorate primarily prepares you for a professional career. As such, if you’re looking to solve real-world problems in a professional field, a professional doctorate could be the better choice for you. A professional doctorate can help you learn how to evaluate the relevance of current and emerging theories and practices within your field; formulate effective solutions to complex, real-world problems common to your field; and apply current research to practical problems in your field.

How You Earn a Professional Doctorate

Once you enroll in a professional doctoral program, you’ll embark on a course of study designed to help you gain an in-depth understanding of your field and develop critical thinking skills. However, the coursework is just one aspect of the degree program. Candidates are also expected to complete a doctoral study.

A doctoral study requires you to identify a real-world problem within your field and research it thoroughly with the intent of generating new understandings that can eventually lead to new solutions. Completing the study takes multiple steps, including creating a proposal that describes the problem you want to solve, collecting data, presenting your findings in writing, and orally defending your findings to the doctoral committee. When the doctoral committee signs off on your completed study, you earn your professional doctorate.

How You Can Make Earning a Doctoral Degree More Feasible

Earning a PhD or doctoral degree can seem daunting. After all, it takes serious work, dedication of time, and commitment. But thanks to online learning, completing a doctoral program is more convenient than ever before.

Instead of requiring you to pick up your life and move to be near a university campus, online professional doctoral programs and online PhD programs allow you to complete the majority of your degree from your home or anywhere else you have internet access. Additionally, online education provides a level of flexibility that’s uncommon in campus-based education. When you earn an online professional doctorate degree or online PhD degree, you can complete your studies at whatever time of day and/or week works best for your schedule, which can allow you to work full time and take care of your other responsibilities.

Today’s organizations need experts. When you earn a doctoral degree through an online university, you can become the kind of expert your profession needs.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering doctoral degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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