What Is a Doctorate Degree: Everything You Need To Know

If you want to take your education to another level, a doctorate degree could be the answer. This article will address what a doctorate degree is and much more.

If you are someone who wants to take their education to another level, a doctorate degree could be what you are seeking. While it is generally known that a doctorate is the highest level of academic achievement in most professional fields, this may still bring some questions to the fore.

Through this guide, we will try to clarify and answer any of your questions regarding a doctorate degree. So let’s start by explaining what a doctorate degree is.

What Is a Doctorate Degree?

Many students choose doctoral degrees to narrow and deepen their field of knowledge. It is the highest degree you can attain in a given field. Students who earn a Ph.D. are advanced graduates or professionals that demonstrate mastery in their subject area.

Doctoral degrees typically take four years, and the number of credits needed for completion depends on the program. Most doctoral programs require the realization of a research thesis. Hence, it emphasizes research and practice. While a Ph.D. is not required for every position, having one will help you develop your career in several ways.

Types of Doctorate Degrees


There are two types of doctorate degrees: research-oriented and applied doctorate. Keep reading to find out more about these two types of doctorate degrees.

Research oriented (PhD)

Doctor of Philosophy is the most often used title for a research-focused (usually known as Ph.D.) degree. The term “philosophy” in “Doctor of Philosophy” alludes to the idea of investigation and pursuit of knowledge rather than the discipline of philosophy. That’s because two of the most crucial elements of this degree are the thesis and the research.

The following are some topics for doctoral degrees with a research focus:

Professional application degree

A professional doctorate, commonly referred to as an applied doctorate or terminal doctorate, focuses on applying a subject in practical settings. You should probably pursue this type of doctorate if you wish to advance your career, follow senior corporate positions, obtain teaching qualifications in your profession, or launch a consulting business.

The professional doctorate program will inspire you to conduct research, identify problems in your field, and offer a workable solution. In contrast to doctorates that emphasize research, these degrees may or may not require a dissertation (thesis).

How Does a Doctorate Work?


The four stages of coursework that make up the traditional doctoral degree program are the research core, major focus area, electives, and dissertation.

Research core

In the majority of Ph.D. programs, you start your path to your degree with a common core of classes. The research core lays the groundwork for the fundamental skills you’ll need in order to carry out the necessary work for the degree.

Advanced writing techniques, research methodology and design, applied statistics, colloquium courses, and qualitative and quantitative research and analysis courses are frequently included in this core curriculum.

Major focus area

When the research core is finished, you will typically enroll in courses related to your primary study area. For instance, you will take courses in organizational behavior, organizational systems, critical thinking and decision-making, ethics, and change management if you’re pursuing a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration).

You will probably study courses in healthcare policy and legislation, healthcare economics and finance, quality improvement and process improvement, and health information governance if you’re pursuing a DHA (Doctor of Healthcare Administration).

On the other hand, if you are pursuing a Ph.D. in human services, you will likely take advanced study courses in research methodologies for public service, social impacts on behavior, ethics in decision-making, and advanced communication for the human services leader.



Most Ph.D. programs also require you to take electives in your area of study. This gives you a well-rounded viewpoint that will enable you to apply your degree in real-world settings.

Suppose you wish to use your doctorate in the field of public health. In that case, you may take a course from the DHA track if you’re pursuing a DPS (Doctor of Professional Studies) with a concentration in instructional design leadership.

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A dissertation typically consists of a five-chapter thesis divided into three parts. Firstly, you submit a prospectus for the dissertation committee’s approval. Then, you write the first chapters of your dissertation, and then you start gathering data.

Finally, you prepare a dissertation and present a verbal defense to the program directors. Since the primary goal of an applied doctorate is to develop a solution to a real-world problem, the dissertation for candidates may differ.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate Degree?

The answer highly depends on your choices and goals. A doctorate degree requires at least 60 to 120 semester credit hours (or about 20-40 college classes). The majority of PhDs take a total of 120 hours, although most applied doctorates are on the lower end of the spectrum.

The course duration also depends on the subject area you are pursuing and the type of program offered by the university. A doctorate usually takes 4 to 6 years, whereas a Ph.D. can take up to 8 years.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Doctorate Degree?

A doctorate degree generally qualifies for more grant funding than a master’s degree. The type of school, the kind of doctorate degree, the duration of the program, and the amount of financial aid available are a few factors that could influence the entire cost of a doctorate. According to Education Data Initiative, the average cost of a doctorate degree from a public university is $105,900, whereas from a private one can go up to  $146,300.


A doctorate is now very valuable in a society where knowledge is the new “fuel.” Such a degree can be a requirement to enter the workforce if you want to become an authority in your profession and possibly teach at educational institutions. A doctoral program is a large financial investment yielding a sizable return. We hope this article answered all of your questions regarding a doctorate degree.

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