The term doctoral degree is used to describe an award given to students completing a combination of graduate level study, achieving a minimum grade point average and contributing to a body of knowledge through a dissertation. A doctoral degree is the highest of the graduate level academic degrees, and typically requires four years of full time study.
Also known as a doctorate degree, students wishing to receive a doctoral degree must first receive their bachelor's degree. If the student has a master's degree, some course credits may be applied towards the doctorate, but holding a master's degree is not required before being admitted to a program.
Doctoral degrees can be separated into two classifications. Students that wish to become researchers will enroll in a Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy program. Students that desire to become skilled practitioners will enroll in a program specific to that skill, for example:
The vast majority of students enrolled in Ph.D. programs will eventually teach in university and college settings or become a professional researcher. The exact number of graduate level courses may vary by program; however, the requirements generally include:
As is the case with master's programs, a doctorate program must be completed within a certain time frame, typically within seven years after being admitted. Students may also be required to maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA). When received, a doctoral degree is normally combined with the student's major. For example, a student can receive a Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology.