Difference Between Doctorate Degree and PhD

Difference Between Doctorate Degree and PhD: A Comparative Guide

When you see someone using “Doctor” in front of their name and get confused about a PhD or a doctorate, people outside the academic world often use doctorate and PhD interchangeably.

Both PhD and doctorate can be described as the highest level achieved by an individual after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in a particular field.

However, the difference between a doctorate degree vs PhD is distinguishing and prominent. Let’s get to know about them.


Doctorate Degree vs PhD: At a Glance

A doctorate is a broad term that capacitates many degrees in professional, business, humanities, and scientific disciplines.

A doctorate works for both professionals and researchers. An individual with this degree can be considered an expert and a scholar of their discipline.

PhD is the abbreviation of Doctor of Philosophy and is considered an academic degree rather than a professional.

Although a PhD may show many doctorate holders’ academic and professional abilities, they are more focused on research activities and holds the concerning skillset.

Achieving any doctorate is built upon rigorous coursework, extensive study, and fieldwork. The final method of obtaining a PhD and other forms of doctorates differs in dissertation and publication requirements.


What is a Doctorate?

doctorate degree

A doctorate is the crown jewel of academic and professional specialization in your area of study or professional field. You can achieve this degree in both academic and professional fields.

There are two main disciplines in focus in a doctorate, that is research and professional activities.

Among many types of doctorate, Doctor Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Education (Ed. D.), and Doctor of Computer Science (DCS) are widely popular.

The final hurdle of a doctorate is the dissertation which is an original document created by the candidate. It tackles a particular problem or challenge of the field.

Professional doctorate degrees are considered “optional” in most industries. There are also ranges of honorary doctorate degrees that distinguish an individual in a professional field.


What is a PhD?

PhD degree

PhD is a specific degree that falls under the broad umbrella of doctorate degrees. It stands for “Doctor of Philosophy” and is taken as an academic degree.

After years of coursework, research, and field visits, the final requirement of a PhD is a dissertation and a publication.

The dissertation document must be accepted and published by a peer-reviewed academic publication company or journal to complete the degree.

PhD is often compulsory to be accepted as teaching staff in universities. You won’t be considered for tenure in most institutions if you do not have a PhD degree.

A PhD holder is guaranteed to show the focus, sheer willpower, and research capabilities of an individual in a particular academic field.


Key Differences Between PhD and Doctorate

  1. PhD is one category of doctorate degrees that focuses on academics and research
  2. A doctorate is not always an indicator of research and professional capabilities, while a PhD almost always is.
  3. A PhD has a publishing requirement alongside the dissertation, while publication is not a must for other doctorate degrees.


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PhD vs Doctorate: The Comparison Table

Parameter Doctorate PhD
Definition A professional or academic degree of the highest possible rank A specific academic degree that falls under the doctorate category
Scope Can be a fully professional or fully research degree A strictly academic and research degree
Degree Requirement Fulfilment of coursework, exams, and submission of a dissertation for review Coursework, exams, and the dissertation must be accepted and published in a peer-reviewed journal.



You may have stumbled upon debates on the premises of doctorate and PhD. The doctorate vs PhD discussion often results in calling both of them the same thing.

While PhD is indeed a form of doctorate, you cannot consider every doctorate holder the same as a PhD holder. A PhD shows academic and research achievement and grit like no other degree.

If you are thinking of pursuing a PhD or a doctorate, think in terms of your end goal. While a PhD will give you an edge in the academic world, you might consider professional doctorate degrees to achieve your career goal.

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