Doctorate Degree: What Is It And Where To Study

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Thinking of going the next step and getting a doctorate degree? Find out just what a doctorate degree is, how to get one, what to expect during your studies, how much it will cost, how long it will take you, and what to do once you graduate. Read on to get the full picture on what a doctorate degree is all about.



What Is A Doctorate Degree?

A doctorate degree is the highest academic degree you can earn. Many refer to this degree as a ‘terminal’ degree, as it’s the last in a sequence of studying. However, you can of course continue to study after a doctorate degree.


Those who are pursuing a doctorate degree are usually looking to develop academic expertise in a specific area. There are also practical doctorate degrees as well. The most common types of doctorate degrees are PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), EdD (Doctor of Education), MD (Doctor of Medicine), and JD (Juris Doctor).



Doctoral Basics

Choosing to get a doctorate degree is quite the commitment — in both time and energy. Doctorate programs usually require 60-120 credits for graduation, but the entire doctorate degree program will take most students between five to eight years to complete.


The higher the academic degree, the more narrow your focus is, and that is very true of doctorate degrees. These programs can be highly specific, and you will likely spend the entire program studying only your area of concentration.


A doctorate degree program also requires research and a dissertation with an academic professor. During the degree program, you may also be required to complete work hours as well.



Group of students throwing caps after doctorate degree graduation
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Types Of Doctorate Degrees

Generally speaking, doctorate degrees can be split into two types: research degrees, or PhDs, and applied, professional, or clinical degrees.


The first is all about research and becoming an expert in a field of study. The latter is meant to give students the practical knowledge and experience for a career path.



What Can You Do With A Doctorate Degree?

Graduates of doctorate degree programs are essentially qualified to work in any level of their chosen field.


In almost all fields, you can become a professor and conduct research and give lectures at universities.


In more specific fields and with applied doctorate degrees, you can work in positions that others are not eligible for. These include careers such as anthropologist, archaeologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, positions in government, certain positions in science and in university executive boards, and finally, of course, a medical doctor.


With a doctorate degree, you can go far in business leadership, political science, engineering, and other high-earning fields. Within these fields, you will also have a high earning potential, being a doctorate graduate.



Man looking towards hallway
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Why Earn A Doctorate Degree?

For some, their desired career path requires a doctorate degree. For others, it’s about earning potential.


The average working doctorate graduate makes $98,000 per year, which is higher than the average master’s grad salary at $75,000 per year.


Many also choose to earn a doctorate degree simply because they absolutely love the subject they work in or study and want to pursue further research in that area.



Is It Worth It?

It all depends on what you will use a doctorate degree for, and how much time, energy, and money you want to invest in your field. If you are passionate about your field and want to commit your working career to learning, gathering information, and sharing that information, then getting a doctorate degree will be worthwhile for you.


In addition, many of the top professions in each industry require a doctorate degree. You may be able to rise to the top with only a master’s degree, though, so check your intended career path well before you invest in a doctorate degree. That being said, University of the People offers master’s and other degrees online and tuition-free!



How Much Does A Doctorate Degree Cost?

The price tag for a doctorate degree varies greatly — from around $6,000 per year, to $90,000 per year. Almost all doctorate degree students will receive financial assistance in the way of grants for their research. They may also have discounted tuition, or be compensated for working or teaching with the university during their degree.


Generally, tuition rates for doctorate programs at private, non-profit universities are much higher than public schools. Tuition rates are also higher for law and medical doctorate degrees. Average PhD programs have a net cost of $8,480, while average LLB law degrees have a net cost of $20,360, and for MDs, $19,230.



How Long Does It Take To Get A Doctorate Degree?

Usually, a doctorate degree takes three to six years, with the average being four years to complete. If you already have a master’s degree, it may take less time than if you are pursuing both at the same time. Some students may take up to eight years total to complete a doctorate degree program.



University of the People students studying online in cafe
Photo by Caleb Minear on Unsplash



What To Expect During A Doctorate Degree

Unlike undergraduate and potentially graduate degrees, expect to only focus on a narrow field of study for the entirety of your doctorate degree.

During your degree program you will refine your skills, and become an expert in your given field, writing scholarly articles, research design, and implementation.

The ultimate goal of your doctorate degree will be your dissertation or thesis, and much of your time will be spent there. These projects usually focus on a theory or practical application of your research. At the end of your program you will be expected to present and defend your dissertation or thesis in front of a committee. After you complete this task, you will get your doctorate degree.



Online Doctorate Programs

Many students are looking to the internet to complete their degree studies — and doctorate degree programs are no exception. With the busy lives of professionals, and the high demands of doctorate degrees, it’s easy to see why that may be the case. Online doctorate degrees may be more flexible than in-person programs.


You can find online degrees in almost any field, and in any program these days. To start your search, check our list of accredited online colleges, and see what doctorate programs are offered in your area of interest.


Overall, it’s up to you if you want to pursue a prestigious doctorate degree. It is an investment of time, money, and a commitment to one field, but if you are truly committed, it will certainly be a worthwhile endeavor.