Difference Between PhD and Doctorate

Main Difference – PhD vs. Doctorate

In academia, PhD and Doctorate are common terms that refer to the highest academic distinction and degree conferred upon an individual. Both degrees confer the title Dr. on the successful candidate. This degree is generally studied after completing the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The main difference between PhD and Doctorate is that doctorate is an umbrella term that refers to the highest degree awarded by a university or other approved educational organization whereas Ph.D. is a specific degree that falls into the category of a doctorate. Let us discuss the further difference between PhD and Doctorate in this article.

What is a PhD

Ph.D. is an abbreviation used for Doctor of Philosophy. PhD can refer to a doctorate in any faculty except Medicine and sometimes theology. This degree covers the subjects of arts and sciences broadly. A PhD can be conferred in a number of fields including humanities, social sciences, education, etc. A PhD is conferred by a university, and it is considered as the highest academic qualification.

A Ph.D. often requires years of postgraduate study on a distinct subject. It also requires intense concentration, focus, and hard work. A person studying for PhD has a heavy workload; beginning with course work, and then possible internships and teaching positions. The PhD will end in dissertation writing and subsequent defense. It is important to notice that PhD gives a special place for research, and the PhD student is expected to contribute new theory and knowledge to the field with his research.

Difference Between PhD and Doctorate

What is a Doctorate

A doctorate is the highest degree awarded by a university or other approved educational organization. As mentioned above, Doctorate is an umbrella term that can refer to a number of degrees including both academic and professional doctorates. Some well-known professional doctorates include,

DBA – Doctor of Business Administration

EngD – Doctorate of Engineering

MD – Doctorate of Medicine 

EdD – Doctor of Education 

The main difference between these professional degrees and PhDs is that a professional doctorate is more appropriate for those who are pursuing professions rather than academic careers. In addition, the main aim of following such a doctorate is to learn practical application fo existing theories and knowledge.

Sometimes, honorary doctorates are awarded to individuals who are considered worthy of special recognition. These are conferred either for scholarly work or contribution to the society.

Main Difference - PhD vs Doctorate

Difference Between PhD and Doctorate


Ph.D. is a specific degree that falls into the category of a doctorate.

Doctorate is an umbrella term that the highest degree awarded by a university or other approved educational organization.


PhD involves little or no taught elements; it focuses on research.

Doctorate involves both research and teaching.

Theories and Knowledge

In PhD, the students are expected to contribute new theories and knowledge.

In doctorate, the students are expected to apply the theories and knowledge practically.


PhD is most suited for those pursuing an academic career.

Doctorate (professional) is more suited for those pursuing a profession, not an academic career.

Difference Between PhD and Doctorate - infographic

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“Desmond Tutu Honorary Doctorate Vienna” by E. Foltinowsky – E. Foltinowsky. (GFDL) via Wikimedia Commons

“DPhil gown” by The original uploader was Quantumcomputing at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper. (CC BY 2.5) via Commons 

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