What Are the Common Types of PhD Degrees?
Students seeking an advanced degree in their field may be interested in a Ph.D. degree program. Read below to find out more about the common types of Ph.D. degrees and other doctoral degree programs.
A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is one type of doctoral degree, which is generally considered the most advanced degree available in any particular field. Graduating with a Ph.D. degree involves completing a wide range of classroom coursework, comprehensive exams and an original doctoral dissertation. Although most Ph.D. students enter the program with a master's degree in a related field, some programs are designed to move directly from an undergraduate degree to a Ph.D. Below are some of the more common fields in which a student can pursue a Ph.D. degree. Also included is a description of other common non-Ph.D., doctoral degrees.
Ph.D. in Psychology
A Ph.D. in psychology is designed to build upon the knowledge gained in an undergraduate degree program. Students explore advanced psychology topics like neuroscience, cognition and personality. Psychology Ph.D. candidates are generally required to complete several advanced courses and write an original doctoral dissertation, which must be defended orally. Most students also serve as teaching assistants for one or more semesters. Some of the courses that may be included in the curriculum of this degree are:
- Social psychology
- Mind, culture and society
- Emotion regulation
- Foundations of cognition
Ph.D. in Art History
Students working towards a Ph.D. in art history generally choose a specific area in which to specialize. Although students' coursework is created around that concentration they are also required to take certain general art history courses. Candidates complete an original thesis on a topic that is usually related to their area of concentration. Some of the courses that may be included in this degree's curriculum are:
- Native American landscapes
- Postmodernism and the visual arts
- Contemporary African art
- Ancient Near-Eastern art
Other Common Doctoral Degrees
Although the Ph.D. is probably the most well-known type of doctoral degree program, there are other post-graduate level programs that students may choose to pursue. The field of study often determines the name or type of degree that is offered.
Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
An M.D. degree is the most advanced degree that a medical student can earn and must be completed in order to practice medicine professionally. M.D. students generally choose an area of specialty.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
The Ed.D. degree is the highest level of education available in the field of education. Professionals who hold an Ed.D. degree typically work in administrative, academic or research positions related to education.
Juris Doctor (J.D.)
The J.D. degree is the most advanced degree available to lawyers in the United States. A dissertation is generally not required in this degree program.