February 10, 2009

The nature of PhD (Note jotted from How to get a PhD)

Some people asked me what does a PhD mean to me. What makes PhD holders different from non-PhD holders? I read Pugh and Philips (2005) How to get a PhD and found answer for it:

Table 1: Differences among bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctor’s degree

Bachelor’s degree

Master’s degree

Doctor’s degree

The recipient had obtained a general education.

Specialisation started in 19th century.

A licence to practice (historically in theology).

Possessed advanced knowledge in a specialist field.

A licence to teach, in a university as a member of a faculty.

A faculty member needs to be an authority, in full command of the subject right up to the boundaries of current knowledge, and able to extend them.

The recipient is worthy of being listened to as an equal by the appropriate university faculty.

Table 2: Differences among doctor’s degrees

Higher doctorates

Doctor of Philosophy degree

Doctor in medicine

Awarded as recognition of a substantial contribution to the discipline by published work.

E.g. DD (Divinity), MD (Medicine), LLD (Law), DMus (Music), DSc (Science), DLitt (Letters, i.e. Arts).

An early 20th century concept imported from the US to British universities.

DPhil or PhD.

Represents a more restricted achievement than the higher doctorates as it envisages a limited amount of academic work (3 years or so).

The recipient is in command of the field of study and can make a worthwhile contribution to it.

Honorary title given to general medical practitioners although they do not have a doctorate from their universities.

On the basis of their university course they are credited with 2 bachelor’s degrees, although having a licence to practise they exemplify the concept of a master’s degree.


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