what is the Highest Degree In College?

Wondering about which is the highest degree available in college? In this article we will detail about the doctorate degree you can pursue at college.

Updated by Shrestha Dey on 6th October 2020

After completing your master's degree, you might still want to continue education and specialize in that field of interest. Doctoral degrees are regarded as the highest college degrees an individual can aspire to earn and are offered by many public and private universities.

A doctoral degree is a graduate degree which takes usually about 3-5 years includes the coursework and research, somewhat similar to a master's degree. 

According to a Survey, it took 5.8 years for an individual in the USA to complete their doctoral programs in 2017. However, there are other types of doctorate programs like humanities and art doctorates which took more than 5.8 years to complete their programs. 

Students who have excelled within a specific academic discipline and have a strong interest in that field may choose to pursue a doctorate program. Doctoral Degree, also known as Terminal Degree or Ph.D. program is the most advanced type of degree program offered by colleges. It is regarded as the highest college degree an individual can aspire to earn. It is offered by most public and private universities. 

Educational Requirements to pursue the Doctorate Degree

Usually, it requires you to hold a master’s degree but many colleges accept students with a bachelor’s degree provided they meet all the other criteria. Additional requirements for acceptance into a doctoral degree program may include IOR and standardized test scores.

 A Ph.D. takes several years (minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 6-8 years) to complete. It usually involves a major research project and completion of an original dissertation. It requires you to attend a series of rigorous classes in your field of research and subsequently pass a qualification exam in order to begin work on your dissertation which is the final project in your doctoral program.

A dissertation is a lengthy piece of original research that must be vetted and approved by a panel of professors in order to grant a doctorate. If you are in the medical field, it will require you to complete real-time medical practice. A doctoral degree makes you qualified to work in areas of research and professors at the post-secondary level and is often challenging and requires a full-time commitment. 

Types of Doctorate Degree

The most common doctoral degrees available are:

  • Doctor of Philosophy Degrees

  • Professional or Clinical Doctorates

  • Honorary Doctorate

Doctor of philosophy

The Ph.D. degrees commonly known as Ph.D. is designed to prepare you for careers in research either at the university or industry. It is the most well-known doctoral degree type. It teaches you to discover new knowledge within their academic discipline. Ph.D. degrees are offered in a wide range of subjects including technical fields like physics, maths, biology; humanities subjects like philosophy and social sciences economics, and sociology. A Ph.D. is the most common doctoral degree among college and university faculties. However, there are other jobs that require researchers and employees who hold doctorate degrees like pharmaceutical companies and some federal bodies.

Professional or Clinical Doctorates

The professional doctorate is designed to train people with practical skills to become leaders within specific employment or professional setting such as nursing, education, psychology, and many more. Examples of professional doctoral degrees include Doctor of Nursing Practice commonly known as DNP, Doctor of Psychology commonly known as Psy.D degree, and others. 

Honorary Doctorate

An honorary doctorate degree is awarded to honor or recognize individuals that have demonstrated exemplary achievement or contribution within a particular field or discipline.

There is no concrete data available on the cost of doctoral degree programs. It is extremely variant but mostly falls on the higher end of the cost spectrum and ranges anywhere between $30,000 to $40,000 for in-state students and up to $60,000 per year for out of state students. However, there are many scholarships available for doctoral programs as only a rare percentage of individuals who reach this level of education.

One of the biggest challenges that you have to face as a  doctoral student is work-life balance. You have to chalk out a plan where you can commit to your research and coursework along with career, family, and home-life demands. It is advisable that you do your due research about your future career goals and prospects before taking up a doctoral program. It is, after all, a long term commitment.