Analytic Quality Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home


Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 22 September, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


Novel Recipes



Doctoral degree

core definition

The doctoral degree is the highest level of award in most higher education systems.

explanatory context

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) award is the core doctoral award and has international currency. It is usually the result of in-depth postgraduate level research resulting in a major thesis that makes a unique contribution to the knowledge in a discipline (although this doesn't appear to always be the case in the United States).


There are various developments of the PhD, including some that are partly (or even wholly) taught, such as the Doctor of Education (D.Ed).

analytical review

Higher Education Authority [Ireland] (HEA, 2004) defines a doctoral degree as:

A postgraduate degree that involves at least two years’ study after the Master’s Degree. More specifically, the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is awarded after two or more years of research, while a minimum of four years is needed for a higher Doctorate such as the Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) or Doctor of Literature (D.Litt).


Northeast Texas Network Consortium (2002) defines:

Doctoral degree: The most advanced degree, awarded following of additional study, often after completion of a master’s degree.

It also expands this in its definition of Ph.D

The highest academic degree awarded by a university to students who have completed studies beyond the bachelor's and/or master's degrees, and who have demonstrated their academic ability in oral and written examinations and through original research presented in the form of a dissertation (thesis). Also called a doctoral degree.

In answer to the question 'What is a Doctorate Degree?' GetEducated.Com (2009), referrring to the US system, states:

A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic degree. Everyone is familiar with the medical doctor, who holds an M.D. (Medical Doctorate). But you can earn a doctorate in almost any subject area. For example, most states require licensed psychologists to hold a doctorate degree in psychology.

Typically a doctorate degree takes four years to complete, post-bachelor's degree. If you already hold a master’s degree, you may be able to complete a doctorate in the same subject area with only three years of additional full-time study.

Four-year doctorates will require about 90 to 120 semester credits or 30 to 40 college courses. The length and credits of doctorate programs can vary. Some doctorate programs require a research thesis to be completed. A growing number of online doctorates are designed as “practitioner’s degrees.” A research thesis may be optional. Instead, you may be required to complete a capstone paper and/or a supervised placement working in your career area.


Describing the PhD in the UK, (undated) state:

The doctoral degree is the high-status educational degree in the UK. An UK PhD today is an esteemed degree that many international postgraduates aspire for. Many of the universities in the UK award the degree either by the name of PhD or by the name of DPhil (both abbreviated for Doctorate of Philosophy). The degree is awarded to the scholars who research on the subject they specialize in. These doctorate degrees are awarded to the scholars for the creation and interpretation of knowledge, which extends the forefront of a discipline, usually through original research. Doctorate degree holders in UK, like any other country, will have the qualities needed for employment such as the ability to make informed judgements on intricate issues in specialist fields and innovation in tackling and solving problems.

Doctoral programs that may include a research constituent but which have a substantial thought element, lead usually to awards that include the name of the discipline in their title, for example EdD is the doctoral award for Doctor of Education in the UK universities. A doctorate degree normally involves minimum three years of full time study in UK. Overseas researchers, studying in UK to earn PhD or DPhil or any doctorate degree, are relatively good in number due to the infrastructure that the universities offer along with the faculty and research facilities. The PhD or other research based doctoral degree in UK needs a thesis to be presented in a logical and scholarly manner and candidates must be able convince their examiners that they have grasped all the concepts of the particular field of learning within which the subject of their thesis falls, fully. Students intending to pursue for the DPhil or PhD degree in the United Kingdom can get the information from the reliable resources such as websites and latest edition of the respective university brochures.


The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA, undated) in the UK:

Doctoral degree or doctorate: A higher education qualification awarded for a programme of original and largely independent study and research (typically lasting at least three years), located at level 8 in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at level 12 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

associated issues

related areas

See also

bachelor’s degree

master’s degree



GetEducated.Com, 2009, What is a Doctorate Degree?, available at, accessed 2 March 2011, no longer available 13 July 2012.

Higher Education Authority (HEA) [of Ireland] 2004, Glossary, no longer available, 29 January 2011., undated, PhD in UK, available at, accessed 21 September 2012, still available 3 January 2017, still available 26 June 2019.

Northeast Texas Network Consortium (NTNC), 2002, Distance Learning College Glossary. , accessed 20 September 2012, still available 3 January 2017, not available 20 June 2019.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 7 January 2017, not available 20 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

A NOVEL Who bombed a Birmingham mosque?


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home