A doctorate degree is the highest degree you can obtain in the United States. The most common forms are:
- Research (Ph. D.) programs
- Professional doctorates
You might be familiar with a Ph. D., an academic, research-based degree where your main goal is to develop advanced research skills and to create new knowledge to share with others.
A professional doctorate is focused on advanced practice of knowledge and skills, making it a degree for those who are more professionally oriented. While it will also develop your research skills, in a professional doctorate program, the focus is to apply knowledge to an industry to solve new and emerging problems.
Interest in professional doctoral programs has been growing in recent years. I attribute it to the evolving needs of employers, and the desire of professionals to improve their skills and knowledge.
1. You can have real impact on an industry.
A professional doctoral degree program will prepare you to have an impact on and potentially transform your chosen field. Professional doctorate candidates usually take an existing concept or problem in their industry, conduct the research, and recommend proposals or solutions. This can have a significant social and economic impact.
2. You can qualify for top-level positions.
A good doctorate degree candidate is someone who is fairly well established in a field or a career. This is someone who might already be a decision maker or manager, but who wants to develop the refined and sophisticated skills to move into the top levels of decision-making.
A rigorous professional doctorate program will push your boundaries and teach you how to think through and solve complex problems that you can translate directly to your industry.
3. You’ll demonstrate your higher-level skills.
Holding a doctorate degree doesn’t just show, it proves that you have mastered top level skills in writing, research and analysis. Many fields now demand top professionals to have these advanced abilities. They might emphasize applied or clinical research. With a professional doctorate degree, those skills are proven.
My PH. D. is in humanities education – and though I don’t deal with exactly what I studied every day – I do use the methodology I learned through my program to identify, analyze, articulate and solve complex problems. The educational process improves the way you analyze and are able to see connections. It is also a high honor.
4. You can grow your professional network.
Whether you’re taking your courses online or face-to-face, the people who become your classmates represent a wide swath of fields and sectors who are all there to improve themselves professionally, the way you are. These people become not only a great professional network, but become your support system.
Taking a variety of competitive people and putting them in a classroom together to challenge one another will help push all of you further than you could have gone by yourselves.
5. You could see an economic payoff.
An important reason to consider a doctorate degree is that in many fields, earning your doctorate could increase your earning potential with your current or future employers. Many top-level positions require candidates to have a doctorate degree.
After sacrificing time and money to get your degree, this might be music to your ears. But know going into it that some fields will have a higher payoff than others. Make sure you carefully consider your future earning potential when calculating your return on investment.
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