When is a 'PhD' not a PhD? When it's a DPhil, DBA, EdD or other type of doctorate degree.
The traditional PhD (or 'Doctor of Philosophy') is the best-known advanced research qualification, but several other varieties of doctoral degree exist. Some of these are academic qualifications in specific subject areas. Others are professional doctorates with a slightly different format.
Joint PhD programmes involve collaboration between two (or more) different universities. So how does that work? Who can apply? And what are the advantages (and disadvantages) of researching in this way?
Integrated PhD programmes consist of a one-year Masters followed by three years of PhD research. Find out more about what it's like to study an integrated PhD, how to apply and the funding options available.
Thinking of applying for the Doctor of Engineering (EngD)? Our guide covers everything you need to know about the qualification, including costs, applications, programme content, and how it differs from a PhD.
The doctorates in the above table are divided into different types, as follows:
Academic doctorates (such as the standard PhD) are usually awarded for original research and scholarship in traditional academic subjects. They can prepare a student for various careers, but their main focus is on broadening theoretical understanding of a subject, rather than improving professional practice.
Professional doctorates are awarded for work that contributes directly to knowledge or practice in a specific vocational field. They still involve original research and analysis, but also incorporate more practical training and instruction. Candidates may require appropriate experience.
Higher doctorates are usually awarded later in a person's career, as a means of recognising esteemed researchers or practitioners. Students do not normally enrol for these doctorates as traditional university degrees.
Honorary doctorates are awarded to celebrate an individual's achievements. They do not require any specific track record of academic or professional work and can be granted at the discretion of a university. Students do not enrol for these doctorates.
As a prospective postgraduate student, you only really need to concern yourself with academic or professional research degrees.
We've included higher and honorary doctorates here in order to try and prevent them being confused with more 'conventional' PhDs (and to give you some inspiration for later in your career!).
DPhil vs PhD
Many people believe that the DPhil and PhD are different degrees. This is not true. ‘DPhil’ is an abbreviation of ‘Doctor of Philosophy’. Essentially, ‘DPhil’ and ‘PhD’ are two different ways of referring to the same doctoral degree.
‘DPhil’ is traditionally a British term and so only a few universities (most notably, the University of Oxford) still use it. Most universities around the world use the term ‘PhD’. While you might have to explain to a foreign employer what a DPhil is, you can be safe in the knowledge that both degrees are the same prestigious Doctor of Philosophy award.
Find a PhD
Ready to start searching for a PhD? You can filter our course search by topic, location, keywords and funding.
Our postgrad newsletter shares courses, funding news, stories and advice