Selecting a Doctoral Degree


Fantastic, you have decided to obtain your Doctorate degree! Now you have to decide on which doctorate degree to obtain.

Deciding to pursue a doctoral degree was the easiest part for me; the difficult decision was which doctoral degree to pursue. Most people automatically think about a doctoral degree as being a PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy). The truth of the situation is there are far more doctorate degrees than most individuals realize. Here is a chart outlining many of the doctorate degrees, but it is not a comprehensive list there are many different medical degrees not included in this list.


Doctor of Arts


Doctor of Applied Science


Doctor of Business Administration


Doctor of Civil Law


Doctor of Church Music


Doctor of Divinity


Doctor of Education


Doctor of Library Science


Doctor of Musical Arts


Doctor of Ministry


Doctor of Missiology


Doctor of Public Administration


Doctor of Public Health


Doctor of Religious Education


Doctor of Social Welfare or Social Work


Doctor of Science


Doctor of Education


Doctor of Laws


Doctor of Juristic Science


Doctor of Humanities


Doctor of Humane Letters


Doctor of Laws


Doctor of Philosophy


Doctor of Psychology


Doctor of Science


Doctor of Juridical Science


Doctor of Social Science


Doctor of Sacred Theology


Doctor of Theology


With all of these choices, how do you decide which doctorate degree is right for you? For me, I started for the PhD, but quickly decided it was a research degree and that did not fit my long term goals. So I switched to a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) because my long term goal was to be an I/O (Industrial/Organizational) Psychologist. The PsyD better fit into my long-term goals by allowing me to study Psychology, not from a clinical point of view but from a business point of view.

So my first suggestion is to take a long look at what do you want to do after you obtain your doctorate degree. As I always say, “Umm, what do I want to be when I grow up?” Once you know your long-term goals, then the research begins.

What do I mean by research? What I mean is, go look at the jobs in the field you want to work in to see what degrees are required for your job goal. One question I get asked frequently from students is what degree do I need to teach? Well that depends upon if we are talking K-12 or college level courses because different levels of education have different requirements. Many people think to teach college courses a Master’s or Doctor in Education is needed, but if you want to teach business courses then you need the appropriate MBA and DBA or PhD. So it is really important to know what the requirements are for the job you want to do in the future. The time to know what the requirements are, is before you start the degree and not afterwards. They key to achieving your future career goals is to ensure you know the requirements upfront and not after-the-fact.

After you know the requirements and have selected the doctorate degree, then you can start looking at which colleges offer the degree you are seeking. Degrees can be obtained on campus, online and in hybrid formats, but make sure you check out all requirements. Most doctorate degrees have some sort of residency requirement, which means traveling to some location for a weekend up to a week to attend a live class.

The reason for this suggestion is because as I stated earlier, I started working on PhD for about a year before I switched to a PsyD. Both programs were fantastic, but the PsyD takes me the direction I want to go for the future. While I will have to explain what a PsyD is, it gives me the education I want for my future. Make sure you take the time to select the right doctorate for your future goals before selecting which college to attend; it can save time, money, and frustration in the long run.