What is a doctoral degree?

The highest type of academic degree, doctoral degrees represent advanced learning in a specific field. If the doctorate is a research degree, it also means the student has demonstrated the ability to conduct independent academic research.

Some doctorates are considered practical or applied degrees; examples include the Doctor of Education (EdD) and the Doctor of Ministry (DMin), among others.

In the US, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is usually considered the “highest” kind of doctorate because of its rigor and research requirements.

There are not clear rules, though: some EdD programs, for example, are indistinguishable from PhD programs in the same field.