Doctorate and Ph.D. What is the difference between them?

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Doctorate and Ph.D. what is the difference between them?

After you finish your master’s and want to continue studying, what do you do? It depends: if you do a doctorate. However, if you are in the United States or Europe, you will be doing a Ph.D. The name may be different, but the study not so much.

Even so, the question remains: what is the difference between a Ph.D. and a Doctorate? In general, the two graduate programs have many more similarities than differences.

Despite the different names, in both cases, the student will need to fulfill certain requirements in terms of classes and research papers. And in both cases, he will need to propose and investigate a new idea. But the differences exist.

Structure of higher education

The term Ph.D., according to local coordinator Daniel Costa of Euraxess, is an abbreviation for “Physics Doctor”, or doctor of philosophy. In fact, the acronym comes from the Latin expression “Philosophize doctor”, a title that was given to those who reached the end of their studies in a certain area.

And it doesn’t have to be in philosophy: the word “Philosophize” refers to its Greek origin, from “love of knowledge”. Euraxess is an organization of the European Commission that aims to promote the mobility of researchers — both Europeans wanting to go abroad and foreigners wanting to go there.

And according to Daniel, when a student is going to do a doctorate, the studies and work he will do are basically the same as what a European or US PhD student would do. But, curiously, the student reaches the PhD with more study time than the European student.

This is due to the way higher education is structured in each region. Here, students complete their undergraduate degree (lasting about 4 to 5 years), then their master’s degree (another year and a half or two) and then their doctorate.

In Europe, students first take a “license” (which lasts three years), then a master’s degree (two more years), and then a Ph.D. In other words: as a rule, the student will have at least six more months of study than the European student upon reaching this “third cycle”.

The first cycle is graduation or license; the second, the master’s degree; and the PhD or doctorate is the third — in Europe, by the way, this is standardized according to the Bologna Declaration.

But this time is not wasted: “In some cases, students who are going to do their master’s in Europe manage to ‘skip’ the first year of the program”, comments Daniel.

Unification and goals

In addition to this difference, the Ph.D. in Europe is guided by some guidelines different from those that govern Ph.D. programs. In part, this is due to the European Union: in order to facilitate the mobility of researchers between the different countries of the continent, efforts are being made to unify higher education programs in Europe.

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Consequently, access to a doctorate is more open in Europe since a degree does not have to be validated from one country to another. And there are programs that already provide for a travel time: you must be part of your research in another country, for example.

But each European country still maintains a little bit of its structure”, says Daniel. Apart from that, while the doctorate is still practically a guarantee that the researcher will continue in academic life, Europe has been seeking to guide its PhD programs to bring them closer to the job market and society’s problems.

Doctoral candidates in Europe must be made more employable. So they are fundamental not only for science but they are trained to be citizens who are able to synthesize knowledge and innovate beyond the academy”, comments Charlotte Grawitz, Euraxess representative.

In June 2011, the European Commission (the executive arm of the European Union) published the “Seven Principles of Innovative Doctoral Training”, a set of guidelines that aim to maximize the impact of research work on society and the employability of researchers.

The programs include guidelines on “Interdisciplinary Research Options”, “International Networking”, and “Exposure to Industry and Other Relevant Employment Sectors”.

For this reason, Ph.D. programs in Europe, more often than PhDs, are close to companies, NGOs, or government agencies. And, in some cases, the researcher may also have two different advisors, to foster interdisciplinary — which is unusual here

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