6 Pathways to getting a Doctorate Degree

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6 Pathways to getting a Doctorate Degree

While the PhD by thesis pathway is the most common route taken by PhD candidates, there are five other pathways to getting a doctorate degree:

  1. PhD by thesis
  2. PhD by publication
  3. Professional Doctorate
  4. Integrated PhD
  5. Online PhD
  6. Honorary Doctorate

1. PhD by thesis

The most typical way to earn a doctorate degree is in this route. You will work to complete a thesis based on your research proposal over the course of three or four years of research at the university.

The length of a thesis is usually between 60,000 to 90,000 words, although this can vary between institutions.

For instance, the University of Cambridge has set a maximum word count of 80,000, and the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow expects a thesis to be between 70,000 and 100,000 words, including references, bibliography, and appendices.

When finished, you’ll have to present your PhD thesis for defence during your viva voce in front of a panel of examiners.

2. PhD by publication

This pathway involves the submission of previously published works, such as novels, book chapters, and journal articles, which collectively create a coherent body of work and demonstrate a unique contribution to a particular field of study.

This route is often pursued by academics in the middle of their careers who haven’t had the chance to pursue a traditional Doctorate degree.

Most schools require a minimum of five to eight published pieces, but this varies depending on the length of the articles and the institutions. The published work will be evaluated in accordance with the same exacting criteria as a conventional PhD by thesis.

You must also present your work to an academic committee and provide a written supporting statement that can be between 5,000 and 20,000 words long. A supervisor will guide you with selecting which publications to submit and with the supporting statement.

Some universities accept only their own graduates for a PhD by publication, while others restrict this route to their academic staff. In general, you should have graduated with your first degree at least seven years ago to be eligible.

3. Professional Doctorate

This sort of Doctorate degree contains a sizeable taught component and a minor research project, and is largely targeted at present professionals in vocational fields including healthcare, education and teaching, engineering, and manufacturing.

Professional Doctorates can last between two and eight years and are frequently pursued on a part-time basis. They typically start in October or January, just like their conventional PhD counterparts.

Even though you won’t normally be aiming for an academic career, your research is expected to further both professional practice and theory. Projects frequently center on an actual problem that has an impact on your employer.

Common titles for graduates of professional Doctorate degrees include:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Engineering (EngD)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD).

Unlike many professional Doctorates, the EngD is typically offered as a full-time course and is aimed at young engineering graduates with little or no professional experience.

4. Integrated PhD

This pathway also known as the New Route PhD, students must first complete a one-year research Masters degree (MRes) before moving on to a three-year PhD.

Integrated PhDs are offered by a small number of UK universities and funded by the government, the British Council, and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

The integrated PhD combines theoretical learning with applied experience and cutting-edge research. This enables you to develop the transferable abilities you’ll need to become a leader in your field of choice while learning subject-specific approaches.

5. Online PhD

Distance learning has long been an option for many PhD students because PhDs are based more on individual study than time spent in lectures and seminars.

It is therefore a good option to consider, if you have family or work obligations or are an international student.

This gives you the chance to conduct doctoral research without having to live close to your chosen institution. It’s also a good method of study if your subject calls for you to be stationed somewhere other than the institution.

You’ll typically communicate with your supervisor via phone, email, or Skype/Zoom. You should also keep in mind that even if you choose this research method, you may still need to attend school for meetings and to obtain training in research techniques for one or two weeks out of the academic year. 

You have the option of taking your final exam in person or online.

With online PhDs, you can usually register as a full or part-time student. The level of fees you pay varies between institutions – some charge the same as for a standard PhD while others offer a reduced rate.

6. Honorary Doctorate Degree

This route is just an image title. It is awarded to someone who is not a student but who has done something important; or have excelled and distinguished themselves in their chosen fields of work.

To be considered for an honorary doctorate degree, there are specific criteria that individuals must meet, and there are a variety of doctorate degrees that they may be awarded. There are also many non-honorary doctorate degree options that require advanced education.

Honorary doctorate recipients do not obtain their degrees through academic success; rather, they are recognized for their lifetime achievements or acts of generosity and altruism that have benefited their community, country, or mankind as a whole. While some colleges accept applications directly from candidates, others require third-party nominations. Each university that awards honorary degrees sets its own standards for eligibility.

Recipients may receive more than one honorary degree, but never from the same school twice.  Although many colleges prefer to honor their own graduates or people who have contributed to the school, a nominee does not have need to be an alumnus of the awarding school. Beneficiaries of the prestigious degree are permitted to use the title “Doctor” even when they have not finished a doctoral program.

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