Types of PhD Degrees: Overview of the Most Common Doctoral Programs
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the most popular fields of study by number of degrees awarded are in health professions, education, engineering, biomedical sciences and psychology. Doctorate programs in these fields can result in degrees such as Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Education.
What Are the Most Common Doctoral Programs?
The NCES (nces.ed.gov) publishes statistical data on a variety of educational topics, including the most common doctoral degrees awarded. According to the NCES, the most common field for doctoral degrees in the 2006-2007 academic year, the most recent survey year available, was health professions. The NCES reports over 8,300 doctoral degrees in health professions were awarded in the 2006-2007 school year.
In order, the next four most common fields for doctoral degrees were education, engineering, biological and biomedical science, and psychology. Together, these fields accounted for another 27,000 degrees awarded.
Doctoral Programs in Health Professions
There are a wide range of doctoral degrees available in the health profession and related sciences. This field includes the Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Nursing Practice and other degrees related to medicine and psychiatric health. Additional degrees available include community health and health behavior, health science and public health. Programs generally require 72 credit hours and are designed to prepare licensed health professionals for clinical practice and leadership roles. Doctoral graduates can also research, develop and implement solutions for the health industry.
Doctoral Programs in Education
Doctoral programs in education can lead to a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education. Students can major in education, educational leadership or special education. There are also a variety of concentrations available, such as educational administration and policy, early childhood education, education policy, evaluation and reform, teacher leadership and higher education.
Doctoral Programs in Engineering
Engineers use knowledge of math, material sciences, natural sciences and physics to develop ways of using materials and natural forces to benefit people in a wide variety of ways. Ph.D. programs for engineers offer many areas of concentration. Possible engineering concentrations include civil, electrical, computer, mechanical, petroleum and geological. Depending on the school and program 36-72 credits may be required.
Doctoral Programs in Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Schools offering doctoral degrees in biomedical sciences also offer several areas of specialization. Students can choose from concentrations such as biomedical engineering, developmental biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, virology, neurobiology of disease, cancer biology, immunology, genetics and genomics, gene therapy and pathology. Programs often include lab rotations and teaching training.
Doctoral Programs in Psychology
Ph.D. programs in psychology can provide general study or focus on clinical psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, applied social psychology or behavior neuroscience. Possible concentrations include human development, lifespan cognitive neuroscience, organizational psychology, pediatric psychology and educational psychology.
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