What is the highest degree in the medical field?
A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic degree. Everyone is familiar with the medical doctor, who holds an M.D. (Medical Doctorate). But you can earn a doctorate in almost any subject area. For example, most states require licensed psychologists to hold a doctorate degree in psychology.
Typically a doctorate degree takes four years to complete, post-bachelor’s degree. If you already hold a master’s degree, you may be able to complete a doctorate in the same subject area with only three years of additional full-time study.
Four-year doctorates will require about 90 to 120 semester credits or 30 to 40 college courses. The length and credits of doctorate programs can vary. Some doctorate programs require a research thesis to be completed. A growing number of online doctorates are designed as “practitioner’s degrees.” A research thesis may be optional. Instead, you may be required to complete a capstone paper and/or a supervised placement working in your career area.
Very few career areas require a doctorate degree. Areas where state licensing is required—such as engineering, public school teaching, psychology—may require the doctorate degree for the highest paid positions and for positions in government facilities.
There are fewer doctorate degrees offered online than any other type of degree. This is because market demand is very low. Online doctorate degrees tend to be in areas that require doctorates for licensing, such as teaching or psychology. Most require short residencies or campus visits—such as a week each summer on campus—to satisfy supervision requirements. A few online doctorates are available in business because business is a high demand career area.