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Doctorate



The highest academic degree, usually requiring BACHELOR’S and MASTER’S DEGREES followed by completion of at least two or more years of academic courses, the writing of a scholarly DISSERTATION based on original research, and the demonstration of complete mastery of a particular subject area by oral and written examination. Doctorate entitles bearers to be addressed as “Doctor” and to append their names with the appropriate letters of their degrees—that is, Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) or M.D. (doctor of medicine). Two types of doctorates are awarded in the United States, research and professional, with the latter seldom requiring a master’s degree or a dissertation. A professional doctoral degree in the United States, unlike Europe, only reflects academic attainment, and doctors of medicine (M.D.) or jurisprudence (J.D.) must pass state or national qualifying examinations to obtain licenses to practice. (In Europe, where governments control universities, a doctoral degree entitles its recipient to practice medicine, law and other professions.) The research doctorate, or Ph.D., originally awarded for study of philosophy, was in the mid to late 20th century extended to include virtually all areas of the humanities and sciences, with each Ph.D. simply modified to indicate the field of study—for example, Ph.D. Eng. (ineering), Ph.D. Hist. (ory), or Ph.D. Chem. (istry). All require successful completion of an original research project and a thesis thereon. More recently, as the study of many subject areas has become more specialized, doctoral degrees have assumed the name of those specialties, as in doctor of education (D.Ed.), doctor of musical arts (D.DM.A.), doctor of business administration (D.B.A.), etc.
The number of doctorates awarded by American universities has increased by an average of about 3.5% a year, and 42,155 were granted in 2004—31.1% to non–U.S. citizens. Nearly 21%, 8,819, were awarded in the life sciences, 16.1% (6,795) in the social sciences, 15.7% in education, 14.4% (6,049) in the physical sciences, 13.7% (5,776) in engineering, 13% (5,467) in the humanities, 3.2% in professional fields and 3% in business. Men earned 54.5% of the doctorates awarded, and more than 41% of degree recipients intended to enter teaching, while 31.2% intended to go into research and development. Of the 62.7% of degree recipients who were U.S. citizens, 80.4% were white, 6.6% black, 4.9% Asian, 4.6% Hispanic and 0.5% American Indian or Alaskan native. The remaining doctorates, a startlingly high 37.3%, went either to resident aliens (3.6%), to nonresident aliens (27.5%) or students whose citizenship was unknown (6.2%).
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