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Doctoral level degrees - titles and meanings

Updated on December 1, 2010

There is a multitude of fields for doctoral study in the United States. Would you believe that this was actually a topic on the game show Jeopardy recently?

The doctorate is a terminal degree and a credential indicating an individual's expertise in a particular field.

In many other countries, a particular doctoral title might not even be known or recognized and the Ph.D. specifically attains the most widespread recognition and respect. For example, the D.P.A. (Doctor of Public Administration) degree is most readily heard of in the United States and the Philippines. Elsewhere, many may not have heard of it.

Each doctoral degree carries its own title far beyond just the M.D. or the Ph.D. most popularly referred to when someone says "doctor". All of these degrees should be recognized for their merit. This article is to offer you the information to let you know a little more about the many doctoral titles that exist.

With the exception of the J.D. where degree recipients are likely to continue using the titles "Mr." or "Ms.", recipients of all forms of doctoral degrees use the salutation "Dr."

It could be difficult for us to keep all the various doctoral titles straight sometimes hence the idea that a Jeopardy category on the topic can indeed be challenging.

Here are some of the doctoral classifications and their meanings.:

1. M.D. - Doctor of Medicine

2. D.O. - Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

3. N.D. - Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

4. D.D.S./D.D.M. - Doctor of Dental Surgery / Doctor of Dental Medicine

5. D.V.M. - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

6. J.D. - Juris Doctorate (law)

7. Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy (various and not limited to English, Linguistics, Psychology)

8. D.Phil.- Doctor of Philosophy (some Universities grant the D.Phil not the Ph.D.)

9. Dr.Ph. - Doctor of Public Health

10. D.P.T - Doctor of Physical Therapy

11. D.P.M. - Doctor of Podiatric Medicine

12. D.S.W. - Doctor of Social Work

13. D.B.A. - Doctor of Business Administration

14. D.P.A. - Doctor of Public Administration

15. D.Div. - Doctor of Divinity

16. Ed.D. - Doctor of Education

17. Ed.L.D. - Doctor of Education Leadership (one program granting this degree was recently implemented at Harvard University)

18. Psy.D.- Doctor of Clinical Psychology

19. Sc.D. - Doctor of Science

20. Au.D. - Doctor of Audiology

21. O.D. - Doctor of Optometry

22. Pharm.D. - Doctor of Pharmacy

23. D.M.A.- Doctor of Musical Arts

24. D.F.A. - Doctor of Fine Arts


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    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Very useful hub! There are so many classifications these days, it's hard to know what one is when placed behind a name. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 7 years ago from USA

      Hello, hello,-

      You're welcome.

      I'm glad you find it helpful. Thanks for posting your comment.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for such a helpful hub.

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 7 years ago from USA

      alekhouse and richtwf, thanks so much for posting comments. alekhouse, that is funny- yes, let's add the ABD degree :-). richtwf, good luck to you. Don't give up on your dream. It will never be too late to pursue it.

    • richtwf profile image

      richtwf 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this useful hub. I was aware of a few of these but I've certainly learnt a few more doctorate titles now! I would love to earn a PhD. It is a dream and one which would require a lot of hard graft indeed and is definitely not for the faint-hearted or work-shy!

      Cheers for sharing this one.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Interesting hub. You forgot ABD: All But Dissertation. I know this isn't really a degree, but let me tell you after completing all course work, seminars, comprehensive exams, research study, data transcription and four chapters of the dissertations, it feels like it should be.