How Long Does It Take To Get A Doctorate Degree

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina


If you like to know more about how to get a doctorate degree, how long does it take to get a doctorate degree in psychology, or want a detailed information, then you read it here on collegelearners! The program and everything related to getting a doctoral degree will be well-explained and clearly explained.

Among the latest information about how long does it take to get a doctorate degree after a masters, what jobs can you get with a doctorate degree to how much are phd fees can be found below. 

Listed below, you will discover all of the current information on how long does it take to get a doctorate degree in psychology & ranking.

How long does it take to get a doctorate degree?

Statistically speaking, earning a doctorate will take you twice as long as a bachelor’s degree. According to Joseph Berger from the New York Times, the average time for students to complete their doctorates is 8.2 years.

The degree requires anywhere from 60 to 120 semester credit hours (or, approximately 20-40 college classes). Most Ph.D.s require the full 120 hours, while most applied doctorates are closer to the lower end of that spectrum. For example, the DBA and DHA at Franklin both require only 58 hours.

On average, a Ph.D. may take up to eight years to complete. A doctorate degree typically takes four to six years to complete—however, this timing depends on the program design, the subject area you’re studying, and the institution offering the program.

Doctorate Degree program

STUDENTS WHO HAVE excelled within a specific academic discipline and who have a strong interest in that field may choose to pursue a Ph.D. degree. However, Ph.D. degree-holders urge prospective students to think carefully about whether they truly want or need a doctoral degree, since Ph.D. programs last for multiple years.

A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic degree in most fields. For research or university teaching, the degree is usually a PhD, while applied professional doctorates include the Doctor of Medicine (MD), the Doctor of Education (EdD), and the Juris Doctor (JD), among others. 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.

Doctorate Degree | Blog | Postgrad.com
  • Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of ScienceCommonly known as a PhD or ScD, this doctorate is designed to prepare you for careers in research — either in an industry or at a university. PhDs and ScDs are offered in a wide range of academic subjects, including highly technical fields such as math, physics, engineering, or biology; humanities disciplines such as philosophy; and social sciences like economics and sociology.While a PhD or an ScD is typically pursued by tenure-track college and university faculty, the academe is not the only career path you can take with this doctorate. For instance, if you pursue a ScD degree in biology, you can work as a researcher in the pharmaceutical industry. Many government expert positions in various departments and agencies also require a PhD.
  • Professional/Clinical DoctoratesThese doctorates are designed to provide you with the practical skills you need to be an influential leader in your employment setting or industry. Common examples include business, nursing, and psychology. For instance, most states require licensed psychologists to hold a doctoral degree in psychology.

Why earn a doctorate degree? 

There are more people in the workforce with doctoral degrees than ever before. According to the United States Census Bureau, the percentage of people with a doctorate degree more than doubled from 2000 to 2018, rising from 2 million to 4.5 million. Likewise, the numbers of people with master’s and bachelor’s degrees has also been rising. 
 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. Many applied professions now require an applied doctorate degree for the highest levels of authority and responsibility. Very few career areas require a doctorate degree. Over 90% of people with a doctoral degree work in managerial or professional occupations. 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.  Areas of the country with the highest percentage of jobs requiring a doctorate are the District of Columbia, with 8% of positions requiring a doctorate, and New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maryland, all with above 3% of jobs requiring a doctorate. People with a doctoral degree earn about 63% more than those with a bachelor’s, and 33% more than people with a master’s degree.

A doctorate can be a way to either enter higher education as a professor, or to get research or management positions in industry or education.  On the flip side, people with doctoral degrees who apply for positions where it is not required may be passed over because employers think they will leave the job when a more appropriate position comes along. Also, some employers assume that the salary requirements for person with a doctorate will be much higher than a qualified person with less education. This can be a conundrum for people with a doctorate who apply for jobs that do not require this level of education. However, more jobs are requiring doctorate level education for credentialing or advancement, including physical therapists, advanced nurse practitioners, school principals, healthcare administrators, and the highest level jobs in many scientific and technical fields. 

How long does it take to get a Ph.D. in 2021 - World Scholarship Forum

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. It is competitive to get into doctoral programs, with approximately 22% of applicants accepted. Doctoral programs are very challenging and require dedication and personal sacrifice to complete. The statistics show that about 50% of students drop out of doctoral programs before completing the degree. Entering into a doctoral program represents a serious commitment, which is not for everyone. However, schools have been working on ways to help students reach their degree goals more quickly and succeed in these demanding degree programs.

how to get a doctorate degree

1. Complete an Undergraduate Degree

The first step in the journey toward completing a doctoral degree is to obtain an undergraduate degree. For the best start, choose a bachelor’s degree program at a regionally accredited university. Undergraduate degrees typically take around four years to complete; however, the length could be shorter or longer depending upon the number of credits taken per semester. During your time as an undergraduate student you should strive to maintain a high grade point average (GPA) and pursue a degree that will prepare you for advanced coursework and research in your field of interest.

2. Complete a Master’s Degree

Your next step is enrolling in a master’s degree program. A master’s degree focuses primarily on a specific field of study or professional practice of applied and theoretical topics. Pursuing a master’s degree may take about two years to complete, depending on your chosen field of study, and whether or not you choose an accelerated program that is geared toward working professionals. Should you choose an accelerated program, you may be able to complete your master’s degree in as few as 12-14 months. While your acceptance into a master’s degree program will rely upon your previous academics, be aware that some colleges and universities may require you to complete a graduate entry exam such as:

  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

For this reason, you’ll want to conduct thorough research to choose the right college or university for your educational goals. This means making sure you understand the admissions requirements as well as the program and specialization offerings. But remember, not all schools require graduate exams as a contingency to enrollment. You should check with your school of interest for admission requirements and plan accordingly. Once you have narrowed your search to a few schools, choose your best options and then work with the admissions departments to start the application process. When you finally choose the school that best meets your needs and you’ve gone through the enrollment process, you’re now reading to get started toward completing your master’s degree!

3. Complete a Doctorate Degree

Getting Started

Now that you’ve completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree, you are qualified to pursue a doctoral degree to enhance your knowledge on research and theory within a specific subject or field of study. First, you should research to find the doctoral degree program that best fulfills your interest in theory or applied research. Next, start looking for the best college or university that matches your personal and professional interests. Much like in your master’s program, you’ll want to make sure you understand the admissions requirements and programs and specialization offerings before moving forward. Once you’ve chosen the right school, work with admissions to start the application process and get started toward completing your degree! Typical required materials for enrollment in a doctoral program may include but are not limited to:

  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Resume or CV
  • Recent GRE or GMAT scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose

Two Types of Doctorate Degrees

There are two major types of doctoral degrees: the research-oriented degree, and the professional application degree (also called an applied doctorate). The difference between the two types of programs may be a bit murkier than you think.

Here’s a breakdown of the two common types of doctorate programs.

The Ph.D.: A Research-Oriented Doctorate

These degrees are commonly referred to as Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.s). Some common research-oriented doctorates include the following:

  • Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Doctor of Business Management (Ph.D)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Doctor of Theology (Th.D.)
  • Doctor of Public Health (DPH)

“Philosophy” in this sense refers to the concept of research and pursuit of knowledge, as opposed to the actual subject of philosophy. A core component of this type of degree is the dissertation process.

The Professional Doctorate: An Application-Oriented Program

The professional doctorate (also called an applied doctorate, or terminal doctorate) is a degree that focuses on the application of a subject within real-world contexts or scenarios.

Most likely, you’ll want to pursue this type of degree if your goals include career advancement, meeting the requirements for certain high-level corporate jobs, establishing teaching credibility within industry, or building a consulting business.

Some common professional doctorates include:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA)
  • Doctor of Professional Studies – Instructional Design Leadership
  • Doctor of Finance (DPH)
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
  • Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
  • Juris Doctor (JD)

This type of degree may or may not require a dissertation. Unlike the academia-focused research doctorate, the curriculum of the professional doctorate will encourages you to tackle real-world issues within their field, research and present a solution.

how long does it take to get a doctorate degree in psychology

The length of time required to earn your degree depends on upon a variety of factors, including the type of degree you have selected, your educational background and the individual doctorate program in which you have enrolled. Generally, if you have a strong background in psychology and have completed all of the necessary prerequisites, you will be able to finish your doctorate sooner than students who have not taken the prerequisite courses.

Be sure you have a clear idea of what you want to do with your psychology degree once you’ve completed it. Do you want to teach, or is research more appealing to you? Are you interested in seeing clients, or are you planning to combine your training in psychology with another field, such as law or medicine? An accredited university should be able to provide guidance on whatever your career goals in psychology are.

Ph.D. in Psychology

Most Ph.D. programs require at least 5 to 7 years to complete. In addition to regular coursework, you may also be expected to complete an internship or supervised residency. The program usually culminates in completing an original research project or dissertation.

Psy.D. Degree

Most Psy.D. programs require between 4 to 6 years to complete.1 According to the APA, programs conferring the Psy.D. degree focuses on the application of psychological science, usually in the form of service. 

EdD. Degree

Most Ed.D. programs require between 3 to 5 years to complete. It is important to note that many applicants to Ed.D. programs already hold a master’s degree in a related field,2 while applicants to Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs often begin their program of study with a bachelor’s degree.

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