Doctoral differences: Professional doctorates and PhDs compared

Ruth Neumann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


For more than a decade professional doctorates in Australia have continued to grow and diversify across a broadening array of disciplines. An empirical study of "The Doctoral Education Experience" in Australian universities included an examination of doctoral experiences in departments offering both PhD and professional doctorates. This paper discusses professional doctorates in education, management, law and the creative arts, remarking on similarities and differences found between PhD and professional doctorate programs, providing an insight into practice. Three specific areas are discussed. The first is the recruitment and selection of students, student choice of professional doctorates and perceived career benefits. The second area is the structure and organisation of PhD and professional doctorate programs, including the identification of the research topic. The third area is the perceived status of professional doctorates vis-à-vis the PhD. The findings are discussed within the context of government policy on postgraduate education and the emerging literature on professional doctorates. The concluding section of the paper considers the issue of differentiation between the doctorates and possible future developments. Within the context of Australian higher education the main difference could become the capacity to pay: attempts to impose fees in advance for professional doctorates are reinforced by recent government policy on student financing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


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