PhD vs Practitioner Doctorate

How are they different?

Make an informed choice

The School of Advanced Studies is a dedicated practitioner doctoral school, focused exclusively on the value of applicable, practical research and relevant, real-world field studies. Our practitioner doctorate provides a holistic approach to research that drives innovation and spawns new ways of responding in today's increasingly integrative, digital working environment. The University does not offer PhD programs.

If you’re aspiring to earn an advanced degree and become a leader in your field, you may be wondering about the differences between a PhD and a practitioner (or, professional) doctorate degree. While they each have unique benefits, both degrees are considered to be at the apex of their discipline of study. Members of each group represent elite scholars and both require arduous coursework, research, analysis and scholarship designed to help you literally “write the book” in your areas of specialization.

PhD vs Practitioner Doctorate

Simply put – with a PhD, graduates contribute to an original body of knowledge in preparation for an academic career pursuing that knowledge; but with our practitioner doctorate, you’ll contribute largely by applying existing knowledge toward solving real-world problems in your field and your community.

How are they similar?


  • Highest possible degree in the field.
  • Require coursework, residencies and a dissertation.
  • Prepare you to teach college level courses.
  • Both culminate in earning the unrivaled academic title of “Dr.”
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    How do they differ?


    • Our practitioner doctorate prepares you for leadership in your profession. This is not traditionally the primary goal of a PhD.
    • A PhD is focused on the development of new primary knowledge, while our practitioner doctorate is focused on the practical application of that knowledge in your career.
    • A comprehensive exam is likely required for a PhD, but not for a practitioner doctorate degree.

    To learn more about taking your doctoral journey with us, contact an Enrollment Representative