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A Doctor is a title given to a person upon successful completion of a post-graduate doctoral degree-granting program at an accredited university.

Examples of Doctorates

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD) - The most common usage, earned after 4 years of medical school.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - The most advanced degree that a university offers. It can be awarded in just about any field of study, usually earned after defending a thesis in a field where 4 or more years of research were applied.

History of Doctorate

In the nineteenth century, first in Germany and later in other nations in Europe and in the United States, the degree of "Doctor of Philosophy" (Latin "Philosophiae Doctoris", thus Ph.D.) was established as the final result of an program of advanced study, culminating in a dissertation or formal (not always published) work. Though originally awarded only in Philosophy, the Ph.D. is now also awarded in numerous fields of the Humanities and Sciences.

In the early days of the University movement, the title "Doctor" (Latin for "Teacher" was only honorary, and typically awarded for some achievement of note in the outside world, such as when Samuel Johnson was awarded a Doctorate in Letters (L.L.D.) by Oxford for his work on his Dictionary.

Honorary Doctorates are still awarded, but are not considered the equivalent of "earned" doctorates obtained through study and original research.

People who have earned their doctorate are entitled to use the honorific "Doctor".

Many law schools have renamed their Bachelor of Laws degree to a J.D., but their graduates are not called doctors.

Usage confusion

The term "doctor" is sometimes misleading. For example the nutritionist Gillian McKeith calls herself a Doctor on the basis of a mail-order degree[1] [2]; and the sex therapist Doctor Ruth Westheimer, though she deals with ostensibly medical matters, is in fact a Doctor of Education [3]. The conservative talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, although she deals in matters involving personal advice on her show, holds a doctorate in physiology from Columbia.

The children's author Dr. Seuss has no doctoral degree.[4]

See also