Have you ever wondered why people who have reached the Ph.D level of education go by the title of “doctor”? With many educational traditions, it points back to Latin roots. Doctor/doctorate means “teacher” or “to teach” in Latin. In other words, they’ve worked long and hard to earn that prestigious title and you better believe they’re going to use it!
Dating back to the Middle Ages, the title mostly served as a right to teach, typically reserved for the Catholic Church where the term “doctor” meant those who taught and interpreted the Bible (for instance, Apostles). It later developed into a doctorate of philosophy, which is Greek for “love of wisdom.” It was not specifically tied to the subject of philosophy, speaking more on just general terms which can further the doctorate title confusion in the US!
Today, particularly in the US, a doctorate degree or a Ph.D is the highest level of education one can obtain. It proves you truly are an expert in your field of study, spending years upon years of research. What does it take to become a doctor of the non-medical type? According to US News citing the Survey of Earned Doctorates, “a census of recent research doctorate recipients who earned their degree from U.S. institutions, the median amount of time it took individuals who received their doctorates in 2017 to complete their program was 5.8 years. However, there are many types of programs that typically take longer than six years to complete, such as humanities and arts doctorates, where the median time for individuals to earn their degree was 7.1 years, according to the survey.” In other words, make sure you really want to go the distance before jumping into a Ph.D program!
What’s the benefit other than bragging rights and adding the “doctor” term to your email signatures? Many colleges and universities require that level of education in order to teach students pursuing master’s degrees. Employers looking for someone with more expert knowledge will likely look for applicants with the experience. For career students who are always looking to learn and perfect their areas of study, obtaining a Ph.D is the ultimate goal.
Have you received the coveted title of “doctor” during your educational journey? Let us know in the comments!