Academic vs Professional Doctorates

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by defii, Nov 20, 2001.

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  1. defii

    defii New Member

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    I've always operated on the assumption that PhD are (generally speaking) academic doctorates that emphasis on research and to some degree teaching. DBAs, Psych.Ds, etc I've thought of as doctoral progams with more emphasis on praxis. Is this an incorrect assumption?

    In part, what generates this question is my discovery that several of the regionally accredited distance learning doctoral programs offer PhDs in areas like Human Services. Walden and Capella are two examples. But such subject areas are not really academic subjects, are they? After all, with a PhD in Human Service, one would not easily find a teaching position in a psychology department, would they?

    It would seem seem then, that though such programs are research doctorates in name, they are practically professional doctorates in the sense that they may have limited utility in academia.

    I welcome your comments. Thanks.

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    David
     
  2. defii

    defii New Member

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    By the way, please pardon the typographical errors. I was rushing.


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  3. Howard

    Howard New Member

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    You are correct that a PhD in Human Services would not allow you to teach psychology at a major university. But the PhD in H/S is as much a research degree as is the PhD in Clinical Psychology. Many schools are now operating Human Services Departments that are greater in scope than the psychology department and this does offer some opportunities. The PhD in Human Services from Capella (my alma mater) was very challenging and is well received except by the "elite" in clinical psychology circles.
     
  4. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

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    This is probably true in the Psych.D world, but DBA's are a different matter. If you read through the AACSB Guide to Doctoral Programs you'll see the labels DBA and PhD used in various ways. Sometimes DBA's are more practical, other times there is no difference.

    Consider the following quote from the Kelley school at Indiana University (one of the top B-Schools in the country!):

    "IU is one of the oldest doctoral programs in business in the U.S. When we started granting degrees the D.B.A. was the common designation. During the last 20 years, most schools have changed to the Ph.D., and we now provide that degree as well. Qualifications and graduation requirements for the two degrees are identical, except that the minimum size for the dissertation committee is three faculty members for the D.B.A. and four faculty members for the Ph.D. "

    Regards - Andy

     
  5. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

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    As I understand it these degrees are quite popular with people who have professional degrees in areas such as Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Rehab. Therapy, etc. A PhD in Human Services might be a great ticket to a teaching job in an academic program geared towards those sorts of specialized human service professions.
    Jack
     
  6. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

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    David and all - one other comment. I've dealt with two different organizations that have requested the authority to award doctorates from North Central. My observation is that NCA is looking more closely at proposed PhD programs than professional doctorates. They seem concerned that PhD granting institutions truly have a graduate faculty with genuine research credentials before they start doctoral programs. Perhaps, they have had some second thoughts about institutions they've given the golden "PhD" license to. Profesional doctorates, however, are a different story.

    Thanks - Andy

     
  7. Dr Dave

    Dr Dave New Member

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    Many doctorates have both an academic degree--nearly always the PhD--and a professional degree as a counterpart. Thus, there is the PhD in Business and the DBA; the PhD in Psychology and the PsyD; the PhD in Education and the EdD, etc. The PhD is always aimed at research and teaching, while the professional degree is intended mainly for practice, or the practical application of theory in the field. Thus, the PhD in Business can be considered a practicing scholar, and the DBA a scholarly practitioner. A more humorous way to think about it is that the PhD knows virtually everything there is to know about nothing, while the DBA knows a little bit about everything!

    To stay with business doctorates, in earlier times the DBA was the degree of breadth (an extension of the MBA really) while the PhD was the degree of depth. Although that may still be true in some programs, there has been a blurring such that the difference is often in the degree letters only. Between two schools the two sets of dissertation requirements might, in fact, be indistinguishable. Yet elsewhere a DBA program might actually be more flexible, allowing for a traditional dissertation, a doctoral thesis, or a doctoral project based in practice. So there is no ironclad rule. One has to read any program discription carefully to understand the requirements.

    Is that to say that people with professional degrees never teach? Not at all. Most leading business schools have DBAs on full-time faculty along with the PhDs. There are proprotionally more PhDs, because the vast majority of universities now grant the PhD in Business or Management rather than the DBA. But importantly too, deans have come to realize that students benefit from (and demand) both the theoretical AND the practical perspectives in the classroom. And, can it be claimed that PhD's do not work in the field? Not if you count the number of PhDs splitting their time between teaching and consulting outside of academe. So there is considerable cross-over both ways.

    Indeed, there can be a very powerful collaboration between the academic and the practitioner. Too often, research agendas conceived in the ivory tower draw a "ho-hum" from practitioners who do not see those lines of inquiry as being of much interest or value. A practice-oriented DBA can help the PhD sharpen his research agenda, making it more relevant. I'm not sure that this syngery is exploited as often and to the extent that it ought to be. A collaborating PhD and DBA can educate one another, cover one another's knowledge gaps, and be a formidable team in the classroom, in research, and in the corporatate venue.
     
  8. defii

    defii New Member

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    Thank you for your insight, Howard. Mine is not simply an intellectual question. I'm actually at a crossroad and trying to decide the best course. I currently hold an Associate of Science in Communications and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theology from Oakwood College, Huntsville, AL. I also have a Master of Public Administration from California State University at Hayward. (I won't mention my 1.5 years of Seminary and my one year in the CSU Dominguez HUX program).

    Anyway, I want to do a DL doctoral program. I've been considering Walden's new PhD in Policy and Administration. I've also been considering their Human Services program. I haven't ruled out Capella yet either. The other program I'm considering is Regent University's PhD in Organizational Leadership.

    Here are my questions, the answers which seem so elusive:

    1. Since I would like to become an adjunct at some point, would I do better with Regent as opposed to schools are known exclusively as DL schools? If there are prejudices against DL schools, wouldn't Regent U help in that respect?

    2. At the same time, "Organizational Leadership" seems like such an ambiguous area of study. How likely am I to find an adjunct position teaching in the area?

    3. While I now work in the public sector (municipal government), I have a long history in the nonprofit sector, with my last appointment being that of Vice President of a National nonprofit. To this end, and with the possibility that I will perhaps return to the nonprofit sector, a PhD in Human Services seems appealing. Again, though, with that degree will it be more difficult to find an adjunct position?

    Comments and suggestions would really be welcome.

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    David E. Fraser
     
  9. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I will offer some comments as I do not know much about the field.

    I think the question on adjunct positions and any difficulty/difference might depend on the school (eg University of Phoenix vs Michigan State).

    I like the name of the Walden Ph.D. best of the three you mention.

    I would lean toward Regents University all things being equal because they are a bricks and mortar (buildings are classic red brick with white columns) with a DL component. Thanks to Pat R. a very well endowed university. Regents has a School of Government/Public Policy and an ABA law school. Probably a little more prestige in the degree.

    Good luck!

    North

     
  10. defii

    defii New Member

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    When you speak of like for the "name" of the Walden program (PhD in Policy and Administration), do you mean that it is appealing since it is consisent with the Master of Public Administration?

    Your thoughts about Regent U being a bricks and mortar institution makes sense. My hesitation has to do in part with the inherent vagueness of an "organizational leadership" program. Thanks for your input.

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    David E. Fraser
     
  11. ms

    ms New Member

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    I guess it is difficult to set a clear distinction between a PhD and a professional doctorate. There are many PhD programs out there that seem to hv the same content as a professional doctorate just as there are many professional doctorate that seems very much different from a PhD.

    I wld suggest that the difference between the 2 types of degrees to be judged on a case-by-case basis. There are many PhD and just as many professional doctorates out there that are not rigourosly academic.

    But I think people seems more impressed when you say you hv a PhD than I have a DBA or EdD or etc.
     
  12. simon

    simon New Member

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    Hi Defii,

    It appears that you have already established a professional track and are quite focused regarding future goals in terms of teaching on the university level.

    Prior to making a choice of the specific doctoral programs and schools noted, the significant question to ask is which of these proposed fields provide you with the most interest and passion?

    This is a primary issue because once a selection is made, particularly on the doctoral level, one needs to spend approximately three to five years, if not more, completing their degree requirements. If a program selection is primarily based on utilitatian purposes there will be a greater possibility of dropping out. This issue is extremely critical especially during the dissertation process, where one literally has to focus intensely for significant periods of time on a specific dissertation topic.

    So, the primary questions to ask oneself is "Am I attracted to the field of Organizational Leadership or Human Services based on its being consonant with strong interest and enjoyment of its content or is it based on utlitarian factors, such as job opportunities? Are my interests strong enough to enable me to complete the required coursework within the area of this specialization and then a comprehensive examination and a long and difficult dissertation process?

    In terms of comparison, at this point in time, graduating with a doctorate from a "brick and mortar" university will generally have more clout for teaching positions within the context of traditional schools than would a degree from either of the other dl programs mentioned. However, there does appears to be opportunities to teach within Dl niversities with a DL Ph.D degree.

    It is important to note, using Capella as an example, that although the degree is in Human Services, there are sub areas of specialization in which one can focus such as Health Care Administration and a host of other fields. Therefore, one is enabled to focus the content of their doctoral program on specific coursework which is congruent with their professional interests, needs and objectives. Moreover, this school offers the opportunity to complete the entire degree on a self-directed basis, meaning that the learner can develop learning plans for courses that are geared towards specific areas of interest.

    Walden's programs are well formulated, such as their public policy and management programs and parallel the traditional model of a doctoral program more so than does Capella. The latter appears to be more flexible in its program structure.

    Good luck!
     
  13. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina New Member

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    You are quite right about the fact that professional doctorates and PhDs often are not significantly different from one another. This is certainly true of the EdD, studies of which have show it to be virtually indistinguishable from the PhD in education (other than in the minds of the uninformed). This topic has been disccused elsewhere on the board http://www.degreeinfo.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/002308.html

    I have worked at institutions where PhDs and DBAs where on the faculty and there was no controversy as the equivalence of their degrees.

    One other observation: Those with JD degrees (the professional doctorate of law) rarely tend to refer to themselves as "doctor" unless they are working as higher ed faculty.

    Tony

     
  14. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina New Member

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    I apologize for the typo. It should read "I have worked at institutions where PhDs and DBAs WERE on the faculty and there was no controversy as the equivalence of their degrees."

     
  15. defii

    defii New Member

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    Simon,

    I really appreciate your insight; and thank you for reopening the thread. I decided to do the Master of Public Administration because it covers subject matter relevant to working in the public sector as well as the nonprofit sector. When I began the program, I was working in the nonprofit sector, but I have subsequently begun working in local government.

    After a little more than two years in municipal work, with emphasis mostly in policy related matters (and the politics), I am realizing that I don't necessary like working with policy and politics void of some sort of human service. By that I mean that I wouldn't mind working in policy as long as the policy is relevant to work that involves some sort of direct service to people. I suppose at some point I can switch out of policy management and work for the government in a more service oriented management role. That would be ideal. I have a strong interest in people services.

    So, to pursue a degree in administration and policy (like the Walden PhD) would be based on utilitarian purposes. I would think it has to do with finding an adjunct position. Since I really enjoy teaching (but not on a full-time basis), I thought it would be easier if the doctoral work was similar to the MPA. As to what I would enjoy, I would delight in studying human behavior, human motivation, service delivery to humans etc etc. I think human services would hold more appeal for me and perhaps provide me with a broader scope of options.

    Any further thoughts?

    Thanks.


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    David F
     
  16. simon

    simon New Member

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    Hi Defii,

    Perhaps you have "hit the nail on the head"! Your value system appears to be oriented towards helping others through some form of administrative and organizational discipline rather than engaging in impersonal bureaucratic administrative practices which do not appear to provide you with sufficient positively rewarding experiences and reinforcement.

    The issue which still needs clarification is whether your utilitarian values and needs take precedence over your other strong needs to be involved in a field that helps others?

    There are several possible ways of dealing with this issue. For example, one can complete a doctorate in a school such as Capella with a focus in management of non-profit agencies or in Healthcare Administation . These programs couuld incorporate course work which satisfies one's intrinsic interests in human services, organizational theory and practice and other areas of interest and would provide the potential to engage in occupations that perform administrative tasks leading to projects that are oriented towards helping other people.

    Another option would be to take the Administration and Policy doctorate at Walden which would be congruent with your previous training and education and which primarily meets your utilitarian needs including your future goal of attempting to obtain a teaching position. Concommitantly, through vountary work it is possible to attain satisfaction in satisfying your other values by devoting some time utilizing your professional administrative skills to help others through administrative efforts and funtions. In other words, it is sometimes not possible to meet all of one's needs through their work but through voluntary, avocational or leisure activities.

    It would appear to be in your benefit to discuss these and other possibilities directly with the Chairs of the three schools you mentioned, as well as other schools if you feel it necessary, to explore how their doctoral programs may assist you in achieving your goals and professional aspirations coupled with your unique value system and aspirations. In addition, talking directly with individuals with doctorates who are employed in the professional fields noted, to discern their experiences and to then determine if these professions are potential conduits to achieving your objectives.

    Good luck!
     
  17. defii

    defii New Member

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    Thank you for a very objective analysis. I will give more thought to all of this. You are correct that I place high value in human services. Perhaps I haven't shaken the vestiges of my first career - clergy person.

    I did find that there are academic options. You mentioned a Capella Ph.D. in Human Services with an option in non-profit mangement. That seems like a great compromise in terms of meeting my affective needs. What that does for the teaching, I do not know. Walden also offers of Ph.D. in Human Services with an option in Human Services Policy. As time goes by, I will look closely at the options and perhpas discuss them with the schools as you've suggest.

    Again, thank you for your comments.




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    David F
     
  18. David Williams

    David Williams New Member

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    This is an interesting thread and rather than respond piecemeal to various posts I’m going to throw a few things in together.

    PhD/PsyD: I think it’s misleading to view this as an issue of simply applied v. practitioner. It is more accurate to view this in terms of alternate training models. PhDs in (small c) clinical psychology and PsyDs in clinical psychology are both trained to function as … clinical psychologists. Andy’s observations about porous boundaries between DBAs and PhDs in business sound similar. For example, when Indiana State proposed creating a clinical PhD the Regents shot the idea down on the basis of duplicating existing programs. The Regents did endorse a PsyD program that is essentially indistinguishable from a PhD. Similarly, PsyD students at Wright State must complete a “dissertation” and not a doctoral “project.” Both of these are university-based programs although to show how boundaries become porous some free-standing schools also offer the PhD. PsyDs go into academe and, just like PhDs, the key ingredients for top programs are research and publication. Market forces, or what many consider an oversupply from the professional schools, muddy the waters in a way that I don’t think applies in business or pharmacy. To get a clear picture I think it is helpful to look at the history and development of the PsyD movement. I came across a text recently that covers this topic in great depth and if anyone is interested leave a post and I’ll dig up the reference. It may be interesting to note that some influential forces in the profession advocate having all licensed psychologists use the PsyD title. Eugene Shapiro and Jack Wiggins published an article in the March 1994 American Psychologist, which discusses how psychology is the only healthcare profession that does not have a degree that clearly identifies credentialed practitioners. Consequently, you have situations like a mental health counselor with a PhD implying he or she is a psychologist. (For those who reside outside the US this profile resembles a famous media person.) The suggestion is that the PhD’s signature would read John Doe, PsyD/PhD.

    David, your comment about not having shaken the vestiges of your career as a clergyman is telling. I would encourage you to carefully weigh your needs and interests. And, if you decide that your interests lie in direct service or some combination of direct service and management consider the long-term implications of your decision. If you go with a Human Services/Counseling doctorate you may experience the sort of limitations Howard has described elsewhere. I’d suggest you consider a psychology doctorate and if you are limited to DL Fielding is APA approved. It is not unheard of for psychology students to take business courses as a cognate. Two of my classmates were clergy as was my former Chief Psychologist and one member of my intern class.

    Howard, I hope you come to terms with your dilemma. Your posts sound bitter when this topic comes up and I do remember how frustrated I felt with the limitations imposed by the counseling doctorate. I’m extremely grateful I had the chance to realize my goal but I’ve learned that no matter where you are on the ladder there is always the opportunity to see the guy on the next rung as elitist. I felt that way as an MSW about PhDs then as a beginning psychologist about psychiatry. Paralegals can feel that way about attorneys just like physical therapists can feel that way about physiatrists. Dick Cheyney may feel that way about Dubya, who knows? But I can say this – with 135 days until I can retire (although I’m having so much fun I don’t know if I will do so) – life becomes better and your profession more enjoyable when you learn to like your rung.
     
  19. simon

    simon New Member

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    DW: David, your comment about not having shaken the vestiges of your career as a clergyman is telling. I would encourage you to carefully weigh your needs and interests. And, if you decide that your interests lie in direct service or some combination of direct service and management consider the long-term implications of your decision. If you go with a Human Services/Counseling doctorate you may experience the sort of limitations Howard has described elsewhere. I’d suggest you consider a psychology doctorate and if you are limited to DL Fielding is APA approved. It is not unheard of for psychology students to take business courses as a cognate. Two of my classmates were clergy as was my former Chief Psychologist and one member of my intern class.

    Response: It appears from Defii's postings that he is not interested in pursuing a doctorate in a clinical mental health discipline such as Clinical Psychology, Professional COunseling,Psychiatric Social work or any other related direct clinical practicing profession. The impression from his postings is that Defii possesses administrative interests coupled with a strong desire to relate and direct his skills, aptitudes and values in a field that would be of help to others. He has also expressed interest in teaching. This does not lead to the conclusion that one should acquire a clinical related doctorate since he does not appear to be directed or interested in becoming a Clinician. In addition, obtaining a degree in such fields as Human Services with a specialization in Management of Non Profit agencies is not comparable to a degree in Professional Counseling, which is obviously a practitioner oriented credential!

    The second point that needs clarification is that no matter how difficult or competitive the job market may be, such as exists in the current climate in mental health, there are always individuals who will successfully find employment and do well financially. What is the discriminating factor? It appears that there are individuals who excell at job searching skills, networking, self marketing, etc. On the other hand, many individuals in mental health as well as in other professions fields erroneously believe that possessing a doctorate automatically results in their being marketable, and it is this belief that results in their experiencing considerable diffficulty in finding a position in a tight labor market.

    As I have previously noted, it is very important that prior to making any significant decision regarding the selection of an educational program or new career that considerable "homework" should be performed to obtain as much information regarding the pros and cons of the field being considered. However, it is also very important to keep in mind that a potential field that "looks good" in terms of employment opportunities "today", may not be when one graduates in four to five years! In addition in order to sustain and complete a doctoral degee program it would be in ones' interest to truly be interested in the subject content of the degree's focus. Otherwise their chances of not succeeding will be considerably augmented.

    DW: Howard, I hope you come to terms with your dilemma. Your posts sound bitter when this topic comes up and I do remember how frustrated I felt with the limitations imposed by the counseling doctorate. I’m extremely grateful I had the chance to realize my goal but I’ve learned that no matter where you are on the ladder there is always the opportunity to see the guy on the next rung as elitist. I felt that way as an MSW about PhDs then as a beginning psychologist about psychiatry. Paralegals can feel that way about attorneys just like physical therapists can feel that way about physiatrists. Dick Cheyney may feel that way about Dubya, who knows? But I can say this – with 135 days until I can retire (although I’m having so much fun I don’t know if I will do so) – life becomes better and your profession more enjoyable when you learn to like your rung. [/B][/QUOTE]

    Response: Based on previous discussions, there appears to be an erroneous assumption that since statements were made indicating that Clinical Psychology was in the upper level of interdisciplinary status in the field of mental health that in some way this inplied that fields such as Professional COunseling and Social Work are substandard or inferior. This is a mistaken impression due to emotionally based interpretations rather than objective understanding and acceptance of the current hierarchy and reality that exists in the field of mental health . There is no need to reiterate the issues since we have done so ad infinitum, but in no way does this imply an "elitist" mindset or a negation of the value of other mental health professions. They are all important and have relevant and unique aspects with overlap in function in certain tasks performed.
     
  20. defii

    defii New Member

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    I am most definitely not interest in any clinical degree. While I have an interst in human services (mostly from a management perspective), I could never imagine myself doing clinical work. It simply has no appeal for me.

    I appreciate the lively exchange and the great insight. Ultimately, I will select a doctoral program that holds my interest, and I hope can address the utilitarin matter of meeting the qualifications for adjunct teaching.

    Thanks, again.




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    David F
     

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