Earning the title of Doctor (Dr.) in your name...

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by ybfjax, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. ybfjax

    ybfjax New Member

    What does it take to legally use the title of Doctor?

    I used to think that it only applied to those in the medical profession. I've heard from some that it only applies to Ph.D holders. But others have said only a doctorate (any kind) is necessary to use the title.

    I looked it up here http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=doctor

    According to the definitions posted, Any doctorate or "highest academic degree awarded" from a college or university qualifies you to use the title.

    Then I guess technically lawyers are doctors (J.D. - Doctorate in Jurisdiction).

    I encourage all to post replies on what they know within their professional circles on the appropriate use of the title.

    Please advise.

    PS: What exactly is an honarary degree? How is this different from a "regular" degree?
  2. TescStudent

    TescStudent New Member

    But isn't LLM and Doctor of Juridicial Science higher than JD?
  3. Floyd_Pepper

    Floyd_Pepper New Member

    IMHO, you call doctor to two types of people:
    - Medical doctors, also vets or detists, but not, for example, chemists.
    - Those who have a doctoral degree - that is, a PhD, DBA (doctorate in business administration), etc. The issue is explained lengthy at Wikipedia:


    JD, on the other hand, is not the highest degree in its profession, but in fact the "first" one - after which one could have LLM (or another sort of masters) and a PhD in law.

    It is wrong to use JD as a doctor's title, and there had been even some story about someone who received his degree in the States and came back to Europe (former USSR, but kill me now and I won't remember where it had been. Maybe Armenia), used the title "Dr." until the press started to mock him about it.
  4. ybfjax

    ybfjax New Member

    did a yahoo search....

    I just did a yahoo search shortly after posting the initial post and also came across Wikipedia. It does have an excellent explaination on both the honorary degree, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorary_degree and doctorate degree, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctorate.

    I was unaware that the JD was not the highest degree in law. So technically you are correct. Then why call it a JD and not a JM?

    Colorado Tech University has a D.M (Doctorate in Management). No dissertation. All applied projects. I wanted to know if there were any specific requirements to using the title doctor.

    According to both Wikipedia and Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=doctor any person in possession of a doctorate degree from an institution recognized by the US Dept. of Ed. should qualify that person to use the title.

    Still interested to know some other opinions from other members.
  5. AnthonyD

    AnthonyD New Member

    If you legitimatelly earn a DM (Doctor of Management), then you would be entitled to use "Dr." before your name. What concerns me, however, is that the school you are talking about offers a Doctorate degree that does not require a dissertation.

    Personally, I don't think I would be able to truly appreciate the value of having Dr. in front of my name unless I felt that I had really put in the work to earn it like everyone else.
  6. ybfjax

    ybfjax New Member

    To dissertate or not to dissertate?

    I, too, used to think that all Masters degrees required thesis' and that all Doctorates required dissertations prior to being awarded the respective degree. I was wrong.

    There is the theoretical/research approach, Ph.D, that requires the dissertation. Then there is the applied professional approach, for doctors, lawyers, business administration, ministry, health administration, etc. No extensive scholarly work, but more hand-on approach to determine mastery of the particular subject area

    The Wikipedia definition < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctorate_degree > breaks down more accurately the different types of doctorates:

    In my case, one of the "many others" would be the D.M. that Colorado Technical University offers. Check out other regionally accredited distance learning doctorates here: http://www.dantescatalogs.com/DEDC/InstitutionsByDegreeType.asp?RecID=5

    And the Masters that I am enrolled in, is also applied (no thesis) THANK GOD!

    Anybody can look good on paper (Ph.D). It makes better sense that a cardiologists must actually prove in a real life situation that he/she can properly dianose and work on a heart before being granted the privilige to practice (M.D).

    Besides, can the quality of the degree program really be determined by the program's incorporation of a thesis or dissertation? Just because we didn't know of an alternative method doesn't negate the legitmacy of that method (doesn't make the newly discovered "method B" [applied] any worse than the better-known "method A" [philosophical/theoretical])

    BTW, I have more information on that JD.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juris_doctorate . The article seems to admit that the JD is a legitimate doctorate-level program, yet frowns upon using the title of Dr. in reference to those that are actually in the profession of law. But technically, you could call yourself a doctor if you were in possession of a J.D.

    That's how I feel almost every day when I learn something new.
  7. jtaee1920

    jtaee1920 New Member

    Use of titles

    In general, it is in poor taste to use any title when referring to yourself. In fact, an editorial article recently published in Forbes pointed out you shouldn't include degree designations such as MBA, PhD, etc... on business cards or other correspondence unless academically warranted.

    In the end, titles are only good for an ego boost. With that in mind, instead of trying to make yourself sound important, just lease a BMW...
  8. ybfjax

    ybfjax New Member

    Re: Use of titles

    Never heard of that before.

    But I generally do not list my degree credentials in the signatures of my e-mails. I have them on this forum, the forum at http://www.usnavyocs.com, and my website, http://www.123collegedegree.com for obvious reasons (all these sites deal with earning a degree towards some goal).

    I wish less people in the military emphasized rank and put more emphasis on getting the job done !) But the military is a special case; rank really DOES make a difference.

    But really though, if you earned a certain title (Dr., CEO, Academic Advisor, Marketing Manager, Team Leader, etc.) there is nothing wrong with using it properly. The problem comes in when you think people owe you something just by virtue of rank (title). My aunt would always say "...it's not what you do, but how you go about doing it..." You must earn the respect of those below (and above) you.

    Good point. Or hang around someone who is already famous. Or wear fancy clothes; that's always an ego boost.
  9. Andrew Maz

    Andrew Maz New Member

    Dr practitioner vs Mr surgeon

    in the English-speaking world, a (male) surgeon is called Mister, whilst medical practitioners are called Doctor. Surgery also takes place in a theatre, not an O.R.
  10. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Originally posted by ybfjax
    What does it take to legally use the title of Doctor?

    A legally conferred doctoral degree.

    I used to think that it only applied to those in the medical profession. I've heard from some that it only applies to Ph.D holders. But others have said only a doctorate (any kind) is necessary to use the title.

    The "others" are correct. MDs, PhDs, ThDs, EdDs, DBAs, ODs, and many others can legally refer to themselves as "doctor".

    I looked it up here http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=doctor

    According to the definitions posted, Any doctorate or "highest academic degree awarded" from a college or university qualifies you to use the title.

    That is correct.

    Then I guess technically lawyers are doctors (J.D. - Doctorate in Jurisdiction).

    JD usually refers to the degree Doctor of Jurisprudence or Juris Doctor. It used to be call LLB (Bachelor of Laws), but attorneys complained that they should not receive a second bachelors after doing three years of post graduate work. The LLB was changed to the JD and many law schools offered to "doctorize" their old LLB grads. It was a good deal (trade in your old bachelors for a nice new doctorate).

    I encourage all to post replies on what they know within their professional circles on the appropriate use of the title.

    I am an administrator at a state university. In academia, we are enamored by titles. I know several faculty in the fields of business, sociology and justice studies whose highest earned degree is the JD. They are typically addressed as "doctor" and receive doctoral-level pay. Interestingly, faculty in the school of law with JDs never seem to use the title "doctor", which reflects the legal profession (I have never heard attorneys refer to themselves or other attorneys as "doctor").

    PS: What exactly is an honarary degree? How is this different from a "regular" degree?

    An honorary degree is not an earned academic degree. It is bestowed upon some famous or noteworthy person (such as a generous donor to the college) in recognition of some service to the institution or to humanity in general. Perosnally, I believe that it is inappropriate for holders of non-earned (honorary) doctorates to refer to themselves as "doctor", but many do.

    Tony Pina
    Northeastern Illinois University
  11. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    The Doctor of Judicial Science (SJD) is definitely higher than the JD. The Master of Laws LLM, is a little trickier, since it is a holdover from the days when the law degree was a second bachelors degree (LLB). In the "good ol' bad ol' days", a person going into the legal profession would earn a four-year BA or BS degree and then a three-year LLB degree. The LLB was a generic law degree, without a specialization (like the MD degree). If one wished to specialize (in taxation, for example), she or he would do some post-graduate work in that specialization and earn a master of laws degree (LLM).

    When the LLB was changed from a bachelors to a doctoral degree, the LLM masters was not changed. So, in a way, you could say that the LLM is a "higher" degree, since it is earned after the JD. It is probably more accurate to say that it is a degree for attorneys who wish to specialize.

    Tony Pina
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2004
  12. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Re: Dr practitioner vs Mr surgeon

    While this is true in many English-speaking countries, it does not hold true in the USA.

    Tony Pina
    Northeastern Illinois University
  13. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    One of my more distinguished law school classmates took a tenure track position at a state university (but not a law school) a few years ago. To my utter astonishment, this new professor is in fact referred to as "doctor". This person's sole doctorate is the J.D.

    NO law school professor is ever called "doctor" even if he or she holds a Ph.D. or J.S.D. Even the California correspondence law schools do not use the title.

    No lawyer I know or have heard of ever uses the title. The ABA issued an ethics opinion thirty years ago stating that J.D. holders could not use the title in practice because it implied a superior level of education over the LL.B. whereas the degrees are precisely the same. The ABA has apparently abandoned this position recently, however.
  14. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    It should also be pointed out that, notwithstanding the title question, the J.D. is generally treated in the academic world as an earned doctorate. It is the only MANDATORY degree for tenure track in a law school and, as Dr. Pina points out, even outside the law world, the degree commands doctoral salaries. T

    he J.D. is NOT a doctorate but it is the FUNCTIONAL equivalent.
  15. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    An inflated ego?

    If somebody wants to call themselves "doctor", they don' need no stinkin' degree. Like your shoe tells you: Just do it!

    As far as I know, here in the United States, in most cases use of the title "doctor" is not regulated by law. Anyone can use the title, no matter what earned degrees they actually have or don't have.

    Exceptions are certain regulated professions, particularly those in medical areas. Here in California, that stuff is laid out in the state's Business and Professions Code.

    Whether or not use of the title is socially acceptable, whether or not it will earn you respect or expose you as a pompous and arrogant jerk, depends on context and the subtleties of social usage.

    I've noticed that scientists, where possession of real earned Ph.D.s is routine and expected, rarely if ever refer to each other as "doctor" or put "Ph.D." after their name. An exception might be introducing a speaker in front of a formal gathering or something.

    But I've noticed that many clinical psychologists in private practice advertise by putting "Ph.D." after their name. (This is a regulated profession, so check the law on licensing and on who can use what titles first.)

    A pattern seems to me to be that titles are used sparingly in professonal contexts among peers, but they are used more often to mystify the general public in hopes of gaining competitive advantage or deference to authority.

    My personal opinion is that pretentious insistance on the use of doctoral (or clerical) titles is more often than not a sign of pomposity. It is a signal that somebody is trying to establish status heirarchies at my expense, and it suggests to me that I probably should warm up my bullshit detector.
  16. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Ain't it the truth?

    And what is it about school superintendants with Ed.D. degrees? They, along with psychologists and chiropractors, seem endlessly concerned that they be "properly acknowledged" as "doctor".
  17. adireynolds

    adireynolds New Member


    I'm not sure I agree with a general tone on this thread that using an earned designation of "Dr." or Ph.D. is a bad thing. Once I earn mine, I certainly plan to use it; it signifies a lot of hard work and developed expertise on the part of the holder.

    This doesn't mean that I'm going to run around after graduation introducing myself to every person on the street as "Dr. Adrienne" (I'll save that for family :D ), but I'm certainly not going to hide away my credentials, either. My Ph.D. research focus is very germane to my future career goals and interests, so it would make sense that what I have learned and developed in my doc program would naturally come out.

    Surely I'm not alone in holding this perspective. :confused:

  18. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    I'll take a stab at this one...

    Superintendents -- It typically does not require a doctoral degree to be a superintendent, so those who earn Ed.D. or Ph.D. like to have that "extra mile" effort acknowledged. I know some bad superintendents who use their doctorates as a way to assert their superiority.

    Psychologists -- Counselors and therapists can practice their professions with a masters degree. I believe that a licensed psychologist must possess a doctorate (prefereably from an APA approved school)

    Chiropractors -- Historically, chiropractors have been looked down by other medical professions as being second-rate (BA degree not required for entry and a less lengthy grad program). To assert their legitimacy, they assert their doctoral title.

    Dissenting opinions?

  19. marilynd

    marilynd New Member

    Ditto, Tony.

    Use of the title, like most titles, depends upon the context, even in academe. In my undergraduate institution, instructors with a doctorate were always called "Dr." by staff and students. They rarely referred to each other as "Dr.," however, except perhaps in more formal settings. When I went to a large research university, faculty who held professorial rank were never referred to as "Dr." (even though virtually all of them had doctorates), but rather as "Professor," since there were many doctorates affiliated with the institution but not all doctorates were professors.

    You can call yourself whatever you want. Whether your usage will be viewed as legitimate will depend upon a variety of factors (was it an earned degree, is the school legitimate, etc.), but especially upon the context in which you use it.

    As an aside, I have always been a little miffed by people who claim that holders of the Ph.D. (and by extension, other non-medical doctorates) ought not to use the title because "Ph.D.s are not real doctors," as if using the term "Dr." for non-medical doctorates was in some way fraudulent. I always want to scream: "Learn what the word means, you bozo!" (of course, I never do). "Doctor" means "teacher" in Latin. Its proper usage--etymologically and historically--is in an academic setting. Medical doctors are only doctors because they hold a doctorate, not because they are physicians, dentists, vets, etc, despite popular usage. There is nothing in the medical field that gives them a unique claim to the title "doctor." It's one of the few recurrent claims on the use of academic titles that "chaps my ass," as they say down here.

    Well, now that I've spouted off . . . y'all have a nice day.


  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The ones that crack me up are the ones who insist upon calling someone "mister" when they know it's "doctor." This often occurs with degree mill shills and other bad actors we see on boards like these. But what they forget is (a) your title isn't something they can give or take away, and (b) they assume you're as petty as they are and even care about it.

    I never:

    Correct the "mister." (It's correct anyway.)
    Refer to myself as "Doctor Douglas" or "Doctor Rich Douglas.
    Introduce myself that way.
    Answer the phone that way.

    I do:

    List it on my CV (as Rich Douglas, Ph.D., not Dr. Douglas)
    List it on my business card
    Use it in signature blocks related to my work

    Recently, I had an applicant referred to me. He called, and I answered "Rich Douglas." He said, "Dr. Douglas, this is Doctor ******...." I almost laughed out loud. We interviewed him anyway, and someone approved him for certification training. But I had to remove him--he was so egotistical he was dominating the conversations in class, even when his classmates asked him to stop. I can't help but wonder if his ego and his insecurities were so unchecked they ran amock. Funny thing is, it turned out he didn't have a doctorate. He was working on one at Walden, but he hadn't graduated yet.

    Stupid. :rolleyes:

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