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

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

  1. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    My experience with faculty colleagues at several higher ed institutions matches you observation. They receive doctoral pay and are often referred to as "Doctor" (unless, of course, they are law faculty). The regalia are different for every academic discipline (purple for law, red for theology, light blue for education, dark blue for philosophy, etc.)


    Who cares? I suppose the law professor who would rather receive PhD pay instead of MA pay would care. Otherwise, no one cares except those of us who obsess about degree titles :)
  2. cehi

    cehi New Member

    My view is if you are a doctor of something, i.e., medicine, philosophy, business, podiatry, law, etc., you automatically earn the right to call yourself a doctor in as much as your degree is from a legitimate source (personally, from an accredited institution). I think the word doctor is generic and applicable to an affiliated profession. I agree with Rich and others that it is up to the individuals to decide what they want to call themselves in as much as they legitimately earn the title.

    It is very funny that when you introduce yourself as a doctor, people automatically think that you are a medical doctor. This is why medical doctors get a free ride with the use of the title "doctor" and all others are suspect when they use it.

    I have enjoyed all the posts on this subject. Thank you.
  3. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Dr. Pina,

    Weirdly, the University of Washington, like the University of New Mexico and many others, has begun prescribing gold tassles for J.D. holders. (Mine, in the Dark Ages, was a PROPER purple and black)

    BUT...honor is satisified! The J.D. tassle is "OLD" gold while the Ph.D. tassle is "bright" gold...

    Don't these people have LIVES?
  4. ybfjax

    ybfjax New Member

    Apparantly it IS a big deal...

    Anthony and
    That was a big part of my point. I strongly felt that there was an overemphasis on degree titles.

    There was another popular thread on a similar note, the college name game:


    A name may have some importance in making a decision to go to that college, but a name brand is only as important as you make it. How many people buy the 'generic' products and still get where they need to be in life?
  5. revans

    revans member

    D.D.'s top them all: degree of the highest faculty

    Indeed, and that's why I perfer my Universal Life Church D.D. to any other degree, earned, honorary or purchased: it's an orginal medieval doctorate and obliges all around me to flatter my boundless ego with title "doctor".

    The Rev. Dr. R Evans (along with Jerry's bulldog, The Rev. Dr. Quigley, a very reverend and good company, that.)
  6. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Apparently not :)

  7. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Re: Doctor of Jurisprudence

    I do not tend to differentiate between my faculty colleagues who possess PhD, EdD, DMA, MD, DBA, JD and SJD degrees. The higher ed institutions in which I have worked tend to pay professors with a JD equivalent pay to PhD holders.

    However, I see some difficulties with the following statement on the ABA page referenced by you.

    "2. J.D. Degree - Ph.D. Degree Equivalency.
    WHEREAS, the acquisition of a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree requires from 84 to 90 semester hours of post baccalaureate study and the Doctor of Philosophy degree usually requires 60 semester hours of post baccalaureate study along with the writing of a dissertation, the two degrees shall be considered as equivalent degrees for educational employment purposes;

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that all appropriate persons be requested to eliminate any policy, or practice, existing within their jurisdiction which disparages legal education or promotes discriminatory employment practices against J.D. degree-holders who hold academic appointment in education institutions."

    The problem lies in the accuracy of the statement regarding the PhD requirements. First of all, the dissertation requirement is always awarded hours of credit. By ignoring this fact, the ABA is attempting to compare PART of the credit hour requirement of a PhD with the FULL credit hour requirement for at JD.

    Anothet problem is that the "60 semester hours of post baccalaureate study" is also an inaccurate number. My doctoral program required a minimum of 58 post-master semester hours (or 87 post-MA quarter hours). This assumes that a 30-36 semester hour masters degree was completed prior to applying for the doctorate. Thus a doctoral program at this university would require 88-94 hours of "post baccalaureate study".

    Since I just happened to have a Stanford Bulletin handy, I thought that I'd check to see their requirements for the JD vs. PhD degrees to see if my situation was unusual. It turns out that Stanford requires a minimum of 86 post-BA semester hours for at JD degree and a minimum of 135 post-BA quarter hours (or 90 semester hours) are required for PhD, EdD and DMA degrees (2004 Stanford Bulletin, p. 30).

    The ABA could have made a pretty convincing case that an 84-90 unit JD is equivalent to an 88-94 hour PhD or EdD without using misleading numbers. I'm pretty convinced and it seems as the the colleges and universities that have employed me are also convinced.

    However, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) apparently is not convinced. It maintains a site for research doctorates, where the Doctor of Judicial Science is listed as the equivalent to the Ph.D. On this page is the following statement: "You should remember that first-professional doctoral degrees are not research doctorates in those fields. The research doctorate in all such fields is either the Ph.D. or one of the related research doctorates named in the list immediately above."


    The page for First Professional Degree is here:


    It could be argued the the USDOE simply means that it sees the degrees as equivalent but different (which is pretty much how I see them). However, the fact the the USDOE authorizes the Distance Education and Traning Council (DETC) to accredit first professional degrees (but not research doctorates) points to the fact that the USDOE (righty or wrongly) does not seem to recognize the JD and PhD as peer degrees.

    "The Commission’s scope of recognition granted by the U.S. Department of Education extends only through the First Professional degree level."
    --DETC Accreditation Handbook, Section C.11.

    I did not plan to get into this so deeply. I guess that, much to my chagrin, I have become one of those degree-lovin' much-ado-about-nothing folks.

    Tony Pina
    Northeastern Illinois University
  8. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Dr. Pina,

    You actually HAVE a S.J.D. holder amongst your colleagues?

    As I have stated here before, as a matter of objective fact, the J.D. and Ph.D. degrees are NOT equivalent. However, as a practical matter, the J.D. is more or less the FUNCTIONAL equivalent of the Ph.D.

    However, this may change over time. Tulane University is now offering a Ph.D. in Law. Since degree inflation has a nice long history, the appearance of an American Ph.D. in law may be a bellweather. The U.S. may at last come to more closely resemble the rest of the common law world and require a dissertation doctorate for a professor's rank.
  9. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Yes, the S.J.D. is a rarity, but I have known a couple of them. The way that I have seen my colleagues with JDs treated (and paid) by colleges and universities would support your view that they are functionally equivalent to the PhD.

  10. drstrangeglove

    drstrangeglove New Member

    well for PhD holders (or equivalent) its good form to use either

    Mr. John Doe PhD
    Dr. John Doe
    Dr. John Doe PhD

    Of course one of my old great aunties proclaimed "oh good a doctor in the family....my feet were getting sore....":D

    In Asia titles are everthing so I always use it in Asia. In the UK I dont use it as people are more informal. Germans though are very formal so I use it then. It really depends. I heard the argument before that you should only use Dr. when its prof relevant ie a DBA holder would use in business but not a scientific PhD. I personally think use if it gives you an advantage!
  11. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    Re: Re: Doctor of Jurisprudence

    Did you expect the ABA to say anything else? :rolleyes:

    With all due respect to Nosborne (who is due a lot of respect) and our other members who hold J.D. degrees, that is NOT equivalent to a Ph.D.

    I did a LOT of research into law schools when I was contemplating that route, including reviewing curriculum, interviewing law school grads, etc.

    The J.D. degree lacks the substantive research component (dissertation) of the Ph.D. and other comparable doctoral degrees (Ed.D., Th.D., etc.)

    Going back to my own discipline, Criminal Justice, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences recommends that J.D. holders should only be considered for full-time CJ teaching jobs if they also have a Master's in CJ, in addition to their J.D. In any case, only a very few members of CJ faculty can have a J.D. as their terminal degree to satisfy the ACJS standards.

    Also, many full-time CJ teaching positions at RA schools will specifically say "J.D. is not acceptable for this position"
  12. JamesK

    JamesK New Member

    Re: Re: Doctor of Jurisprudence

    As far as the ABA is concerned, their JD is far,far,far superior to a British PhD because the British Doctor of Philosophy degree requires 0 "semester hours of post baccalaureate study along with the writing of a dissertation". It is hardly a fair comparison if you remove the main "feature" of one of the options.

    Slightly off topic, but I wonder if they consider an honours LLB equivalent to a JD? Would they get upset if a JD was only considered as the equivalent of a bachelor or (transfer) masters degree in places which award the LLB?
  13. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Re: Re: Re: Doctor of Jurisprudence

    Even this is changing, however. Recently, when I was composing a list of distance learning computer science doctorates, some UK school offered both the traditional PhD in Computing and the New Route PhD in Computing. What was the difference? The traditional PhD was dissertation only while the New Route PhD was coursework plus dissertation.
  14. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    With all due respect to Bruce,

    the ABA DID say something different for several years around the end of the '60s.

    The ABA issued an advisory ethics opinion saying that the use of the title "doctor" by holders of the J.D. degree was a misrepresentation of the lawyer's academic credentials and therefore unethical.

    This opinion (with which I entirely agree) addressed the situation where holders of American J.D. degrees were advertising in competition with holders of the older American LL.B. degree. Since the two degrees are identical, the J.D. would be implying something that is factually false, viz. that he had a higher qualification.

    The ABA backed off of this stance some years ago but still does not encourage the use of the title.

    I ask folks to read that rather silly analysis (J.D. Ph.D. Equivalency) for what it really is; a standard that allows professors of law to receive the same pay, benefits, and perquisites of Ph.D. professors. I KNOW that the statement itself is factually foolish but as Dr. Pina has said on this forum, the academic world treats the J.D. as the functional equivalent of the Ph.D. while recognizing that the degrees are not at all the same. There IS NO dissertation degree in pure law in American legal education, as I have said elsewhere.

    No, a U.K. Honours LL.B. is not considerd the equivalent to an American J.D. The two degrees are very, very different.
  15. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Is a UK (regular) LlB equivalent to the US JD? How is the honours LlB different?
  16. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    No U.K. LL.B. is considered equivalent to a U.S. J.D.

    No U.K. LL.B. is considered equal to a CANADIAN LL.B.

    The U.K. degree is:

    -not intended to be a complete training course for lawyers.

    It excludes (among many other things):

    -professional ethics
    -clinical experience

    What's really weird is that no ENGLISH LL.B. is considered equivalent to a SCOTTISH LL.B. (but that's because Scotland is a mixed civil and common law jurisdiction.)

    The Canadian LL.B. and U.S. J.D. are considered nearly equivalent for many purposes but each holder must usually acquire some additional education to qualify to practice in the other jurisdiction.

    I've never really understood what the British mean by an "honours" law degree.
  17. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Re: Re: Re: Doctor of Jurisprudence

    Several of my faculty colleagues at colleges and universities in business, law and social sciences have the JD as their terminal degree. Those outside the school of law routinely accept the title "doctor". All of the law professors that I have known never use the title "doctor". A few K-12 teachers with JDs, of which I am acquainted, insitist that people call them "doctor".

    Even though it took me far longer to do a research doctorate and complete and defend a dissertation that it would have to complete most professional doctorates, I know what kind of intensive work it takes to complete most JDs and other first-professional degrees. Completing one of those programs is quite an accomplishment.

    I have no problem calling my physician, optometrist, dentist, veterinarian or JD-holding professor "Doctor". They don't seem to have a problem calling me that as well (although I usually insist that they call me "Tony") .
  18. ybfjax

    ybfjax New Member

    Thank you all for contributing....

    I was surprised to see my thread resurfaced after nearly 9 months!

    It seems that I have received a lot of feedback, including most of the senior members.

    I wanted to personally thank each and every one of you for providing this very valuable feedback. It was interesting to see the opinions from even some people who met or worked with professional doctorates degree holders to see how and when they use the "Dr." title.

    I think after the MS, I'll be done with formal education for a LONG WHILE. The DM. thing at Colorado Tech will be purely for the "I did it" feeling and gratification. My Masters will serve me fine for now. ;)

    But it would be a nice conclusion to my educational story to conclude it with a doctorate. Maybe some other time....
  19. chrislarsen

    chrislarsen New Member

    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)

    As a future (hopefully) PH.D. in Psychology I wrestle with the issue of professional titles. I firmly believe that they have their place in certain professional settings but not in social situations. At Fielding, where I am doing my DL doctorate in clinical psychology, all the faculty want to be referred to by their first name. The idea being that we students and the faculty are collaborative partners in the educational process. However, I am also a Southerner and in the South, being respectful of a person's social "ranking" is still very important. I still feel quite uncomfortable speaking to my professors using the informal first name. Respect for hierarchy and social rank order go hand in hand with iced tea and grits! :)

    When I finally get my doctorate, I suppose I will usually use it inprofession situations. This would be especially true when dealing with M.D.'s. and in *particular* when dealing with psychiatrists. But I would never ever use it in social, non-professional situations. Thats just too stuffy!:)

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