Publication Details

Jones, M. (2018). Contemporary trends in professional doctorates. Studies in Higher Education, 43 (5), 814-825.


Undertaking a PhD is commonly viewed as an apprenticeship, where the student learns the trade of becoming an academic. However, the doctoral degree did not start off with that intention, and it may not continue this way into the future. The initial design of the PhD was a professional degree which gave students the licence to teach. Research was not a focus of the degree until the 1800s. Recently, the purpose of the doctorate has been under examination. This re-examination has come about for a number of reasons: (1) Employment options within academe are no longer as abundant or secure as they once were; (2) Employers have become more discerning; they are looking for specific skills and qualifications which are absent from the traditional PhD; (3) Government and society are demanding a research degree that is more relevant to the needs of business and the growth of the economy; and (4) universities are seeing the economic value of increasing student numbers, and creating better alignments with industry. This paper will examine the contemporary trends in professional doctorates. The findings will provide a clear and uncluttered understanding of the evolution of the professional doctorate and its impact on academia and business.

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