For those who hear the calling of the teaching profession at the college level, they will need to be prepared to go much deeper than the wide scope of undergraduate studies needed to complete a college degree. To be a teacher of those who are pursuing higher education, you will need a Doctor of Philosophy, or Ph.D., or a Doctor of Arts, or D.A. degree. There is a slight difference between a D.A. and Ph.D. While both degrees are designed to prepare graduate students for parallel careers in academia, each takes a different path to achieving the distinction.


The difference between a Doctor of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy is slight. A Doctor of Arts delves deep into a specific subject, while a Doctor of Philosophy is more research based.

Difference Between D.A. and Ph.D.

Although the results may be similar upon graduation, the method of obtaining a degree in the field is rather different. Simply put, one is more research based and the other is more about skills. A Doctor of Philosophy student will spend much of his graduate career researching. A student in pursuit of a Doctor of Arts degree will spend more time on perfecting high-level teaching skills to benefit students.

Requirements for a Ph.D.

A Doctor of Philosophy can be labeled as Ph.D. or DPhil., depending on the culture, country or society that is labeling it. A Ph.D. is the highest academic degree that is awarded by a college or university in most countries around the world. It is an earned research degree where students are required to demonstrate subject-matter expertise and mastery by examination as well as to produce a new scholarly contribution to their area of expertise by means of the research they have conducted on their own during their college career. On average, a Ph.D. takes up to eight years to complete. A doctorate degree can typically take four years to finish and up to six years to complete depending on internships and other requirements of the institution. A Ph.D. is the most common of the research-based doctoral degrees

D.A. Degree in Detail

Fairly new in terms of distinction, the Doctor of Arts is a discipline-based doctoral degree. The D.A. distinction shows that the professional has gained an academic degree of the highest level. It is also known or abbreviated as an Art.D., which is derived from atrium doctor in Latin, or D.Arts. A D.A. was originally designed to be an alternative to the Doctor of Philosophy, which is the traditional research-based Ph.D., and the Doctor of Education, or Ed.D., which is education based.

A D.A. degree includes a Doctor of Art History and Doctor of Fine Arts. The Doctor of Fine Arts abbreviation is D.F.A. The Doctor of Arts degree was first brought up as an alternative to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1932. The idea was originally presented to the Association of American Universities. Its purpose was to offer a shift away from an emphasis on research and more on the advanced study of a specific area of expertise, design of curriculum or discipline or theories applied in education. Those who pursue a Doctor of Arts degree are studying a subject deeply in order to become teachers and scholars in their field. It’s a fairly wide-reaching pursuit. A D.A. degree can range from acting to mathematics. A Doctor of Arts is typically a four-year degree.

Dissertation Requirements for Both Degrees

This can be tricky. Not every institution or degree requires a dissertation. The institution should make it clear before you begin whether a dissertation is needed to graduate. The long essay or paper on a specific subject is more than likely required for all Doctor of Philosophy degrees. However, there are some Ph.D. programs, specifically online, that offer a degree without a dissertation. It is more rare for a Doctor of Arts program to require a dissertation in order to graduate.

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