A doctorate (from Latin ''docere'', "to teach") or doctor's degree (from Latin ''doctor'', "teacher") or doctoral degree is an academic degree awarded by universities that, in most countries, qualifies the holder to teach at the university level in the degree's field, or to work in a specific profession. In some countries, the highest degree in a given field is called a terminal degree. Many universities also award "honorary doctorates" to individuals who have been deemed worthy of special recognition, either for scholarly work or for other contributions to the university or to society.
The term "doctorate" derives from the Latin ''docere'' meaning "to teach". The doctorate (Latin: ''doctor'', "teacher," from ''doctum'', "(which is ) taught," past participle of ''docere'', "to teach") appeared in medieval Europe as a license to teach Latin: ''licentia docendi'' at a medieval university. Its roots can be traced to the early church when the term "doctor" referred to the Apostles, church fathers, and other Christian authorities who taught and interpreted the Bible.〔
The right to grant a ''licentia docendi'' was originally reserved to the Catholic church, which required the applicant to pass a test, to take an oath of allegiance and pay a fee. The Third Council of the Lateran of 1179 guaranteed the access—at that time largely free of charge—of all able applicants. Applicants were tested for aptitude. This right remained a bone of contention between the church authorities and universities that were slowly distancing themselves from the Church. The right was granted by the pope to the University of Paris in 1213 where it became a universal license to teach ''licentia ubiquie docendi''.〔 However, while the licentia continued to hold a higher prestige than the bachelor's degree ''baccalaureus'', it was ultimately reduced to an intermediate step to the Magister and doctorate, both of which now became the exclusive teaching qualification.〔 According to Wellington, Bathmaker, Hung, MucCullough and Sikes (2005), the first Ph.D. was awarded in Paris in 1150; but not until the early nineteenth century did the term "Ph.D." acquire its modern meaning as the highest academic doctoral degree, following university practice in Germany.
University doctoral training was a form of apprenticeship to a guild. The traditional term of study before new teachers were admitted to the guild of "Masters of Arts" was seven years, matching the apprenticeship term for other occupations. Originally the terms "master" and "doctor" were synonymous, but over time the doctorate came to be regarded as a higher qualification than the master's degree. Makdisi's revised hypothesis that the doctorate originated in the Islamic (Ijazah), a reversal of his earlier view that saw both systems as of "the most fundamental difference", was rejected by Huff as unsubstantiated.
Universities did not originally admit female students into their doctoral programs. The first doctorates to female students were granted in 1678 to Elena Cornaro Piscopia at the University of Padua, in 1732 to Laura Bassi at Bologna University, in 1754 to Dorothea Erxleben at Halle University and in 1785 to María Isidra de Guzmán y de la Cerda at Complutense University, Madrid.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Universidad de Alcalá )〕 By contrast, the University of Oxford did not accept female scholars until 1920, and the first female to earn a University of Cambridge Ph.D. succeeded in 1926.
The use and meaning of the doctorate has changed over time, and is subject to regional variations. For instance, until the early 20th century few academic staff or professors in English-speaking universities held doctorates, except for very senior scholars and those in holy orders. After that time the German practice of requiring lecturers to have completed a research doctorate spread. Universities' shift to research-oriented education increased the doctorates importance. Today, a doctorate is generally a prerequisite for an academic career, although many recipients do not work in academia.
Although the research doctorate is almost universally accepted as the standard qualification for an academic career, it is a relatively new convention.
Professional "doctorates," which ironically, are not considered doctorates at all in many countries, such as the United States, were developed in the United States in the 19th century during a movement to improve the educations of academics by raising the requirements for entry and completion of the degree necessary to enter academia.〔Reed, A. (1921). ‘’Training for the Public Profession of the Law, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Bulletin 15.’’ Boston: Merrymount Press.〕 These first professional degrees were created to help strengthen professional training programs. The first professional "doctorate" to be offered in the United States was the M.D. at the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1765, with the first doctoral degrees conferred in 1771.,〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/1700s/medsch.html )〕 nearly one hundred years before the first Ph.D. was awarded in the U.S. in 1861. However, the M.D. degree is a vocational degree, in that students are trained similarly to other students in vocational schools or institutes, not educated. Consequently, M.D. degrees are not considered doctoral degrees.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Landmarks in Yale’s history )〕 The Juris Doctor (J.D.) was subsequently established by Harvard University for the same reasons that the M.D. was established.〔Harno, A. (2004) (Legal Education in the United States ), New Jersey: Lawbook Exchange, p. 50.〕
The older-style doctorates, now usually called higher doctorates in the United Kingdom, take much longer to complete, since candidates must show themselves to be leading experts in their subjects. These doctorates are now less common in some countries and are often awarded honoris causa. The habilitation is still used for academic recruitment purposes in many countries within the EU, and involves either a new long thesis (a second book) or a portfolio of research publications. The habilitation (highest available degree) demonstrates independent and thorough research, experience in teaching and lecturing, and, more recently, the ability to generate supportive funding. The habilitation follows the research doctorate, and in Germany it can be a requirement for appointment as a Privatdozent or professor.
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