• Log in
  • Site search

What is a PhD?

As the highest degree level achievable at university, completing a PhD shows that you've made a meaningful new contribution to your chosen research field

PhDs at a glance

  • Involves three or four years of full-time study, or up to seven part time.
  • Typically undertaken after achieving a Masters degree.
  • Can either be funded or self-funded.
  • Assessed through a written thesis and oral exam.
  • Many Doctoral graduates choose to pursue an academic or research career.

What is the meaning of PhD?

The term PhD or Doctorate of Philosophy is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase 'philosophiae doctor'.

A PhD degree typically involves students independently conducting original and significant research in a specific field or subject, before producing a publication-worthy thesis.

While some Doctorates include taught components, PhD students are almost always assessed on the quality and originality of the argument presented in their independent research project.

How long is a PhD in the UK?

Full-time PhDs usually last for three or four years, while part-time PhDs can take up to six or seven. However, the thesis deadline can be extended by up to four years at the institution's discretion. Indeed, many students who enrol on three-year PhDs only finish their thesis in their fourth year.

While most PhD studentships begin in September or October, both funded and self-funded PhDs can be undertaken at any point during the year.

If you're planning on studying for a PhD abroad, take a look at our individual country profiles .

Do I need a Masters to do a PhD?

The majority of institutions require PhD candidates to possess a Masters degree , plus a Bachelors degree at 2:1 or above. However, some universities demand only the latter, while self-funded PhD students or those with significant professional experience may also be accepted with lower grades.

You may need to initially register for a one or two-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Master of Research (MRes) degree rather than a PhD. If you make sufficient progress, you and your work will then be 'upgraded' to a PhD programme. If not, you may be able to graduate with a Masters degree.

If you need an MPhil or MRes before enrolling on your PhD, search Masters degrees .

What does a PhD involve?

A standard PhD degree is typically split into three stages. A three-year PhD may follow this pattern:

  • First year - You'll meet with your supervisor to discuss your research proposal and agree an action plan with deadlines. You'll then complete your literature review, in which you'll evaluate and critique existing works to inform the direction of your project and ensure that your research will be original.
  • Second year - Your focus will shift to gathering results and developing your thesis, and potentially begin writing chapters of your thesis. You may also present your results and ideas at academic conferences, gain teaching experience, collaborate with other students on similar projects, communicate the benefits of your research to the general public through workshops, lectures and presentations, or submit work for publication in an academic journal or book.
  • Third year - Primarily involves writing your thesis, though your research may still be in progress. After your supervisor gives their approval, you'll submit your thesis before undertaking a one to three-hour oral exam ( viva voce ) in which you'll discuss and defend your thesis in the presence of at least one internal and external examiner.

How do I find a PhD?

As a PhD is different to other degrees, you're committing to more than simply an advanced qualification. You've chosen to engage in a large-scale independent research project and so you'll need to take into account a range of factors that will drive your search.

A methodical approach to the process is required and you'll need to consider the subject you're interested in carrying out research in and the type of Doctorate you're looking for, making sure this is the right project for you. Only when you're fully prepared and have a good idea of your research proposal should you search for PhD opportunities .

What other types of Doctorate are there?

Alternative types of PhD include:

  • Higher Doctorate - These are usually granted on the recommendation of a committee of internal and external examiners, which assesses a portfolio of published, peer-reviewed research you've undertaken over the course of many years. This type of Doctorate is usually for those with several years of academic experience. Common award titles include the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL), Doctor of Divinity (DD), Doctor of Literature/Letters (DLit/DLitt/LitD/LittD), Doctor of Music (DMus/MusD), Doctor of Science (DS/SD/DSc/ScD) and Doctor of Law (LLD).
  • Integrated/New Route PhD - This four-year PhD course is offered by over 30 universities and involves taking a one-year MRes before studying a three-year PhD. It combines taught elements with independent research, allowing students to learn different methodologies while building their transferable skills.
  • Professional Doctorate - Geared towards students of vocational subjects such as medicine, education and engineering, professional Doctorates are focused on teaching and so normally involve smaller research projects and thesis component. They're often favoured by those aiming for a career outside of academia and are usually supported by employers.

How much does a PhD cost?

Tuition fees vary, but usually fall between £3,000 and £6,000 per year for UK students and those from the European Union (EU) with settled status. UK Research Councils pay universities £4,596 per year (from 2022/23) on behalf of each funded PhD student, so this gives a good indication of the average figure.

For EU students looking to pursue a Doctorate in 2022/23, you'll need to have gained settled or pre-settled status to be eligible for student finance - see PhD loans .

Non-EU students may pay considerably more for their tuition fees.

Despite this, many PhD students are now part or fully funded - scholarships and bursaries are widely available, and particular attention should be paid to Research Council grants .

PhD studentships and assistantships involving a mixture of research and teaching are also common, with scientific studentships usually paid at a higher rate.

How do I apply for a PhD?

Some students propose their own research area and apply for funding, while in some cases a supervisor may already have funding for a project and advertise it like a job. When making a PhD application, you'll typically be asked to submit:

  • an academic CV
  • your academic transcripts
  • two or three academic references
  • a personal statement
  • a research proposal.

International students without settled UK status looking to study certain courses in medicine, mathematics, engineering and material sciences are required to comply with the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) . This involves undergoing a security clearance process with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. International students may also have to prove their English proficiency.

What can I do next?

Your ability to critically analyse, display intellectual maturity, and research independently and honestly is highly valued within academia and the workplace.

Many students who undertake a PhD get an academic job or become an industry researcher, possibly following the PhD with postdoctoral study, then a fellowship or lectureship.

Other career options will depend on your study area.

Discover what a PhD degree can lead to at your PhD, what next?

Find out more

  • Consider your PhD options at 5 routes to getting a Doctorate .
  • Get help with choosing your PhD supervisor .
  • Explore funding postgraduate study .

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

  • Dislike 1 unhappy-very
  • Like 5 happy-very

Thank you for rating the page

Graduate School

Doctoral certificates.

  • Academics & Research
  • Distinctive Opportunities

Doctoral certificate programs are open to enrolled PhD students. These programs are designed to extend expertise into interdisciplinary areas and to certify training beyond the home Ph.D. discipline. They promise to advance student careers as well as promote intellectual exchange and community in these academic areas.

To pursue a certificate program, a student must have the support of the department in which they are pursuing the doctoral degree and the program offering the certificate. Certificates typically require three to five courses and sometimes require a substantial piece of written work, internship, practicum, or other project. The programs are offered at no charge to eligible doctoral students.

Successful completion of the requirements of the certificate program will be recognized on the Brown University transcript with a notation indicating the field of this advanced study. Although approved programs may be informally described as “certificates,” no separate document will be awarded by the Registrar.

Doctoral Certificate Programs

Archaeology of the ancient world.

Department/Unit:  Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World Director of Certificate Program:  Andrew Scherer

Africana Studies

Department/Unit:  Department of Africana Studies Director of Certificate Program:  Francoise Hamlin

Collaborative Humanities

Department/Unit:  Cogut Institute for the Humanities Director of Certificate Program:  Amanda Anderson

Data Science

Department/Unit:  Data Science Institute  (Division of Applied Mathematics and the Departments of Biostatistics, Computer Science, and Mathematics) Directors of Certificate Program: Andras Zsom (Graduate Program Director),  Alden Bumstead (Associate Director)  

Digital Humanities  

Department/Unit: Brown University Library  Center for Digital Scholarship  and  Cogut Institute for the Humanities Director of the Certificate Program:  Ashley Champagne  and  Tara Nummedal

Early Cultures

Department/Unit:  Program in Early Cultures Director of Certificate Program:  Amy Russell

Gender and Sexuality Studies

Department/Unit: Pembroke Center Director of Certificate Program:  Denise Davis

Hispanic Studies

Department/Unit: Hispanic Studies Director of Certificate Program:  Felipe Martinez-Pinzon

Language Pedagogy and Academic Engagement

Department/Unit: Center for Language Studies Director of Certificate Program:   Jane Sokolosky  and  Jeremy Lehnen

Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Department/Unit:  Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies , Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs  Director of Certificate Program:  Neil Safier

Portuguese and Brazilian Studies

Department/Unit: Portuguese and Brazilian Studies Director of Certificate Program:  Luiz F. Valente

Science, Technology and Society

Department/Unit: Program in Science, Technology and Society Director of Certificate Program:  Lukas Rieppel

Spatial Analysis

Department/Unit: Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4) Director of Certificate Program:  Kevin Mwenda

Translation Studies

Department/Unit: Comparative Literature Director of the Certificate Program:  Marc Redfield

Proposing a Program

Programs interested in proposing a certificate program are invited to read  guidelines for doctoral certificates  and to contact  William Wittels , Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs. 

  • Online Degrees
  • Tuition & Financial Aid
  • Transferring Credit
  • The Franklin Experience

Request Information

We're sorry.

There was an unexpected error with the form (your web browser was unable to retrieve some required data from our servers). This kind of error may occur if you have temporarily lost your internet connection. If you're able to verify that your internet connection is stable and the error persists, the Franklin University Help Desk is available to assist you at [email protected] , 614.947.6682 (local), or 1.866.435.7006 (toll free).

Just a moment while we process your submission.

Popular Posts

meaning of phd certificate

What is a Doctorate: Everything You Need to Know

Do you already have a master's degree and want to continue your education? Maybe you’re still trying to determine what that means and what your next options are?

The pinnacle of educational attainment is the doctoral degree. But what exactly is a doctoral degree, what can you get your doctorate in and what is involved in the process? Consider this your introduction to doctoral degrees.

What Is a Doctorate Degree?

The doctorate is the most advanced academic degree you can earn, symbolizing that you have mastered a specific academic discipline or field of profession. Doctorate degrees require a significant level of research and articulation. Those who earn the degree must have researched a subject or topic thoroughly, conducted new research and analysis, and provided a new interpretation or solution to the field. Completing a doctorate program qualifies you for top-tier consulting and education career considerations and positions you as a leader in your field, giving you the edge to stay relevant in today’s competitive labor market. In many cases, completing a doctorate means achieving a lifelong personal goal.

Demand for Doctoral Degrees

meaning of phd certificate

The demand for doctorate degrees depends on specific fields and positions, but trends in degree completions can help paint a picture of the state of doctoral-level education. According to Lightcast Analytics, from 2012 to 2022, the total number of doctoral degree completions grew by 20%, from 170,815 to 205,341.  Doctoral categories that saw the greatest growth in demand over the 10-year period included Business , Management, Marketing and Related Programs (+75%), Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services (+64%), Education (+49%), Health Professions and Related Programs (+49%), and Engineering (+38%).

At a more granular level, doctoral programs that saw the greatest growth in demand included Occupational Therapy/Therapist (+1,134%), Nursing Practice (+614%), Organizational Leadership (+368%) and Social Work (+154%). Conversely, programs that saw the greatest decrease in demand included Divinity/Ministry (-42%), History (-26%), Law (-22%) and Psychology (-16%).  These trends show that increasingly complex and growing industries tend to require employees with higher levels of expertise, resulting in more demand for doctoral degree holders, while stagnant industries that require less skills development tend to need fewer experts and, thus, fewer employees may feel the need to pursue doctorates.

Earning a doctorate is challenging and rewarding, but do you know what to really expect? Download this free guide for tips and insights to help you prepare for success.  

The rise of online doctorate degrees.

Traditionally, higher education institutions only offered doctorates in person, but lately, there has been a shift toward flexible online education. According to Lightcast Analytics, distance-offered doctoral degrees saw a 237% increase in graduates from 2012 to 2022, while non-distance offered programs only grew by 6%.

The increase in online doctoral degrees is evident in the fields examined earlier. Distance offered completions increased by 150% for Law, 986% for Nursing Practice, 427% for Educational Leadership and Administration (General), and 243% for Business Administration and Management (General).  

meaning of phd certificate

So, what types of doctorates are available?

Two Types of Doctorate Degrees

There are two primary types of doctoral degrees : research-oriented degrees and professional application degrees (also called applied doctorates). The difference between the two types of programs may be murkier than you think. Here's a breakdown of the two common types of doctorate programs.

The Ph.D.: A Research-Oriented Doctorate

These research degrees are commonly referred to as Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.s). Some common research-oriented doctorates include the following:

  • Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Doctor of Theology (Th.D.)
  • Doctor of Public Health (DPH)

"Philosophy" refers to the concept of research and pursuit of knowledge, as opposed to the actual subject of philosophy. A core component of this type of degree is the dissertation process .

The Professional Doctorate: An Application-Oriented Program

A professional doctorate (also called an applied doctorate or terminal professional doctorate) is a degree that focuses on the application of a subject within real-world contexts or scenarios.

You'll likely want to pursue a professional doctorate if your goals include career advancement, meeting the requirements for specific high-level corporate jobs, establishing teaching credibility within the industry, or building a consulting business.

Some common professional doctorates include:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA)
  • Doctor of Professional Studies (DPS)
  • Doctor of Finance (DPH)
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
  • Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
  • Juris Doctor (JD)

This type of doctorate program may or may not require a dissertation. Unlike the academia-focused research doctorate, the professional doctorate curriculum will encourage you to tackle real-world issues within your field, research, and present a solution.

How a Doctoral Degree Works

The path to a doctoral degree typically comprises four stages of coursework: a core set of research and prep classes, a set of major area emphasis courses, electives and dissertation courses.

The Research Core

In most doctoral programs, you begin the journey to your degree with a common core of classes. The research core establishes the foundational skills you will need to complete the level of work required for the degree. This core often includes advanced writing methods, research methodology and design, applied statistics, colloquium courses, and qualitative and quantitative research and analysis courses.

Major Focus Area

Once the research core is complete, you will typically take courses in your major emphasis of study.

For example,

  • If you're earning a DBA ( Doctor of Business Administration ), you will likely take courses in organizational behavior, organizational systems, strategic thinking and decision making, ethics, and change management.
  • If you're earning a DHA ( Doctor of Healthcare Administration ), you will likely take courses in healthcare policy and regulations, healthcare economics and finance, quality improvement and process improvement, and health information governance.
  • If you're earning a Ph.D. in Human Services, you will likely take courses in advanced study in research methods for public service, social influences of behavior, ethics in decision making, and advanced communication for the human services leader.

In most doctoral programs, you must also take certain electives within your field. Taking electives helps provide a rounded worldview to apply your doctorate in real-world environments.

For example, if you're pursuing a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), you can access focus areas like Higher Education Leadership , PK-12 Educational Leadership and Organizational Leadership .

Dissertation Requirements

Once you have completed your foundation work, major area of focus, and electives, you'll begin working on your dissertation. That can take different forms, determined by the Ph.D. or applied doctorate.

For Ph.D. students, the dissertation is typically a five-chapter dissertation, which is commonly broken into three phases. In phase 1, you'll submit a prospectus for approval from the dissertation committee. In phase 2, you'll finalize your dissertation's first chapters and begin collecting data. In phase 3, you'll complete the writing of your dissertation and orally defend it to the program leaders.

The dissertation may look different for applied doctorate students, as you will be required to create a solution to a real-world problem.

Investigate Dissertation Structures

Since your dissertation will be a crucial hurdle to defeat, you must know what you're getting yourself into from the beginning. Do some research on dissertation structures when you're looking at prospective schools to help narrow down your list. Ensuring the school will do everything to help you succeed with your dissertation can make all the difference when it comes down to crunch time.

Franklin University has intentionally designed a dissertation structure to help you complete your dissertation step-by-step, beginning with your enrollment in the program . The University also has built-in faculty mentoring, guidance and peer-to-peer support, so you're never left to "figure it out" alone.

For example, throughout your doctoral courses at Franklin, you'll develop essential research skills and the necessary writing prowess to publish a dissertation as a capstone project to your studies. Your dissertation will showcase your ability to identify a topic of interest within the workplace, develop a proposed solution to a problem, and test your hypotheses in the real world.

How Long Will It Take to Earn Your Doctoral Degree?

The answer depends on the path you choose. A doctoral degree program requires anywhere from 60 to 120 semester credit hours (or approximately 20-40 college classes). Most Ph.D.s require 120 hours, while most applied doctorates are closer to the lower end of that spectrum. For example, the DBA and DHA at Franklin require only 58 hours. On average, a Ph.D. may take up to eight years to complete . A doctorate degree typically takes four to six years to complete—however, this timing depends on the program design, the subject area you're studying, and the institution offering the program. Pro Tip: Some innovative institutions like Franklin University have streamlined their doctorate degree programs and offer creative transfer options . The program design, which includes an embedded dissertation and a community of support, also helps students earn their doctorate in as little as three years .

Who is a Good Fit For a Doctoral Program?

Other than holding a relevant master's degree or having professional experience, good doctoral students are organized, curious and have the time management skills to manage many tasks in their lives. Doctorate degrees can increase your current wage, open doors to roles in higher education or fulfill a lifelong desire. 

Many doctoral candidates have full-time jobs and families and are active in their community; therefore, it is vital to have a strong motivation and resilience to pursue a doctorate. However, it is worthwhile because the impact of a doctorate on an individual's career and personal growth can be life-changing. 

"I went from a successful 27-year career in the electric utility industry to higher education. This change has allowed me to positively affect literally thousands of lives over the past 18 years I have spent as a full-time educator," said Dr. Wendell Seaborne, the Dean of Doctoral Studies & Academic Research at Franklin University. 

Franklin University provides applied doctorates with 8-week courses and recorded sessions for asynchronous learning designed for working professionals with personal commitments and a dream to make a change. 

meaning of phd certificate

Why Choose to Earn a Doctorate Degree?

A doctoral program is a serious commitment with a serious return on investment for master's degree holders.

If you want to teach at a higher education institution, the degree is needed to get in the door. If you’d like to move into industry leadership, the degree can deliver substantial credibility. And, if you're eyeing that top-floor corner office, the degree can be a huge differentiator.

So, which one is right for you—research or applied? Check out these five truths about Applied Doctorates to learn more.

meaning of phd certificate

Related Articles

meaning of phd certificate

Franklin University 201 S Grant Ave. Columbus , OH 43215

Local: (614) 797-4700 Toll Free: (877) 341-6300 [email protected]

Copyright 2024 Franklin University

meaning of phd certificate

What are Professional Doctorates?

  • Types of Doctorates

A professional doctorate is an advanced postgraduate degree that combines taught components with independent research in a student’s area of expertise. They offer candidates the opportunity to develop their career to a doctoral level so they can make novel contributions to their industry. This is achieved by arming them with advanced research skills and specialist knowledge in their area of expertise, so they have not only the ability but also the confidence to facilitate change at a corporate level.

Compared to traditional PhDs (Doctor of Philosophy), professional doctorates are relatively new. They were incorporated into UK higher education as a direct response to concerns that traditional PhDs aren’t well suited to careers outside of academia or research.

Bourner, T., Bowden, R. and Laing, S. (2000)

Consequently, the fundamental difference between a PhD and a professional doctorate is that while PhDs teach students how to conduct research to create new knowledge that improves the understanding of a field, a professional doctorate teaches a student how to evaluate, synthesise and apply existing knowledge in novel ways to a field.

Professional doctorates often lead to a specific career path depending on the degree, for example, candidates can gain advanced knowledge in the fields of engineering, business administration, education or public health. In many cases, a professional doctorate holder will qualify for certain leadership roles within their industry after completing their study.

Types of Professional Doctorates

There are many types of professional doctorates available, with the most common being:

  • Doctorate of Biomedical Science (DBMS)
  • Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
  • Doctorate of Criminal Justice Studies (DCrimJ)
  • Doctorate of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Engineering (EngD)
  • Doctorate of Health Science (DHealthSci)
  • Doctorate of Medical Imaging (DMedImg)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctorate in Nursing (DNursing)
  • Doctorate in Pharmacy (DPharm)
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
  • Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
  • Doctor of Security Risk Management (DSyRM)
  • Doctor of Social Science (DSocSci)
  • Doctor of Sport, Exercise and Health Science

Differences Between a PhD And Professional Doctorate

A PhD is a university degree whose primary objective is to develop advanced research skills and build new knowledge that can be shared with others. In comparison, a professional doctorate focuses on the application of advanced knowledge and skills, making it suitable for people working in a professional environment. Although these programs can also help researchers develop their abilities, their primary goal is to provide individuals with the ability to solve new and emerging problems within their industry.

Is a Professional Doctorate equivalent to a PhD?

Professional doctorates are equivalent to PhD degrees in the sense that one receives a doctoral degree and the title “Dr” upon completing their programme. Professional doctorates, however, focus on a specific business context and differ in the skills they offer.

Who are Professional Doctorates suited for?

Professional doctorate programs

Professional doctorates are aimed at individuals from the public, private and third sectors. Like all postgraduate research programmes, you will need to carry out original research with guidance of an academic supervisor. The difference is that your research is based on your own profession and strives to develop an understanding that contributes more broadly to professional practice.

You must therefore be interested in your professional environment and be able to explore it through a structured research programme that helps you to understand this professional environment in an original way.

Doctoral candidates are often working professionals with many years of experience in their field. A professional doctorate enables them to advance in their careers and leads them to senior leadership positions where they have more influence over their area of expertise.

As such, a professional doctoral degree is best suited to a person who is interested in putting their knowledge into practice in an environment such as a company, training institution or hospital.

What does a Professional Doctorate involve?

An important difference in the format of professional doctorates is the need for increased subject-specific training through taught modules about the discipline and research in general. Because of this, professional doctorates are often regarded as ‘taught doctorates’.

Through the modules, you will become familiar with the theoretical problems relevant to your professional context and reflect on how you can incorporate these into your own research project.

During a doctoral programme, a student will focus on:

  • Assessing the current state of knowledge in their field,
  • Evaluating a real-world problem facing their industry,
  • Learn about various research methods,
  • Designing and conducting a research study,
  • Expanding the body of knowledge in their industry through their research findings.

A professional doctorate often ends with a thesis. This thesis identifies a real problem that the candidate investigates and proposes practical solutions for. This involves undertaking experiments, collecting results and documenting the process. In addition, general suggestions are made as to how others in their field can practically use the research findings, and other problem areas may be identified for future investigation.

While the doctoral thesis may have a lower word count compared to traditional PhD theses, for example, 50,000 words instead of 90,000 words , professional doctorates usually assign a considerable amount of written coursework alongside this. It is therefore not uncommon for professional doctorates to have a higher ‘total word count’ than PhD programmes.

Compared to PhDs, professional doctorates offer a more structured learning experience; they include taught lectures, assignments with deadlines, and the opportunity to learn with a cohort of like-minded professionals.

Is a Professional Doctorate internationally recognised?

A professional doctorate degree obtained in the UK is recognised as an international qualification by most countries; as a result, many EU and international students choose to undertake their doctorate in the UK. While most global employers recognise a professional doctorate obtained in the UK, you should ensure that this is the case in your home or destination country if you wish to work outside the UK. For example, in order to be recognised in certain countries outside the European Union, you may need to acquire a certificate depending on the requirements of the host country.

Finding a PhD has never been this easy – search for a PhD by keyword, location or academic area of interest.

How long does a Professional Doctorate take?

The duration of a professional doctorate programme largely depends on your specific course and whether you are studying full time or part time . Typically, however, a full time professional doctorate can last between two and five years , while a part time doctorate can last between three and eight years.

Since most professional doctorate students are working professionals with many years of experience, most will study part time whilst continuing their job. There are, however, exceptions to this, such as an EngD, which is predominantly conducted as a full time course .

It’s also worth noting that professional doctorates can be undertaken as a distance learning course, although not all universities offer this option. This is often the most practical solution for an international student who is unable to relocate.

What are the entry requirements for Professional Doctorates?

Entry requirements vary between each higher education institution hosting the programme, but most universities require a Masters degree in a relevant subject and significant professional experience in the same industry.

However, it should be noted that most universities will make exceptions for those who do not have a Masters degree but are strong candidates. In these cases, students are invited to an interview to determine whether they are suitable for the programme. Their success will depend on whether they have been actively involved in the development of their professional practice, through activities such as working on research projects, publishing papers, presenting at conferences and acquiring other professional qualifications.

Browse PhDs Now

Join thousands of students.

Join thousands of other students and stay up to date with the latest PhD programmes, funding opportunities and advice.

Health Care Economics

Explore the economic forces shaping us health care.

Taught by Harvard Medical School faculty, this Harvard Online course provides insights into the interactions between industries in the US health care sector and teaches what economic forces are shaping health care.


What You'll Learn

Why is health care spending so high in the US? What are the primary drivers of rising health care costs? What is the relationship between finance and health care? How does money shape your decision-making as a patient, provider, or payer? Is a sustainable healthcare architecture possible?

Even for those within the health care industry, the economics of the United States health care system are stunningly complex and can be challenging to navigate. In Health Care Economics, gain insights into the interactions between industries in the health care sector and learn what economic forces are shaping health care. You will cover core topics in health care economics, such as moral hazard and adverse selection, and examine how these forces, as well as the actions of patients, providers, and other key stakeholders, shape outcomes in the health care market.

Balancing the needs of patients and purchasers is a daily struggle for health care leaders and central to the success of any health care business. To make this happen, clinical, research, operational, and financial leaders need a shared understanding of the true drivers of health care spending, the policies that shape and define the sector, and how financial incentives impact both patient and provider behavior. This course will examine health care spending growth, considering new technologies and other economic factors, and explore the theoretical framework behind controlling spending growth through changes to benefit design and payment reform.

Delivered via Harvard Business School Online’s innovative course platform, Health Care Economics features real-world examples, interactive lessons, and conversations with industry experts. Led by Harvard Medical School professor Michael Chernew, PhD, Chair of The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), this course allows you to gain a better understanding of core economic principles as you learn how to create more compelling programs, develop more effective growth strategies, negotiate better reimbursement contracts and partnerships, and advocate more effectively both inside and outside your organization.

The Harvard Medical School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The Harvard Medical School designates this enduring material for a maximum of  19.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ . Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Upon successful completion of the course, participants will have access to claim their credits through the Harvard Medical School’s continuing education platform.

The course is part of the Health Care Leadership Learning Path  and will be delivered via  HBS Online’s course platform .  Learners will be immersed in real-world examples from experts at industry-leading organizations. By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate the drivers of spending and spending growth in health care and evaluate how your organization’s strategy and decision-making processes impact total spending as well as value
  • Describe approaches to getting the incentives right for both providers and patients and evaluate the impacts of changes to these incentives
  • Understand risk and pooling as they relate to insurance markets and health benefit design
  • Define the role of employers, insurers, and government in influencing the economics of health care markets, such as spending, access to care, and stability of insurance markets
  • Explain how technology and patients’ and providers’ decisions contribute to high spending and spending growth, and how they impact their own organizations

Your Instructor

Michael Chernew, PhD,  is the Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Chernew’s research examines several areas related to improving the health care system, including studies of novel benefit designs, Medicare Advantage, alternative payment models, low-value care, and the causes and consequences of rising health care spending. Dr. Chernew is currently serving as Chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), where he previously served as the Vice Chair and as a Member. In 2000, 2004, and 2010, he served on technical advisory panels for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that reviewed the assumptions used by Medicare actuaries to assess the financial status of Medicare trust funds. He's a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisors and Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Health Connector Board. Dr. Chernew is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a Senior Visiting Fellow at MITRE. He's currently a co-editor of the  American Journal of Managed Care  and on advisory boards for several private companies in the health care space, including Virta Health, Archway, and HEALTH[at]SCALE.

Real World Case Studies

Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

Dr. Matthew Hutter


Sandhya Rao


Dr. Sandhya Rao is chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts , the largest private health plan in Massachusetts. Learn from Rao about the challenges in health insurance today.

Joseph Newhouse


Available discounts and benefits for groups and individuals.

Investment Icon

Experience Harvard Online by utilizing our wide variety of discount programs for individuals and groups. 

Past participant discounts.

Learners who have enrolled in at least one qualifying Harvard Online program hosted on the HBS Online platform are eligible to receive a 30% discount on this course, regardless of completion or certificate status in the first purchased program. Past Participant Discounts are automatically applied to the Program Fee upon time of payment.  Learn more here .

Learners who have earned a verified certificate for a HarvardX course hosted on the  edX platform  are eligible to receive a 30% discount on this course using a discount code. Discounts are not available after you've submitted payment, so if you think you are eligible for a discount on a registration, please check your email for a code or contact us .

Nonprofit, Government, Military, and Education Discounts

For this course we offer a 30% discount for learners who work in the nonprofit, government, military, or education fields. 

Eligibility is determined by a prospective learner’s email address, ending in .org, .gov, .mil, or .edu. Interested learners can apply below for the discount and, if eligible, will receive a promo code to enter when completing payment information to enroll in a Harvard Online program. Click here to apply for these discounts.

Gather your team to experience Health Care Economics and other Harvard Online courses to enjoy the benefits of learning together: 

  • Single invoicing for groups of 10 or more
  • Tiered discounts and pricing available with up to 50% off
  • Growth reports on your team's progress
  • Flexible course and partnership plans 

Learn more and enroll your team ! 

Who Will Benefit

Leader Icon

Rising Leaders

Develop a comprehensive understanding of the health care landscape, including the key drivers of rising US health care spending.

Bank Icon

Administrators and Policy Makers

Gain insights into strategic decisions around new business initiatives, health benefit plans, reimbursement contract negotiations, and care delivery models.

Medical Providers

Understand the financial impacts of new technologies and services and how to create value-based care for patients.

Learner Testimonials

“This is an amazing course. The professor did a fantastic job dissecting the complexities of healthcare into chewable chunks.”

Howard H. Dinh, MD, FACC Medical Director, Cardiac Services, Greater Sacramento The Permanente Medical Group and Chief, Cardiology, Kaiser Permanente, South Sacramento

“This is now my fourth HBS online course that I have taken. I love that the format lets me learn asynchronously when I have time in my busy schedule. The HBS courses do a wonderful job encouraging interaction with peer learners which amplifies the learning. The HBS courses foster this peer engagement much more effectively than I have found in other online courses that I have taken.”

Denver Sallee III, MD Chief Financial Officer, Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and Associate Professor of Pediatrics Emory University School of Medicine

“This is a very well designed course to understand the nuances of the US healthcare system economics. The videos and the guest talks were very helpful to understand the real world examples. The discussion surrounding the RAND experiment was very useful to understand many key concepts. Overall a very good course.”

Krishna K. Chotneeru, MPH Associate Director, Data Science & Statistics Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Syllabus and Upcoming Calendars

Health Care Economics provides insights into the interactions between industries in the health care sector and teaches what economic forces are shaping health care.

Learning requirements: There are no required prerequisites to enroll in this course. In order to earn a Certificate of Completion from Harvard Online, participants must thoughtfully complete all 6 modules, including associated assessments, by stated deadlines.

Download Full Syllabus

Download October 2023 Calendar 

Download January 2024 Calendar 

  • Why is health care so expensive?
  • Why is health care spending growing?
  • Make health care spending growth predictions.
  • Compare US health care costs to costs in other countries.
  • Analyze the math behind health care spending.
  • Examine sources of waste in the health care industry.
  • Explore the role of technology in health care spending growth.
  • What role should patients play in making important choices about their care?
  • What role should money play in the decisions of patients?
  • Interpret demand curves.
  • Explore willingness to pay for health care.
  • Evaluate different solutions to inefficient consumption of care, such as moral hazard.
  • What role should the provider play in determining care patterns?
  • How do provider behavior and competition influence care?
  • Analyze clinical decision-making.
  • Recognize supplier-induced demand and the consequences of the medical arms race.
  • Explore practice ownership trends.
  • Determine whether prevention programs and care coordination are cost saving.
  • What is the role of insurance in health care?
  • Why is the risk pool for health insurance so important and how do we manage it?
  • Explore risk preferences.
  • Calculate actuarially fair premiums to understand what health insurance is and how it works.
  • Examine solutions for solving some of the problems with insurance.
  • Evaluate policy proposals for dealing with information asymmetry and adverse selection.
  • How can we design insurance plans to promote efficient consumer decision-making?
  •  Explore patient decision-making in health care.
  • Analyze different approaches for improving patient incentives.
  • Understand the benefits of value based care and insurance.
  • Strategies for implementing value-based healthcare and insurance designs.
  • How do we structure payments to promote efficient provider decision-making?
  • Explore provider decision-making in health care.
  • Analyze different approaches for improving provider incentives.

Earn Your Certificate

Enroll today in Harvard Online's Health Care Economics course.

Still Have Questions?

What are the learning requirements? How do I list my certificate on my resume? Learn the answers to these and more in our FAQs.

Health Care Economics Certificate

Related Courses

Digital health.

Digital technologies and big data offer tremendous opportunities to improve health care.

Health Care Strategy

Learn from HBS Professor Leemore Dafny how to align the principles of business strategy with the unique challenges and structures of health care organizations to capture value, define your mission, and lead your organization to success.

Innovations in Teamwork for Health Care

In this course, experts from Harvard Business School and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health teach learners to implement a strategy for organizational teamwork in health care.


  1. Most Valuable Phd Certificates For Download 123Certificate With

    meaning of phd certificate

  2. Free Printable Phd Certificates

    meaning of phd certificate

  3. Free Printable Phd Certificates

    meaning of phd certificate

  4. What Is Phd Degree For Doctorate Certificate Template

    meaning of phd certificate

  5. PHD Degree Certificate Template [Free PDF]

    meaning of phd certificate

  6. PhD meaning and its tale

    meaning of phd certificate


  1. The meaning of PHD

  2. PhD full meaning #english #englishvocabulary

  3. The difference between Graduate certificate VS certificate programs Vs Degrees

  4. Graduate Studies in Learning Technologies Webinar

  5. Research Methodology Introduction #csirnetjrf #aiims #aiims_exam #gate #dbt #dbtjrf #iitjam #phd

  6. JNTU VC Venugopal Reddy Responds On Fake PHD Certificate || NTV


  1. Doctor of Philosophy

    A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin: philosophiae doctor or doctor philosophiae) is the most common degree at the highest academic level, awarded following a course of study and research. The degree is abbreviated PhD and sometimes, especially in the U.S., as Ph.D. It is derived from the Latin Philosophiae Doctor, pronounced as three separate letters (/ p iː eɪ tʃ ˈ d iː ...

  2. Explained: What Is a PhD Degree?

    PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. This is one of the highest level academic degrees that can be awarded. PhD is an abbreviation of the Latin term (Ph)ilosophiae (D)octor. Traditionally the term 'philosophy' does not refer to the subject but its original Greek meaning which roughly translates to 'lover of wisdom'.

  3. What is a PhD?

    Definition of a PhD - A Doctor of Philosophy (commonly abbreviated to PhD, Ph.D or a DPhil) is a university research degree awarded from across a broad range of academic disciplines; in most countries, it is a terminal degree, i.e. the highest academic degree possible. PhDs differ from undergraduate and master's degrees in that PhDs are ...

  4. What Is a Doctorate or a Doctoral Degree?

    A doctoral degree is a graduate-level credential typically granted after multiple years of graduate school, with the time-to-degree varying depending on the type of doctoral program, experts say ...

  5. What Does Ph.D. Stand For?

    Meaning of Ph.D. A Ph.D., short for Doctor of Philosophy, is an esteemed academic degree marking the pinnacle of in-depth study and innovative research in a specific area of expertise. Attaining a Ph.D. involves not just a broad mastery of the field at large but also acquiring specialized knowledge and insights into a distinct facet of that ...

  6. What Does 'PhD' Stand For?

    A PhD is a terminal academic degree students typically pursue when they're interested in an academic or research career. A PhD is the highest possible academic degree a student can obtain. PhD stands for "Doctor of Philosophy," which refers to the immense knowledge a student gains when earning the degree. While you can actually get a PhD in ...

  7. What Is a PhD?

    Learn more about whether earning a PhD could benefit your career. A Doctor of Philosophy, often known as a PhD, is a terminal degree —or the highest possible academic degree you can earn in a subject. While PhD programs (or doctorate programs) are often structured to take between four and five years, some graduate students may take longer as ...

  8. What Is a Doctorate?

    Academic doctorate. An academic doctorate, often called a PhD (short for Doctor of Philosophy), is a research degree that typically requires completing a dissertation. Students enrolled in a PhD program may be interested in working in academia as a professor or conducting research in their field. However, a growing number of PhD students go on ...

  9. What is a PhD?

    PhD is short for Doctor of Philosophy. This is an academic or professional degree that, in most countries, qualifies the degree holder to teach their chosen subject at university level or to work in a specialized position in their chosen field. The word 'philosophy' comes from the Ancient Greek philosophia, literally translated as 'love ...

  10. Doctorate

    Doctorate. A doctoral diploma awarded by the State University of New York at Buffalo. A doctorate (from Latin doctor, meaning "teacher") or doctoral degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities and some other educational institutions, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi ("licence to teach").

  11. What is a PhD?

    What is the meaning of PhD? The term PhD or Doctorate of Philosophy is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase 'philosophiae doctor'. A PhD degree typically involves students independently conducting original and significant research in a specific field or subject, before producing a publication-worthy thesis. While some Doctorates include taught ...

  12. Doctoral Certificates

    Doctoral Certificates. Doctoral certificate programs are open to enrolled PhD students. These programs are designed to extend expertise into interdisciplinary areas and to certify training beyond the home Ph.D. discipline. They promise to advance student careers as well as promote intellectual exchange and community in these academic areas.

  13. PhD Definition & Meaning

    The meaning of PHD is the academic degree, title, or rank of doctor of philosophy; also : a person who has earned the academic degree of doctor of philosophy. How to use PhD in a sentence.

  14. What is a Doctorate: Everything You Need to Know

    The doctorate is the most advanced academic degree you can earn, symbolizing that you have mastered a specific academic discipline or field of profession. Doctorate degrees require a significant level of research and articulation. Those who earn the degree must have researched a subject or topic thoroughly, conducted new research and analysis ...

  15. What is a graduate certificate? I Stanford Online

    A graduate certificate is a credit-based academic credential. It is offered by a university and provides more narrowly focused, specialized knowledge than a master's degree. Whether you want to get your foot in the door of a specific industry, pivot to a new career, or increase your earning potential, a graduate certificate is a great way to ...

  16. PhD

    PhD definition: 1. abbreviation for doctor of philosophy: the highest college or university degree, or someone who…. Learn more.

  17. What Is A Graduate Certificate? Everything You Need To Know

    Graduate certificates allow you to advance a specific area of your education at the graduate level. This pathway is quicker and more affordable than a traditional graduate program. Depending on ...

  18. What are Professional Doctorates?

    A PhD is a university degree whose primary objective is to develop advanced research skills and build new knowledge that can be shared with others. In comparison, a professional doctorate focuses on the application of advanced knowledge and skills, making it suitable for people working in a professional environment.

  19. BA, BSc, MA, MSc, PhD

    BA, BSc, MA, MSc, PhD (and more) are abbreviations of British degrees. They reflect the specific level and discipline of a qualification achieved at university. While most courses are conducted on a full-time basis, there are options for part-time, distance learning and other flexible learning arrangements. Here is a breakdown of some of the ...

  20. PhD noun

    Collocations Education Education Learning. acquire/ get/ lack (an) education/ training/ (British English) (some) qualifications; receive/ provide somebody with training/ tuition; develop/ design/ plan a curriculum/ (especially British English) course/ (North American English) program/ syllabus; give/ go to/ attend a class/ lesson/ lecture/ seminar

  21. Health Care Economics

    Michael Chernew, PhD, is the Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.Dr. Chernew's research examines several areas related to improving the health care system, including studies of novel benefit designs, Medicare Advantage, alternative payment models, low-value care, and the causes and consequences of rising health care spending.

  22. What's the Difference Between a Graduate Certificate and a ...

    A graduate certificate is a credential you earn after completing a short program that's designed to teach you about a subject or skill. It usually costs less than a master's degree, and it also doesn't take as long to complete. Typically offered by colleges and universities, graduate certificates can be useful when you have your bachelor ...

  23. PDF www.exam.du.ac.in

    Certificate for Compliance of Ph.D. Degree with UGC Regulation 2009/2016 It is verified that Dr. in the Department/Faculty of who was a Ph.D. student University of Delhi has been awarded Ph.D. degree and has complied with UGC Regulations 2009/2016 as per

  24. A 100-year CD brings new meaning to the concept of long-term investing

    The financial institution is offering a100-year Local Impact Certificate of Deposit (CD) paying a fixed 4.75% annual interest rate. The CD is open to anyone with $1,000 and up to $150,000 to ...

  25. USMx DM01 Certificate

    Lingling Zhang, PhD. Assistant Professor of Marketing University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. Verified Certificate Issued May 11, 2024; ... An edX Verified Certificate signifies that the learner has agreed to abide by the edX honor code and completed all of the required tasks of this course under its guidelines, as well as ...

  26. ARVO 2024: Daniel Saban, PhD, Cogan Award Lecture recipient, discusses

    And that's the biggest privilege, I think, to be a scientist is to feel appreciated and to know that your work is having an impact, with your colleagues and the field. This year at ARVO, Daniel Saban PhD, was awarded the Cogan Award Lecture. He spoke with the Eye Care Network about this lecture and what the award meant to him.

  27. What Is a Postgraduate Degree? Your 2024 Guide

    Postgraduate degrees are also often simply called "graduate degrees," a term used to describe master's, professional, and doctoral degrees. According to information from the US Census Bureau, the number of people with postgraduate degrees has more than doubled since 2000, with more than 21 million Americans having a master's degree, and ...

  28. TLS server authentication: Deprecation of weak RSA certificates

    Deprecation of weak RSA key lengths. TLS server authentication certificates are used to verify the identity of the server to a client and to establish secure connections between client and server. So far, you've been able to use 1024 bits as the shortest key length for RSA encryption. However, 1024-bit key lengths today provide insufficient ...