Doctor of Science

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A Doctor of Science (Latin: Scientiae Doctor; most commonly abbreviated DSc or ScD) is a science doctorate awarded in a number of countries throughout the world. In some countries, a Doctor of Science is the degree used for the standard doctorate in the sciences; elsewhere a Doctor of Science is a "higher doctorate" awarded in recognition of a substantial and sustained contribution to scientific knowledge beyond that required for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).



Algeria and Morocco

In Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia, all universities accredited by the state award a "Doctorate" in all fields of science and humanities, equivalent to a PhD in the United Kingdom or United States.

Some universities in these four Arab countries award a "Doctorate of the State" in some fields of study and science. A "Doctorate of the State" is slightly higher in esteem than a regular doctorate, and is awarded after performing additional in-depth post-doctorate research or achievement.[ citation needed ]



Similar to the situation in the US, Japanese universities offer both the PhD and the ScD as initial doctorates in science.


In India only a few prestigious universities offer ScD/DScin science which is obtained in Graduate School after satisfactory evaluation of knowledge, research accomplishment, and a doctoral defence. The oldest institute to award a DSc degree in India is Rajabazar Science College, University of Calcutta. [1]


Higher education institutes in Thailand generally grant PhD for research doctoral degree, except some universities such as Chulalongkorn University award DSc. In exception, Mahidol University can grant both PhD and DSc Doctoral students in Faculty of Science are always awarded PhD, but some other programs award DSc.


The higher education institutes in Uzbekistan also grant DSc degrees. As an example, the National University of Uzbekistan and the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences offer DSc in various fields.


Austria, Germany, and Switzerland

In Germany, Austria, and the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the most common doctoral degrees in Natural Sciences are the following:

In these countries there are some related doctoral degrees with very similar names, these are the:

All these doctoral degrees are equivalent to the PhD or ScD of the American system. Until German Reunification, universities in East Germany also awarded the DrSc. However, the East German DrSc was not equivalent to the PhD since it was adopted to replace the German Habilitation and therefore was equivalent to this higher-level qualification. After reunification the Habilitation was reintroduced at universities in Eastern Germany.

The procedure of habilitation is normally required to receive officially the "venia docendi", which entitles the candidate to lecture at universities ( Privatdozent , for men, or Privatdozentin, for women). The academic degree after the successful habilitation is e.g. Dr. rer.nat. habil., by adding the suffix "habil." to the earlier received Doctors degree.

In Switzerland, the Dr sc. is a doctoral degree awarded only by the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (EPFL and ETHZ), [2] the University of Fribourg and the Department of Informatics of the University of Zurich. [3] The Swiss Dr sc., like the DSc in the US, is equivalent to the PhD. It is earned with the approval of a committee on the basis of original research, publications, and extensive applied professional contributions and is awarded in doctoral level science and technology programs. Since 2004 the Dr sc. is the only doctoral degree awarded by the ETH Zurich. The École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne awards the degree Docteur ès sciences, abbreviated Dr ès sc.and translated into English as PhD. [4]


In Poland "Doctor of Sciences" or "Habilitation" (doktor habilitowany or dr hab. in Polish) is the degree higher than PhD and it is awarded for substantial accomplishments in teaching, research and service after getting the PhD degree (usually up to 8 years after PhD). It is very similar to the equivalent habilitation degree in Germany and Austria. It is also very similar (in terms of requirements) to associate professor with tenure.

The highest scientific degree in Poland is "professorship" or "full professor" (tytuł naukowy profesora, profesor tytularny), which is called a scientific title of professor. "Habilitation" has been a mandatory requirement for many years to apply for full professorship in Poland.

United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Pakistan and the Commonwealth

In Ireland, the United Kingdom and the countries of the Commonwealth, such as India (in the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay), the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc or ScD) is one of the Higher Doctorates. In some older universities it typically has precedence after Divinity, Laws or Civil Law, Medicine, and Letters, and above Music. The degree is conferred on a member of the university who has a proven record of internationally recognised scholarship. A candidate for the degree will usually be required to submit a selection of their publications to the board of the appropriate faculty, which will decide if the candidate merits this accolade. The award or obtaining of a regular PhD degree is not in any way a pre-requisite for obtaining a DSc, as, for example, it can happen in the sciences that an academic who does a lot of publishing can be awarded a DSc without ever having done a PhD degree.[ citation needed ]

The first University to admit an individual to this degree was the University of London in 1860. [5] In 1893 Maria Gordon (née Ogilvie), was the first woman to receive this degree. [6]

In former times the doctorate in science was regarded as a greater distinction than a professorial chair and hence a professor who was also a DSc would be known as Doctor. The Doctor of Science may also be awarded as an honorary degree, that is, given to individuals who have made extensive contributions to a particular field and not for specific academic accomplishments. It is usual to signify this by adding DSc h.c. (for honoris causa ).

Other European Union countries

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia "Doctor of Sciences" (DrSc behind the name), established in 1953, is equivalent to the degree of Doctor of Science in the sense in which the DSc is used in the Commonwealth. It is the highest academic qualification, different from both PhD and PhDr. titles. In the Czech Republic, DrSc has not been awarded since 2001; instead, since 2006, a "Doctor of Sciences" degree (DSc behind the name) has been awarded, not by universities but by the Czech Academy of Sciences mostly for research in the field of natural or formal science. In Slovakia, "Doctor of Sciences" (DrSc) is awarded by the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

In Hungary, "Doctor of Sciences" (DSc) is a higher doctorate degree and it is awarded by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

In Finland, most doctoral degrees awarded in the fields of natural sciences, technology and economics are termed DSc degrees in English, with a suffix indicating the field of study. However, there is no translation of the term Doctor of Science to Finnish. For example, the proper translation for the doctorate in technology (tekniikan tohtori) would be DSc (Tech), whereas a doctorate in economics and business administration (kauppatieteiden tohtori) would be translated as DSc (Econ). When conversing or writing in English, the prefix Dr may be used to address a holder of a doctoral degree awarded in Finland. The degrees are equivalent to filosofian tohtori (FT, English: PhD), but FT is usually awarded only in general sciences, not in specializations like engineering, economics or medicine.

In France, the Doctor of Sciences degree (doctorat ès sciences also called doctorat d'État) was a higher doctorate in the fields of experimental and natural sciences, superseded in 1984 by the habilitation.

In Denmark, Dr Scient. is a higher doctorate.

In Bulgaria, PhD is the highest education level and first science degree. Doctor of Science is the second and the highest science degree.

Other European countries

In the former Yugoslavia, (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia, North Macedonia), [7] title doktor nauka or doktor znanosti (literally "doctor of science") is used in a much broader sense than DSc, simply referring to a field of academic study – from art history (doktor znanosti/nauka povijesti umjetnosti), philosophy (doktor znanosti/nauka filozofije), and literary studies (doktor znanosti/nauka književnosti) to hard sciences such as molecular biology (doktor znanosti/nauka molekularne biologije). It is therefore formally recognized as a PhD degree.

Starting in 2016, [8] in Ukraine Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ukrainian: Доктор філософії) is the highest education level and first science degree. "Doctor of Sciences" (DSc Ukrainian: Доктор наук) is the second and the highest science degree, awarded in recognition of a substantial contribution to scientific knowledge, origination of new directions and visions in science. A PhD degree is a prerequisite for heading a university department in Ukraine.

In Belarus "Doctor of Sciences" (DSc, Belarusian: Доктар навук) is the highest level of education that follows a PhD. Is awarded by The Higher Attestation Commission under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus.

North America

United States

In the United States, the formally recognized traditional Doctor of Science is an academic research doctoral degree awarded by research universities. The academic research ScD (or DSc) is considered by both the United States Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to be equivalent to the more commonly awarded PhD and not higher than a PhD as is the case in some European countries. [9]

The first North American ScD was inaugurated by Harvard University in 1872, when graduate studies first began at Harvard, and where the PhD and ScD degrees were introduced in the same year. [10] The Doctor of Science research degree is earned with the formal dissertation defense and approval of a committee on the basis of original research and publications, and it is awarded predominantly in doctoral-level science programs, such as engineering, medical and health sciences, and health economics. [11]

Although rarer than the Doctor of Philosophy, the Doctor of Science is awarded by institutions including the following:

A few university doctoral research programs offer both the ScD and PhD degrees in the same academic field, such as Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, [16] [17] with identical requirements for obtaining either. Currently, research programs that offer the formal research ScD but not the PhD degree for a given field include several doctoral programs at Harvard University, [28] Boston University, Capitol Technology University, [29] [30] [31] Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Dakota State University. [32] The University of Baltimore, School of Information Arts and Technologies offers an ScD degree in Information and Interaction Design, a program focused on usable design/user experience (UX) and Human Computer Interaction (HCI). [33]

There are programs where the ScD and PhD have different degree requirements, though the two degrees are officially considered equivalent. The Engineering school at Washington University in St. Louis, for example, requires four more graduate courses, which can be completed in one year in conjunction with research duties, in the DSc program than the PhD degree, while the PhD requires teaching assistance services. The Johns Hopkins University also offers both PhD and ScD in certain programs, [34] with only minor differences in university administration of the degrees. In some institutions, the ScD has been converted to the PhD. [35] For instance, the doctoral degree in biostatistics at Harvard recently converted from ScD to PhD, even though the doctoral degree structure and requirements have remained identical. [35]


In Mexico the PhD level is considered a doctoral degree (level 8) similar to the doctorate degrees in Canada and the United States. The Doctor of Sciences degree is instead recognized as a Higher Degree (Grado Proprio).

Russia and other post-communist states

In Russia as well as in some other former Communist Bloc countries, the status of Russian Doktor nauk (literally 'Doctor of Sciences') is considered a post-doctoral degree. The degree has no American equivalent but rather is similar to German Habilitation.

South America


In Argentina the formal title Doctor of Science would be attributed to different fields of the hard or soft sciences. To get into an Argentine PhD program the applicant must have experience in research and at least an Engineering, Licentiate or master's degree: [36]

Applied sciences

Basic sciences


In Brazil only the Doctor in Sciences (DSc) category is recognized as a higher doctorate, [37] generally followed by the concentration area (program field).

This kind of doctorate is obtained in Graduate School after satisfactory evaluation of knowledge, research accomplishment, and thesis defense. This doctorate is comparable to a PhD program found in other countries. In the state of São Paulo, the doctorate title is the second highest academic title given by the state's universities (University of São Paulo (USP), State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and São Paulo State University (UNESP)) and most Federal Universities, such as the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP). The highest academic title is the Livre-Docência, which is not equivalent to the German Habilitation, since "Livre-Docência" is not a requisite to be a professor in Brazilian universities, and German Habilitation is a requisite to be a professor in German universities. However, "Live-Docencia" is a requisite to be promoted to Associate Professor / "full" Professor (Professor Titular) at several of those public research Universities.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctor (title)</span> Academic title for a holder of a doctoral degree

Doctor is an academic title that originates from the Latin word of the same spelling and meaning. The word is originally an agentive noun of the Latin verb docēre 'to teach'. It has been used as an academic title in Europe since the 13th century, when the first doctorates were awarded at the University of Bologna and the University of Paris.

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to a student upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions often offer degrees at various levels, usually divided into undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although some educational systems offer lower-level undergraduate degrees such as associate and foundation degrees. Common postgraduate degrees include master's degrees and doctorates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctorate</span> Academic or professional degree

A doctorate or doctoral degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities and some other educational institutions, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi.

Habilitation is the highest university degree, or the procedure by which it is achieved, in many European and non-English-speaking countries. The candidate fulfills a university's set criteria of excellence in research, teaching and further education, usually including a dissertation. The degree, sometimes abbreviated Dr. habil. or PD or D.Sc., is often a qualification for full professorship in those countries. The degree conferral is usually accompanied by a public oral defence event with one or more opponents. Habilitation is usually awarded 5–15 years after a PhD degree or its equivalent. Although in some countries Doctor of Sciences degree correlates with a position of Docent, it is closer in practice to the position of a Full Professor in the USA.

Doctor of Medicine is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In the United States, and some other countries, the M.D. denotes a professional degree. This generally arose because many in 18th-century medical professions trained in Scotland, which used the M.D. degree nomenclature. In England, however, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.) was used and eventually in the 19th century became the standard in Scotland too. Thus, in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, the M.D. is a research doctorate, honorary doctorate or applied clinical degree restricted to those who already hold a professional degree (Bachelor's/Master's/Doctoral) in medicine. In those countries, the equivalent professional degree to the North American, and some others' usage of M.D. is still typically titled Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.

The Doctor of Technology is a degree normally conferred upon candidates after having completed a course of study in technology and a dissertation or a project of lengthy duration in a technologically related field. Like other doctorates, it is usually an academic degree at the highest level equivalent to a PhD.

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or (DrBA) is a terminal degree in business administration. The DBA is classified as a research doctorate or professional doctorate depending on the granting university and country where the degree was awarded. Academically, the DBA is awarded based on advanced study, examinations, project work, and advanced research in the field of business administration.

Legum Doctor (LL.D.) or, in English, Doctor of Laws, is a doctorate-level academic degree in law or an honorary degree, depending on the jurisdiction. The double “L” in the abbreviation refers to the early practice in the University of Cambridge to teach both canon law and civil law, with the double “L” itself indicating the plural, although Cambridge now gives the degree the name Doctor of Law in English. This contrasts with the practice of the University of Oxford, where the degree that survived from the Middle Ages is the DCL or Doctor of Civil Law (only).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctor of Theology</span> Doctoral degree

Doctor of Theology is a terminal degree in the academic discipline of theology. The ThD, like the ecclesiastical Doctor of Sacred Theology, is an advanced research degree equivalent to the Doctor of Philosophy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Candidate of Sciences</span> Junior scientific degree in Soviet Union and post-Soviet countries

A Candidate of Sciences or Candidate of Science is the first of two doctoral level scientific degrees in Russia and some of the Commonwealth of Independent States and was the first of two doctoral level degrees in some other countries. It is formally classified as UNESCO's ISCED level 8, "doctoral or equivalent." It may be recognized as a Doctor of Philosophy, usually in natural sciences, by scientific institutions in other countries. Former Soviet countries also have a more advanced degree, Doctor of Sciences.

A terminal degree is the highest-level college degree that can be achieved and awarded in an academic discipline or professional field. In other cases, it is a degree that is awarded because a doctoral-level degree is not available nor appropriate. The two main types of terminal degrees are academic or professional.

Doctor of Letters also termed "Doctor of Literature" in some countries is a terminal degree in the arts, humanities and social sciences that, depending on the country, is a higher doctorate after the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree or equivalent to a higher doctorate, such as the Doctor of Science or Doctor of Laws (LL.D). It is awarded in many countries by universities in recognition of superior accomplishment in the Arts, Social Sciences or humanities, such as original contributions to the creative or cultural arts, or scholarship in Social Sciences and humanities and other merits. It may be conferred as an earned degree upon the completion of a regular doctoral course of study, usually including the development and defense of an original dissertation, or may be conferred as an earned higher doctorate after the submission and academic evaluation of a portfolio of sustained scholarship, publications, research, or other scientific work of the highest caliber.

The Doctor of Engineering is a professional doctorate in engineering and applied science. An EngD is a terminal degree similar to a PhD in engineering but applicable more in industry rather than in academia. The degree is usually aimed toward working professionals.

The degree of Doctor of Computer Science is an applied research doctorate in computer science awarded on the basis of advanced study and research in the field of computer science. While it is considered a terminal degree and requires coursework and research beyond the masters' level, the DCS is not considered equivalent to a Ph.D. or a Doctor of Science in computer science.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctor of Sciences</span> Soviet and Russian degree

Doctor of Sciences is a higher doctoral degree in the Russian Empire, Soviet Union and many post-Soviet countries, which may be earned after the Candidate of Sciences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctor of Philosophy</span> Postgraduate academic degree awarded by most universities worldwide

A Doctor of Philosophy is the most common degree at the highest academic level, awarded following a course of study and research. The degree is abbreviated PhD, from the Latin Philosophiae Doctor, pronounced as three separate letters. The abbreviation DPhil, from the English 'Doctor of Philosophy', is used by a small number of British and Commonwealth universities, including Oxford, formerly York, and Sussex, as the abbreviation for degrees from those institutions. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. Since it is an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a dissertation, and defend their work before a panel of other experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is typically required for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctor Medicinae (Danish and Norwegian degree)</span> Danish and former Norwegian higher research doctorate in medicine

Doctor Medicinae, also spelled Doctor Medicinæ and abbreviated Dr. Med., is a higher doctoral degree in medicine awarded by universities in Denmark and formerly in Norway. It is officially translated as Doctor of Medical Science (D.M.Sc.), corresponding to similarly named higher doctorates found in some Commonwealth countries. It is regarded as a higher doctorate and officially ranks above the Danish PhD degree.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctor of Law</span> Doctorate in legal studies

A Doctor of Law is a doctorate in legal studies.

Academic ranks in Hungary are the titles, relative importance and power of professors, researchers, and administrative personnel held in academia.


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