Tag Archives: DPS

Why my doctorate is NOT a PhD…

By Tegan Darnell

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a doctoral qualification which has been formally awarded by universities since the Middle Ages.

A university class, 1350sA university class, (1350s). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Laurentius_de_Voltolina_001.jpg

The aim of a PhD is usually to provide someone with the skills they need to become a ‘scholar’. But, what if you don’t want to be a ‘scholar’?

In Australia, today, the PhD is one of a number of Doctoral level degrees that meet the criteria for Doctoral study, which the highest level of qualification according to the Australian Qualifications Framework.

There are 3 main types of Doctoral degree in Australia;

  1. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD),
  2. a Professional Doctorate (eg. DEdu, DBA, DEng, etc.), or
  3. the Doctor of Professional Studies (DPS).

A PhD is used to show that a student can “conduct research independently and make a significant contribution to new knowledge” (USQ handbook), or, ‘be a researcher’.

A Professional Doctorate allows someone who is already a practising professional to develop theoretical and research skills within a specific field or discipline.

The Doctor of Professional Studies (DPS) allows you to combine your professional work with study and obtain an ‘interdisciplinary’ or ‘trans-disciplinary’ doctoral degree based entirely in your workplace.

While a PhD makes an original contribution to knowledge, the DPS specifically aims to make a significant contribution to practice. Outcomes do not need to be entirely academic, but can consist of artefacts such as project reports, software, or products.

Although it is established at a number of universities in the US and the UK, USQ is one of only two universities in Australia which offers a DPS .

The program Director, Dr Luke Van der Laan, is passionate enough about the program that I was convinced very quickly it was the right program for me.

I’m still convinced, 18 months (and many frustrations and tears) later…

For more information, see: Helen Wildy, Sanna Peden & Karyn Chan (2015) “The rise of professional doctorates: case studies of the Doctorate in Education in China, Iceland and Australia”, Studies in Higher Education, 40:5, 761-774, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2013.842968