What is a PhD?
Among more specific degrees such as EdD (Doctor of Education) or JD (Doctor of Law), the PhD is a more general degree. Someone with a PhD may have studied psychology, engineering, management, or one of many other disciplines.
The abbreviation PhD stands for “Philosophiae Doctor" and is generally translated into English as “doctor of philosophy." Literally translated from Latin, the phrase means “teacher of philosophy," although several other translations are acceptable.
The PhD is a type of doctoral degree and, like other doctorates, is usually a terminal degree. The PhD is often a requirement for teaching and conducting research in a university. This is why most professors in a university or college hold this degree.
The PhD was developed in Europe’s Middle Ages to distinguish it from degrees relating to law, medicine, and theology. Today, the degree is associated with learnedness and credibility. For example, many expert witnesses in court cases hold a PhD or other doctoral degree so no one will question whether the expert can indeed be considered an expert.