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Differences Between a PhD and a MD

written by: vishalseafarer•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 6/27/2011

Confused why people who are not related to the field of medicine are also called doctor? Read the article to know the truth and the reason behind the confusion.

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    A Clear-Cut Understanding of the Difference Between PhD and MD

    PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy whereas MD stands for Doctor of Medicine. Alright; now that the abbreviation has been expanded let us get into what really is the difference between them. But before that let us take a look at why people are confused and what are the similarities between them that causes the confusion.

    What Leads to the Confusion?

    People who have completed PhD or MD are both (both hold the title 'Doctor') called doctor followed by their name but sometimes just doctor. Generally, in hospitals, the physicians are referred to as doctors. A person might get confused when he sees some person calling another person doctor and the person who he referred to as doctor is not really a physician or related to medical field at all. Doesn't make any sense, does it?

    So What's the Difference? The Difference Between PhD and MD:

    MD is awarded to people who have graduated from a medical school or any stream of medicine. PhD is awarded to people who have completed the most advanced level of education after their masters degree. The masters degree can be in any field. Thus they both hold the title of "Doctor" in front of their name but the title has its meaning changed as per the context.

    What is Ph.D and to whom is it awarded?

    When a student has completed his masters degree, he would want to complete the next and the most advanced level of study in his field.That is when he choses to complete his doctoral studies for which he will be awarded the title of doctor. Thus a Ph.D is obtained. Ph.D can be obtained in literally every field. Some of them are:

    Doctor of Literature,

    Docotor of Ministry,

    Doctor of Musical Arts,

    Doctor of Law, etc.

    To obtain a Ph.D it usually takes three to four years depending on the university and its system. Ph.D is usually done by those who want to improve or better their career prospects or by those who are interested in the field of research or teaching. It takes relatively less money to obtain a Ph.D when compared to the money required to obtain a MD. Ph.D is the highest level of education though in certain countries like UK higher doctorates are awarded.

    What is MD and to whom is it awarded?

    Doctor of Medicine (MD) is awarded to a person who has graduated from a medical school. It takes four years to graduate from a medical school. Medical schools are often expensive but when the student graduates, his salary will be so high that he can easily pay off his debts. Surgery, psychology, physiology, etc are the various fields under which doctorate is awarded in the field of medicine. Thus once they are awarded the title after graduating, they are called doctor. In today's world, in general, the mention of the word doctor means a physician or a person related to the medical field.

    This is the difference between PhD and MD. Though the holder of both the degrees are called 'Doctor', the context differs.