Individuals choosing to pursue doctorate level education must sometimes choose between programs that award a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and those that award a Doctor of Science (Sc.D.). Although there only subtle differences between the two in the United States, there are certain research fields and countries that do view one degree as more prestigious than the other. When considering which degree to pursue, it is important to think about your specific career goals and where you are hoping to live and work.

What is a Ph.D.?

A Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy, is the degree most commonly awarded in the United States to indicate the mastery of an academic subject. This subject can be anything from political science, to biology or physics. Ph.D. recipients are trained extensively in research methods and are most frequently employed as professors at institutions of higher learning. These are called doctorate level degrees, which are awarded after completion of bachelor degrees and commonly after completion of masters-level degrees.

What is a Sc.D.?

A Sc.D., or Doctor of Science, is also awarded to indicate mastery of an academic subject. Although it is not commonly awarded in the United States, it is considered equivalent in training and prestige to the Ph.D. degree. However, in a number of European countries, a Sc.D. is the end result of a more advanced course of study and is regarded more highly than a Ph.D.

Choosing Between a Ph.D. and Sc.D.

When considering whether to pursue a Ph.D. or a Sc.D. it is most important to consider what region of the world you hope to build your career in. If you are hoping to live in Europe, a Sc.D. would probably serve you better than a PhD. On the other hand, if you intend to live in the United States you may choose either and be regarded as equally qualified. However, it is important to note that while most people in the U.S. have heard of a Ph.D. degree, a Sc.D. degree is less familiar.

Fields that Award a Sc.D.

Fields that sometimes offer Sc.D. instead of Ph.D. programs include computer science, mechanical engineering, physical therapy and health systems management. If you are pursuing higher education in either the physical, computer or health sciences, be sure to explore both Sc.D. and Ph.D. programs.