Doctor of Professional Studies

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The Doctor of Professional Studies (or sometimes awarded as Doctorate in Professional Practice) (most commonly DProf, but also available as ProfD and DPS) is a doctorate degree for working professionals. The Doctor of Professional Studies is less common than other terminal degrees, such as the PhD. The DProf has been available to graduate students in the United Kingdom since the 1980s. The first Doctor of Professional Studies program was started in 1972 at Pace University.


The first professional executive doctoral program in the United States was established in 1972 by Pace University in the State of New York and is one of the flagship professional executive doctoral programs in the world.[1] New York University's Doctor of Professional Studies in Occupational Therapy is a post-professional clinical doctoral program with specializations offered in pediatrics and upper quadrant care.[2] Syracuse University also offers a Doctor of Professional Studies in Information Management.[3] In the United States, the DPS was once considered by the United States Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to be a research doctorate equivalent to the [[Ph.D.], however, NSF no longer includes the DPS as a research doctorate. [See:, Appendix Table a1] ≈ In New York State, the Doctor of Professional Studies is an official degree title applicable to doctoral programs with a professional focus in a variety of disciplines.

Professional doctorates became established in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, when it was recognised that high-level programmes were needed that were designed for experienced professional practitioners rather than for student academic researchers. Many professional doctorates are profession-specific and contain a mix of taught modules, research and a dissertation. Many of the universities that offer Professional doctorates allow students to study part-time.

In developing its professional doctorate Middlesex University drew on its experience as an international centre for work-based higher education, resulting in a generic doctorate where candidates undertake a project that is built around their professional activities. The success of the DProf has recently led to the development of similar doctorates in other UK universities, such as the University of Chester and the University of Derby. The University of Chester's DProfs are an extension of its existing negotiated work-based programmes (see The Chester Centre for Work Related Studies. Recently Shenandoah University (VA) began offering a Doctor of Professional Studies in Organizational Leadership (DProf).

Doctoral studies researchers, Gill and Hoppe, have reported rapid growth in professional doctorate degree programs outside of the United States.[1]


In some respects the DProf is closer to the PhD than the longer-established modular doctorates, although it has important differences. While PhD theses typically make an original contribution to knowledge, the DProf is more concerned with making a significant contribution to practice: it requires high-level practical action, resulting for instance in significant change or development in an organisation or community of practice. At some institutions, the DProf project is not typically a purely academic study and may not have to be a research project in the conventional sense. But, the dissertation must make a substantial contribution to the field and be reflective of advanced thinking. In this regard, the effort require to complete a Doctor of Professional Studies degree is at least equivalent to that required for a PhD.

Specific degree characteristics vary by country and institution. In 2011, the UK's Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education published an overview of degree characteristics for all doctoral level degrees.[2]

Schools Offering DPS Degrees[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gill, Grandon; Hoppe, Uwe (2009). "The Business Professional Doctorate as an Informing Channel: A Survey and Analysis". International Journal of Doctoral Studies 4: 27–57. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  2. ^ QAA. "Doctoral degree characteristics". he Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Retrieved 31 January 2015.