Doctor of Professional Studies

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The Doctor of Professional Studies (or sometimes awarded as Doctorate in Professional Practice) (DProf, ProfD or D.P.S.) is a work-based professional doctorate pioneered by 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 is considered by the United States Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to be a research doctorate equivalent to the Ph.D.[4] 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 and a shortened dissertation, and in some respects can be considered as an extension of the part-time, modular approach that has become popular at master's level. In developing its professional doctorate Middlesex University drew on its experience as a leading 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. 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).


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. The DProf project cannot be a purely academic study (and it does not need to be a research project in a conventional sense), but it needs to reflect the application of thinking that is at least of an equivalent level to that required for a PhD.

Schools Offering DPS Degrees[edit]

See also[edit]