Dr. rer. nat.

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Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. nat.), literally: Doctor of the things of nature, doctor of natural sciences, is a post-graduate academic degree awarded by universities in some European countries (for instance in Germany and Austria) to graduates in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, computer science, pharmacy, other natural sciences and similar areas. These doctoral degrees are equivalent to a PhD. German universities often translate a Dr. rer. nat. to doctorate of natural sciences and graduates are tested in all natural sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics).[1]

In the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic (former Czechoslovakia), a similar designated degree, abbreviated RNDr., is awarded, but should not be confused with Dr. rer. nat., as the former is only an extension of a master-like degree.

In the United Kingdom when the PhD degree was imported from the USA around the beginning of the 20th century, doctorate degrees, such as the LLD, DLit, DSc, DD, were upgraded to higher doctorates. Whereas the PhD is awarded as a normal doctoral degree mainly by research studies and the production of a thesis after some three years, a higher doctorate is awarded for contribution to knowledge following a submission to a university for examination by a number of professors both inside the university and from other universities. The submission consists of a number of peer-reviewed papers and published books together with a brief statement in which the candidate has to show the manner in which he or she has distinguished himself or herself as a scholar in the area or areas he or she has professed to contribute knowledge to society. The rules for the award of a higher doctorate are very stringent. After an examination of the submitted publications, the appointed examiners are required to make a recommendation to the relevant faculty of the university whether or not to award the degree. For some years now the University of London has decided to suspend the award of a higher doctorate whereas many other UK universities continue to award, but very rarely, such a degree. Degrees with the said designatory letters, LLD, DLit, DSc and DD, are also awarded on an honorary basis though such an award is not regarded as a higher doctorate.

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  1. ^ "PhD programmes". University of Heidelberg - medicine department. Retrieved 9 August 2016.