What is DPhil?

8 minute read
What is a DPhil

‘DPhil’ and ‘PhD’ are both short for exactly the same things, which is ‘Doctor of Philosophy. PhD comes from the Latin phrase  ‘Philosophiae Doctor’ and ‘DPhil’ from the English phrase Doctor of Philosophy. A DPhil is a research qualification where you’d usually take on independent research to write an original thesis. It usually takes about 3 or 4 years of full-time study (or 6 to 8 years part-time). Original research adds to the existing body of published academic research, instead of summarizing what’s already been published. This is really the major step between the sort of work you’d do on an undergraduate or taught master’s degree and a PhD. Continue reading this blog to know more about the types, perks and scope of pursuing a DPhil and what it is like to pursue it from a foreign university. 


The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Philosophy is a three-to four-year full-time research programme whereby you undertake a doctoral-level research project under the guidance of your supervisor(s). As a DPhil student, you will research, summarise, present and defend an argument with some of the best scholars in their subject, under the direction of an experienced researcher, and will extend your skills and experiences.

During the DPhil program you will learn new or hone existing intellectual, practical and transferable skills, as follows:

  • Analyse and clarify an abstract question, grasp and critically compare different approaches to answering it, and develop an approach of your own
  • Put complex arguments together for and against a position and take them apart
  • Interpret difficult historical texts produced within a historical context
  • Construct extensive pieces of writing that provide a clear overview of a subject and a sustained independent argument about it, presented in a lucid, objective and scholarly manner
  • Demonstrate excellent oral presentation
  • Have effective time organisation (since you must produce extensive pieces of written work at regular intervals and to tight deadlines)
  • Sustain intensive work to a deadline over an extended period
  • Make effective use of libraries, information technology and other sources of information

Requirements of DPhil

Significant requirements for the award of a DPhil degree may vary depending on the institution and the country. 

  • It is usually required for the student to hold an Honours degree or a Master’s Degree with high academic standing, in order to be considered for a DPhil program. 
  • In the US, Canada, India, and Denmark, for example, many universities require coursework in addition to research for DPhil degrees. 
  • In other countries (such as the UK) there is generally no such condition, though this varies by university and field. 
  • In order to submit a successful DPhil admission application, copies of academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a research proposal, and a personal statement are often required. 
  • Most universities also invite for a special interview before admission.
  • Few DPhil, especially in science, requires one to three published articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Also Read: MPhil (Master of Philosophy)

Types of Doctorates


The MPhil is a research degree in its own right and one which will give you a similar skill set to a PhD. One of the main differences is that the MPhil can be obtained through several routes, as a qualification in its own right and also sometimes as an exit qualification. 


The DBA is more than just a PhD in Business Administration. You won’t simply be developing new knowledge through academic research: you’ll be applying that knowledge to real-world business problems and documenting this process with your thesis. A Doctorate of Business Administration is a widely recognised professional doctorate degree in Business and Management. It is normally the highest level of qualification available in these fields.


Designed for experienced teachers and educational professionals, the Doctor of Education (or Doctorate in Education) degree combines practice-based work with the opportunity to carry out your own original research. These EdD programmes differ from a purely academic PhD in Education by focusing on the inter-relationships between pedagogical theory and practice. They provide an ideal qualification for candidates seeking to move into senior leadership or policy roles within education.

Integrated DPhil

This four-year qualification, also known as the New Route PhD, involves studying a one-year research Masters degree (MRes) before progressing onto a three-year DPhil.The integrated DPhil exposes you to a combination of taught materials, practical experience and advanced research. This allows you to learn subject-specific methodologies while building the transferable skills that will enable you to become a leader in your chosen profession. Institutions can also develop personalised integrated DPhil programmes to meet each student’s needs. For example, universities may offer you the opportunity to gain a postgraduate certificate (PGCert) in Learning and Teaching (CiLT) – perfect if you’re considering a career as a higher education lecturer.

PhD by publications

This route involves submitting previously published work – such as books, book chapters and journal articles, which together form a coherent body of work and show evidence of an original contribution to a particular field of study. It is often taken by mid-career academics that haven’t had the opportunity to undertake a standard Doctorate degree. Generally, a minimum of five to eight published pieces are required, but this varies between institutions and depends on their length. The published work will be assessed to the same rigorous standards as a traditional PhD by thesis.

Also Read: BA Philosophy

Top Countries Offering DPhil Courses

Access to the right resources such as libraries, archives, laboratories, collaborative opportunities, and research materials are also essential to PhD success and finding the right combination of resources, support, and program requirements may mean looking outside of your current undergraduate or graduate institution. In fact, for many prospective PhD students, it can be beneficial to consider what other countries have to offer for PhD programs. Here we have highlighted some of the best of what certain countries have to offer for PhD programs — take a look, then get your passport ready! 

DPhil in Australia

A DPhil in Australia trains students to excel in their area of research, teaching and administration. DPhil in Australia is the highest awarded degree offered by Australian universities in different disciplines. The doctoral degree includes a review of the relevant literature, an original research project and a well-ordered thesis. For students who wish to pursue DPhil in Australia, every year there are research scholarships such as the international postgraduate research scholarships (IPRS), university scholarships, alumni scholarships and also government scholarships which are from the Australian Government. These scholarships are granted to students with excellent academic grades and research backgrounds. Among the Australian university, groups is the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) including 7 universities established as research-based universities.

DPhil in USA

DPhil in USA is a series of three phases of course work. Depending upon the study field, to complete DPhil in USA, it takes four to eight years of study after the Bachelor’s Degree; and a year or two less for those who complete DPhil after master’s degree. To get admission in any of the USA universities for DPhil studies, a candidate must meet the following requirements:

  • Candidates have to send an SOP (Statement of Purpose), indicating a fit between the program and candidate, to the universities they are interested in and wish to apply at.
  • Candidates need to take GRE General Test, an English Language Proficiency Test like IELTS, and the GRE Subject Test as required by the programs that they want to apply for.
  • Candidates need to send recommendation letters (including the purpose of DPhil and an essay based on that) to the institute they want to apply to.

DPhil in New Zealand

Universities in New Zealand offer education for DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy) in a diverse array of subjects. DPhil in New Zealand is a 3-4 years full-time course during which a student has to prepare a substantial thesis under supervision. Upon completion of the course, a student is tested on the basis of oral examination of the thesis, after which a DPhil degree is awarded. 

Requirements for DPhil in New Zealand:

A candidate has to meet a set of basic requirements to get admission in DPhil in New Zealand Universities. The set of requirements include: 

  • A student must meet the basic qualification requirements specified by the respective universities and should even be able to provide relevant proof for the same.
  • A student has to give English Language Proficiency test to state his proficiency in the English language.

DPhil in UK

DPhil in UK provides professional, self-motivated researchers with the freedom to explore their chosen subject. Pursuing a DPhil in UK involves three years of research supported by subject-specific and generic skills training. There are no formal written examinations; students produce an externally examined written thesis and are to be present for an oral examination. To be successful in DPhil in UK, you need to have a strong interest in the subject and are required to demonstrate intellectual independence, time-management skills and self-discipline. You must decide what topic you would like to explore and be sure that you already have appropriate academic qualifications and relevant experience in the area of pursuing DPhil in UK.

Top Universities for DPhil

If you’re thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the top universities in the world for DPhil below:

  1. New York University
  2. Rutgers University-New Brunswick
  3. University of Pittsburgh
  4. University of Oxford
  5. The London School of Economics and Political Science
  6. University of St. Andrews
  7. The Australian National University
  8. King’s College London
  9. Harvard University
  10. University of Cambridge

Career Scope

In the past, several current and post-doctoral students have expressed concerns about whether they will be at a disadvantage due to having ‘DPhil’ on their official degree manuscript as opposed to ‘PhD’. The reason for this is that the abbreviation ‘DPhil’ is not always as well understood in countries outside the United Kingdom. However, in all the above cases, the affected individuals were able to address the employer’s confusion once they explained the difference in the abbreviation system. Therefore, while obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy which has ‘DPhil’ written on its official manuscript may raise a few questions, it’s not a factor that you should be concerned about. As a philosophy student, you have the option of specializing in various fields such as:

  • Student Affairs
  • Public Services
  • Journalism
  • Research Sector
  • Advisors
  • Lobbyists
  • HR
  • Law
  • Civil Service

Within the table below are some career choices for individuals with a PhD in Philosophy, along with data related to their respective salaries and job growth.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth
Post Secondary Education Administrators $95,410 (INR 71,53,648) 4%
Market Research Analysts $63,790 (INR 47,82,845) 18%
Survey Researcher $59,170 (INR 44,36,446) -4%
Political Scientist $122,220 (INR 91,63,808) 6%
Postsecondary Philosophy Teachers $75,240 (INR 56,41,342) 7%

Regarding the admission process for a DPhil course, you can usually register as a full or part-time student. The level of fees you pay varies between institutions – some charge the same as for a standard PhD while others offer a reduced rate depending on the country where you are applying. If you need any assistance to complete the application process, our experts at Leverage Edu are always available.

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