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Degree Requirements - Professional Doctorate



To define the minimum requirements for obtaining a professional doctoral degree.


Academic Goal

To ensure that all professional doctoral degree students are well grounded in the fundamental aspects of their discipline.



All students enrolled in any program of study leading to a professional doctoral degree.

Professional Doctoral Degree Program
an integrated program of study combined with understanding of research literature to support application of knowledge to practice at the highest level, culminating in a project, portfolio, or performance that demonstrates expertise in professional practice. Students successfully completing a professional doctoral degree program are awarded the appropriate doctoral degree; professional doctoral degrees at Penn State include D.Ed., D.M.A., D.N.P., and Dr.P.H.
Research Doctoral Degree Program
an integrated program of study combined with investigation of a significant problem, question, or issue in the discipline, culminating in the completion of an original scholarly contribution (in the form of a dissertation) that expands the frontiers of knowledge. Students successfully completing a research doctoral degree program are awarded Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.

Policy Statement

  1. The minimum credit requirements for a professional doctoral degree are:
    1. at least 30 credits at the 400, 500, or 800 level.
    2. at least 24 credits at the 500 or 800 level.
  2. Graduate programs can require additional credits above the minimum for the degree as approved through the Graduate Council curricular review process.
  3. Professional doctoral degrees must include a requirement for research education in the field as part of the program requirements. The program must specify how this requirement will be fulfilled in their program proposal.
  4. A culminating experience is required (see GCAC-707 Professional Doctoral Culminating Experience).


P1 - Graduate Curricular Proposal Requirements - Guidelines for Professional Master's Degree - Methods for Research Education Integration

Revision History

  • Approved by Graduate Council, May 5, 2021. Effective date: Fall 2021 (08/16/2021).
    • New policy.
This page was generated on June 16, 2024 at 4:47 PM local time. This may not be the most recent version of this page. Check the Penn State Graduate School website for updates.