This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
Today we continue our discussion of the academic degrees offered by American
colleges and universities. Last week, we talked about the associate, bachelor's
and master's degrees.
The highest degree that a student can earn is a doctorate. Some doctorates
are professional degrees, as opposed to a degree based on research. Medical
students, for example, receive an M.D., from the Latin "medicinae doctor."
Future lawyers receive a J.D., for "juris" or "jurum" doctor, meaning a doctor
of law or laws.
A doctoral graduate from the University of Oklahoma
A PhD graduate from
the University of Oklahoma
Someone with a PhD is a "doctor of philosophy."
Many people earn a PhD, yet not many are philosophers. The name has survived
since the Middle Ages when many areas of study were called philosophy.
Students can receive a PhD in engineering, social work, education, music,
history and a lot of other areas. Requirements can differ from one university to
another, and from one area of study to another. But the National Science
Foundation says American doctoral education is organized around a research
A PhD usually requires at least three years of full-time study after a
bachelor's degree. Some people first get a master's degree, other do not.
PhD candidates must also pass special examinations and carry out original
research. Students present their findings by writing a dissertation, a long
paper that they have to defend before a group of experts.
Every year, the federal government collects information on research
doctorates awarded in the United States. More than forty-three thousand students
received a research doctorate in two thousand five, the most recent year
Close to one-third of those doctorates went to foreign students in the United
States on a temporary visa. The largest numbers came from China, South Korea,
India, Taiwan and Canada. Most of them studied engineering, physical science or
The University of Illinois awarded the largest number of doctorates to
foreign students. The other universities in the top five were Purdue, Ohio
State, Texas A&M and Pennsylvania State.
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy
Steinbach. Our Foreign Student Series continues next week. If you missed any of
our reports, you can find them at voaspecialenglish.com. And if you have a question about studying in
the United States, send it to email@example.com. Please be sure to include your name
and country. I'm Steve Ember.