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International Doctoral Degrees: Globalizing Your Education

Distance graduate education programs have changed the way that global professionals structure their career training. Globally minded colleges and universities have developed PhD programs with course structures and graduation requirements with an eye towards international consistency.


    Students wishing to bring the best practices of a particular nation's educational system can use online schools to experience alternative development options. International students with ambitions of working in other countries can enroll in online doctorate programs. Degrees from accredited schools in a desired country often provide job applicants a vital edge.

    Thanks to the latest collaboration technology, students looking for something other than the typical campus experience can pursue international degrees in their chosen fields online.

    International Degrees in Business, Engineering, and Education

    Most graduates of doctorate degree programs aspire to pursue advanced research at universities, in government agencies, or within global corporations. In many countries, colleges and universities offer variations on American-style PhD programs. However, the requirements for earning a PhD often vary from country to country, based on regional and cultural norms. Some foreign colleges may require longer periods of research or more published works than their U.S. counterparts. Students have only recently started to use online doctorate degree programs to match graduation requirements to their learning styles.

    Some countries allow students a greater specialization or a formal recognition of deeper experience than American graduate degree programs. For instance:

    • In France, prospective research professionals may pursue a doctorat, provided they have earned a master's degree in research, or Master Recherche
    • German students earn a variety of doctorate degrees with varying titles, including Dr.Ing. (Doctorate in Engineering), Dr. rer. pol. (Doctorate in Political Science), and Dr. rer. oec. (Doctorate in Economics)
    • Most colleges and universities in India offer PhD programs similar to those in the United States. Some business schools offer a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA), while engineering programs allow students to earn a Doctorate in Science (DSc)
    • The breakup of the Soviet Union has opened up higher learning to residents of Eastern Europe, where students can earn a Kandidat degree, often recognized as equivalent to a PhD. After additional years of experience and research, graduates can pursue the even higher Doktor designation

    As might be expected, colleges and universities around the world have a range of admission requirements. Some countries' doctorate degree programs admit students who can prove that their work experience offers the equivalent of a qualifying master's degree. On the other hand, a few highly advanced degree programs require students to have already completed a PhD prior to consideration.

    International Degrees in Law

    According to historians, Juris Doctor programs first emerged in the United States in the late 1800s. Before that time, colleges and universities awarded students bachelor's degrees in law, also known as the LLB. The industry standard among prospective attorneys and legal researchers has been raised to the JD, which has replaced the LLB as the program of choice for students in many countries around the world.

    Legal researchers interested in academic or administrative careers outside the courtroom enjoy a variety of options for advanced international law degrees. For instance, many government job openings within the United States and the European Union require applicants to have completed a research doctorate above the traditional Juris Doctor. Those positions often attract graduates who have completed a Master of Laws (LLM) or a Scientiae Juridicae Doctor (SJD) degree program. Online doctorate programs make these challenging degrees more accessible than ever.

    International Degrees in Medicine

    Professional doctorates in medicine, such as the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, predate research doctorates by nearly a century, according to various industry archives. Formal medical degrees have been granted at higher learning institutions around the world since the 9th Century. Degrees in medicine have evolved significantly over the years, informed by medical research and regional differences.

    In the United Kingdom and in many former UK colonies, prospective medical doctors complete programs of study leading to both the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery for their respective specialties. Designations include Bachelor's of Medicine and Bachelor's of Surgery (MBBS, BMBS, or MBBChir); Bachelor's of Medicine (MB); or Bachelor's of Medicine, Bachelor's of Surgery, and Bachelor's of Obstetrics (MB BCh BAO). UK students earn the MD designation after completing an advanced research study, which can take three more years.

    Medical students in India and Pakistan enjoy a more modular approach to career training, earning more specialized degrees in medicine in relatively shorter amounts of time. Students there first earn an MBBS in about three years, followed by either a Master's in Surgery (MS) or a Doctorate in Medicine (DM).

    How International Degrees Translate Across Borders

    The evolution of worldwide commerce has created outstanding opportunities for graduates of international degree programs. To foster collaboration between countries, many international industry groups now certify online PhD degree programs. With the exception of professionals like doctors and attorneys, who must also meet region-specific standards, graduates with international degrees can put their expertise to work almost anywhere.



    • Ministry of Education and Science of Russia, Analytics on Education in Russia for Foreigners
    • Springerlink.com, A Hand to Shake the Tree of Knowledge... by Curtis Cole (1986)
    • French Ministry of Higher Education and Research
    • Muslim Spain 711-1492 A.D.: A Sociological Study (1981) by S. M. Imamuddin
    • The Australian, Juris Doctor Degree Grows in Popularity (Aug. 17, 2007) by Susannah Moran
    • German Academic Exchange Service, Paths to a Doctorate in Germany
    • Lawprofessors.typepad.com, Are Lawyers Considered Doctors? by Mitchell H. Rubenstein
    • Business Standard, PSB Plans Rs 50 Core Campus in Noida (Jan. 6, 2009) by Chitra Unnithan

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