A review of professional doctorates was commissioned by HEFCE and carried out by the Careers Research & Advisory Centre Ltd and the University of Brighton. The report provides an overview of the current landscape of professional doctorates across higher education institutions in England.
Over the last five years, the number of institutions providing professional doctorates has grown, as has the number of professional doctorate programmes. Provision is in four main subject areas: education, business, psychology, and health and social care. Although traditionally perceived as an employer-driven qualification, employer demand for professional doctorate qualified staff seems relatively weak in many areas, and results in high proportions of candidates being self-funded. Professional doctorate programme structures vary in detail, although a two-stage approach, with a taught stage followed by formal transition to a research stage, is common. The taught aspects of professional doctorate programmes contain doctoral and research focused content, including research-specific skills and professional development.
The report recommends that sector bodies and institutions develop a more strategic basis for provision of professional doctorates. Furthermore, it reaffirms equivalence between professional doctorate and PhD qualifications, highlighting the importance of the research context and the impact requirements on professional practice.