CRAC (the Careers Research & Advisory Centre) and Vitae, supported by the University of Brighton, have undertaken research on behalf of HEFCE to develop and update understandings about the current landscape of Professional Doctorate (PD) provision by English Higher Education institutions (HEIs).
Professional doctorates and practice-based doctorates are advanced programmes of study that have been designed to meet the needs of specific professions. They have a significantly different structure from the ‘original’ PhD model and include taught elements, which are usually incorporated within the first years of doctoral study, credit-rated, and emphasise development of high-level professional and research methodological skills. The thesis stage of PDs provides an opportunity for individuals to situate their professional experience and knowledge developed over time within a theoretical academic framework. Typically PDs are undertaken part-time, with research being conducted in the individual’s workplace, and involving or affecting the professional practice of the employer. For the purpose of this research, the term Professional Doctorate (PD) will refer to both practice-based and professional doctorates. The research was designed as a mixed-methods study with activities in three broad strands: desk research; a survey of institutions; and in-depth qualitative research with a sample of institutions and programmes supported by stakeholder inputs.