Professional Doctorate

Professional Doctorates are research degrees specifically designed to meet the needs of practising professionals. Find out more.

Key characteristics of the Professional Doctorate programme

Professional Doctorates are research degrees specifically designed to meet the needs of practicing professionals. Although professional doctorates involve a number of taught modules in the first year of the research degree the majority of the programme involves a research project and the writing of a thesis in the same way as the more traditional PhD. 

The normal duration of a Professional Doctorate is 3 years full time and 5 years part time. If the professional doctorate is designed to meet the needs of a professional body this might lead to a full time programme only.

The professional doctorate will have a specific title that reflects the discipline of the area of research.  It very frequently leads to the creation of a new degree type which has to be approved by Graduate Board and Senate as seen in the current Leeds professional doctorates:

  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsychol)
  • Doctor of Paediatric Dentistry (DPaedDent)
  • Doctor of Clinical Education (DClinEdD)

Programme Title and Learning Outcomes

  • Professional Doctorates have a distinctive degree title, which can  introduce a new degree type that needs to be approved by Graduate Board and Senate and which will be added to the Ordinances and Regulations
  • If a new degree type is necessary it is approved  at the same time as the programme
  • The professional doctorate will have its own set of Learning Outcomes that are approved as part of the programme approval process

The design of the programme

  • The professional doctorate follows all the usual requirements of a research degree: supervisions from the start of the candidature, research skills training, Training Plans, use of GRAD etc.
  • The professional doctorate includes a requirement to follow all the usual milestones of a research degree including the Transfer process and Annual progress review and Viva
  • Professional doctorates include taught elements that include M level PGT modules (level 5)
  • As a professional doctorate includes taught credit the programme will be externally reviewed as part of the approval process
  • There are a maximum of credits included in a Professional Doctorate 150 credits or 180 credits

Assessment and Progression Points

  • Modules included in a professional doctorate have a pass mark of 50 and  these must be passed as stipulated in the programme
  • All taught modules should be completed prior to the Transfer stage unless the module in the post Transfer  period involves a professional Placement that is a requirement for professional practice purposes
  • As a research degree the final award is based on a supervised research project and viva
  • The submitted thesis is frequently shorter than the traditional PhD thesis 55,000 - 80,000 words
  • A Diploma Supplement is provided alongside the Degree Certificate and the modules taken, titles and number of credits, along with the marks awarded will be noted there

Quality assurance

As is the case for all programmes with taught modules the modules will be reviewed and an external examiner will be appointed for the programme. Their role is to comment on the programme as a whole and is designed specifically to be independent of the research thesis component, related thesis submission and examination process

Prior Learning as APEL at Admissions

As professional doctorates include taught modules the University’s policy on APEL should be considered and the programme team must set down how APEL will be addressed when the programme is submitted for approval. This ensures that the policy to be applied is clear and can be made available to applicants at the admissions stage.

Please note: APEL applies only to taught credit - it does not apply to the research components at any stage.


Version 1: January 2019