Doctor of Philosophy in Health Science vs. Clinical Doctorate in the Health Sciences: Understanding the Differences

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Science vs. Clinical Doctorate in the Health Sciences: Understanding the Differences

Illustration showing the letters “Ph.D.” with graduation cap
Illustration showing the letters“Ph.D.” with graduation cap

Before you move forward with a graduate degree, it’s important to fully understand the options available to you and how your choice will impact your future career path. What is the difference between a Doctor of Philosophy in health sciences and a Clinical Doctorate in a Health Sciences profession (DPT, OTD, etc)? Take a look at the key attributes of each program and how Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, can help you achieve your career goals.

Program Length

At Faulkner University, it takes approximately 18 months and 45 credit hours to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in health sciences degree. If you want to seek a degree as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), it will take eight program semesters and 111 credit hours, including 6 weeks of part-time clinical experience and 32 weeks of full-time clinical experience. Our Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree covers eight semesters, 110 credit hours, 24 weeks of clinical experience, and a 14-week capstone experiential program.

Program Requirements

Each degree path at Faulkner University has specific requirements based on the eventual projected outcomes of those programs. Before beginning these programs, students should consider the requirements to determine which ones are right for their academic futures.

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in health sciences degree signifies mastery of a broad discipline of learning together with demonstrated competence in a special field within that discipline. The Ph.D. in Health Sciences program will provide you with the skills to teach, practice, and perform research to advance the science and practice of health care. As part of the Ph.D. in health sciences program, students will attend a highly flexible, online-only program. This program is designed to be completed in 18 months and requires:

  • 45 credit hours (3-4 3-hour classes per semester until the dissertation phase)
  • A dissertation phase, consisting of 15 credit hours, which may be completed in approximately 6 months, depending on the student

This program is designed for healthcare professionals already working in the field.

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Requirements

A Doctor of Physical Therapy degree prepares graduates for a career in health leadership. These students are prepared in similar ways to those who earn a Ph.D., but they benefit from more flexibility and practical training.

In order to seek a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Faulkner University, students will need to meet several key requirements:

  • 8 program semesters with 111 credit hours
  • 6 weeks of part-time clinical experience in a hands-on setting
  • 32 weeks of full-time clinical experience in a hands-on setting

To pursue a DPT degree through Faulkner University, students must already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field and may need to show that they have completed prerequisite courses and received the required grades for those courses before proceeding. 

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Requirements

Students who need to complete the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Faulkner University will need to plan for stringent requirements. These include:

  • 8 program semesters consisting of 110 credit hours
  • 24 weeks of full-time clinical experience, including hands-on time
  • 40 hours of clinical observation
  • A 14-week capstone experiential program that will allow students to get more hands-on knowledge and experience

This intensive program is designed to help produce occupational therapists with the skills they need to benefit their patients and communities.

Program Goals

Each type of program has its own unique goals, which may determine the careers you can pursue after your degree.

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences Goals

The Doctor of Philosophy in health sciences program is a fully online doctoral program that is designed primarily to prepare students for roles in an administrative, academic, or clinical environment. It is highly focused on learning more about the ethics and foundations of clinical practice and how to conduct healthcare-related research. The program at Faulkner University is geared toward professionals already working in the healthcare field who may have considerable responsibilities on their plates that they need to consider as they advance in their careers.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Goals

The DPT program at Faulkner University helps prepare students to be physical therapists. Careers in this field are very hands-on and typically involve working directly with patients. The eight-semester program is designed to provide students the opportunity to participate in service activities as well as interact directly with patients as they move through their clinical experience. This program prepares students to seek licensure once they graduate.

Doctor of Occupational Therapy Goals

The OTD program provides students with the opportunity to become highly qualified occupational therapists with a heart for service within the community. This program involves intensive clinical experience and the opportunity to work directly with patients. Students must also complete many observation hours, which will provide them with a deeper understanding of what is required of an occupational therapist and what benefits they can bring to their patients in the future.

Start Your Program Today at Faulkner University

Faulkner University offers a variety of options that can help you launch an exciting new career or take your current career in healthcare to the next level. We offer several degree options, including a Doctor of Philosophy in health sciences, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and a Doctor of Occupational Therapy. Request more information to determine the program that’s right for you and then start your application.