Is a Professor the Same as a Ph.D.?

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Students use the term "professor" as an honorary title to describe the teacher, but colleges and universities typically use the title for instructors with the highest standing at the school. Professors typically hold a doctor of philosophy degree, or Ph.D.

Your professor can be a Ph.D. holder but, depending on where you go to school, may not have the education or the training to use the Ph.D. title. In this case, using the title "professor" to describe your teacher is honorary, but not technically the correct term to describe her academic standing.

Earning a Doctorate

American colleges award doctorates in philosophy for students completing four years of college and advanced study of at least three years in an academic field. Most universities require a master's degree before accepting a student into a formal doctoral program, but some higher education institutions combine a master's degree with the doctoral study and award the master's degree after completion of the coursework for the doctorate.

Doctoral candidates typically pass a series of written tests and an oral exam, complete extensive research on a subject and write a dissertation to receive the official Ph.D. degree. Teachers holding a doctorate typically use "doctor" as a title before their given name.

Becoming a Professor

Every school has rules for hiring and promotion, but university teachers hired on the tenure track , denoting full-time employment and the possibility of moving up in professorial rank, typically enter work as assistant professors. The teacher advances to associate professor and then to the status of a full professor after years of teaching and the promotion voted on by members of his department.

Promotion uses variations – involving the number of years in the classroom, quantity and quality of scholarly publications, professional ranking in the field and level of research excellence as a teacher – to move up the professorial-title ladder. Many universities also require service to the scholarly community to advance to full professor.

Use of the Title

The title "professor" appeared as a formal prefix early in the 19th century, but few modern professors use the formal title as a written description outside academics and work that involves scholarly research or teaching. The typical use for a modern professor includes the full name of the person followed by "Ph.D." Under the professor's name and degree, a line might state her title and field of study, for instance "Professor of American History."

Other Uses of "Professor"

Some people using the title "professor" have nothing to do with education, let alone have an earned doctorate in a scholarly field. Jazz musicians use the term to describe a player that has skill far surpassing other musicians. The expert performer gives the other musicians a lesson just by them watching "The Professor" play.

Jazzers use the term as a compliment to recognize true talent. Some professional sports players use the title "professor" to indicate the same level of mastery. Grayson Boucher took the moniker in basketball, and fans called Formula One race car driver Alain Prost "The Professor" for his scholarly approach to racing.

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Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.

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Do You Need a PhD to Be a Professor?

If you want to work in higher education, you may be wondering, “Do you need a PhD to be a professor?”

Do You Need a PhD to Be a Professor

Professors are experts in their fields who teach courses, conduct research, and support their academic institutions.

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The type of degree that’s required to work as a professor depends on where you work and what types of courses you want to teach. Learning how to become a college professor is vital if you hope to serve as a faculty member at a college or university.

Woman pursuing PhD to be a professor

You don’t necessarily need a PhD to become a professor. Colleges and universities often hire professors with other types of degrees. In that case, what degree do you need to be a professor?

Graduates of master’s programs are often qualified to work as professors, particularly at two-year institutions. These professionals may have more limited responsibilities than professors with PhDs, and they are sometimes limited to teaching introductory courses.

Schools that require professors to hold a doctoral degree may accept another type of professor degree from an accredited university. These are some of the professional doctorate degrees that prospective employers may consider in place of a PhD:

  • Doctor of Education
  • Doctor of Arts
  • Doctor of Business Administration
  • Doctor of Public Health
  • Doctor of Science
  • Doctor of Chemistry
  • Doctor of Medicine

Job candidates who don’t hold a PhD may be able to strengthen their candidacy for a position with professional experience. Publishing articles or books that contribute to the field is also beneficial, as it reflects a high level of expertise.

The education requirement for a career as a professor differs between colleges, so it’s essential to review each institution’s policy before applying for a position.

How to Become a Professor

Professor discussing with university students

Becoming a professor requires a series of academic and professional steps, including:

  • Earning a bachelor’s degree . The pursuit of a professor position begins with a bachelor’s degree. Although it’s helpful to select a field that’s related to your career goal, bachelors programs are an opportunity to explore your interests, and many master’s programs accept students with various degrees.
  • Entering graduate school . Some students complete separate master’s and PhD programs. Others enroll in accelerated programs and earn their master’s degree while also working toward their PhD.
  • Taking comprehensive exams . Once you have completed your coursework, you will take a series of exams covering the material you studied. The exam may take the form of a written or oral test, portfolio, or research paper.
  • Completing a dissertation . Most PhD programs require students to complete a dissertation, an extensive project that may require several years of research and writing. The final stage of a dissertation is typically the oral defense, during which you present your paper and findings to a committee of faculty and answer their questions.
  • Gaining experience . It may be beneficial to work as a lecturer or adjunct instructor prior to becoming a professor. This offers evidence of your teaching skills to prospective employers.
  • Applying for positions . Even if your doctoral degree is not yet completed, you can begin applying for professor positions while working on your dissertation. The hiring process generally includes submitting an application, a curriculum vitae, and letters of recommendation as well as participating in an interview and presentation or teaching demonstration.

It can be competitive to find a position as a professor, so it may be necessary to apply for positions at multiple schools before finding the right role.

Are All Professors Doctors?

Professors discussing to his class

Not all professors are doctors, but many are. Professors are only considered doctors if they hold a doctoral degree, such as a PhD or professional doctorate.

Professors with masters degrees are not classified or addressed as doctors. Because professors need a high level of knowledge and experience in their field, a PhD is a common requirement for this type of position. Many prominent schools only hire graduates of PhD programs for full-time roles as professors.

Is a PhD a Doctor?

PhD degree student researching in the library

A person who holds a PhD is a doctor , but they hold a Doctor of Philosophy rather than a Doctor of Medicine. Medical doctors, or MDs, treat patients, diagnose health conditions, and study diseases, and they complete their degrees at medical schools.

Some PhDs specialize in medicine or health care, but PhDs can also be members of many other fields. For example, a student might obtain a PhD in Sociology, Business Administration, or Higher Education. Online PhD programs are available at a variety of colleges and universities.

What Can You Get a PhD In?

Professor with PhD degree in engineering

Doctoral degrees are offered in many disciplines, including:

  • Sciences . Students can pursue degrees in subjects such as physics, chemistry, and engineering.
  • Health care . Physical therapy and audiology are potential areas of study for students hoping to work in health care.
  • Education . A PhD in Education may help you advance in your teaching career or become a school administrator.
  • Psychology . Programs in psychology are ideal for students who want to work as psychologists or researchers.
  • English . Many schools offer English PhDs focused on literature, while others emphasize writing and rhetoric.

When choosing what PhD you can get in , it helps to consider your academic background and interests.

Can You Be a Professor with a Masters?

Professor giving test papers to college students

Yes, you can be a professor with a master’s degree. Many schools hire professionals with master’s degrees to serve as entry-level instructors.

Community colleges and two-year institutions are especially popular employers for graduates of master’s programs. Four year colleges may also hire job candidates with master’s degrees, but they often work as adjuncts rather than as full-time employees. Adjuncts have temporary positions and may not receive benefits.

Because of the high level of competition for academic positions in certain disciplines, it may be easier to get a job as a professor with a Ph.D. rather than a master’s degree.

What Does a Professor Do?

Professor distributing handouts to class

Professors have a wide range of responsibilities. Most people in this role are responsible for teaching several courses within their discipline. They may also develop or update curriculum and assessments for their departments.

In addition to teaching, professors usually offer advising to students and supervise their graduate research projects, such as dissertations. They often join college committees that focus on improving practices and policies within the institution.

Many professors also conduct original research and write journal articles for publication. These contributions are often a requirement for receiving tenure.

How Much Do College Professors Make?

Professors discussing with a student

The salary for a postsecondary teacher can differ based on your location, the specific school where you work, your level of experience, and your discipline or specialization.

For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the median annual salary for engineering professors is $103,550. This is higher than the median wage for business professors, which is $88,790. Some professors who want to work outside of the classroom become instructional coordinators. Professionals in this area earn median salaries of $66,490 per year.

A career as a professor may eventually lead to a job as a postsecondary education administrator. The median salary for this type of position is $99,940.

What’s the Difference Between an Assistant vs. Associate Professor?

Although they both teach courses at the college level, assistant and associate professors have separate roles with notable differences.

Many professors are initially hired as assistant professors and progress to become associate professors.

Becoming a Professor

Professor discussing with students taking PhD degree

Do you need a doctorate to be a professor? The answer to this question changes based on the requirements of each specific academic institution.

No matter where you hope to work, certain steps are necessary before you can work as a professor. The path generally begins with a bachelor’s degree and culminates with a master’s degree or a doctoral degree, such as a PhD.

Whether you’re considering different bachelors degrees or are ready to enroll in a PhD program, you can begin your journey toward becoming a professor by researching accredited colleges and universities.

phd is professor

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

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Additional Information

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The Harvard Ph.D. in Education trains cutting-edge researchers who work across disciplines to generate knowledge and translate discoveries into transformative policy and practice.

Offered jointly by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Ph.D. in Education provides you with full access to the extraordinary resources of Harvard University and prepares you to assume meaningful roles as university faculty, researchers, senior-level education leaders, and policymakers.

As a Ph.D. candidate, you will collaborate with scholars across all Harvard graduate schools on original interdisciplinary research. In the process, you will help forge new fields of inquiry that will impact the way we teach and learn. The program’s required coursework will develop your knowledge of education and your expertise in a range of quantitative and qualitative methods needed to conduct high-quality research. Guided by the goal of making a transformative impact on education research, policy, and practice, you will focus on independent research in various domains, including human development, learning and teaching, policy analysis and evaluation, institutions and society, and instructional practice.   

Curriculum Information

The Ph.D. in Education requires five years of full-time study to complete. You will choose your individual coursework and design your original research in close consultation with your HGSE faculty adviser and dissertation committee. The requirements listed below include the three Ph.D. concentrations: Culture, Institutions, and Society; Education Policy and Program Evaluation; and Human Development, Learning and Teaching . 

We invite you to review an example course list, which is provided in two formats — one as the full list by course number and one by broad course category . These lists are subject to modification. 

Ph.D. Concentrations and Examples

Summary of Ph.D. Program

Doctoral Colloquia  In year one and two you are required to attend. The colloquia convenes weekly and features presentations of work-in-progress and completed work by Harvard faculty, faculty and researchers from outside Harvard, and Harvard doctoral students. Ph.D. students present once in the colloquia over the course of their career.

Research Apprenticeship The Research Apprenticeship is designed to provide ongoing training and mentoring to develop your research skills throughout the entire program.

Teaching Fellowships The Teaching Fellowship is an opportunity to enhance students' teaching skills, promote learning consolidation, and provide opportunities to collaborate with faculty on pedagogical development.

Comprehensive Exams  The Written Exam (year 2, spring) tests you on both general and concentration-specific knowledge. The Oral Exam (year 3, fall/winter) tests your command of your chosen field of study and your ability to design, develop, and implement an original research project.

Dissertation  Based on your original research, the dissertation process consists of three parts: the Dissertation Proposal, the writing, and an oral defense before the members of your dissertation committee.

Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS) Concentration

In CIS, you will examine the broader cultural, institutional, organizational, and social contexts relevant to education across the lifespan. What is the value and purpose of education? How do cultural, institutional, and social factors shape educational processes and outcomes? How effective are social movements and community action in education reform? How do we measure stratification and institutional inequality? In CIS, your work will be informed by theories and methods from sociology, history, political science, organizational behavior and management, philosophy, and anthropology. You can examine contexts as diverse as classrooms, families, neighborhoods, schools, colleges and universities, religious institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, and more.

Education Policy and Program Evaluation (EPPE) Concentration

In EPPE, you will research the design, implementation, and evaluation of education policy affecting early childhood, K–12, and postsecondary education in the U.S. and internationally. You will evaluate and assess individual programs and policies related to critical issues like access to education, teacher effectiveness, school finance, testing and accountability systems, school choice, financial aid, college enrollment and persistence, and more. Your work will be informed by theories and methods from economics, political science, public policy, and sociology, history, philosophy, and statistics. This concentration shares some themes with CIS, but your work with EPPE will focus on public policy and large-scale reforms.

Human Development, Learning and Teaching (HDLT) Concentration

In HDLT, you will work to advance the role of scientific research in education policy, reform, and practice. New discoveries in the science of learning and development — the integration of biological, cognitive, and social processes; the relationships between technology and learning; or the factors that influence individual variations in learning — are transforming the practice of teaching and learning in both formal and informal settings. Whether studying behavioral, cognitive, or social-emotional development in children or the design of learning technologies to maximize understanding, you will gain a strong background in human development, the science of learning, and sociocultural factors that explain variation in learning and developmental pathways. Your research will be informed by theories and methods from psychology, cognitive science, sociology and linguistics, philosophy, the biological sciences and mathematics, and organizational behavior.

Program Faculty

The most remarkable thing about the Ph.D. in Education is open access to faculty from all Harvard graduate and professional schools, including the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Learn about the full Ph.D. Faculty.

Jarvis Givens

Jarvis R. Givens

Jarvis Givens studies the history of American education, African American history, and the relationship between race and power in schools.

Paul Harris

Paul L. Harris

Paul Harris is interested in the early development of cognition, emotion, and imagination in children.

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson is a normative political philosopher who works at the intersection of civic education, youth empowerment, racial justice, and educational ethics. 

Luke Miratrix

Luke W. Miratrix

Luke Miratrix is a statistician who explores how to best use modern statistical methods in applied social science contexts.

phd is professor

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor studies the economics of education, with a particular interest in employer-employee interactions between schools and teachers — hiring and firing decisions, job design, training, and performance evaluation.

Paola Uccelli

Paola Uccelli

Paola Ucelli studies socio-cultural and individual differences in the language development of multilingual and monolingual students.

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View Ph.D. Faculty


The following is a complete listing of successful Ph.D. in Education dissertations to-date. Dissertations from November 2014 onward are publicly available in the Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH) , the online repository for Harvard scholarship.

  • 2022 Graduate Dissertations (265 KB pdf)
  • 2021 Graduate Dissertations (177 KB pdf)
  • 2020 Graduate Dissertations (121 KB pdf)
  • 2019 Graduate Dissertations (68.3 KB pdf)

Student Directory

An opt-in listing of current Ph.D. students with information about their interests, research, personal web pages, and contact information:

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Student Directory

Introduce Yourself

Tell us about yourself so that we can tailor our communication to best fit your interests and provide you with relevant information about our programs, events, and other opportunities to connect with us.

Program Highlights

Explore examples of the Doctor of Philosophy in Education experience and the impact its community is making on the field:

Maya Alkateb-Chami

Lost in Translation

New comparative study from Ph.D. candidate Maya Alkateb-Chami finds strong correlation between low literacy outcomes for children and schools teaching in different language from home

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Using E-Books to Get Young Readers Talking

New research shows how parents can help kids — and themselves — use e-books as a tool to improve early childhood development

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PhD Program

Program overview.

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Rigorous, discipline-based research is the hallmark of the MIT Sloan PhD Program. The program is committed to educating scholars who will lead in their fields of research—those with outstanding intellectual skills who will carry forward productive research on the complex organizational, financial, and technological issues that characterize an increasingly competitive and challenging business world.

Start here.

Learn more about the program, how to apply, and find answers to common questions.

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Start Your Application

Visit this section to find important admissions deadlines, along with a link to our application.

Click here for answers to many of the most frequently asked questions.

PhD studies at MIT Sloan are intense and individual in nature, demanding a great deal of time, initiative, and discipline from every candidate. But the rewards of such rigor are tremendous:  MIT Sloan PhD graduates go on to teach and conduct research at the world's most prestigious universities.

PhD Program curriculum at MIT Sloan is organized under the following three academic areas: Behavior & Policy Sciences; Economics, Finance & Accounting; and Management Science. Our nine research groups correspond with one of the academic areas, as noted below.

MIT Sloan PhD Research Groups

Behavioral & policy sciences.

Economic Sociology

Institute for Work & Employment Research

Organization Studies

Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Strategic Management

Economics, Finance & Accounting


Management Science

Information Technology

System Dynamics  

Those interested in a PhD in Operations Research should visit the Operations Research Center .  

PhD Students_Work and Organization Studies

PhD Program Structure

Additional information including coursework and thesis requirements.

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MIT Sloan Predoctoral Opportunities

MIT Sloan is eager to provide a diverse group of talented students with early-career exposure to research techniques as well as support in considering research career paths.

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Rising Scholars Conference

The fourth annual Rising Scholars Conference on October 25 and 26 gathers diverse PhD students from across the country to present their research.

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The goal of the MIT Sloan PhD Program's admissions process is to select a small number of people who are most likely to successfully complete our rigorous and demanding program and then thrive in academic research careers. The admission selection process is highly competitive; we aim for a class size of nineteen students, admitted from a pool of hundreds of applicants.

What We Seek

  • Outstanding intellectual ability
  • Excellent academic records
  • Previous work in disciplines related to the intended area of concentration
  • Strong commitment to a career in research

MIT Sloan PhD Program Admissions Requirements Common Questions

Dates and Deadlines

Admissions for 2024 is closed. The next opportunity to apply will be for 2025 admission. The 2025 application will open in September 2024. 

More information on program requirements and application components

Students in good academic standing in our program receive a funding package that includes tuition, medical insurance, and a fellowship stipend and/or TA/RA salary. We also provide a new laptop computer and a conference travel/research budget.

Funding Information

Throughout the year, we organize events that give you a chance to learn more about the program and determine if a PhD in Management is right for you.

PhD Program Events

May phd program overview.

During this webinar, you will hear from the PhD Program team and have the chance to ask questions about the application and admissions process.

June PhD Program Overview

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Complete PhD Admissions Event Calendar

Unlike formulaic approaches to training scholars, the PhD Program at MIT Sloan allows students to choose their own adventure and develop a unique scholarly identity. This can be daunting, but students are given a wide range of support along the way - most notably having access to world class faculty and coursework both at MIT and in the broader academic community around Boston.

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Students Outside of E62

Profiles of our current students

MIT Sloan produces top-notch PhDs in management. Immersed in MIT Sloan's distinctive culture, upcoming graduates are poised to innovate in management research and education.

Academic Job Market

Doctoral candidates on the current academic market

Academic Placements

Graduates of the MIT Sloan PhD Program are researching and teaching at top schools around the world.

view recent placements 

MIT Sloan Experience

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The PhD Program is integral to the research of MIT Sloan's world-class faculty. With a reputation as risk-takers who are unafraid to embrace the unconventional, they are engaged in exciting disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that often includes PhD students as key team members.

Research centers across MIT Sloan and MIT provide a rich setting for collaboration and exploration. In addition to exposure to the faculty, PhD students also learn from one another in a creative, supportive research community.

Throughout MIT Sloan's history, our professors have devised theories and fields of study that have had a profound impact on management theory and practice.

From Douglas McGregor's Theory X/Theory Y distinction to Nobel-recognized breakthroughs in finance by Franco Modigliani and in option pricing by Robert Merton and Myron Scholes, MIT Sloan's faculty have been unmatched innovators.

This legacy of innovative thinking and dedication to research impacts every faculty member and filters down to the students who work beside them.

Faculty Links

  • Accounting Faculty
  • Economic Sociology Faculty
  • Finance Faculty
  • Information Technology Faculty
  • Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER) Faculty
  • Marketing Faculty
  • Organization Studies Faculty
  • System Dynamics Faculty
  • Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management (TIES) Faculty

Student Research

“MIT Sloan PhD training is a transformative experience. The heart of the process is the student’s transition from being a consumer of knowledge to being a producer of knowledge. This involves learning to ask precise, tractable questions and addressing them with creativity and rigor. Hard work is required, but the reward is the incomparable exhilaration one feels from having solved a puzzle that had bedeviled the sharpest minds in the world!” -Ezra Zuckerman Sivan Alvin J. Siteman (1948) Professor of Entrepreneurship

Sample Dissertation Abstracts - These sample Dissertation Abstracts provide examples of the work that our students have chosen to study while in the MIT Sloan PhD Program.

We believe that our doctoral program is the heart of MIT Sloan's research community and that it develops some of the best management researchers in the world. At our annual Doctoral Research Forum, we celebrate the great research that our doctoral students do, and the research community that supports that development process.

The videos of their presentations below showcase the work of our students and will give you insight into the topics they choose to research in the program.

How Should We Measure the Digital Economy?

2020 PhD Doctoral Research Forum Winner - Avinash Collis

Watch more MIT Sloan PhD Program  Doctoral Forum Videos

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Medical School Expert

What’s The Difference Between A Doctor And A Professor?

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Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

You don’t have to survive five or more years of medical school to become a doctor. Anyone with a doctorate (PhD) can go by the prefix doctor (also spelt Dr.) . But what’s the difference between a doctor and a professor?

A doctor can be someone with a doctorate (a PhD) or a medical professional (an MD). But a professor is an academic who teaches post-secondary and graduate students. Some professors have a PhD in their field, but others may hold a master’s degree instead.

Let’s examine these titles and positions to discover how they differ. That way, you’ll have a doctorate-level understanding of the differences between doctors and professors.


What Makes A Doctor A Doctor?

Two things make a doctor a doctor. The first thing is a doctoral degree, also called a PhD. The second thing that makes a doctor a doctor is a master’s level medical degree (Doctor of Medicine). 

So, if you completed a doctoral degree in engineering ( Doctor of Engineering ), you could start asking your friends and family members to refer you to you as a Doctor. But if you finished medical school and earned a Doctor of Medicine, you could also go by Doctor [Your Name Here].

What Makes Someone A Professor?

A professor is someone who teaches post-secondary education to college and graduate students. Most professors are considered experts in their field, with many years of research and study under their belt.

Notably, many professors hold doctorate degrees. As such, they may opt to go by Doctor instead of Professor. However, because the title of Professor has greater weight than Doctor, many tenured professors prefer to go by Professor [Last Name] instead of Doctor [Last Name].

The Difference Between Medical Doctors And Professors

The difference between medical doctors and professors is significant. After all, medical doctors are responsible for keeping people healthy, whereas professors are responsible for educating students and performing in-depth research.

Still, let’s take a closer look at these types of professionals to learn more about how they differ.

Medical Doctors Vs. Professors: Education

You might need to spend six or seven years in post-secondary education to become a professor. However, you’ll need to spend between 11 and 15 years in college and medical school to become a medical doctor.

After all, medical doctors have the lives of patients in their hands. One wrong move or diagnosis could result in death or a medical malpractice lawsuit. For these reasons, students training to become medical doctors require several years of additional study and hands-on education.

phd is professor

But while it might be a little easier to become a professor, those who invest the time and energy to become medical doctors are bound to enjoy their post-schooling salary.

Medical Doctors Vs. Professors: Salary

Medical doctors and professors may spend the same amount of time pursuing post-secondary and post-graduate education. But when they enter the workforce, they earn very different salaries.

A physician’s average annual salary is about £76,000, but a professor’s annual salary is almost half. Additionally, professors without tenure or much teaching experience can earn as little as £26,000 per year.

Essentially, most medical doctors out-earn professors.

Medical Doctors Vs. Professors: Duties

When it comes to occupational tasks and duties, the differences between medical doctors and professors could not be more apparent. 

Medical doctors care for their patient’s health and wellbeing, diagnosing illnesses and administering treatments. They also continually research emerging medical trends and diseases, keeping them up to date with new practices and treatment options.

If you want to see what a typical day in the life of a medical doctor is like, check out this article on the duties of a junior doctor.

However, most professors don’t share these duties. Instead, most professors are responsible for educating. These individuals create and give lectures, structure classes and exams, and mentor post-graduate students.

Still, a medical doctor who teaches medical students fulfils all of these duties.

The Difference Between PhD Doctors And Professors

Now that we’ve fully explored the differences between medical doctors and professors, let’s examine the difference between PhD doctors and professors.

PhD Doctors Vs. Professors: Education

Though professors are often some of the most learned and studious individuals, not all professors hold a PhD in their chosen field of study. Some professors have a master’s degree instead.

To get a master’s degree, you’ll have to finish at least four years of undergraduate study, earn your bachelor’s degree, and then pursue another two to three years of post-graduate education. But to get a PhD, you might need to spend between four and six years as a post-graduate student.

phd is professor

Consequently, those with a PhD may be better educated, or, at least, will have been in school for a longer period than professors without a doctoral degree.

PhD Doctors Vs. Professors: Salary

Professors and individuals with doctoral degrees tend to earn a similar annual salary. Naturally, precise salary estimates vary depending on the person’s field of study and location. For example, someone with a Ph.D. in law might earn between $186,000 and $370,000 each year in the US.

But this range applies to individuals who are working as general counsel.

On the other hand, a Professor of Law with the same degree might only earn between $64,000 and $170,000 each year. Still, the average annual salary for someone with a Ph.D. is about $98,000 .

PhD Doctors Vs. Professors: Duties

Individuals with a PhD are typically involved in the academic and research areas of their field, which is why many doctors with a PhD end up becoming tenured professors. Still, the specific duties that a PhD doctor undertakes can vary from a professor’s duties.

Generally, professors are responsible for creating course curriculums, giving lectures, instructing students, and grading student work. Many professors are also actively engaged in ongoing research related to their field. 

They may also mentor specific students, particularly graduate students engaged in high-level research.

However, someone with a PhD might have different occupational duties, depending on their field. For example, someone with a PhD in engineering might decide to teach engineering at a university. 

Or they might also use their degree to obtain a position as a well-paid engineer.

Final Thoughts

Doctors and professors differ in several ways. 

Medical doctors work with patients in the healthcare industry, but those who hold the title of Doctor aren’t always healthcare professionals. That’s because anyone with a doctorate degree can go by Doctor.

Someone with the title of Professor is a highly educated master of their subject matter. While some professors may have doctorate degrees, not all do. However, a professor with a PhD may go by Professor or Doctor.

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Bring PhD assessment into the twenty-first century

You have full access to this article via your institution.

A woman holding a cup and saucer stands in front of posters presenting medical research

Innovation in PhD education has not reached how doctoral degrees are assessed. Credit: Dan Dunkley/Science Photo Library

Research and teaching in today’s universities are unrecognizable compared with what they were in the early nineteenth century, when Germany and later France gave the world the modern research doctorate. And yet significant aspects of the process of acquiring and assessing a doctorate have remained remarkably constant. A minimum of three years of independent study mentored by a single individual culminates in the production of the doctoral thesis — often a magisterial, book-length piece of work that is assessed in an oral examination by a few senior academic researchers. In an age in which there is much research-informed innovation in teaching and learning, the assessment of the doctoral thesis represents a curious throwback that is seemingly impervious to meaningful reform.

But reform is needed. Some doctoral candidates perceive the current assessment system to lack transparency, and examiners report concerns of falling standards ( G. Houston A Study of the PhD Examination: Process, Attributes and Outcomes . PhD thesis, Oxford Univ.; 2018 ). Making the qualification more structured would help — and, equally importantly, would bring the assessment of PhD education in line with education across the board. PhD candidates with experience of modern assessment methods will become better researchers, wherever they work. Indeed, most will not be working in universities: the majority of PhD holders find employment outside academia.

phd is professor

Collection: Career resources for PhD students

It’s not that PhD training is completely stuck in the nineteenth century. Today’s doctoral candidates can choose from a range of pathways. Professional doctorates, often used in engineering, are jointly supervised by an employer and an academic, and are aimed at solving industry-based problems. Another innovation is PhD by publication, in which, instead of a final thesis on one or more research questions, the criterion for an award is a minimum number of papers published or accepted for publication. In some countries, doctoral students are increasingly being trained in cohorts, with the aim of providing a less isolating experience than that offered by the conventional supervisor–student relationship. PhD candidates are also encouraged to acquire transferable skills — for example, in data analysis, public engagement, project management or business, economics and finance. The value of such training would be even greater if these skills were to be formally assessed alongside a dissertation rather than seen as optional.

And yet, most PhDs are still assessed after the production of a final dissertation, according to a format that, at its core, has not changed for at least half a century, as speakers and delegates noted at an event in London last month on PhD assessment, organized by the Society for Research in Higher Educatio n. Innovations in assessment that are common at other levels of education are struggling to find their way into the conventional doctoral programme.

Take the concept of learning objectives. Intended to aid consistency, fairness and transparency, learning objectives are a summary of what a student is expected to know and how they will be assessed, and are given at the start of a course of study. Part of the ambition is also to help tutors to keep track of their students’ learning and take remedial action before it is too late.

phd is professor

PhD training is no longer fit for purpose — it needs reform now

Formative assessment is another practice that has yet to find its way into PhD assessment consistently. Here, a tutor evaluates a student’s progress at the mid-point of a course and gives feedback or guidance on what students need to do to improve ahead of their final, or summative, assessment. It is not that these methods are absent from modern PhDs; a conscientious supervisor will not leave candidates to sink or swim until the last day. But at many institutions, such approaches are not required of PhD supervisors.

Part of the difficulty is that PhD training is carried out in research departments by people who do not need to have teaching qualifications or awareness of innovations based on education research. Supervisors shouldn’t just be experts in their field, they should also know how best to convey that subject knowledge — along with knowledge of research methods — to their students.

It is probably not possible for universities to require all doctoral supervisors to have teaching qualifications. But there are smaller changes that can be made. At a minimum, doctoral supervisors should take the time to engage with the research that exists in the field of PhD education, and how it can apply to their interactions with students.

There can be no one-size-fits-all solution to improving how a PhD is assessed, because different subjects often have bespoke needs and practices ( P. Denicolo Qual. Assur. Educ. 11 , 84–91; 2003 ). But supervisors and representatives of individual subject communities must continue to discuss what is most appropriate for their disciplines.

All things considered, there is benefit to adopting a more structured approach to PhD assessment. It is high time that PhD education caught up with changes that are now mainstream at most other levels of education. That must start with a closer partnership between education researchers, PhD supervisors and organizers of doctoral-training programmes in universities. This partnership will benefit everyone — PhD supervisors and doctoral students coming into the research workforce, whether in universities or elsewhere.

Education and training in research has entered many secondary schools, along with undergraduate teaching, which is a good thing. In the spirit of mutual learning, research doctoral supervisors, too, will benefit by going back to school.

Nature 627 , 244 (2024)


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How to Address a PhD in Email

Last Updated: August 17, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Shannon O'Brien, MA, EdM and by wikiHow staff writer, Eric McClure . Shannon O'Brien is the Founder and Principal Advisor of Whole U. (a career and life strategy consultancy based in Boston, MA). Through advising, workshops and e-learning Whole U. empowers people to pursue their life's work and live a balanced, purposeful life. Shannon has been ranked as the #1 Career Coach and #1 Life Coach in Boston, MA by Yelp reviewers. She has been featured on, Boldfacers, and the UR Business Network. She received a Master's of Technology, Innovation, & Education from Harvard University. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 50,562 times.

Writing an email to a college professor with a Ph.D.? Do you call someone with a Ph.D. a doctor? Figuring out the right way to address someone with a doctorate is a lot easier than it may seem, and we’re going to break this down so that you can get it right. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to address someone with a Ph.D.

Do you address someone with a Ph.D. as a doctor?

Yes, address someone with a Ph.D. as “Dr.”

How to Address an Email to Multiple Professors

Address each professor separately using their title and last name.

  • “Dear Professor Jones, Professor Smith, and Professor Ali.”
  • “Dr. Jones, Dr. Smith, and Professor Ali,”
  • “Dr. Jones and Professor Smith,”

What is the proper way to write a name with Ph.D.?

Write a name with a Ph.D. as “Dr. Jimmy Jones.”

  • You may have seen Ph.D. holders put “Ph.D.” at the end of their name. This is something authors do, but you shouldn’t need to write it this way.

Do you call a professor a doctor?

Adress a professor as

  • You’re very unlikely to get into any trouble by referring to your college teacher as “professor,” even if they are a doctor. At worst, they’ll kindly correct you.
  • In the United States, it is generally seen by most educators as socially acceptable to address a doctor who is also a professor as “professor.” It’s not technically correct, but you’re unlikely to offend any of your educators. As such, you can usually call a doctor a professor or Dr. in email. [3] X Research source

How do you address Ph.D. students?

Opt for “Mr.,” “Ms.,” or “Professor,” if you’re addressing a Ph.D. student.

  • A Ph.D. student is not a doctor yet, but they may still be a professor.
  • “Professor” traditionally refers to tenure-track educators at the collegiate level, but there’s no harm or risk of offense by calling an adjunct instructor, lecturer, or TA, “professor.” [5] X Research source
  • “Miss” has historically been used to address unmarried women, while “Mrs.” has referred to married women. These titles are going out of style since many people find them offensive, so you’re best off skipping these. [6] X Research source

Do the rules for addressing Ph.D. holders ever change?

The rules for addressing Ph.D. holders change from country to country.

  • For example, in Canada, you are not “officially” allowed to refer to non-medical doctors as “Dr.” You would address them as “Mr. Jones, Doctor of Mathematics.”
  • This also applies to the “Jimmy Jones, Ph.D.” form, too. In the United Kingdom, for example, you don’t use any periods. Someone in the UK would write, “Jimmy Jones, PhD” without the punctuation.

Expert Q&A

  • It doesn’t matter if someone has a Ph.D. is in philosophy, education, biology, math, or any other discipline. If a person has obtained a doctorate degree, they’re a doctor—even if they don’t see patients. [8] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Ph.D. is shorthand for doctor of philosophy. The word “doctor” comes from the Latin word “docere,” which means “to teach.” In ancient times, “Philosophy” was used to refer to any academic field. [9] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • The only exception, at least in the United States, are people with a law degree (they are technically “Juris Doctors”, or J.Ds). You do not use a special title or honorific to address someone with a law degree. [10] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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Don’t need PhD to teach in a college: A look at UGC’s changed rule to hire entry-level professors

Why has the higher education regulator reversed a decision it made in 2018 will this not affect the quality of faculty recruitment in higher education.

phd is professor

It is no longer mandatory to have a PhD degree to apply for the post of assistant professor in colleges and universities. It is enough to clear the National Eligibility Test (NET), State Eligibility Test (SET), or State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) to be eligible for appointment.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), India’s higher education regulator, notified this change on June 30, reversing a decision it made in 2018. The new minimum criteria for direct recruitment of college and university teachers at the entry level came into effect on July 1.

phd is professor

What was the system earlier?

In revised regulations on ‘Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges’ released in June 2010, the UGC said that candidates for assistant professor must qualify in the NET, SET, or SLET. However, candidates who had PhDs were exempted from this eligibility condition.

In other words, if a candidate had a doctoral degree, she could apply for appointment even if she had not cleared NET, SET, or SLET.

This changed in 2018, when Prakash Javadekar was Education Minister (known as the HRD Minister then). The UGC issued a notification in July 2018, which said, “The PhD Degree shall be a mandatory qualification for direct recruitment to the post of Assistant Professor in Universities with effect from 01.07.2021.”

Festive offer

What this meant was that candidates had a three-year window (2018-21) to complete their PhDs. UGC also directed universities and colleges to implement the new minimum criteria for recruitment from 2021.

In October 2021, taking note of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the UGC pushed the July 2021 deadline to July 2023.

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Does this mean a PhD was never in effect a mandatory qualification for the assistant professor’s job?

In effect, no. UGC first set the date to implement the PhD requirement from July 2021, but this was extended to July 2023. However, even before this deadline could kick in, it has notified that a PhD is no longer mandatory.

Thus, UGC has reversed its 2018 decision even before it could be implemented.`

But why did UGC reverse the decision it had announced in 2018?

The purpose seems to be to cast the net wider by removing an inessential entry barrier, while ensuring at the same time that quality does not suffer.

UGC Chairman Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar told The Indian Express , “In certain disciplines such as policy-making, design, foreign languages, law, architecture and other similar subjects, universities often find it difficult to get candidates with a PhD. Removal of mandatory PhD conditions at the entry level will help universities in recruiting candidates with a flair for teaching but without a PhD. They of course need to complete their PhD to move to the next level [of associate professor].”

Jagadesh Kumar argued that this would not lead to a decline in the quality of education .

“We already have more than 25,000 PhDs produced every year in India. In major disciplines, there is intense competition to select the best PhDs for faculty positions. Therefore, removing PhD as a mandatory condition at the entry-level assistant professor position will not affect the quality of education.”

The UGC chairman clarified that while NET/SET/SLET is the minimum requirement for assistant professor, universities or colleges may set higher shortlisting criteria for interviews in order to manage the number of candidates.

“Since HEIs (higher education institutions) are autonomous, they can set a higher selection criteria in certain disciplines but use the UGC’s minimum criteria in other disciplines. For example, in a foreign languages centre, the university may use a Master’s degree and UGC-NET, if candidates with a PhD are not available. But in a chemistry department, the shortlisting committee may decide to shortlist only candidates with a PhD and, say, two journal publications. In the latter case, it will help to call only a manageable number of candidates to the interview,” he told The Indian Express.

How has the academic community reacted?

Teachers acknowledge that removing the PhD requirement could help candidates from marginalised sections. But there are apprehensions over how the selection process will work in practice — and whether candidates with research degrees might be overlooked for those with just a NET/SET/SLET.

Abha Dev Habib, an associate professor at Delhi University, said, “PhD is a longer research degree that requires a commitment of time and money. People coming from marginalised sections find it very difficult to prolong their studies, mainly women, Dalits, and Adivasi candidates. They can now appear for the position of assistant professor.”

Removing the PhD requirement allows people to enter the profession at a younger age. Abha Dev Habib acknowledged that it is difficult to find candidates with PhDs for many subjects and in many universities. For these universities, the revised criteria “is a big relief”, she said.

Jagadesh Kumar sought to allay fears that the selection process may be distorted in consequence of the new criteria. “There is no change in the selection criteria and there will be no change in the selection committee’s composition,” he said.

The selection committee comprises the Vice-Chancellor as chairperson, an academic appointed by the Visitor/ Chancellor, three experts in the subject nominated by the VC on the advice of the university’s statutory body, the Dean of the faculty and/or Head of Department, and an academic from among SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minority/ Women, nominated by the VC.

However, Apoorvanand, a professor at DU, told The Indian Express : “My fear is that many applicants who only have a Master’s degree in many subjects, from what I was told, are being appointed, while others who have taught as ad hoc [professors] or have a PhD have been disregarded.”

“Everything”, Apoorvanand said, “depends on the interview”, of which no record is kept. “How are you assessing the candidate based on the interview?”

(Ishita Roy is an intern with The Indian Express)

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The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job

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“Kelsky offers wide-ranging, valuable advice and an important perspective for job seekers.” - Booklist “Every graduate student in academe should read this book . But also: if you teach graduate students, if you mentor graduate students, if you worry about graduate students, and even if you’re thinking about becoming a graduate student, you should read this book too. It’s just that indispensable.” – Michael Bérubé, Director, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, Penn State University   " Kelsky offers smart, frank, and often witty advice to lead applicants through the complicated process of securing a tenure-track position..this cogent, illuminating book will be indispensable." - Kirkus Reviews   “It's tough out there, but no one understands how academic jobs are landed better than Karen Kelsky. If you are a graduate student,  The Professor Is In offers sound, realistic advice, and it may be the most valuable book you ever read if you intend to have an academic career.  – William Pannapacker, Professor of English at Hope College and columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education   “ Karen Kelsky levels the playing field, providing practical insider knowledge to demystify the job market and help you improve the odds . - David M. Perry, Columnist, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Director of Undergraduate Research, Dominican University   “ Explains in exquisite detail exactly how to land a tenure track job . In her genial yet unabashedly thorough book, Kelsky coaches readers through the critical topics they need to know. I wouldn’t want to navigate the inhospitable weirdness of the academic job market without it .” – Adam Ruben, author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School     “Getting a job is about more than being smart; read this book if you want to be prepared, professional, and on your game .”-Elizabeth Reis, Professor and Chair, Women's and Gender Studies Department, University of Oregon   “A realistic account of what it takes to turn a Ph.D. into a job when all the jobs seem to be disappearing, The Professor is In offers sobering, impeccable advice from one of the most honest voices in higher education today .”--Greg M. Colón Semenza, Author, with Garrett Sullivan, of How to Build a Life in the Humanities: Meditations on the Academic Work-Life Balance   “ This is the book I wish I had when I was a grad student. As The Professor Is In, Karen Kelsky delivers generous, savvy advice for academic job seekers. Unflinching, supportive, and honest, there is no other book like it. All Ph.D. students (and their advisors) should have a copy on their shelf.” -Carole McGranahan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado        

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Karen Kelsky is the Founder of The Professor Is In -- a blog and business dedicated to helping Ph.D.s master the academic and post-academic job markets -- and a regular columnist at the Chronicle of Higher Education. A former R1 tenured professor and department head, and a cultural anthropologist by training, Dr. Kelsky explains the unspoken rules of the academic job search, from building a competitive record and writing competitive job applications to interviewing effectively and negotiating offers. And she provides support for those transitioning out of the academy. Her book, The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job, is available from Random House (Three Rivers Press).

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AI Ph.D.s are flocking to Big Tech. Here’s why that could be bad news for open innovation

phd is professor

The current debate as to whether open or closed advanced AI models are safer or better is a distraction. Rather than focus on one business model over the other, we must embrace a more holistic definition of what it means for AI to be open. This means shifting the conversation to focus on the need for open science, transparency, and equity if we are to build AI that works for and in the public interest.

Open science is the bedrock of technological advancement. We need more ideas, and more diverse ideas, that are more widely available, not less. The organization I lead, Partnership on AI, is itself a mission-driven experiment in open innovation, bringing together academic, civil society, industry partners, and policymakers to work on one of the hardest problems–ensuring the benefits of technology accrue to the many, not the few.

With open models, we cannot forget the influential upstream roles that public funding of science and the open publication of academic research play.

National science and innovation policy is crucial to an open ecosystem. In her book, The Entrepreneurial State , economist Mariana Mazzucato notes that public funding of research planted some of the IP seeds that grew into U.S.-based technology companies. From the internet to the iPhone and the Google Adwords algorithm, much of today’s AI technology received a boost from early government funding for novel and applied research.

Likewise, the open publication of research, peer evaluated with ethics review, is crucial to scientific advancement. ChatGPT, for example, would not have been possible without access to research published openly by researchers on transformer models. It is concerning to read, as reported in the Stanford AI Index , that the number of AI Ph.D. graduates taking jobs in academia has declined over the last decade while the number going to industry has risen, with more than double going to industry in 2021.

It’s also important to remember that open doesn’t mean transparent. And, while transparency may not be an end unto itself, it is a must-have for accountability.

Transparency requires timely disclosure, clear communications to relevant audiences, and explicit standards of documentation. As PAI’s Guidance for Safe Foundation Model Deployment illustrates, steps taken throughout the lifecycle of a model allow for greater external scrutiny and auditability while protecting competitiveness. This includes transparency with regard to the types of training data, testing and evaluations, incident reporting, sources of labor, human rights due diligence, and assessments of environmental impacts. Developing standards of documentation and disclosure are essential to ensure the safety and responsibility of advanced AI.

Finally, as our research has shown, it is easy to recognize the need to be open and create space for a diversity of perspectives to chart the future of AI–and much harder to do it. It is true that with fewer barriers to entry, an open ecosystem is more inclusive of actors from backgrounds not traditionally seen in Silicon Valley. It is also true that rather than further concentrating power and wealth, an open ecosystem sets the stage for more players to share the economic benefits of AI.

But we must do more than just set the stage.

We must invest in ensuring that communities that are disproportionately impacted by algorithmic harms, as well as those from historically marginalized groups, are able to fully participate in developing and deploying AI that works for them while protecting their data and privacy. This means focusing on skills and education but it also means redesigning who develops AI systems and how they are evaluated. Today, through private and public sandboxes and labs, citizen-led AI innovations are being piloted around the world.

Ensuring safety is not about taking sides between open and closed models. Rather it is about putting in place national research and open innovation systems that advance a resilient field of scientific innovations and integrity. It is about creating space for a competitive marketplace of ideas to advance prosperity. It is about ensuring that policy-makers and the public have visibility into the development of these new technologies to better interrogate their possibilities and peril. It is about acknowledging that clear rules of the road allow all of us to move faster and more safely. Most importantly, if AI is to attain its promise, it is about finding sustainable, respectful, and effective ways to listen to new and different voices in the AI conversation.

Rebecca Finlay is the CEO of  Partnership on AI .

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  • Intel CEO : ‘Our goal is to have at least 50% of the world’s advanced semiconductors produced in the U.S. and Europe by the end of the decade’

The opinions expressed in commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of  Fortune .

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Net scores to be used for phd admissions from 2024-25: ugc.

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Starting from the academic year 2024-2025, the National Eligibility Test (NET) scores will serve as the basis for PhD admissions, eliminating the need for separate entrance tests by universities and higher education institutions, as per the University Grants Commission (UGC). Currently used for awarding Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and assistant professor eligibility, the NET will now facilitate PhD admissions nationwide.


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