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Phd or Professional Doctorate?

Am I more suited to a PhD, or a Professional Doctorate?

Which type of course best meets my needs as a professional / student - a PhD, or a Professional Doctorate in Advanced Healthcare Practice (DAHP)?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions by potential doctoral students, so here's a short quiz to help guide you through!


Q. What do you want to be?

a) Professional scholar

b) Scholarly professional


Q. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?

a) Developing an international research portfolio and applying for grants and/or leading funded projects

b) Working in practice; developing a profile as a leader and/or innovator of service improvement


Q. What type of research project are you thinking of?

a) An academic thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge and creates new understandings in the field.

b) A work-based project that will impact on the service-user, either through improving existing practice or by developing new ways of working.


If you answer mostly ‘a’ – then you should consider applying for a PhD

If you answer mostly ‘b’ – then you should consider applying for a DAHP

Still not sure?

Contact us to explore your options and make an informed choice. Contact us at:


Q. I like the thought of structured teaching but want to do a PhD; am I missing out?

A. Not at all. All Postgraduate Research Students have equal access. PhD students are welcome to join in DAHP taught sessions (but don’t have to submit any assessed work) and have access to all other doctoral level training available across the university.

Q. Okay, I know they are different; but are they of equal standing?

A. Both the PhD and the Doctorate in Advanced Healthcare Practice are research degrees approved by Cardiff University Senate.  The awards are equivalent in terms of rigor and merit and require the student to conduct original research which is supervised and monitored within the School. All doctoral students must produce a written thesis and defend it at a viva voce examination.

Q. Is there a difference in cost?

A. No; you would pay the same fee for a PhD or the Prof Doc. Information on fees can be found on the University's fees and funding webpages. 

Q. What support and training is available?

A. The School is a member of the University Graduate College which offers a comprehensive programme of training, support and advice free of charge to registered research students (link to Uni Grad College programme)

Q. Can I do the DAHP as a full-time student?

A. No; we do not offer a full-time option. This is because we like to have our students actually working and contributing to their field of study while they are doing their projects.

Q. I’m not currently working in practice at the moment. Can I still apply for the DAHP?

A. Yes; but you will be expected to have full, negotiated access to a practice area during the course of the programme.