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My friend is soon to obtain her doctoral degree in applied physics and start postdoc. She is provided by the department a chance to choose what to be displayed on the degree (between D.Eng. and Ph.D., but both in applied physics). She is actually doing purely theoretical condensed matter physics although the department is named applied physics. She says that she will try to stay in the same academia, but not excluding the possibility of moving out if not going well.

She asked me and it's not quite clear to us what the difference might be and what might be affected in the future.

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    It is her decision and hers to ask... – Solar Mike Jun 19 '18 at 11:25
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    It should not matter that much - most people hiring doctoral-level folks know that they are equivalent. HR would likely be more familiar with PhD, but university and research lab HR folks would recognize D.Eng. just fine. Seems mostly a personal preference. – Jon Custer Jun 19 '18 at 13:54
  • I often see advertised positions writing "Ph.D. or equivalent required". The D.Eng. would fall into the same "equivalence class", and so I agree it's mostly a personal preference. Depending on field and social circle, one degree might be more well known than the other, however. – Anyon Jun 19 '18 at 14:41
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At different time periods and in different countries / academic cultures, either one or the other was more popular to denote (essentially) the same thing.

I won't go into the historical details (in which I am not too well-versed), but here's an example: In my own Alma Mater, for example, they used to award D.Eng. and D.Sc.'s, and no (?) Ph.D.'s until the 1980s or so, but at some point they switched, and these days everybody gets a Ph.D.

Did this matter to anyone? By and large, no. I've never heard anybody complain about the latter or the former having caused him/her any trouble being recognized. So while it is theoretically possible there will be some kind of issue, it doesn't matter.

My personal opinion is that it's a shame we are losing these discipline-group-specific titles and going with something generic - even if it has older historical roots. So I would go for D.Eng.

Also, if your friend has a signed official letter saying something like

We can award you with either a Ph.D. or a D.Eng. and we consider them equivalent in your case

then she can use that specific letter with whatever degree she is awarded, if any questions come up.

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