It is customary to call Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) holders by the prefix "Dr.", but I wonder whether the same holds for other doctorates, such as Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)? Does it make sense to say "Dr. Name" to such people?

Logically I think the answer should be yes, but I do not know if it is appropriate and/or common to do so.

(If it is country-dependent, let's take the United States as an example.)

  • 1
    Although the question is not a duplicate, I believe this answer applies.
    – Bob Brown
    May 11 '19 at 12:26
  • I typically address them by their first names.
    – JeffE
    May 12 '19 at 17:00

Traditionally, you would also address these people as "Doctor", as the distinction into different types of PhDs is mainly a naming thing.

As an example, look at Britain. Oxford University confers "DPhil." degrees, while Cambridge University confers "Ph.D." degrees. If you look at academic web pages of lecturers of British universities, they will be listed as "Dr" regardless of where they get the DPhil or PhD from. This is the same for other variants of the PhD as well.

Note that it can be that a person with such a degree does not call himself/herself "doctor" (which can be the cause of such a confusion). This can be due to legal requirements in using the Doctoral degree as part of your name or as a prefix to it. As an example, in Germany, if you got a PhD from a US university, you will typically not put a "Dr." in front of your name, as legally, you are only allowed to do so if you got a PhD degree from an accredited institution in a country with which Germany has a contract about seeing the degrees as equivalent. It is however fine to put a ", PhD (University name)" behind your name in this case. And there is no obligation to correct somebody if he/she calls you "Doctor" if you only have such a degree.

  • 2
    An exception may be "J.D." (Juris Doctor), the degree held by lawyers in the U.S. Lawyers are not addressed as "Dr. Jones"
    – GEdgar
    May 11 '19 at 12:19
  • I remember a case, many years ago, when a prestigious US institution send out mail to all graduates of its "Bachelor of Laws" program informing them that they could exchange their diploma for one that lists them as "Juris Doctor". For a fee.
    – Buffy
    May 11 '19 at 16:04
  • 2
    On the other side of the coin is the case of "Medical Doctors" who are called "doctor" but most of them wouldn't know anything about research if it bit them on the toe.
    – Buffy
    May 11 '19 at 16:05
  • @Buffy might as well say “what about those academics who call themselves doctor who have no idea how to treat a sprained ankle”; when the average person hears the title Dr they tend to assume a medical practitioner. If any doctoral degree qualifies for the (pretty meaningless) title, they all do.
    – rhialto
    May 12 '19 at 11:06
  • @rhialto Oddly enough, I'm a practicing lawyer and I had to review a case once where a judge actually made a decision on when it was appropriate to call someone "Doctor" while addressing them. The judge's determination in that case was that it was proper, but contrary to tradition, to call a holder of a J.D. as "Doctor". On the other hand, it was traditional to refer to holders of a Ph.D. or M.D. as "Doctor" but that a refusal to do so was not a breach of courtesy in the courtroom context even if done flagrantly and after a request to call them "Doctor". Sep 1 '20 at 22:58

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