I know that a PhD is now just used to mean doctorate, so what would a person who has a doctorate in philosophy be called?

  • 3
    The same as any other PhD! They would have a PhD in X. Apr 10, 2015 at 0:01
  • @AustinHenley I mean stuff like D.F.A. (doctor of fine arts), D.C.S. (doctor of computer science)
    – Anonymous
    Apr 10, 2015 at 1:13
  • If they had a higher doctorate they would have a "Doctor of Letters" I believe. Doctor of Letters is basically the (equally) highest qualification a university can give (and not all give them). (a PhD is generally (but not nesc) a prereq for a doctors of letters) Apr 10, 2015 at 5:26

4 Answers 4


Generically, a PhD is a Doctor of Philosophy, not a doctor in philosophy. Thus a PhD in philosophy would a Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (as opposed to a PhD in economics, who would be a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics).

  • To the point and nailed it.
    – 299792458
    Apr 10, 2015 at 17:15

Doctor. Just like everyone else with a PhD.


Based on your comments to the question:

PhD is not used to just mean "doctorate." A PhD is a specific type of doctorate. The reason people talk about, say, a PhD in computer science is that that is their actual literal degree -- their diploma says "Doctor of Philosophy" on it, not "Doctor of Computer Science." Especially formally (like for honorifics), you never call yourself a PhD unless that is your actual degree (informally, some US schools hand out ScDs that are equivalent to a PhD, and you might say you have a PhD because it's clearer; however, formally, you do not have a PhD then).

Other than ScD in the US (and D.Phil, which is just PhD in English instead of Latin), other degrees I can think of would never be called a PhD even informally. A DFA is generally honorary, but even if not it's not a research degree. An MD isn't a PhD, even though it's a doctorate. An EdD is not a PhD.

So, a PhD in philosophy would be a PhD. Someone with a PhD in computer science also has a PhD. Things could have been set up so you'd have a D.Math, or a D.Physics, or a D.Comp.Sci., etc.; but that's not how it works, so you really have the actual same degree as people in other fields.

  • In the UK, the system in your last paragraph is used for philosophy, and the abbreviation is D. Phil.
    – alephzero
    Apr 10, 2015 at 23:00
  • @alephzero Are other degrees then not D.Phil? Because if everything's D.Phil, then the conclusion is that it uses an older sense of "philosophy."
    – cpast
    Apr 10, 2015 at 23:34
  • 'DPhil' is still in Latin (the most notable British university to use that abbreviation, Oxford, still conducts degree ceremonies almost entirely in Latin); Latin word order is much more flexible than English.
    – dbmag9
    Jun 25, 2017 at 21:44

I hold a PhD in philosophy. Long ago I was introduced to a group of non-philosopher cognoscenti this way: "Attention everyone, we now have a PhD squared in the group..." I had never heard that before, but everyone else seemed to know exactly what he meant, and started asking me deliberately silly philosophical questions. A doctor of philosophy of philosophy ... PhD-squared.

  • 3
    Isn't it then just the 'Ph' that is squared? :-)
    – quid
    Feb 27, 2017 at 21:14
  • mathematicians aren't generally big hits at parties.
    – Faydey
    May 16, 2021 at 21:02

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