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Academic CredentialsWhat They Mean
Employment as a scholar indicates an ability to both analyze critically and speak frankly about one's area of expertisean ability that people employed at nonacademic institutions often don't have.
Faculty rank indicates how long someone has been a scholar and the extent to which colleagues have recognized a scholar's work as being high quality. Although what exactly a particular rank means can vary, below is a list of common ranks and what they typically mean.
Doctoral degrees, which are terminal degrees, typically require five or more years full-time to complete.
Master's degrees typically require one or two years full-time to complete (the M.Div. requires three).
Professional degrees emphasize the training needed to practice a particular profession.
Research degrees emphasize the skills one needs to add to the body of knowledge in a particular field.
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), a research degree, is "the highest academic degree," requiring both "mastery within a field of knowledge and demonstrated ability to perform scholarly research," according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The Ph.D. includes training in research methods and years conducting researchresulting in an exceptional ability to assess particular viewpoints, and the evidence offered in support of them, on subjects falling within one's academic expertise.
D.Min. Doctor of Ministry - a professional doctorate in ministry
Ed.D. Doctor of Education - a research doctorate in education
J.D. Juris Doctor - a professional degree for practicing law
LL.B. Bachelor of Laws - a law degree, equivalent to the J.D.
M.A. Master of Arts - a master's degree in a particular field
M.B.A. Master of Business Administration - a professional degree in business
M.D. Doctor of Medicine - a professional degree for practicing medicine
M.Div. Master of Divinity - a professional degree for practicing ministry
M.Phil. Master of Philosophy - a research degree, sans dissertation, in the British Commonwealth
M.S. Master of Science - a master's degree in a particular field
M.S.W. Master of Social Work - a professional degree for practicing social work
M.T.S. Master of Theological Studies - a master's degree in theological disciplines
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy - a research doctorate in a particular field
Th.D. Doctor of Theology - a research doctorate in theology
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by the American Academy of Religion, the
world's largest association of religion scholars. The AAR neither endorses nor
rejects any religious belief or practice.