What is a Terminal degree?

A terminal degree is the highest academic degree, and it is typically granted to a student who has successfully completed a postgraduate course in a particular field. It usually refers to a doctorate degree, such as a Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D. Nevertheless, a terminal degree is not tied to a doctorate in philosophy only; it also includes doctorates such as Doctor of Education, or EdD, and Doctor of Law, or LLD. Doctorate diplomas are not regarded as terminal degrees, because diplomas are just certificates of qualification to a higher academic rank in a certain field of study. Interestingly, the term “terminal degree” is most common in the United States, and it is not used in other countries such as the United Kingdom. The term is not universal, and its exact definition varies from one country to another.

There are four common types of terminal degrees or doctorates, and these include research doctorates, higher doctorates, professional doctorates, and honorary doctorates. Research terminal degrees are offered after the successful completion of a peer-referred research in a particular field. The most common research doctorate is the Ph.D. Higher doctorates are common in Eastern European countries, and they are awarded after the completion of high standard research in specific fields such as science. Professional doctorates are awarded in fields where the students are involved in a profession such as law or medicine rather than scholarly research. Honorary degrees are awarded to individuals by universities, in recognition of their philanthropic contributions to the society, and they are not regarded as academic degrees.

For students to obtain a terminal degree, a Board of Regents has to verify and approve that they have fulfilled the faculty’s requirements and completed the highest course offered. The verification process is essential because cases of fraud and forgery are on the rise. Some students are using fake high school transcripts and fake customized diplomas to gain academic mileage. They also use fake diplomas to trick their friends and parents into believing that they have completed their university or doctorate education.

Nowadays, fake high school transcripts and doctorate diplomas look so authentic that it takes an expert eye to distinguish them from real diplomas. They come with embossed gold seals that are commonly used on academic certificates as well as authentic certificate paper. Some people even managed to gain employment by showing fake diplomas to their employers. Nevertheless, measures are being put in place to curb this rising vice.