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
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.