In the world of graduate studies, a doctor of arts degree is a good alternative for the more rigorous research-based Ph.D. This particular program is a terminal teaching degree established to provide more extensive training for college and university teaching. The Doctor of Arts (D.A.) degree is both offered on-campus and online across the United States.

Some schools take the hybrid approach where students can take many courses online but are still required to attend some classes on-campus at a particular time of the day. There are also a few colleges and universities that offer the course 100% online, a perfect method for those who want to advance their education while building their career.

Teaching is a vocation that requires in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and the ability to communicate and impart it to students. If you wish to follow this path, then a D.A. degree on your chosen field can enrich your knowledge and experience.

What is a Doctor of Arts degree?

Often considered a pragmatic approach to a doctorate, a doctor of arts degree is the best step for someone who wishes to concentrate and master a particular field of study but with emphasis on teaching it. It is an academic degree of the highest level. Doctor of Arts degrees are also conferred as an honorary degree with the added designation of honoris causa.

Unlike a traditional Ph.D., it requires less research. Instead, most D.A. degrees revolve around teaching internships, teaching methods, and curriculum design coursework. It is instrumental in equipping scholars with the necessary breadth and diversity to become teachers in their chosen field.

But while it is usually described as a “teaching doctorate,” a D.A. degree is not the same as a Doctor of Education degree which is more concerned for issues in education and a theoretical and practical preparation in pedagogy.

Most Doctor of Arts degrees have a concentration in music, history, or literature. There are also D.A. degree programs which focus on political science, mathematics, economics, biology English, chemistry, and physical education. In general, Doctor of Arts programs provides extensive training in pedagogy, with the goal of demonstrating a variety of pedagogical techniques and skills. Doctor of Arts students are also expected to craft a distinct teaching philosophy.

How do I earn my Doctor of Arts degree?

Aspiring Doctor of Arts students must file an application to the graduate school of their choice where the said degree program is offered. Most D.A. degree programs require applicants to acquire a master’s degree from an accredited college or university. Some stipulate a specific cumulative GPA, usually of 3.00 or better. Application forms are generally available online. Students may be asked to give a non-refundable application fee.

Some of the additional requirements include an official transcript of records from universities or colleges where they earned their bachelor’s and master’s degree.

In specific fields, like that of music, performance and audition are required. Schools often have a list of accepted instruments for audition so checking their websites can make your application for admission easier.

Once admitted, D.A.students are taught and trained in several areas including college-level teaching, research, and the specific field of their study. Aside from the coursework, students need to complete a thesis (usually around 50,000-80,000 words). Generally, the thesis for Doctor of Arts candidates is focused on questions of professional practice. For example, a D.A. in social sciences degree program tackles policy analysis and advice.

A thesis requirement can be replaced by a significant creative project. It can be a novel, biography, and memoir, poetic works, plays, or video works.

Do I need a Doctor of Arts degree to work in the academe?

The short answer is yes. This degree is especially valuable if you want to be prepared for faculty positions within higher education. It makes a strong impression on hiring committees. A D.A. degree provides hands-on experience as a college teacher, preparing students to acquire a well-rounded set of professional skills.

What career paths do graduates in Doctor of Arts usually take?

The most common career path for Doctor of Arts degree programs is in the academe. Holding a teaching position in colleges and universities is made easier with acquired teaching skills in a particular field that few faculty candidates possess. D.A. degree holders can also work in industries that require research and writing skills on one specific area of study. They can become scholars in their fields.

D.A. programs prepare graduates in their essential role in developing and enhancing departmental programs that help mentor students and faculty when it comes to disciplinary teaching and learning. D.A. graduates take up faculty and leadership positions in higher education, filling a niche that Ph.D. graduates cannot fulfill.

What salary range can I expect with my Doctor of Arts degree?

Doctor of Arts degree holders who enter the world of academe usually receive an average salary of $25,000 to $68,799 a year, excluding bonuses. Their pay can vary depending on the institution where they teach, whether it is in public or private colleges and universities. Their salary can also depend on their area of expertise. Music teachers can earn as much as $83,401 per year.

Other faculty position that D.A. degree holders can explore include curriculum advisor and curriculum developer. These positions require specialized knowledge of their particular field of study with a median salary of $62,270.

What schools offer online and traditional Doctor of Arts programs?

Numerous colleges and universities are offering the Doctor of Arts program on-campus. It includes the University of Northern Colorado, Ball State University in Indiana, George Mason University in Virginia, and Idaho State University. Two schools that offer the program online are Atlantic International University and the Holy State University in Pennsylvania.

When seeking to advance your career and expertise in higher education, earning a Doctor of Arts degree is something you will not regret. It will not only ensure your competitiveness when it comes to employment, but this degree program will also help shape you into a scholar of your chosen field, deepening and expanding your knowledge and skills on a particular area of study with the aim to apply it in pedagogy.