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The Doctor of Arts (D.A., or occasionally D.Arts. or Art.D.) is a discipline-based terminal doctoral degree that was originally conceived and designed to be an alternative to the traditional research-based Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the education-based Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). Like other doctorates, the D.A. is an academic degree of the highest level. The D.A. is also frequently conferred as an honorary degree with the added designation of honoris causa.

While the Ph.D. is the most common doctoral degree in the United States, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation recognize numerous research-oriented doctoral degrees such as the D.A. as "equivalent" , and do not discriminate between them.


The idea for a Doctor of Arts degree was originally proposed at the 1932 meeting of the Association of American Universities. In 1967 Carnegie Mellon University (formerly Carnegie Institute of Technology), began to offer the D.A. in Mathematics, History, English and Fine Arts. The D.A. was first authorized in 1970 by the Committee on Graduate Studies of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and by the Council of Graduate Schools in the United Statesmarker. The Carnegie Foundation was the first to fund ten universities with seed money to initiate the degree, and D.A. programs (though far fewer in number than those of the Ph.D.) are currently offered in many different disciplines at universities in the United States and in other parts of the world.

Different formulations of the degree

In Argentina the Doctorate of Arts it is offered by the NU of Cmarker and the NU of R, by achieving the title of Doctor of Arts or Doctor of Humanities.

The D.A. differs from the Ph.D. in its shift in emphasis from research (though a project or thesis is generally required) to advanced study of a specific discipline, content area expertise, learning theory, and curriculum design. As such, it is often described as a "teaching doctorate". It offers scholars the breadth and diversity necessary to become teachers in their field. The D.A. also differs from the Ed.D. in its strong disciplinary focus, while still embracing the Ed.D.'s concern for issues in education, and a theoretical as well as practical preparation in pedagogy. (For more on this issue, see Ph.D.)

In Finlandmarker, the Doctor of Arts degree is a research degree awarded upon successful completion of studies and a dissertation in the fields of art and design. The Doctor of Arts degree awarded by the University of Art and Design Helsinkimarker, for example, aims to prepare scholars who are capable of conducting independent, groundbreaking research and developing new artistic research methods or products that satisfy high artistic standards.

Professional Associations

The National Doctor of Arts Association (NDAA), was founded in 1991 at Idaho State University.


  2. "Research Doctorate Degrees"
  3. The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 39, No. 5 (May, 1968), pp. 261-270 doi:10.2307/1979419

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