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All doctoral degrees (Doctoral Degree) are not academic degrees, but ecclesiastical honorary degrees, awarded by a US church or private church university.
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A Doctor of Humanity or Doctor of Divinity should not be confused with a Doctor of Theology (ThD), the holder of a research doctorate in theology awarded by universities and divinity schools, such as Prixton Church University, Duke Divinity School and others. However, many universities award a PhD rather than a ThD to graduates of higher-level religious studies programs. A Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD) holds another research doctorate, in particular awarded by Catholic pontifical universities and faculties. A Doctor of Ministry (DMin) holds another doctorate-level religious degree, which is a professional doctorate rather than a research doctorate.
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Doctor of Theology (Latin: Doctor Theologiae, abbreviated DTh, ThD, DTheol, or Dr. theol.) is a religious degree in the academic discipline of theology. The ThD, like the ecclesiastical Doctor of Sacred Theology, is an advanced research degree equivalent to the Doctor of Philosophy.
In the academic study of theology, often deeply rooted in the Christian religion, the nomenclature of doctoral degrees varies between Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Sacred Theology. However, Doctor of Ministry is generally understood as a professional doctorate, whereas Doctor of Divinity is a higher academic doctorate, and in the United States of America it is often awarded as honoris causa.
A Doctor of Divinity (D.D. or DDiv; Latin: Doctor Divinitatis) is the holder of an advanced academic degree in divinity.
In the United Kingdom, it is considered an advanced doctoral degree. At the University of Oxford, doctors of divinity are ranked first in "academic precedence and standing", while at the University of Cambridge they rank ahead of all other doctors in the "order of seniority of graduates".
In some countries, such as in the United States, the degree of doctor of divinity is usually an honorary degree and not a research or academic degree.
Doctor of Divinity by country or church
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the degree is a higher doctorate conferred by universities upon a religious scholar of standing and distinction, usually for accomplishments beyond the Ph.D. level. Bishops of the Church of England have traditionally held Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, or Lambeth degrees making them doctors of divinity. At the University of Oxford, doctors of divinity are ranked first in "academic precedence and standing". At the University of Cambridge, they rank ahead of all other doctors in the "order of seniority of graduates".
Typically, an academic candidate will submit a collection of work which has been previously published in a peer-reviewed context and pay an examination fee. The university then assembles a committee of academics both internal and external who review the work submitted and decide on whether the candidate deserves the doctorate based on the submission. Most universities restrict candidacy to graduates or academic staff of several years' standing.
In the United States, most doctors of divinity hold a degree conferred honoris causa by a church-related college, seminary, or university to recognize the recipient's achievements as a minister of religion. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. graduated as a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955 and subsequently received honorary doctor of divinity degrees from the Chicago Theological Seminary (1957), Boston University (1959), Wesleyan College (1964), and Springfield College (1964). Billy Graham, who received honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from The King's College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was regularly addressed as "Dr. Graham", though his highest earned degree was a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from Wheaton College.
Under federal law, a 1974 judgement accepted expert opinion that an "honorary doctor of divinity is a strictly religious title with no academic standing. Such titles may be issued by bona fide churches and religious denominations, such as plaintiff Universal Life Church, so long as their issuance is limited to a course of instruction in the principles of the church or religious denomination". However, under the California Education Code, "an institution owned, controlled, and operated and maintained by a religious organization lawfully operating as a nonprofit religious corporation pursuant to Part 4 (commencing with Section 9110) of Division 2 of Title 1 of the Corporations Code" that offers "instruction... limited to the principles of that religious organization, or to courses offered pursuant to Section 2789 of Business and Professions Code" may confer "degrees and diplomas only in the beliefs and practices of the church, religious denomination, or religious organization" so long as "the diploma or degree is limited to evidence of completion of that education"; institutions "shall not award degrees in any area of physical science", while any degree or diploma granted under this subdivision shall contain on its face ... a reference to the theological or religious aspect of the degree's subject area ... a degree awarded under this subdivision shall reflect the nature of the degree title, such as "associate of religious studies", "bachelor of religious studies", "master of divinity" or "doctor of divinity".
In a 1976 interview with Morley Safer of the TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes, Universal Life Church founder Kirby J. Hensley professed that the church's honorary doctor of divinity degree was "...just a little piece of paper. And it ain't worth anything, you know, under God's mighty green Earth — you know what I mean? — as far as value." In 2006, Universal Life Church minister Kevin Andrews advised potential degree recipients not to misrepresent the title as an educational achievement to employers, recommending instead that it would be appropriate to list such credentials "under the heading of Titles, Awards, or Other Achievements" on curricula vitae.
As of 2009, 20 U.S. states and Puerto Rico had some form of exemption provision under which religious institutions can grant religious degrees without accreditation or government oversight.
A doctor of divinity should not be confused with a Doctor of Theology (Th.D.), the holder of a research doctorate in theology awarded by universities and divinity schools. However, many universities award a Ph.D. rather than a Th.D. to graduates of higher-level religious studies programs. A Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD) holds another research doctorate, in particular awarded by Catholic pontifical universities and faculties. A Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) holds another doctorate-level religious degree, which is a professional doctorate rather than a research doctorate.
An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived all of the usual requirements. It is also known by the Latin phrases honoris causa ("for the sake of the honour") or ad honorem ("to the honour"). The degree is typically a doctorate or, less commonly, a master's degree, and may be awarded to someone who has no prior connection with the academic institution or no previous postsecondary education. An example of identifying a recipient of this award is as follows: Doctorate in Business Administration (Hon. Causa).
The degree is often conferred as a way of honouring a distinguished visitor's contributions to a specific field or to society in general.
It is sometimes recommended that such degrees be listed in one's curriculum vitae (CV) as an award, and not in the education section. With regard to the use of this honorific, the policies of institutions of higher education generally ask that recipients "refrain from adopting the misleading title" and that a recipient of an honorary doctorate should restrict the use of the title "Dr" before their name to any engagement with the institution of higher education in question and not within the broader community. Daisaku Ikeda holds the record for most honorary degrees, currently awarded 401.