When I talk about being on a doctoral programme, people often assume I am doing a P.hD, which I'm not. It's a common misconception that anyone who has a doctorate has a P.hD. In fact there are many kinds of doctoral courses, that lead to you having the title Dr.
Broadly they break down into three types, professional and academic, and contributory. (Medical doctors in the UK are very different, with the title Dr being used once they have achieved Bachelor of Medicine (BM or MB) and Bachelor of Surgery (BCh or BS), and may go on to do postgraduate research and become a Dr from an academic post-graduate degree).
Professional A professional doctorate, is conducted usually whilst in full or part time work, and based around research for your profession, with direct application to your context, and is the highest professional qualification you can attain. For instance a Doctor of Education (EdD), then there is my programme a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min), or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) etc. They usually take 3-5 years to complete.
Academic Then there are academic research degrees, usually taken full or part time, such as the Doctor of Philosophy (P.hD or D.Phil). Unlike the USA, these are usually pure research with no taught courses. These are usually 3-5 years to complete.
Contributory The you get to become a Dr, by virtue not of a professional or academic research programme, but due to your output and contributions in writing and publishing, in areas such a literature, linguistics, history etc, and comes with titles such as Doctor of Literature (LittD).
And there are many others, some I have no doubt not heard of!
So as long as I submit dissertation on 1st January, it is accepted and I then pass my waiver (oral defense) in April, I become Dr Jason Clark next year, and dress up like the photo above. My D.Min consisted of taught modules supervised by Dr Len Sweet, and my own research and dissertation submission with Dr MaryKate Morse supervising (60,000 words).
Entry requirements for DMin programmes are usually a good upper class theology degree, and a masters degree, and 4 years experience in full time ministry. In the USA, it is usually a degree, and 4 years Masters of Divinity (M.Div) that gets you entry to a D.Min.
When I was looking a few years ago, there were very places in the UK, that offered D.Min, hence my taking my research via George Fox University in Portland, Oregon, USA, as well as attraction of being supervised by Len Sweet on issues of Emerging church, leadership, culture and theology.
Now I am aware of several places in the UK doing D.Min programmes:
University of Wales - lots of people are teaming up with this university, for instance Spurgeon's College University of Aberdeen St Johns College - Durham (This one launched this year) Kings College London
Now the end of my research is in site, I am contemplating undertaking a D.Phil through Christ Church, Oxford, that would help with teaching opportunities, as a P.hD/D.Phil is usually required for teaching, unless I can write several books and become a LittD! Things are changing slowly in the academic world, but the research D.Phil through Oxford, is for ministers who want to remain in ministry, and does not require full time study, although the pressure of study, and work, and family are challenging. I also want to take some of my research further, and the Oxford course offers an interdisciplinary approach, where I could combine theology and sociology that is attractive.
If only I could find an institution that would let me research and write an academic book, that could be a P.hD thesis, for defense, do you know of any?
BTW after al this, I have to say I found a professional doctorate, so life giving, and so enabling to my situation and context. If you thinking about doing one, I couldn't recommend them more highly.