MD vs. PhD – What’s the difference?

MD vs. PhD

It is not news that education doesn’t stop after you complete whatever years your course demands. Deciding to obtain your master’s degree still leaves you in a position where you are yet to acquire the highest degree possible.

Two highly-rated degrees that are both quite prestigious but have different demands to obtain and acquire are the MD and PhD. MD meaning Doctor of medicine, while PhD implies Doctor of philosophy.

Over the years, some students may have mistaken the two for each other. Some students are oblivious of the fact that there is a degree called MD as PhD has become relatively acquired more than MD.

In the course of this article, we would look at why this is so, their various origins, job description, and which you should think of acquiring to suit your basic academic and job-seeking needs.

MD vs. PhD

Similarities Between MD and PhD

There are some similarities between MD and PhD. They include;

  • They are both higher degrees.
  • They both are prestigious degrees.
  • You cannot obtain them without a lower degree in a particular field.
  • They both costs money to obtain
  • Students may have to take loans to acquire their degrees.

Given that they have all these similarities, they have got to be the same degree. But only people who are not informed about the differences between PhD and MD would make such assumptions.

Let’s look at some of the things that make these degrees different.

MD vs. PhD

Differences Between MD and PhD

Let’s look at the differences in MD and PhD in various ways;

Name Meaning:

The first difference between the two degrees is in the whole meaning of their names; while one is a Doctor of Medicine (MD), the other is simply a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).


The MD is older than the PhD, with the MD having been in existence since the 9th century in the medieval Arabic university. The PhD, however, has only been into play in the middle ages and started in European universities.

Who Can Study It:

The MD can only be acquired by people who studied medicine to their lower degree, for students who are not aware. The PhD, however, can be obtained by people of different fields, both science and art fields.

Job Description:

The job description of the MD degree enables a person who obtains this degree to treat patients and prescribe drugs for patients, unlike its counterpart, PhD, which is purely a research-based degree.

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MD vs. PhD


The requirements for obtaining the two degrees are different. The MD requires two years of study and two years of rotational work in a hospital.

The PhD requires that you submit a research work called a thesis, examined by experts and defended by you.

Length of Study:

Another difference you have to take note of is the length of study. The MD takes about four years to complete it, while the PhD takes about 4 to 7 years.

Cost of Study:

Generally, the cost to study the MD and PhD costs is almost the same on a per-year basis. However, given that PhD is longer than MD, it takes more money as more years are involved.

This often implies that students applying for loans to obtain this degree will need more loans in PhD than MD. However, it is also essential to know that in the MD, you could be working and schooling, which enables you to raise funds.


The MD and PhD are well-respected degrees, but arguments have risen to insinuate that the PhD is more prestigious over the years. So if you are looking to acquire a more respected degree PhD is for you.

MD vs. PhD


Having weighed the similarities and dissimilarities in the two degrees, one might be tempted to study the PhD. However, this should be sorely dependent on what you envisage achieving by obtaining the degree.

If the prestigious rights that come with PhD do you interest you, you can choose a faster route than the MD.

The prestigious rights of a PhD and the fact that a PhD is seen across all fields make it the popularly known advanced degree compared to MD.

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