Difference between M.D vs PhD

M.D is a Doctor of medicine and Ph.D. is a Doctor of philosophy- both are the highest level of recognition given in respected disciplines. 

The M.D was introduced in medieval Arabian universities, first, while the Ph.D. degree was first introduced by Medieval European universities.

M.D  (doctor of medicine) is honored to the medical practician or medical students meanwhile the Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) is honored to the master’s degree holder in any discipline. 

Thus, the M.D degree is specifically reserved or given only in medicine while the Ph.D. degree can be given in various fields such as science, engineering, literature, arts, and commerce. 

Unlike the Ph.D. degree, the doctor of medicine- M.D is a professional degree, the Ph.D. is an academic degree. 

Notably, some applied science fields also offer professional Ph.D. degrees to do research in various fields related to either medicine or applied biology (but not in medicine). 

Clinical practices are preliminarily included in M.D. an M.D person can apply in various research fields or findings for clinical trials. 


Preliminary only research work is included in the Ph.D. A Ph.D. person can develop or postulate various methodologies and hypothesis. 

Let’s understand it by taking an example, 

Suppose scientists are developing novel gene therapy for some cancer, let say for lung cancer. 

A complete gene therapy dose is given by the clinical practician hence by the M.D who takes care of the dose, its effects, its adverse effect, and medication-related to it. He can perform a gene therapy clinical trial on a patient for curing lung cancer.    

Contrary to this, 

A Ph.D. person develops novel gene therapy for curing lung cancer. He develops the entire assay. 

His responsibilities are to edit the gene, construct a vector carrying a gene of interest, culture and validate it using PCR and other different techniques and hand over the dose to the M.D or medical practician. 

One of the important differences between both is that the M.D can prescribe medicines and also can do clinical trials whereas a Ph.D. can neither prescribe medicine nor do clinical trials. 

An M.D degree means learning or developing practical applications of existing theories or knowledge while a Ph.D. degree means to create tests and validate the hypothesis and generates knowledge. 

Thus an M.D is more like a doctorate than a PhD. Read our article on PhD vs Doctorate. 

Two years of course work with two years of clinical practise in a hospital or clinic mandatorily required to pursue an M.D degree. 

On the other side, a Ph.D. degree is awarded only after getting approval of his or her thesis or after completing viva. 

Unlike the M.D, publication in a peer-review journal must require during the Ph.D. The publication is not mandatory in M.D, rather, clinical practice is more essential for getting a doctor of medicine- an M.D degree.  

The doctor of philosophy literally means “ teacher of philosophy”, the meaning derived originally from the Latin word. Similarly, a doctor of medicine means “teacher of medicine” but not philosophy.

Love of wisdom is also a meaning of PhD which derived from a Greek word philosophia.

In terms of the future perspective, the M.D degree is more beneficial for a person, with an M.D degree one can earn more because of its valuable experience and knowledge in medicine. However, technically Ph.D. and M. D both have similar values. 

A PhD person commonly chooses academics as their career goal and it is easy to get, by doing outstanding research in his or her field during their lecturership, extra value and rewards can be achieved, though. 

Comparing PhD degree with M.D is not actually meaningful, indeed because an M.D degree is restricted only for the medical science student. 

On the other side, any post-graduate student can pursue a PhD degree in their related disciplines. 

Read further: PhD job opportunities and expected salary.

M.D- Doctor of medicine:

The M.D. or Doctor of Medicine is the highest level of academic degree restricted to only medical students or practicians. To achieve it first, a candidate has to complete their bachelor’s degree in any discipline of medicine.

To get admission into the M.D. a candidate has to clear the MCAT- medical college entrance test. After that their tenure of M.D. starts with residential programs.

During the entire period of their degree, a candidate has to learn clinical trials as well as clinical practices.

Related article:

Ph.D. which one is best for you?

Ph.D.- Doctor of philosophy:

Anyone with a master’s degree can get admission into Ph.D. Although one has to clear all the criteria set by the university and common entrance test, compulsory. Different universities across the world have different criteria to get admission.

During the entire tenure of one’s Ph.D. a candidate has to do research, test hypothesis, and find new knowledge to improve the existing one. Different the entire period a Ph.D. candidate has to clear various hurdles to achieve the degree.

One international publication, dissertation in the form of a thesis, viva, and paper presentation in the international conference must be completed to get Ph.D.


Conclusively, both are the highest level of honor in the respected fields and their role is to do something outstanding which benefits society.

Although the criteria to get each degree are different. but notably, a Ph.D. person can neither do clinical practices nor prescribe medicine. Equivalently, M.D. persons are less involved in the research.

A medical practitioner has a deep knowledge of clinical trial, medicine, dose and diseases therefore the M.D’s is a very crucial medical.

On the other side, the Ph.D.’s are not involved in medical profession until and unless they have done PhD in some specialized subjects like genetics or microbiology. Their role is to do research and develop novel things.

Still, I can say that the M.D degree is more superior in terms of earning than a PhD because the earning potentials are very high with a doctor of medicine degree. An M.D person can earn twice or thrice more than a PhD.

If you want to lean more regarding PhD you can read this articles:

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