Doctor vs. Professor: What's the Difference?
Doctor typically refers to a medical practitioner or a Ph.D. holder, while a Professor is an academic teaching position at a college or university.
The term "Doctor," in a broad sense, usually pertains to an individual who has achieved the highest academic degree in a particular field, which is often a doctorate, or it may refer to a medical practitioner. Alternatively, a "Professor" is an educational professional, typically found in a college or university setting, tasked with teaching students and often involved in academic research. While both doctors and professors might exist within academic settings, their roles and prerequisites can be distinctly varied.
Doctor is a versatile term that applies broadly across various sectors and isn’t restricted to academia alone. Medical doctors, for instance, diagnose and treat patients, focusing on maintaining or restoring human health through the practice of medicine. Conversely, professors are deeply embedded within the educational structure, delivering lectures, guiding research, and often participating in academic administrative responsibilities. A professor might also be a doctor if they hold a doctoral degree, but not all professors necessarily have a doctorate.
In a more specialized context, a "Doctor" might refer to an individual who has earned a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree or related doctorate in a specific field and might be involved in high-level research, scholarly writing, or other expert endeavors in their subject matter. Meanwhile, a Professor does not necessarily have to have a doctoral degree, depending on institutional or regional requirements, and might have achieved their position through a combination of education and experience. In this aspect, the term doctor connotes a level of educational attainment, while professor signifies a particular occupational role.
Regarding recognition and address, it is common to refer to someone with a doctorate, whether in academia or not, as “Doctor.” This recognition acknowledges their significant achievements in education and research. On the flip side, a Professor might be addressed as such due to their role in an educational institution, regardless of whether they possess a doctorate. It’s notable that both terms, Doctor and Professor, confer a level of respect and acknowledge a person’s expertise or role in their respective fields.
In specific professional and social contexts, understanding the nuanced differences between a Doctor and a Professor is crucial for accurate communication. A professor might spend more time lecturing, creating curriculums, and grading papers, while a doctor in a non-academic context, especially in medicine, may spend their time diagnosing illnesses or conducting surgeries. It’s crucial to note that while all doctors (PhD holders) in academia might teach, not all professors might have a doctorate, illustrating the specific dichotomies and overlaps between the two titles.
Diagnoses and treats patients or holds a Ph.D.
Teaches at a higher education institution
Medical degree or Ph.D. in a field
Generally requires a Ph.D.
Hospital, clinic, or academia
University or college
Used more broadly in various contexts
Primarily used in academic contexts
May not involve teaching
Involves teaching and possibly research
Doctor and Professor Definitions
A licensed individual who practices medicine.
The doctor prescribed medication for my cold.
A seasoned advisor and guide in academic pursuits.
As a mentor, the professor guided many students through their theses.
Informally, a person who fixes specified things.
He is known as the doctor of old cars.
A faculty member of a college or university who imparts knowledge.
The professor delivered a compelling lecture on sociology.
A person who provides specialized guidance or advice.
She was a doctor of financial planning and investments.
A person involved in scholarly investigation and inquiry.
The professor published a paper on the effects of climate change.
In music, a person who leads a musical group.
The doctor skillfully guided the orchestra through the symphony.
A position title reflecting seniority or achievement in academia.
After years of research, she was promoted to full professor.
A person who is licensed to practice medicine and has trained at a school of medicine or a school of osteopathic medicine; a physician.
An individual who may give talks or lectures on specialized topics.
The professor gave a captivating talk at the science conference.
Any of certain other healthcare professionals, such as a dentist, optometrist, chiropractor, podiatrist, or veterinarian.
A college or university teacher who ranks above an associate professor.
A practitioner of alternative medicine or folk medicine who does not have traditional medical credentials.
A teacher or instructor.
A person who has earned the highest academic degree, usually a PhD, awarded by a college or university in a specified discipline.
One who professes.
A person awarded an honorary degree by a college or university.
The most senior rank for an academic at a university or similar institution, informally also known as "full professor."
Abbr. Dr. Used as a title and form of address for a person holding the degree of doctor.
A teacher or faculty member at a college or university regardless of formal rank.
Roman Catholic Church An eminent theologian.
(archaic) One who professes something, such as a religious doctrine.
A rig or device contrived for remedying an emergency situation or for doing a special task.
A pianist in a saloon, brothel, etc.
(Informal) To give medical treatment to
"[He] does more than practice medicine. He doctors people. There's a difference" (Charles Kuralt).
The puppeteer who performs a Punch and Judy show; a Punchman.
To repair, especially in a makeshift manner; rig.
One who professed, or makes open declaration of, his sentiments or opinions; especially, one who makes a public avowal of his belief in the Scriptures and his faith in Christ, and thus unites himself to the visible church.
To falsify or change in such a way as to make favorable to oneself
Doctored the evidence.
One who professed, or publicly teaches, any science or branch of learning; especially, an officer in a university, college, or other seminary, whose business it is to read lectures, or instruct students, in a particular branch of learning; as a professor of theology, of botany, of mathematics, or of political economy.
To add ingredients so as to improve or conceal the taste, appearance, or quality of
Doctor the soup with a dash of sherry.
Someone who is a member of the faculty at a college or university
To alter or modify for a specific end
Doctored my standard speech for the small-town audience.
(Baseball) To deface or apply a substance to (the ball) in violation of the rules in order to throw a pitch with extraordinary movement
Was ejected because he doctored the ball with a piece of sandpaper.
To practice medicine.
A physician; a member of the medical profession; one who is trained and licensed to heal the sick or injured. The final examination and qualification may award a doctor degree in which case the post-nominal letters are D.O., DPM, M.D., DMD, DDS, in the US or MBBS in the UK.
If you still feel unwell tomorrow, see your doctor.
A person who has attained a doctorate, such as a Ph.D. or Th.D. or one of many other terminal degrees conferred by a college or university.
A veterinarian; a medical practitioner who treats non-human animals.
A nickname for a person who has special knowledge or talents to manipulate or arrange transactions.
(obsolete) A teacher; one skilled in a profession or a branch of knowledge; a learned man.
(dated) Any mechanical contrivance intended to remedy a difficulty or serve some purpose in an exigency.
The doctor of a calico-printing machine, which is a knife to remove superfluous colouring matter
The doctor, or auxiliary engine, also called "donkey engine"
A fish, the friar skate.
A ship's cook.
(transitive) To act as a medical doctor to.
Her children doctored her back to health.
To act as a medical doctor.
(transitive) To make (someone) into an (academic) doctor; to confer a doctorate upon.
(transitive) To physically alter (medically or surgically) a living being in order to change growth or behavior.
They doctored their apple trees by vigorous pruning, and now the dwarfed trees are easier to pick.
We may legally doctor a pet to reduce its libido.
(transitive) To genetically alter an extant species.
Mendel's discoveries showed how the evolution of a species may be doctored.
(transitive) To alter or make obscure, as with the intention to deceive, especially a document.
To doctor the signature of an instrument with intent to defraud is an example of forgery.
(transitive) To adulterate, drug, or poison (drink).
To take medicine.
A teacher; one skilled in a profession, or branch of knowledge; a learned man.
One of the doctors of Italy, Nicholas Macciavel.
An academical title, originally meaning a man so well versed in his department as to be qualified to teach it. Hence: One who has taken the highest degree conferred by a university or college, or has received a diploma of the highest degree; as, a doctor of divinity, of law, of medicine, of music, or of philosophy. Such diplomas may confer an honorary title only.
One duly licensed to practice medicine; a member of the medical profession; a physician.
By medicine life may be prolonged, yet deathWill seize the doctor too.
Any mechanical contrivance intended to remedy a difficulty or serve some purpose in an exigency; as, the doctor of a calico-printing machine, which is a knife to remove superfluous coloring matter; the doctor, or auxiliary engine, called also donkey engine.
The friar skate.
To treat as a physician does; to apply remedies to; to repair; as, to doctor a sick man or a broken cart.
To confer a doctorate upon; to make a doctor.
To tamper with and arrange for one's own purposes; to falsify; to adulterate; as, to doctor election returns; to doctor whisky.
To practice physic.
A licensed medical practitioner;
I felt so bad I went to see my doctor
(Roman Catholic Church) a title conferred on 33 saints who distinguished themselves through the othodoxy of their theological teaching;
The Doctors of the Church greatly influenced Christian thought down to the late Middle Ages
Children take the roles of doctor or patient or nurse and pretend they are at the doctor's office;
The children explored each other's bodies by playing the game of doctor
A person who holds Ph.D. degree from an academic institution;
She is a doctor of philosophy in physics
Alter and make impure, as with the intention to deceive;
Sophisticate rose water with geraniol
Give medical treatment to
Restore by replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken;
She repaired her TV set
Repair my shoes please
A person who has earned the highest academic degree.
The doctor wrote a groundbreaking thesis on quantum physics.
Is it proper to call a Ph.D. holder a Professor?
Not necessarily. A Ph.D. holder can be called a "Doctor," but they are only a "Professor" if they hold such a position at an institution.
Is a Doctor always a medical practitioner?
No, a "Doctor" could refer to a medical professional or someone with a Ph.D. degree.
Are all Professors Doctors?
Often, but not always. Many Professors hold a Ph.D., but it's not a universal rule.
Can a Professor practice medicine?
Generally, no, unless the Professor also holds a medical degree.
Can a Doctor teach at a university?
Yes, Doctors (Ph.D. holders) often teach at universities, and may or may not hold the title of Professor.
Which is higher: Professor or Doctor?
Neither. "Professor" indicates a career or role in academia, while "Doctor" refers to a level of educational attainment or a medical profession.
Are Doctors always involved in research?
Not necessarily, some Doctors, especially in medicine, may focus more on practice than research.
Do all Doctors write a thesis or dissertation?
Typically yes, especially if referring to Ph.D. holders.
Can “Doctor” refer to a person in non-medical fields?
Yes, "Doctor" can refer to Ph.D. holders in various academic disciplines.
Can "Professor" be used as a title outside academia?
Rarely in formal settings, though it’s sometimes used informally to jest or show respect for someone’s expertise.
Is a Professor’s role always academic in nature?
Generally, yes, as the role involves teaching and/or research in an academic setting.
Can Professors diagnose medical conditions like Doctors?
No, unless the Professor also has a medical degree and relevant licensing.
Is a medical degree required to be a Professor in medicine?
Not always. A Professor of medicine may have a different advanced degree related to their specialty or research focus.
Do Professors always teach?
Most do, but some Professors may focus primarily on research.
What does a Doctor of Philosophy do?
A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) may work in various fields, such as academia, research, consulting, etc., depending on their area of expertise.
What is an Associate Professor?
An Associate Professor is typically a mid-level, potentially tenured, academic position at a college or university.
Can a Doctor be a Professor simultaneously?
Yes, a Doctor (Ph.D. holder) can also be a Professor if they teach at a university.
Is tenure related to being a Professor or a Doctor?
Tenure is associated with the role of a Professor, indicating a permanent position.
Does a Doctorate always lead to a position as a Professor?
No, individuals with a Doctorate may work in various roles and industries.
Do Doctors and Professors earn similarly?
Earnings vary widely based on field, country, institution, specialization, and other factors, with no general rule applicable to all Doctors and Professors.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.