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All of these faculties awarded intermediate degrees (bachelor of arts, of theology, of laws, of medicine) and final degrees.

Initially, the titles of master and doctor were used interchangeably for the final degrees—the title Doctor was merely a formality bestowed on a Teacher/Master of the art—but by the late Middle Ages the terms Master of Arts and Doctor of Theology/Divinity, Doctor of Law, and Doctor of Medicine had become standard in most places (though in the German and Italian universities the term Doctor was used for all faculties).

During the studies that lead to the degree, the student is called a doctoral student or Ph D student; a student who has completed all of their coursework and comprehensive examinations and is working on their thesis/dissertation is sometimes known as a doctoral candidate or Ph D candidate (see: all but dissertation).

A student attaining this level may be granted a Candidate of Philosophy degree at some institutions, or may be granted a master's degree en route to the doctoral degree. In many countries, a candidate must defend this work before a panel of expert examiners appointed by the university.

In most of Europe, all fields (history, philosophy, social sciences, mathematics, and natural philosophy/sciences) other than theology, law, and medicine (the so-called professional, vocational, or technical curriculum) were traditionally known as philosophy, and in Germany and elsewhere in Europe the basic faculty of liberal arts was known as the "faculty of philosophy".

In the universities of Medieval Europe, study was organized in four faculties: the basic faculty of arts, and the three higher faculties of theology, medicine, and law (canon law and civil law).The University of London introduced the DSc in 1860, but as an advanced study course, following on directly from the BSc, rather than a research degree.The first higher doctorate in the modern sense was Durham University's DSc, introduced in 1882.Those who teach at universities or work in academic, educational, or research fields are usually addressed by this title "professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation." Alternatively, holders may use post-nominal letters such as "Ph.D.", "Ph D", or "DPhil" (depending on the awarding institution).The slightly older degrees of Doctor of Science and Doctor of Literature/Letters still exist at British universities; together with the much older degrees of Doctor of Divinity (DD), Doctor of Music (DMus), Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) and Doctor of Medicine (MD), they form the higher doctorates, but apart from honorary degrees, they are only infrequently awarded.In the English (but not the Scottish) universities, the Faculty of Arts had become dominant by the early 19th century.As an earned research degree, those studying for a Ph D are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field.The completion of a Ph D is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields.There were no Ph Ds in Germany before the 1650s (when they gradually started replacing the MA as the highest academic degree; arguably, one of the earliest German Ph D holders is Erhard Weigel (Dr. Most students left the university without becoming masters of arts, whereas regulars (members of monastic orders) could skip the arts faculty entirely.This situation changed in the early 19th century through the educational reforms in Germany, most strongly embodied in the model of the University of Berlin, founded and controlled by the Prussian government in 1810.


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