Doctor, as a title, originates from the Latin word of the same spelling and meaning. The word is originally an agentive noun of the Latin verb docēre [dɔˈkeːrɛ] 'to teach'. It has been used as an honored academic title for over a millennium in Europe, where it dates back to the rise of the first universities. This use spread to the Americas, former European colonies, and is now prevalent in most of the world. Contracted "Dr" or "Dr.", it is used as a designation for a person who has obtained a doctorate-level degree. Doctorates may be research doctorates or professional doctorates. When addressing several people, each of whom holds a doctoral title, one may use the plural contraction "Drs" (or "Drs." in American English) – or in some languages (for example, German) "Dres." may be used – for example, instead of Dr Miller and Dr Rubinstein: Drs Miller and Rubinstein. When referring to relatives with the same surname the form "The Doctors Smith" can be used. The abbreviation Drs. can also mean doctorandus, a Dutch academic title.
The doctorate (Latin: doceō, I teach) appeared in medieval Europe as a license to teach (Latin: licentia docendi) at a medieval university. Its roots can be traced to the early church when the term "doctor" referred to the Apostles, church fathers and other Christian authorities who taught and interpreted the Bible. The right to grant a licentia docendi was originally reserved to the church which required the applicant to pass a test, to take oath of allegiance and pay a fee. The Third Council of the Lateran of 1179 guaranteed the access – now largely free of charge – of all able applicants, who were, however, still tested for aptitude by the ecclesiastic scholastic. This right remained a bone of contention between the church authorities and the slowly emancipating universities, but was granted by the pope to the University of Paris in 1213 where it became a universal license to teach (licentia ubiquie docendi). However, while the licentia continued to hold a higher prestige than the bachelor's degree (Baccalaureus), it was ultimately reduced to an intermediate step to the Magister and doctorate, both of which now became the exclusive qualification for teaching.
The earliest doctoral degrees (theology, law, and medicine) reflected the historical separation of all university study into these three fields. Over time the D.D. has gradually become less common and studies outside theology, law, and medicine have become more common (such studies were then called "philosophy", but are now classified as sciences and humanities – however this usage survives in the degree of Doctor of Philosophy).
The Ph.D. was originally a degree granted by a university to learned individuals who had achieved the approval of their peers and who had demonstrated a long and productive career in the field of philosophy (in the broad sense of the term philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge). The appellation of "Doctor" (from Latin: teacher) was usually awarded only when the individual was in middle age. It indicated a life dedicated to learning, to knowledge, and to the spread of knowledge.
The Ph.D. entered widespread use in the 19th century at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin as a degree to be granted to someone who had undertaken original research in the sciences or humanities. From there it spread to the United States, arriving at Yale University in 1861, and then to the United Kingdom in 1921. This displaced the existing Doctor of Philosophy degree in some Universities; for instance, the D.Phil. (higher doctorate in the faculty of philosophy) at the University of St Andrews was discontinued and replaced with the Ph.D. (research doctorate). However, some UK universities such as Oxford and Sussex (and, until recently, York) retain the D.Phil. appellation for their research degrees, as, until recently, did the University of Waikato in New Zealand.
Throughout much of the academic world, the term "doctor" refers to an individual who has earned a degree of Doctor of Philosophy, or Ph.D. (an abbreviation for the Latin Philosophiæ Doctor; or alternatively Doctor philosophiæ, D.Phil., meaning Teacher of Philosophy), or other research doctorate such as the Doctor of Science, or Sc.D. (an abbreviation of the Latin Scientiae Doctor). Beyond academia, many professions, such as law and medicine, have developed professional doctorates, such as the Juris Doctor J.D. and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) (an abbreviation of the Latin Medicinæ Doctor).
In Austria, the title "Doktor" is granted to physicians and dentists (Dr. med. univ. and Dr. med. dent., which are technically not "doctorate degrees") as well as to holders of postgraduate research degrees (Dr. techn., Dr. phil., Dr. rer. nat., etc.). They are addressed as "Doktor ______", and the title is usually contracted to "Dr. ______". Contrary to popular belief, "Dr." is not part of the name but just an academic title like "Mag." or "Dipl.-Ing.". It is not mandatory to use the title, although it can be added to official documents (driver's license, passport, etc.), if desired.
Canada lies somewhere between British and American usage of the degree and terminology of "doctor". Research doctorates – PhDs and ScDs – are entitled to use the title "doctor". Healthcare professions for which members may be called by the title of doctor are: Medicine, Dentistry, Chiropractic, Optometry, Veterinary medicine, Podiatry and, more recently, Pharmacy. Members of these professions generally complete a minimum of 2 years of undergraduate science studies, followed by a four-year doctorate-level program to earn either the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), and, in some provinces, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M) and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). In Ontario, only chiropractors, dentists, medical doctors, optometrists and psychologists can use the title "doctor". A registered naturopathic doctor (N.D.) may only use the title “doctor” in written format if she or he also uses the phrase, "naturopathic doctor" immediately following his or her name.
In the legal profession, the LLB degree used to be the standard and as such graduates were not referred to as "doctor." However, in recent years a vast majority of Canadian Law Schools have switched to the Juris Doctor degree, although the use of "doctor" in professional practice is not common, there is nothing that forbids it.
In the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other areas whose cultures were recently linked to the UK, the title Doctor generally applies in both the academic field, for those who hold doctoral-level research degrees, and the clinical field, for those who hold medical degrees and/or related professional doctorates." Registered medical practitioners" hold the degree of Bachelor of Medicine (usually also with surgery). Though they are holders of bachelor-level degrees, history has hallowed the use of the title doctor by physicians, however, it is recognised that it is in essence an honorary or courtesy title. Cultural conventions exist, clinicians who are Members or Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons are an exception. As a homage to their predecessors, the barber surgeons, they prefer to be addressed as Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss, even if they do hold a medical degree. When a medical doctor passes the examinations which enable them to become a member of one or more of the Royal Surgical Colleges and become "MRCS", it is customary for them to drop the "Doctor" prefix and take up "Miss", "Mister", or and so on. This rule applies to any doctor of any grade who has passed the appropriate exams, and is not the exclusive province of consultant-level surgeons. In recent times, other surgically orientated specialists, such as gynaecologists, have also adopted these prefixes. A surgeon who is also a professor is usually known as "Professor" and, similarly, a surgeon who has been ennobled, knighted, created a baronet or appointed a dame uses the corresponding title (Lord, Sir, Dame). Physicians, on the other hand, when they pass their "MRCP" examinations, which enable them to become members of the Royal College of Physicians, do not drop the "Doctor" prefix and remain Doctor, even when they are consultants. In the United Kingdom the status and rank of consultant surgeons with the FRCS, titled "Mister", etc., and consultant physicians with the MRCP, titled "Doctor", is identical. The MRCS also gives a "Mister" title, but the Doctor cannot become a consultant with an MRCS alone. Surgeons in the USA and elsewhere continue to use the title "Doctor", although New Zealand uses the titles of Mr and Doctor, in the same way as the United Kingdom.
In the United Kingdom, those training for the medical profession complete either a 5–6 year course of study or an accelerated 4-year graduate entry course of study that leads to the degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS or MBChB, standing for the Latin Medicinae Baccalaureus et Chirurgiae Baccalaureus). In the United Kingdom, the M.D. is a research degree more similar to a Ph.D. and is a higher level of attainment, usually through a body of published work or the submission of a dissertation. To be eligible for a MD degree in the UK one must already hold an entry level medical degree (for example, MBBS, MBChB, BMed, or a North American MD degree) and usually must have had at least 5 years of postgraduate training and experience. British surgeons – a designation reserved for those who have obtained membership of the Royal College of Surgeons – are addressed as Mr, Mrs or Miss rather than Dr. This custom has been commented on in the British Medical Journal and may stem from the historical origins of the profession. Those training to become dentists usually graduate with a bachelor-level dental degree (for example, BDS, BDent, BDentSc, BChD, and so on) and can also be referred to as "doctor", though many do not choose to use this title, thereby stressing their surgeon status. In the House of Commons of the United Kingdom on January 19, 1996, health minister Gerald Malone noted that the title doctor had never been restricted to either medical practitioners or those with doctoral degrees in the UK, commenting that the word was defined by common usage but that the titles "physician, doctor of medicine, licentiate in medicine and surgery, bachelor of medicine, surgeon, general practitioner and apothecary" did have special protection in law.
With the introduction of National Health Practitioner registration legislation on July 1, 2010, the title "doctor" is not restricted in any Australian state. The title "medical practitioner" is restricted for use by registered medical practitioners, while the title "doctor" is not restricted by law.
European Union (EU) legislation recognises academic qualifications (including higher degrees and doctorates) of all member states. Standardisation is attempted through the Bologna process. However, not all EU member states have conformed to the 1999 Bologna declaration in favour of their own historic customs.
In France, the title of Docteur is only used in the current language for physicians, dentists, veterinarians and pharmacists. Confusingly, the professionals from these medical domains do not hold a doctorate, which is in France only a research doctorate, but a "State Diploma of Doctor" (Diplôme d'État de docteur en médecine). The holders of a doctorate are only rarely referred to as "Doctors", especially by the people who are themselves from an academic environment.
The French language is similar, with "médecin" and "docteur". A French medical degree is called "Un diplôme d'État de docteur en médecine" which is distinct from a (research) doctorate, "Un doctorat (de recherche)". However "Docteur" may be used as a courtesy title when speaking to a physician, e.g., "Bonjour Docteur".
In German language-speaking countries, the word Doktor refers to a research doctorate awardee in formal language (similar to a PhD), and is distinct from Arzt, a medical practitioner. Though colloquial use of the word Doktor for physician is common.
Although Germany has signed the Bologna declaration, it does not conform to it. Recently, German federal legislation confirmed the standardisation of qualifications, as required for conformation to EU legislation. Until this German Federal legislation was introduced, there were no recognised mechanism to prevent administrators in private bodies and civil servants in public-funded bodies (such as universities) from automatically discriminating between the qualifications of people with German doctorates compared to holders of doctorates from an EU member state. The German university bureaucratic practice of using the post-nominal form, "Ph.D." (or equivalent), to distinguish non-German doctorates can be challenged legally as evidence of arbitrary discrimination and prejudice against non-German nationals (academics).
In Germany, double doctorates are indicated in the title by "Dr. Dr." or "DDr." and triple doctorates as "Dr. Dr. Dr." or "DDDr.". More doctorates are indicated by the addition of "mult.", such as "Dr. mult.". Honorary titles are shown with the addition of "h.c.", which stands for "honoris causa". Example: "Dr. h.c. mult." All EU citizens are now "legally entitled" to use and be titled (addressed) as "Doctor" or "Dr." in all formal, legal and published communications (provided they do in fact hold the appropriate degree). For academics with doctorates from non-EU member states, the qualification must be recognised formally ("validated") by the Federal Educational Ministry in Bonn. The recognition process can be done by the employer or employee and may be part of the official bureaucracy for confirming professional status and is dependent on individual bilateral agreements between Germany and other countries.
An example of mutual recognition of Doctor titles among EU countries is the "Bonn Agreement of November 14, 1994", signed between Germany and Spain.
In Germany, the most common doctoral degrees are Dr. med. (medicine), Dr. med. dent. (dentistry), Dr. med. vet. (veterinary medicine), Dr. rer. nat. (natural sciences), Dr. phil. (humanities), Dr. iur. (law), Dr. rer. pol. (economic and political sciences, also as Dr. rer. oec. in Switzerland), Dr.-Ing. (engineering), and Dr. theol. (theology). All holders of doctorate degrees are appropriately addressed as "Herr/Frau Dr. _____" in all social situations. In professional situations, PhDs are recognized under the condition that the degree was granted by a university authorized to grant the degree according to the laws of the country of origin. Holders of PhDs granted in the E.U. can be addressed as "Dr." in Germany without any further addenda. According to a decision by The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany of September 21, 2001, in the version from May 15, 2008, this also applies to PhDs that were awarded in Australia, Israel, Japan, or Canada. PhDs that were awarded in the United States are recognized if the awarding institution is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a "Research University (high research activity)" or as a "Research University (very high research activity)." Different conditions apply for professional degrees such as the M.D. or J.D.
In Greece, the term "Doctor" (Δόκτωρ, Δρ.) (pron. doktōr) is used to formally address both holders of a doctorate degree and physicians. The title "Διδάκτωρ" (didaktōr) is used to reference holders of a doctorate degree, while the term "Ιατρός" (iatros) is used for physicians of any specialty.
Hong Kong follows British practice in calling physicians "Doctor" even though many of them hold only an MBBS qualification. An attempt by their professional body to prevent chiropractors from calling themselves "Doctor" failed in the courts, in part because it was pointed out that practicing chiropractors may hold an academic doctorate in their discipline, and it would be anomalous to prevent them using the title when holders of doctorates in non-medical disciplines faced no such restriction.
In Hungary the title of Doctor used to become a part of the name and was added as such to personal ID documents. This practice is still common and graduates after receiving their "diploma" would usually change their personal documents in order to officially indicate the achievement.
Graduates of the six-year medical schools, the five-year law schools and the five-year veterinary medical schools receive the doctor title at the end of their studies. Completing a PhD research programme also leads to the doctor title. A large part of Hungarians with doctor titles received their titles for research in the old academic system before introducing PhD in Hungary. Recently pharmacists have obtained the right to use the title "dr" after successfully completing the faculty of pharmaceutical-chemistry in relevant universities.
In India, MBBS, BDS (graduate entry),BAMS, BHMS medical degrees are required to become a doctor. The higher postgraduate Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), M.D.S., etc. are required to become a specialist in a particular field.
The Indonesian titles "dr." is used in front of the name of medical doctor who holds a specification as general practitioner, also when the doctor already holds his specialization to ___, such as "Sp.THT" or "Spesialis Telinga, Hidung, Tenggorokan" (ENT or Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist).
Dr. is used in front of the name as the title "Doktor" for doctorate title, the same level as Ph.D. title.
The first university of Western civilization, the University of Bologna, is located in Italy, where until modern times the only degree granted was that of the doctorate, and all other Italian universities followed that model. During the 20th century Italian universities introduced more advanced research degrees, such as the Ph.D., and now that it is part of the E.U. Bologna Process, a new three-year first degree, or “laurea” (equivalent to a B.A. of other countries), has been introduced. The old-style "laurea" is now known as "laurea magistrale" (master or specialistic degree, equivalent of a master's degree). For historical reasons, even to this day, the title of "dottore/dottoressa" (abbrev. both as dott/dott.ssa or as dr./dr.ssa ) is awarded even to those who have attended a "laurea". Upper levels of degree are anyway shown in the title, as those who obtain a master's degree can be referred to as "dottore/dottoressa magistrale" (masterly doctor) while those who achieve the relatively new program of "dottorato di ricerca" (research doctorate, equivalent of a Ph.D.), carry the title of "dottore/dottoressa di ricerca" (research doctor), which can be abbreviated as "Dott. Ric." or "Ph.D."
In Malta, the European Union's smallest member state, apart from Academic Doctors (Ph.D. Degree Holders) and Medical Practitioners, the title is also bestowed upon academics who complete the LL.D course. The LL.D. is a doctorate-level academic degree in law requiring at least three years of post-graduate full-time study at the University of Malta, Malta's national university. At least three years of previous law study are required for entry. Students are required to complete coursework in a number of core areas of law, as well as to submit a thesis which is to be "an original work on the approved subject or other contribution to the knowledge showing that he/she has carried out sufficient research therein". It confers the title of Doctor, which in Malta is rigorously used to address a holder of the degree. The LL.D. is one of the requirements for admission to the profession of advocate in Malta (an advocate, as opposed to a legal procurator, has rights of representation in superior courts).
Notable holders of the LL.D. degree include Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici (former President of Malta), the late Prof. Guido de Marco (former President of the United Nations General Assembly and former President of Malta), the late Dr. George Borg Olivier (first post-independence Prime Minister of Malta), and Dr. Lawrence Gonzi (former Prime Minister of Malta).
Historically, The Netherlands have their own specific academic degree nomenclature, but for many years now have recognised and implemented the Bologna declaration. In everyday practice, the Anglo Saxon titles (e.g. PhD) are frequently used.
To enter a Dutch doctoral defense, the candidate must hold a validated master degree (a master degree of an acknowledged university, or a master equivalent degree validated on a case by case basis by the Dutch government). In some cases the candidate can be granted special dispensation if no master degree is held. After obtaining a doctorate successfully, Dutch doctors may bear either the title dr. (lower case) before, or the letter D (rarely in practice) behind their name, but not both simultaneously.
There is no specific notation of the discipline in which the doctorate is obtained. Exceptions only exist for the disciplines with specific master titles of engineering "ir." ("ingenieur", i.e. Engineer) and law "mr." ("meester, i.e. Master of Law) where the title dr. is added to the original master title. For these disciplines, the original master degree abbreviation is combined with the dr. abbreviation thus resulting in for example "dr. ir. Familyman". The dr. title is always placed in front of the ir. title. In the case of a PhD in law, the original mr. title is placed before the dr. title (mr. dr. see e.g. Jan Peter Balkenende), for a person having a law master degree, but holding a PhD in another field than law the mr. title is placed after the dr. titel (dr. mr.). No specific notation or title for the medical disciplines exists in the Netherlands. Although a physician is usually referred to as "dokter" (note the spelling difference) this does not necessarily imply the physician holds a doctoral degree.
Confusion can be caused by the original Dutch Master level title "drs." (for all non-engineering and non-law master degrees). This abbreviation stands for the Dutch title doctorandus Latin for "he who should become a doctor" (female form is "doctoranda"). Dutch drs. should not be confused with the plural 'doctorates': having a PhD in multiple disciplines. Once a doctorate is achieved the doctorandus is promoted to doctor, and no longer uses the drs. abbreviation.
Stacking of multiples titles of the same level, as seen in countries like for example Germany (Dr. Dr. Dr. Musterfrau) is highly uncommon in the Netherlands (although stacking of titles with different levels is common: prof. dr. ir. Appelmans). Those who have multiple doctor titles may use dr.mult. before their name, although this is rare. Academic titles are used exclusively within academia, and have no meaning or implication for public life or documentation (e.g. passport, drivers licence).
In the Dutch language the word "dokter" refers to a physician, whereas "doctor" refers to high academic rank.
In Pakistan, the title of Doctor (Dr.) can be used both by Ph.D. degree holders and medical doctors. In 2011 the Pharmacy Council of Pakistan approved the awarding of a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, a five-year programme at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Peshawar. DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) degree holders use the title Dr. or Vet. Dr. A physical therapist holding a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) qualification can also use the prefix Dr. before their name, as may dentists.
In the Philippines, titles and names of occupations usually follow Spanish naming conventions which utilize gender-specific terms. "Doktór" is the masculine form, which retains the abbreviation Dr.; the feminine form is "Doktóra", and is abbreviated usually as "Dra."; others, however, some being Anglophones who wish to sound modern and Westernised (or were raised in an almost exclusively English-speaking family environment), or some who advocate gender equality, would dispense with the distinction altogether. There does exist in Filipino an equivalent, gender-neutral term for the professional that carries the more general notion of "healer", traditional (for example, an albuláryo) or otherwise: manggagámot.
In Portugal, up to recent times after the completion of an undergraduate degree – except in architecture and engineering – a person was referred to as doutor (Dr.) – male or doutora (Dra.) – female. The architects and engineers were referred by their professional titles: arquitecto (Arq.) and engenheiro (Eng.). Nurses ares also referred to as "nurse", enfermeiro (male) or enfermeira (female), the title being Enf. for both.
Nowadays Portugal is a signatory to the Bologna process and according to the current legislation the title of doctor (doutor, doutora) is reserved for graduate holders of an academic doctorate. Professions such as physicians, attorneys, pharmacists, veterinarians, and few others are usually referred to by the title Dr. (doutor) even if they have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
However, custom gives the legislation little strength and all graduates keep their titles, and those with a doctorate are referred as Professor Doutor.
Ph.D. Degrees are regulated by Royal Decree (R.D. 1393/2007), Real Decreto (in Spanish). They are granted by the University on behalf of the King, and its Diploma has the force of a public document. The Ministry of Science keeps a National Registry of Ph.D.s called TESEO. Any person who uses the Spanish title of "Doctor" (or "Dr.") without being included in this Government database can be prosecuted for fraud.
Unlike other countries, Spain registers a comparatively small number of Doctor degree holders. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), less than 5% of M.Sc. degree holders are admitted to Ph.D. programs. This reinforces the prestige that Doctors enjoy in Spain's society.
The usage of Doctor (ดอกเตอร์) or Dr (ดร.) has been borrowed from English. It can be seen as a title in academic circles and in the mass media. In contrast to other academic titles (Professor, Associate Professor and Assistance Professor), the use of Doctor as a title has not been recognized by the Royal Institute of Thailand. Therefore, this title, in theory, cannot be used officially. For example, in court of justice where strictly formal Thai language is used, Dr cannot be mentioned as a person's title.
Those training to become physicians complete a four-year undergraduate course of study, followed by a four-year doctorate-level program in medicine to earn either the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree or the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. Those training to become audiologists, podiatrists, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, or veterinarians also complete a four-year undergraduate course of study, followed by a four-year doctorate-level program to earn the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.), Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.), Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) respectively. Some programs offer programs with two pre-professional years followed by four professional years, while others require a four year undergraduate/bachelor's degree.
In addition, those who have been granted honorary doctorates are entitled to do so, especially in academic settings. The title is also commonly used socially by those holding a doctoral-level degree. There is a division between Letitia Baldrige and Miss Manners on its social usage by those who are not physicians. Baldrige sees this usage as acceptable; Miss Manners writes that "only people of the medical profession correctly use the title of doctor socially," but supports those who wish to use it in social contexts in the spirit of addressing people according to their wishes.
The American College of Clinicians and at least one state recommends that health care professionals, including physicians, in the clinical setting use identification with an appropriate badge or name tag, as patients encounter a number of different practitioners. For example, all health care professionals should identify themselves and their profession when first meeting a patient.
Though lawyers in the United States do not customarily use such a title, the law degree in that country is the Juris Doctor, a professional doctorate, and some J.D. holders in the United States use the title of doctor in professional and academic situations.
In the US, the Doctor of Science, Sc.D., is an academic research degree that was first conferred in North America by Harvard University in 1872. It has long been awarded by such leading institutions as Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University and Washington University. At many of these universities, the academic requirements for the Ph.D. and Sc.D. are identical, and with identical doctoral academic regalia (though the Sc.D. hood is gold to represent Science rather than Ph.D. blue). In an effort to standardize doctoral degree conferral at these large research institutions, the Ph.D. has replaced and grandfathered the Sc.D. in certain programs, while the Sc.D. is preserved in parallel to the Ph.D. as the highest conferred research doctorate.
Historically, lawyers in most European countries were addressed with the title of doctor, and countries outside of Europe have generally followed the practice of the European country which had policy influence through modernization or colonialization. The first university degrees, starting with the law school of the University of Bologna (or glossators) in the 11th century, were law degrees and doctorates. Degrees in other fields were not granted until the 13th century, but the doctorate continued to be the only degree offered at many of the old universities up until the 20th century. As a result, in many of the southern European countries, including Portugal, Spain and Italy, lawyers have traditionally been addressed as “doctor,” a practice which was transferred to many countries in South America (as well as Macau in China).
The title of doctor has not customarily been used to address lawyers in England or other common law countries because until 1846 lawyers in England were not required to have a university degree and were trained by other attorneys by apprenticeship or in the Inns of Court. The exception being those areas where, up to the 19th century, civil law rather than common law was the governing tradition, including admiralty law, probate and ecclesiastical law, such cases were heard in the Doctor's Commons, and argued by advocates who held degrees either of doctor of civil law at Oxford or doctor of law at Cambridge. As such, lawyers practicing common law in England were not doctoral candidates and had not earned a doctorate. When university degrees became a prerequisite to become a lawyer in England, the degree awarded was the legum baccalaureus, or bachelor of laws, which is abbreviated LL.B.
In countries where holders of the first law degree traditionally use the title of doctor (for example, Peru, Brazil, Macau, Portugal, Argentina, and Italy), J.D. holders who are attorneys may use the title of doctor in advertisements.
In British English it is not necessary to indicate an abbreviation with a full stop (period) after the abbreviation, when the last letter of the abbreviation is the same as the unabbreviated word, while the opposite holds true in North American English. This means that while the abbreviation of Doctor is usually written as "Dr" in most of the Commonwealth, it is usually written as "Dr." in North America.
Similarly, conventions regarding the punctuation of degree abbreviations vary. In the United Kingdom, it is increasingly common to omit punctuations from abbreviations that are not truncations: while the usual abbreviation of "Esquire" is "Esq.", the usual abbreviation for "Doctor of Philosophy" is "PhD". It is not incorrect to use the fully punctuated "Ph.D.", though if this pattern is used, it should be used consistently; practice in particular situations may vary, and it is always more elegant to be consistent with local patterns of usage than to deviate from them.
An honorary doctorate is a doctoral degree awarded for service to the institution or the wider community. It may also be awarded for outstanding achievement in a particular field. This service or achievement does not need to be academic in nature. Often, the same set of degrees is used for higher doctorates, but they are distinguished as being honoris causa: in comprehensive lists, the lettering used to indicate the possession of a higher doctorate is often adjusted to indicate this, for example, "Hon. Sc.D.", as opposed to the earned research doctorate "Sc.D.". The degrees of Doctor of the University (D.Univ.), Doctor of Divinity (D.D.), and Doctor of Humane Letters (D.H.L.), however, are only awarded as an honorary degree.
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