A doctoral degree is an academic postgraduate degree. It is generally the highest level degree awarded by a university, and, in most countries, it qualifies the holder to teach at the university level. A doctorate degree is achieved through independent research, culminating in at least one published work.
In North American universities, doctoral degrees usually take between four and eight years to complete. This includes several years of coursework followed by a long, in-depth independent research project called a dissertation. Some doctoral degrees also require hands-on work in the form of an internship. Many students pursuing their doctoral degree get work teaching or serving as a teacher's aid at their university.