This article reports findings from a recent research project, commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which explored the current landscape of professional doctorate (PD) provision in English higher education institutions (HEIs) (Mellors-Bourne et al., 2016). Given the absence of a clear definition by the Quality Assurance Agency for England of the characteristics that distinguish PDs from practice-based doctorates and the doctor of philosophy, this paper makes a timely contribution through considering the inherent characteristics of PD programmes. The paper presents an overview of the state of play of PD programmes currently available in HEIs in England, highlighting how the proliferation of PD titles and programmes, and inconsistencies between the various programmes, has resulted in confusion about what PDs are, the contribution they make, and the value they add to professional practice. Consideration is given to the tensions created through the expansion in the number and types of PDs available, and the implications of these tensions with regard to the future sustainability of PD programmes in general and in relation to the professional doctorate in education (EdD) in particular.
- PD programmes
- Professional doctorate
- Professional doctorate in education
- Viability of professional doctorates