Do you remember the last time you got really sick? You probably had to go see the doctor. She may have used a stethoscope to listen to your heart and lungs.

But did you know that there are lots of different types of doctors? Some of them work at colleges and universities. Others work in the business world. Many of them don’t know much at all about medicine, and most of them don’t have stethoscopes! Who are these people?

When you think of a doctor that works in a clinic or a hospital, you’re thinking of someone who had gone to medical school and received an M.D. degree, which is also known as a Doctor of Medicine degree. However, there are many other types of doctoral degrees.

When you go to a college or a university or a trade school, you can get many different types of degrees or certifications that will allow you to work in many different types of jobs. Different degrees have different requirements. One of the main differences between types of degrees is how long you have to go to school to earn the degree.

For example, most associate’s degrees require two years of full-time college. Bachelor’s degrees usually require four years of full-time college. Master’s, doctorate and other advanced degrees can take anywhere from five to ten years or more to complete.

In any particular field of study, such as medicine, law, psychology, biology or philosophy, the highest possible degree is usually a doctorate. In most countries, a doctorate degree allows the holder to teach in their area of expertise. In fact, the word “doctorate” comes from the Latin word docere, which means “to teach.” It also usually means they are called by the title “doctor.”

If you want to teach philosophy at the college level, you will need to earn your doctorate in philosophy. This degree is called a Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D. degree. You can also earn a Ph.D. in many other areas of study other than philosophy, but the degree is still called a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

People with a Ph.D. who teach in colleges and universities will often go by the title “doctor” or “professor.” Some people with doctorate degrees aren’t necessarily called “doctor,” though. For example, lawyers have Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees, but they are usually not referred to as “doctors.” It all depends upon what has become the custom within a particular profession.

So the next time you meet a “doctor,” don’t automatically assume that she’s a medical doctor. She could be an expert in one of many different fields of study!

52 Join the Discussion

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  1. Thoughts: We were intrigued by the connection between the WONDER question and the video and how not all college students know what they want to do. Colleges provide a lot of different opportunities for students that want to study different things.

    Connections: Many of our parents want to have careers in the same field as the students on the video. The video made us think of our childhood dreams. One of our classmates (Michelle) has a little brother who needed to have his heart checked after each feeding so her mom learned very quickly how to use a stethoscope.

    Predictions: What is a bed bug? What eats farmers crops? What is the scariest insect? Where do spiders go? What is the creepiest kind of bug? Is your house haunted?

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Hess’ Class! We are glad to hear that you’re WONDERing with us today! The Wonder of the Day® was a bit tricky… we learned that there are doctors of all sorts, not just medical doctors!

      It’s great that you’re WONDERing about your dreams for the future, and it’s super cool that Michelle shared her connection about her mom and brother! Way to go Michelle!

      We can’t wait for tomorrow’s creepy crawly Wonder! EEK! :)

  2. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We enjoyed today’s wonder and want to be so many different things when we grow up from military to lawyers and members of the FBI are all in our 4th grade class.

    We think tomorrow will have something to do with bugs.
    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s 4th graders

    • HOORAY, we’re so happy our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Tillman’s 4th grade class are thinking about their careers! COOL BEANS!

      We are very proud of you, Wonder Friends! Keep up the WONDERing and dreaming! :)

    • We are so happy you’re here, Wonder Friend Angel! It’s cool to learn something new with a great friend like you! We Wonder if you can guess tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®?! :)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We were happy to read today’s wonder after 2 snow days! Only half of our class knows what they want to be when they grow up. Only 2 students would want to get their doctorate in a subject. Some students would like to be a teacher, or an athlete , an architect, an engineer, a lawyer and a lego creator.
    Some of our predictions for tomorrow’s wonder are: spiders, amphibians, scorpions, reptiles or tarantulas because they are all things that crawl and may be creepy!

    • Hello to our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Chevalier’s Class! Welcome back from your snow days! PHEW! We sure hope you’ve stayed warm (and built a snowman or snowwoman, too)! It sounds like our Wonder Friends have been thinking about different career paths– hooray for you! All those careers sound great and challenging!

      We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! :)

    • WOOHOO! We are sending you and your sister a virtual high five, Michael! Thanks for sharing your comment! Like Wonderopolis Friend mentioned, we hope she does well in school! :)

  4. Some of our parents are doctors. One student’s dad is an eye doctor, another works in a hospital and four parents have doctorates in Chemistry. We predict that tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be spiders, insects, or bedbugs.

    • WOW, our Wonder Friends at Maple Glen 3rd Grade have a LOT of connections to today’s Wonder! HOORAY! It’s cool that you know medical professionals and doctors, as well as people who are doctors in Chemistry, too! COOL! We look forward to WONDERing with you again… we can’t wait until then! :)

    • Have you ever used a stethoscope, Wonder Friend Jusin? We are glad you’re here today! What was your favorite part of today’s Wonder? :)

  5. Why did you not respond to my comment wonderopolis? I think tomorrow’s wonder is about bugs, insects, arachnids hey I spelled arachnid correctly!

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Hunter! Nice work– you did spell arachnids correctly (it’s a tough one to spell)! That’s a SUPER Wonder guess for tomorrow’s creepy crawly Wonder. We’re shivering just thinking about it!

      We’re sorry if we didn’t see one of your comments– we appreciate all our Wonder Friends and their comments! :)

  6. The video was a little confusing with the question asked. We understood it better once we read. Some of us thought all doctors have stethoscopes, but now we know they don’t! We learned that some doctors go to different schools to be trained.

    • We’re happy that you watched the video and read today’s Wonder to fully understand what we’ve been talking about, Tigers1stGrade/K! We’re so proud of you! Thanks for sharing what you thought and learned today– we are lucky to have great Wonder Friends like you! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonderopolis friend! We’re so happy you enjoyed Michael’s comment– and how kind of you for sending good wishes to his sister, too! WAY TO GO! :)

    • How right you are, Wonder Friend Antoine! Thanks for helping us answer this Wonder question– we hope you learned something new today! :)

  7. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thank you for the great wonder today! 4th graders in our class want to be many different things from race car drivers, vets, artist, and even scientists.

    We think tomorrow will be about creepers, fishing, or even bugs.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th grade class.

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th grade class! We are so happy you have been discussing all the different career opportunities that exist! HOW EXCITING! We know you can do something if you work hard, and put time and energy into what you are practicing! We believe in you, Wonder Friends!

      Thanks for sharing your creepy crawly guesses, too! See you soon! :)

    • Great question, Wonder Friend Katie! We are a group of Wonder Friends who enjoy reading the comments we receive each and every day! It makes us smile to find out about all the awesome things our other Wonder Friends are talking about and learning. To answer your question in a very long way… we are real human Wonder Friends! :)

  8. This video gave us ideas about what we want to be when we grow up. Not everyone knows what they want to be.

    We learn how other people like other things.

    We wonder what it is going to be in store for us tomorrow.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Coleman’s Class! Thanks for sharing what you learned today! We’re so happy that you’ve been thinking about all the different things you can be when you grow up! Thanks for joining us today… and we cannot wait to Wonder with you again! :)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Our class has many questions. We were stumped. We thought that the wrong video was linked. Our teacher looked at the comments below and found out that we had to look for the connections. This is day 2 of our Wonderopolis adventures! We are writing down the wonder questions and we started a “Wall of Wonders” in our classroom!
    We can’t wait until tomorrow!

    Thank you,
    Ms. Uppena’s Third Grade Super Sleuths

    • We’re so happy you’re back today, Super Sleuths! We are glad you joined the Wonderopolis adventure and used your awesome imaginations to figure out what today’s Wonder is about! NICE WORK!

      We think your “Wall of Wonders” sounds AWESOME and we hope to see it soon! Perhaps you can send us a picture?! :)

  10. Dear wonderopolis

    I am very excited for tomorrow’s wonder of the day! I think that tomorrow’s wonder of the day is insects. Alex and I are the only ones in the class that want to get doctorate for our job! Wonderopolis is awesome!

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Pablo! Thanks for sharing your awesome Wonder comment with us! We’re glad to hear that you and Alex have been thinking about what you want to do in the future, and we’re happy to hear you plan to get your doctorate, too! WOHOO! We hope to Wonder with you soon! :)

  11. Dear Wonderopolis, I am so excited about me talking to you.I learned that there are different kinds of doctors. I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is a spider.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Reagan! We’re so glad you’re here– thanks for sharing your comment! It’s great news that you learned all about different kinds of doctors today! WAY TO GO! See you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

    • This comment made our day, Mattias! Thank you for letting us know you love learning cool things in Wonderopolis! We hope you’ll keep WONDERing with us each and every day! :-)

  12. I don’t think that all doctors have stethoscopes because not all doctors have the money for them. All city doctors have them, but probably not village doctors.

  13. Hi wonderopolis I think that this website is awesome, but also not all docters have a whateveryoucallit, only the ones who can afford one.

    • Hey Alex, thanks for letting us know how much you enjoy Wonderopolis! Medical doctors have stethoscopes, but others with the title “doctor” may not need one. You can be a doctor of other things based on the different academic degrees you receive! Check out our Wonder for more information, Alex! We think you’ll learn a lot! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do all doctors have stethoscopes?
  • What is a doctorate degree?
  • Is everyone with a Ph.D. called doctor?

Wonder Gallery

863Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Do you need to see a doctor? Ask a friend or family member to help you give one or more of the following activities a thorough check-up:

  • How many doctors do you know? You’ve probably been to a medical doctor and a dentist in the past. But have you had contact with any other doctors? Give it some thought. How many professionals do you know? Do you know any lawyers or professors? You may know more doctors than you realized! For fun, grab a phonebook and do a search to find as many doctors as possible. How many did you find? Count them and compare your list to that of a friend who did the same thing.
  • What’s the closest college or university to your house? Find out and then jump online to check out that school’s website. What degrees does it offer? Make a list of the degrees you could get from that school and then ask a friend or family member to help you brainstorm a list of careers that you might be able to pursue with each degree.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Have you ever thought about being a doctor? Now that you know that not all doctors have stethoscopes or work in hospitals, have you given any more thought to becoming a doctor…of some sort? It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to do with the rest of your life. Maybe you would like to be a doctor with a stethoscope who helps sick people at a hospital. Or maybe you’d like to be a doctor in a different field who does research at a university. Perhaps you’d even like to be a doctor in a field such as education who teaches at a college. Think about the things that interest you and spend some time talking with friends and family members about careers that they think might interest you. If you can, find someone who works in a field you’re interested in and ask if you can job shadow them for a day. There’s nothing quite like getting an up-close look at the daily routine of someone who has a job in a field you’re interested in! Once you have an idea of a field you might be interested in, jump online and check out the websites of colleges and universities to try to find one that specializes in the field in which you might be interested.

Still Wondering

In Science NetLinks’ Women in Medicine: Past and Future lesson, children will compare the careers of two women, a century apart, involved in medical science.

Wonder What’s Next?

If you like creepy-crawlies, then you’re sure to love tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day!

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