EngD – PhD Comparison

  • A PhD is a traditional doctorate and is an excellent grounding for someone intent on a career as an academic researcher or specialist engineer. An EngD helps those with ambitions in business, industry and other non-academic organisations.
  • PhD research is often university-based. Research Engineers (REs) studying for an EngD work closely with an industrial sponsor.
  • PhD research can vary from abstract/theoretical to applied industry research. EngD research usually concerns a topic related to the business activities of the industrial sponsor.
  • PhD projects are primarily focused on research activities. EngD programmes typically combine research and taught courses.


The PhD is a doctoral degree, specifically called a ‘doctor of philosophy’ degree. The candidate is typically based at an academic institution conducting research that contributes to the greater understanding of a given field. The period of a PhD is typically three years, with the addition of a thesis write-up year. A PhD is recognised worldwide and has been established since the mid-19th century.


The Engineering Doctorate (EngD) provides a more vocationally oriented doctorate in engineering than the traditional PhD. The degree was introduced nationally in 1992 and is now well established. It combines academic research in an industrial context with taught modules in related subjects

  • The EngD is a ‘professional’ doctorate. However, the EngD student – or Research Engineer (RE) – pursues a research project while based within a company.
  • The research itself is identified by the sponsoring company and confirmed as appropriate by the Industrial Doctorate Centre (IDC)
  • The company commits itself to support the research project over the duration of a four-year EngD programme, and releases the RE to attend taught course modules.
  • REs typically spend about 75% of their time working directly with a company.
  • Within the company, an RE is otherwise treated as an employee, working normal company hours and holiday periods.
  • All time spent on EngD programmes are recognised by relevant institutions as contributing towards Chartered Engineer (CEng) status.