JDs are PhDs? CHED says no.

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MANILA—The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) clarified that Bachelor of Laws (Ll.B.) and Juris Doctor (JD) are not equivalent to doctorate degrees.

On a press release dated January 11, 2019, J. Prospero E. De Vera, CHED chairperson, expounded that the basic law course is not considered a doctorate degree, citing the difference in the objective of a basic law degree and a doctorate degree.

This is in response to Resolution No. 2019-406 of the Legal Education Board (LEB) which “set” the “graduate degree equivalency” of the basic law course. The resolution was approved January 9, 2019.

In the said resolution, LEB resolved that the basic law courses of Ll.B. and JD shall be considered as equivalent to doctoral degrees in other non-law academic disciplines for purposes of appointment/employment, ranking, and compensation.

Arguing for the said equivalency, LEB cited that the masteral course takes only two (2) years whereas a regularly taken basic law course takes four (4) years. It further said that the coursework required to complete a master’s degree is approximately 36 to 40 units while the minimum for basic law degrees is 152 units. Even the combined number of units, LEB suggests, is 100 units. LEB opined that it is “unreasonable and unfair” to consider the basic law degree as equivalent to a master’s degree.

CHED viewed LEB’s Resolution No. 2019-406 with “serious concern” and began its press release with asserting its authority under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7722 or the Higher Education Act in determining the requirements of granting a graduate program. CHED also stated that the grant of authority or equivalency to non-law academic disciplines of degree programs are within its powers.

CHED countered that a doctoral degree is not determined solely by the number of units completed or the number of years in graduate school. A PhD, as emphasized by CHED, entails the creation of new knowledge in a field of specialization through a dissertation, which needs to be publicly presented and defended before a panel of PhD folders in a field of study. It may likewise involve publication of one’s research in a peer-reviewed journal.

CHED closed its press release by reminding higher educational institutions that the policies and standards of CHED prevail.