This move, from thinking of a doctorate as purely an academic apprenticeship to seeing it as a higher level of training for professionals has, according to Fillery-Travis, been identified by the EU as a route by which we can upskill people to meet the challenges of the future economy.

“A doctorate allows a coaching practitioner to contribute to their profession by providing a critical, robust, but highly practical eye on the body of knowledge through engagement in teaching, professional body work or publication,” she comments.

Dr Elaine Cox, director of postgraduate coaching and mentoring programmes at Oxford Brookes University, believes that the university’s doctorate programme is the pinnacle of work-based learning.

“All our doctorate coaching and mentoring (DCM) candidates select a professional, work-based problem to research, and the findings that emerge from their studies provide practical and knowledge-based learning, both for them as professionals and for others working in the field,” she says. “The contribution to knowledge is therefore both theoretical and professional/practical.”

Dr Cox says it is, however, tricky to identify specific trends in the field of senior-level coaching courses. “All doctoral study is cutting edge and unique by its very nature, so trends are hard to pinpoint,” she notes.

For example, Professor Stephen Palmer, director of the Coaching Psychology Unit, City University London, says: “Chartered psychologists can take our top-up doctorate in coaching psychology. This includes a research project, critical literature review and a case study. The degree takes into account that they are already experienced psychologists.”

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