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After four years in America, he got __________.

A. a degree of doctor

B. a doctor's degree

C. the degree of a doctor

D. a doctor degree

The correct answer is B but I want to know why not C or A?

(Merriam Webster's Unabridged) Doctorate etymology: doctor: the degree, title, or rank of a doctor.

I have checked in dictionary that doctor cannot be used as an uncountable noun.

  • D could also plausibly work, but it simply doesn't. – user3395 Jan 4 at 11:22
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Strictly speaking, while “the degree of a doctor” (C) is non-idiomatic, it is grammatical, and logically sound, while “a doctor degree” (D) is not, since D should have the possessive, like option B.

Option A, “a degree of doctor”, would not be correct, because Doctor is the title bestowed by the degree, not the subject of the degree itself. So you cannot get a degree of doctor, because this would mean you had studied doctors themselves, rather than medicine, or physics, or philosophy, or anything else that doctors study.

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  • I have checked english-corpora.org, why "a degree of doctor of laws" is sound,while "a degree of doctor" is wrong? – momsta Jan 4 at 10:59
  • First, you would say 'A Doctor of Law degree', because 'Doctor of Law' describes the degree, and so functions as an adjective. Secondly, the degree there is in Law, not in Doctor of Law. – Matthew Wells Jan 4 at 18:05
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Maybe because doctor also means "one skilled in healing arts", so the degree of doctor tend to cause confusing.

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