What's the difference between a doctoral and a masters?

A Masters degree is usually a practical degree (or otherwise known as a "Professional" degree.) The Masters provides you with the tools to go out and do advanced work in the field of your degree. In essence, you have "mastered" the tools of your trade on a higher level (and more intensely) than a Bachelors degreed student, and can now put them to use. A Doctoral Degree usually prepares one to teach at a university level. It involves more in-depth thinking, discussion, and examination than the Masters programs. There is less emphasis on testing, and more on reading, writing, and thinking. A Masters program may require several Midterm and final exams, and perhaps several shorter papers. A Doctoral course might require no formal (i.e. homework to be turned in) work for an entire semester, but will require a 30-40 page paper on a topic at the end of the semester. Some programs require Masters students to write a thesis. All Doctoral programs require a dissertation, which can take anywhere from 1-10 years to complete (depending on the student and the school.) A dissertation is done to demonstrate that the writer has become an expert on the topic, and to demonstrate knowledge of the topic in an intense way. Masters programs can take from 16 months to 3 years to complete. Doctoral programs usually require 4 semesters of coursework, a qualifying exam (to be allowed to write your dissertation), and from 3-10 years to finish and defend the dissertation in front of a committee of professors.