In the academic professions, a terminal degree is the highest educational degree offered for a discipline. For many disciplines, the terminal degree is a doctorate. In some disciplines (e.g. fine arts, business administration), where no doctoral academic path is available, the terminal degree might be a masters or professional degree.

The proportion of a college or university's faculty with terminal degrees is a common (if flawed) measure of the institution's quality of education. Within the institution, the terminal degree is often a qualification for tenure, and may be a consideration in layoff decisions.