Higher education is similar to the Martial Arts in their progression to the top. The first four year degree is either a BA, bachelor of arts or a BS, bachelor of science. The next degree is a Masters of several different disciplines, MBA, BS Ed, etc. The final degree is a PhD, Doctor pf Philosophy, again in several disciplines. Other than getting PhD s in several different disciplines there is no higher degree that I know of. All of the PhD s started as undergraduates and were taught by professors with advanced degrees, most with PhD s. If the student kept at it he eventually achieved the same PhD as his original professor. Now several PhD s rose to become Chairs of their Departments and had authority over other PhD s, some even rose to become Presidents of colleges and universities. At that time all PhD s had the same rank, but they had different responsibilities, the same as in the Martial Arts.
The military is similar to academia. There are many Four Star Generals, but some have command authority over others. Being subordinate to someone is not being inferior, but it is a fact of life that even though they are equals, they have different areas of command and responsibilities. Also several Generals move from assignment to assignment acting either in a leadership role or in a subordinate role. This is how I view the senior ranks in our organization.