Higher Education and the Move From Bachelor's Degrees to Graduate Programs

Higher Education and the Move From Bachelor's Degrees to Graduate Programs

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2656-9.ch002
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This chapter explains relevant parts of the historical development of American universities. It begins with the development of graduate studies in European institutions and explains selected parts of this history that are relevant to the doctorate in contemporary American universities. Details of the development of American colleges and universities are presented focusing on the nature of the doctoral degrees in American universities, the founding of the American Association of Universities (AAU), and the AAU's influence on the movement towards standardization of the doctorate.
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Purpose And Format Of The Early Doctoral Degrees

The multiple degree levels still had such variation as to confuse the issue of whom was qualified to teach what. Generally, anyone with a bachelor’s degree might be able to teach at a secondary school, but they might also be allowed to teach bachelor’s coursework if under the mentorship of an established professor. The apprentice may have eventually continued as a professor without earning an additional degree. Often, however, the apprenticeship period constituted the master’s program. As such, when the mentor felt that his apprentice was ready to successfully teach on his own, the master’s degree was conferred. In such cases, study may or may not have taken the form of coursework. Independent study along with the mentoring sessions may have been the entire program.

Doctoral programs which followed a master’s degree in these universities often followed a similar pattern. The apprenticeship in teaching and/or scholarly study was often more important than any formal coursework. It is important to note that in many early doctoral programs, original scholarship was not required. While scholarly study was usually required, original research was often not a part of the expectations of the doctoral programs. Here again, gradual changes occurred starting at specific universities and gradually spreading throughout the universities. Most notably, there were several universities in Germany that began to have a much more formalized graduate education system and the expectation of faculty research. That led to the need for preparing doctoral candidates to engage in original research.

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