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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What is grad school?



There are three types of graduate schools: professional schools (such as law schools and medical schools), master’s program and doctorate programs. In this post I’ll be referring to the latter two.

Estelle M. Phillips and Derek S. Pugh in there book “How to get a PhD” (Open University Press) provide a background why graduate studies exist in our educational system:

A bachelor’s degree traditionally means that the holder had finished general education. However, in modern times this degree has evolved into specialized degrees such as in engineering, the science, the arts etc.

A master’s degree means a license to practice. The first master’s degrees are given to holders of degrees in theology; this means they are licensed to take a living in the Church. Nowadays, there are master’s degrees in almost all disciplines (i.e. computer science, business administration, education, public administration, etc.). This means the holder possesses advanced knowledge in a special field of discipline.

A doctor’s degree traditionally was a license to teach in a university. However, in modern times this is not usually the case. There are several doctorate degree holders which do not teach in a university or a college. However, in a university setting, faculty members are encouraged to obtain doctorate courses. The reason for this is what Phillips and Pugh emphasized that a faculty with a doctorate degree should be:

“…an authority, in full command of the subject right up to the boundaries of current knowledge, and able to extend them. As the highest degree that can be awarded, it proclaims that the recipient is worthy of being listened to as an equal by the appropriate university faculty”.

Thus, the main reason for entering graduate school is to pursue knowledge. In order to break boundaries we must be able provide new insights into a certain field. We can only do this by focusing on a specific branch of what we have chosen as courses in college.

(Photo from: www.phdcomics.com)

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