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unnecessary for such positions? From the information gathered by the committee (see Section 2.7 and Appendix F), the opposite seems to be true. Employers themselves appear to be seeking the intellectual standards, resourcefulness, and initiative that come with the successful completion of original research in a PhD program. The complexity and sophistication of more and more positions appear to require the qualities gained in the advanced coursework and original-problem formation of graduate programs.

Another possibility is the creation of a new form of degree—a "different doctorate," perhaps, or a degree that is intermediate between a master's and a doctorate. In theory, a new degree could be better tuned to the class of nontraditional jobs that PhDs are increasingly filling—for example, it might require less-intensive or different types of research and dissertation experience and as a consequence take less time to complete.

In practice, however, we are convinced that this approach would not work well. The proposal is reminiscent of the doctor of science (DSc) degree that some institutions have offered with the hope that it would catch on as the preferred degree for doctoral students who seek nontraditional careers. A key point is that employers report that they value the research experience required for the PhD degree. Without ready demand for a newly introduced degree, students risk investing substantial effort only to find that they receive a diploma regarded as inferior—one that critics might think of as "PhD-lite." It is more realistic, we conclude, to adapt the PhD degree than to try to invent and introduce a hybrid degree.

In opting for a strategy of making graduates much more versatile and informed, we believe we have a solution that allows the system to self-adjust continuously in a way that does not depend on the accuracy of an assessment of the number of graduates needed in the national aggregate or in particular fields. Thus, for example, if better-informed students conclude that the PhD is inappropriate or unnecessary for the jobs they want, enrollments will decline accordingly.


Once enrolled, a graduate student might find many reasons to select a relatively narrow subject for intensive study. A student might be fascinated by a particular field of knowledge and see specialization as the surest route to a research position. If the selected field aligns with the research interests of a professor, the student might have an exciting and educationally enriching chance to work as an assistant on a path-breaking research team; this can enrich the student's educational experience immeasurably and can provide fresh ideas and energy to the research team as well.

The disadvantages of overspecialization in graduate school, although not immediately apparent, are real for both the student and the nation, whether or not the student becomes a researcher. Excessive concentration in a particular subfield can limit a person's later research contributions and affect later career choices. It is difficult to gauge whether a specialty chosen early in graduate school will be desirable in the job market or still be in the exciting forefront

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