TEXT BOX 1: REQUIREMENTS AND SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE DOCTORAL PROGRAM

A doctoral program is an apprenticeship that consists of lecture or laboratory courses, seminars, examinations, discussions, independent study, research, and, in many instances, teaching, designed to help students make significant contributions to knowledge in a reasonable period of time. The first year or two of study is normally a probationary period, during which most of the effort of doctoral students will be devoted to acquiring a working knowledge of the field through study of the literature, taking formal courses and seminars, learning research and experimental techniques, problem-solving, and beginning to teach and do research. After being admitted to candidacy, students devote essentially full-time to completing the dissertation research planned with the major adviser, and the dissertation committee. Preparation of the dissertation usually occupies one to three years, depending on the field. An oral defense of the research and dissertation by the candidate before a graduate committee and sometimes other persons invited to attend constitutes the final examination. All requirements for the degree should be available to the student in written form (Council of Graduate Schools 1990, 14). A doctoral program is an apprenticeship that consists of lecture or laboratory courses, seminars, examinations, discussions, independent study, research, and, in many instances, teaching, designed to help students make significant contributions to knowledge in a reasonable period of time. The first year or two of study is normally a probationary period, during which most of the effort of doctoral students will be devoted to acquiring a working knowledge of the field through study of the literature, taking formal courses and seminars, learning research and experimental techniques, problem-solving, and beginning to teach and do research. After being admitted to candidacy, students devote essentially full-time to completing the dissertation research planned with the major adviser, and the dissertation committee. Preparation of the dissertation usually occupies one to three years, depending on the field. An oral defense of the research and dissertation by the candidate before a graduate committee and sometimes other persons invited to attend constitutes the final examination. All requirements for the degree should be available to the student in written form (Council of Graduate Schools 1990, 14).

Transformations In Size And Organization

In addition to a shift in purpose, graduate education has undergone a dramatic transformation in terms of its size and organization. In 1978 the National Research Council's Board on Human Resource Data and Analyses reported that the number of Ph.D.s awarded in the United States essentially doubled in each decade over the past century. ''Quarter-century landmarks show that in 1900 the annual output was about 300; in 1925, about 1,200; in 1950, about 6,000; and in 1974, about 33,000" (NRC 1978). After a period of contraction in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ph.D. production returned in the late 1980s to those levels recorded in the early 1970s. In the 1990s, degree production has continued to grow (see Figure 1-1). Data from the 1995 Survey of Earned Doctorates revealed that U.S. universities awarded over 41,000 doctorates (NRC 1996).

The transformation that has occurred in graduate education was made possible by a substantial increase in the overall number of institutions offering doctoral programs, especially small programs. The entry of new degree-granting institutions is summarized in Table 1, which shows the proportion of doctoral degrees granted, by year, between 1920 and 1992 in which the awarding institution first granted a Ph.D. As can be seen, most graduates earn their degrees at institutions that first awarded doctorates before 1930. However, since the 1970s the number of doctorates conferred by newer institutions has gradually expanded. Between 1990 and 1992, 8.2 percent of the doctorates conferred were awarded by institutions that recorded the first doctorate after 1970 (NRC 1995a).

The emergence of these newer institutions is also recorded in data from the Carnegie Foundation's A Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (1994), which indicate that the number of institutions awarding doctorates grew from 173 in 1970 to 184 in 1976, to 213 in 1987, to 236 in 1994 (see Table 2). Much of the growth occurred in "Doctorate-granting Universities II" whose



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement