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  Chapter Three:

  Educational Attainment
  Female Graduates
  Pupil-Teacher Ratio
  Private School
  College Tuition
  Graduate Education



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Graduate Education

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The number of graduate degrees awarded more than quadrupled after 1960, and graduate education became the normal path to the lucrative professions.
Graduate education programs proliferated in virtually every profession. In the nineteenth century, business proprietors managed their own enterprises with a small staff of clerks and managers. By the closing decades of the twentieth century, many corporate management jobs required a degree from a graduate business school. 

In many fields, professional credentials became synonymous with graduate degrees: dentists needed a D.D.S.; veterinarians needed a D.V.M.; lawyers needed a J.D. In fields where beginning practitioners required only a bachelor’s degree, professional advancement often hinged on acquiring graduate education. Architects added an M.Arch. to their B.Arch. Teachers added an M.Ed. to their bachelor’s degree. Computer programmers went back to school for an M.S. in computer science. Military officers traditionally received bachelor’s degrees in engineering, but after World War II, they went to graduate school while on active duty, acquiring master’s and doctoral degrees in various fields. Indeed, whole academic fields were created to meet the needs of professions for graduate degrees: “national security studies” for military officers and “international relations” for State Department bureaucrats. 

The desire for graduate degrees also permeated fields of endeavor whose practitioners scorn bureaucracy as such—art, music, and creative writing, for example. Aspiring artists and writers pursued M.F.A.’s, while musicians often got M.M.’s. 

The top of the academic food chain, the Ph.D., was reserved for most of the century for academic subjects. Even this changed as the Ph.D. became a job credential outside the academy. Economists sometimes needed Ph.D.’s to work for banks. Physicists sometimes needed Ph.D.’s to work for telephone companies. A president of the Modern Language Association suggested that the solution to a glut of English Ph.D.’s was to redesign the degree so that it would become the professional credential for screenplay writing, magazine editing, and other language-related occupations. 

Still, American graduate education is the envy of the world and one of America’s most successful exports. At the end of the century, foreign students received 40 percent of doctorates in biology, 50 percent of doctorates in physics and chemistry, 55 percent of doctorates in mathematics, and 60 percent of doctorates in engineering.

Chapter 3 chart 7

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

For 1900 to 1960, see HS series H 752, H 757, and H 761. For 1961 to 2000, see Digest of Education Statistics 1999 at (accessed August 26, 2000), and SA, various years. On the value of the Ph.D. in literature for nonacademic occupations, see Elaine Showalter, “Regeneration,” PMLA 114 (May 1999):318.


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