(from The Chronicle of Higher Education):

By Leonard Cassuto

One of the problems with the master’s degree in the arts and sciences has always been its lack of identity and concrete purpose. It’s an award on the way to a doctorate, but it’s also a bauble that gets handed out as a consolation to those who leave the Ph.D. path. It’s a credential to teach school, and for employers who want to make it easier to filter a field of job applicants.

It’s also a professional course of training in certain fields. In engineering, for example, the meaning of the master’s degree has no ambiguity at all. It’s a qualification that signifies an expected level of expertise and training. The master’s in engineering is a professionalized degree.

What if we professionalized other master’s degrees in the same way? That question is not hypothetical but historical. Faced with the well-publicized employment woes of doctoral students in the 1990s, the Council of Graduate Schools called for the development of so-called professional master’s degrees, created with their own purpose and not merely as a way station on the road to a Ph.D. That notion is worth a pause to consider: It makes a lot of sense for universities to think about their offerings in terms of how people — both employers and employees — might actually use the degrees. CONTINUE READING HERE