Are we witnessing the slow banalization of the Doctorate ?

If the master’s degree is the new bachelor’s, is the Doctorate now the new masters? In the US as well as in the UK, with rising percentage of the population living longer than previous generations, their working lives are getting longer as well. Their educational attainment has also risen, as they pick up a new diploma later in life. With the acceleration of global population ageing and people over 60 remaining in the workforce and those holding master’s degrees, it seems likely to say that the demand for doctoral qualifications for older students will increase as well. This trend will in turn put new pressures on universities to design part-time alternatives for professionals, rather than the traditional Ph.D. programs that require 4 to 6 years of full-time commitment. Country case studies show the need to design professional doctorates to meet this growing demand. A 2016 study in the United Kingdom indicated that professional doctoral programs are getting more and more popular in fields like engineering, psychology, education, medicine and business administration. Those programs aim at training executives and professionals in research methodology for the social and management sciences, and enables those seeking new challenges the possibility of reaching the upper echelons of learning while continuing to meet professional and familial obligations. Many of the candidates and graduates evoke an existential “quest for meaning” after years of corporate service, or the desire for an “Act 2” that would allow them to move toward a career in academia or consulting. For them, the doctorate can be the ultimate item on life’s “bucket list”, where professional identity and a personal narrative converge…

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