Hi all debatants!
I have followed the debate with interest, and reply to all rather than to
one person. To find a common definition of what a PhD and other degrees are
- whether it be in design or other disciplines - can be useful. It helps
recruiters of academically trained personnel around the world, and may
provide a quality guarantee for students. The real world is as usual far
from perfect. I want to relate some personal experiences.
While I was a doctoral student at Columbia U. in NY, USA the question
arose: "What do we do with the ABDs? The answer was: Give them a M.Phil.
degree on completion of all exams/course work exept the defence of the
dissertation......So I got a degree I had not even applied for along the
In 1977 I was recruiting junior business faculty to SUNY (NY state U.). One
of the applicants had a bona fide MBA from a very good school, and a "PhD"
from Nova U. - a degree that could at that time best be characterized by
"Mail order + 4 months residence". Since he had good business practice and
a good MBA I called him in for an interview and asked why he called himself
"Dr." and flaunted a degree from a not recognized institution. He said the
doctorate was important for his image in the consulting business, but did
understand that it did not much merit him for an academic position......
I have recruited many academicians during my career. These early lessons
told me two practical things:
1. The cost of hiring the wrong person is too large not to do a thorough
2. A degree is anything from ????? to ???? Therefore:
- look at the description, the courses completed and grades, the
requirements, the teaching staff, and most important: the reputation of the
- Take references, especially references not listed by the applicant......
- Read their masters and/or doctoral thesis and other publshed stuff
- interview the person focusing on your question marks after reading the
documents and taking references.
When advising students on where to continue their studies, I ask them to
- the reputation of the institution
- the reputation of the department
- the quality of the faculty and their publications - any person you fancy
as your thesis advisor?
- and several not so important points on my checklist
The truth is that a PhD is rewarded by a small group of certified people in
a certified institution. Whatever that group deems to be a doctoral thesis
is a doctoral thesis. Do you trust all the thousands of doctoral committees
around the world? I don't! Some demand much - others not so much....
So, let us look for a minimum definition that would give our programs and
institutions trustworthy image among students, peers and the community the
education is aimed at.
Institute of Knowledge Management
Norwegian School of Management