- Professionalizing Graduate Education: The Master’s Degree in the Marketplace
Professionalizing Graduate Education: The Master's Degree in the Marketplace builds upon the author's 1986 work, The Master's Degree: Tradition, Diversity, and Innovation, by tracing the development of the master's degree in the contexts of professionalization and credentialism that permeate today's American society at all levels.
"The master's degree exemplifies the diversity and complexity of graduate education in the twenty-first century," the author begins (p. vii). Setting a foundation for her study, she documents changes in master's education—whether as a predoctoral, intermediate, or terminal credential—in terms of the growth in numbers of degrees awarded and the diverse ends toward which master's-level studies are taken up.
Professional master's programs, avers Glazer-Raymo, have grown as a result of several forces, which she identifies as "globalization, privatization, accountability, and demographic changes in the composition of graduate students" (p. 3). These forces influence both demand and supply, for she also takes the position that "the master's degree has become a pivotal force in the economic growth of the university" (p. 3).
Glazer-Raymo pursues her analysis (after a helpful executive summary and introductory section) with a chapter titled, "The Evolution of the Master's Degree," in which she describes the degree as becoming "an entrepreneurial credential" with the power to alter graduate education on a broad scale. She then examines "Curricular Models of Master's Education," including sections on degree diversity and alternative delivery systems.
Then follow treatments of the master's degree in several contexts: "Major Professional Programs," about business, accounting, and education; "Professionalizing Science and Engineering," with specific attention to biosciences, geosciences, chemical sciences, physics, and engineering; and "Mixed Trends in the Humanities and Social Sciences." The study is drawn together by the last major chapter, "Redesigning Master's Degrees for the Marketplace," which, although there is a brief conclusion, essentially refines Glazer-Raymo's thesis and offers a summation.
The value of this book lies in Glazer-Raymo's perspective on changes in the master's degree over the past two decades. She points out that graduate education evolved over time in two distinct directions, namely the professional and the academic. "By the close of the twentieth century, however," she writes, "these paths had begun to converge" (p. 16). This convergence has given rise to redesigning the master's degree.
She cogently identifies four mechanisms that are propelling this redesign: "market mechanisms triggered by a global economy, institutional competition, employer demands, and workplace [End Page 337] incentives; the convergence of academic and professional fields of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries; state oversight and assessment typified by accountability mandates, quality controls, and resource delivery; and technological advances that transform graduate study and professional practice" (p. 99).
About the first of these mechanisms, Glazer-Raymo states that the master's degree has been the American university's "most successful export" (p. 99). But the United States is not without competition. As she points out, the European University Association has agreed to replace current degree programs by 2010 with "a single model combining a three-year baccalaureate and a two-year master's degree" (p. 99). Where the European university once was reserved for society's elites, the European Union is now pushing institutions toward greater inclusion and diversity, matching those of American institutions.
On the second point, Glazer-Raymo states that professional master's degrees predominate, "having long since overtaken the arts and sciences as terminal credentials that connect more directly with the workplace" (p. 35). But graduate education in the arts and sciences is changing. She cites, among many examples, the professional science master's (PSM) promulgated by the Sloan Foundation. The PSM is "a freestanding terminal degree for scientists seeking nonacademic careers" (p. 59). Glazer-Raymo notes that the Sloan Foundation has funded PSM degree tracks at forty-five institutions with the motive that "gaining acceptance at the top tier of research university science...