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Text 3. The History of Academic Degrees

Exercise 1. Read the text, write out all unknown words and translate them.

The origin of degrees comes from European universities of the 13th-century, which had faculties organized into guilds. Members of the faculties had a license for teaching, and degrees were their professional certification. There was originally only one degree in European higher education, that of “master” or “doctor”. The      bachelor’s degree, was a stage toward the “master’s” degree and was given to a candidate who studied the necessary texts in the grammar, rhetoric, and logic for three or four years and successfully passed examinations. So, the holder of the bachelor’s degree finished the first stage of academic life and could study now for the degree of “master” and “doctor.” After completing those studies, he was examined by a special board and, received a “master’s” or “doctor’s” degree, which gave him the right to join the teachers’ guild and was a certificate of fitness to teach at any university.

The terms “master,” “doctor,” and “professor” were all equivalent. The degree of “dodtor” of civil law was first given at the University of Bologna in the second half of the 12th century, and similar degrees came into existence in medicine, grammar, logic and philosophy. At the University of Paris, however, the term “master” was more commonly used, and the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge adopted the Parisian system. In many universities, the certified scholar in the faculties of arts or grammar was called f “master,” but in the faculties of philosophy, theology, medicine, and law he was called a “doctor”. Perhaps it was necessary to become a “master of arts” before the other studies, the doctorate was considered the higher title. (The common Anglo-American degrees “master of arts” and “doctor of philosophy” come from this usage.) In German universities, the titles “master” and “doctor” were also at first equal, but the term “doctor” soon came to be applied to advance degrees in all faculties, and the German usage was adopted throughout the world.

In the United States and Great Britain, the modern gradation of academic degrees is usually “bachelor,” “master” and “doctor.” The bachelor’s degree means the completion of undergraduate study, usually amounting to four years. The “master’s” degree means one to two years’ additional study, while the doctorate usually involves a longer period of work. British and American universities consider the bachelor’s as the first degree in arts or sciences. After one or two more years of course-work, the second degree, which abbreviation is M.A. or M.S., may be obtained by examination or the completion of a piece of research. At the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, holders of a B.A. can receive an M.A. six or seven years after entering the university simply by paying a certain amount of money.

Today degree of “doctor of philosophy” (Ph.D) is usually offered by all universities round the world that admit advanced students and is given after prolonged study and either examination or original research.


Exercise 2. Answer the following questions:

1. Where does the notion of degrees come from?

2. What were the first academic degrees?

3. Where and when was the degree of “doctor” given for the first time?

4. What is the modern gradation of academic degrees in the United States and Great Britain?

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