Friday, December 18, 2015


The doctorate (Latindoceo “I teach”) appeared in medieval Europe as a license to teach (Latinlicentia docendi) at a medieval university.[2] Its roots can be traced to the early church when the term "doctor" referred to the Apostleschurch fathers and other Christian authorities who taught and interpreted the Bible.[2] The right to grant a licentia docendi was originally reserved to the church which required the applicant to pass a test, to take oath of allegiance and pay a fee. The Third Council of the Lateran of 1179 guaranteed the access – now largely free of charge – of all able applicants, who were, however, still tested for aptitude by the ecclesiastic scholastic.[3] This right remained a bone of contention between the church authorities and the slowly emancipating universities, but was granted by the Pope to the University of Paris in 1231 where it became a universal license to teach (licentia ubique docendi).[3] However, while the licentia continued to hold a higher prestige than the bachelor's degree (Baccalaureus), it was ultimately reduced to an intermediate step to the Magister and doctorate, both of which now became the exclusive qualification for teaching.[3]
At the university, doctoral training was a form of apprenticeship to a guild.[4] The traditional term of study before new teachers were admitted to the guild of "Master of Arts", seven years, was the same as the term of apprenticeship for other occupations. Originally the terms "master" and "doctor" were synonymous,[5] but over time the doctorate came to be regarded as a higher qualification than the master degree.

Today the terms "master", "doctor" (from the Latin – meaning literally: "teacher") and "professor" signify different levels of academic achievement, but in the Medieval university they were equivalent terms, the use of them in the degree name being a matter of custom at a university. (Most universities conferred the Master of Arts, although the highest degree was often termed Master of Theology/Divinity or Doctor of Theology/Divinity depending on the place).
The earliest doctoral degrees (theology – Divinitatis Doctor (D.D.), philosophy – Doctor of philosophy (D.Phil., Ph.D.) and medicine – Medicinæ Doctor (M.D., D.M.)) reflected the historical separation of all University study into these three fields. Over time, the D.D. has gradually become less common outside theology, and is now mostly used for honorary degrees, with the title "Doctor of Theology" being used more often for earned degrees. Studies outside theology and medicine were then called "philosophy", due to the Renaissance conviction that real knowledge could be derived from empirical observation, and this usage survives in the degree title of Doctor of Philosophy. Studies in these fields have become much more common, but are now classified as sciences and humanities.
The University of Bologna in Italy, regarded as the oldest university in Europe, was the second institution to confer the degree of Doctor in Civil Law in the late 12th century; it also conferred similar degrees in other subjects, including medicine.[6]
The University of Paris used the term "master" for its graduates, a practice adopted by the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as the ancient Scottishuniversities of St AndrewsGlasgowAberdeen, and Edinburgh.

Emergence of the bachelor's degree

In the medieval European universities, candidates who had completed three or four years of study in the prescribed texts of the trivium (grammarrhetoric, and logic), and thequadrivium (mathematicsgeometryastronomy and music), together known as the Liberal Arts, and who had successfully passed examinations held by their master, would be admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, from the Latin baccalaureus, a term previously used of a squire (i.e., apprentice) to a knight. Further study, and in particular successful participation in and then moderating of disputations would earn one the Master of Arts degree, from the Latin magister, teacher, entitling one to teach these subjects. Master of Arts were eligible to enter study under the "higher faculties" of LawMedicine or Theology, and earn first a bachelor's and then master or doctor's degrees in these subjects. Thus a degree was only a step on the way to becoming a fully qualified master – hence the English word "graduate", which is based on the Latin gradus ("step").