The continuing evolution of the research doctorate
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Globalization and its impacts on the quality of PhD education: Forces and forms in doctoral education worldwide
In this chapter, we offer a synthesis of international perspectives on the nature of the
PhD, its contribution to original research, and the competencies and outcomes now
expected of those completing a PhD.1 As a resource for all doctoral programs, this
synthesis can provide a basis for (1) improving the quality of outcomes for all PhD
students, (2) explicitly differentiating doctoral programs to promote understanding
and diversity within a broadly accepted framework, (3) facilitating discussion among
universities and governmental agencies about quality assurance and funding, and (4)
promoting mobility among PhD holders by clarifying commonalities in the degree
across countries and educational systems.
We begin with a discussion of what constitutes a PhD, with particular emphasis
on the international nature and aims of today’s research doctoral programs. Our
emphasis throughout the chapter is on the emerging articulation of the desired
outcomes for research doctoral education, including the increasing agreement that
PhD training should include the development of particular skills that can be transferred
from academic to other professional settings, and from one professional setting to
another—skills that enhance graduates’ employability, their ability to manage their
own careers, and their sense of responsibility for making contributions to society.
We also consider current forces and pressures affecting doctoral education, and we
conclude with a discussion of issues and directions that merit additional attention
and further research.