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Degree: (from Wikipedia)
A degree is any of a wide range of status levels conferred by institutions of higher education, such as universities, normally as the result of successfully completing a program of study.

History:
As with other professions, teaching in universities was only carried out by people who were properly qualified. In the same way that a carpenter would pass through the grades of apprentice and journeyman to attain the status of master carpenter when fully qualified by his guild, a teacher would become a master when he had been licensed by his profession, the teaching guild. These teaching guilds in various cities took on the identity "university" when granted a charter (by the Pope or the Holy Roman Emperor in Europe's case), and students were admitted to the university and passed through its grades in ways directly analogous to those of the trade guilds.

Though higher education institutions date back to ancient times, such as Taxila and Nalanda in ancient India, the first higher education institutions to issue academic degrees (at all levels including bachelor, master and doctorate) were the medieval Madrasahs founded in the 9th century. The University of Al Karaouine in Fez, Morocco is thus recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest degree-granting university in the world with its founding in 859 by the princess Fatima al-Fihri.[2] Also in the 9th century, Bimaristan medical schools were formed in the medieval Islamic world, where medical degrees and diplomas were issued to students of Islamic medicine who were qualified to be a practicing Doctor of Medicine.

The origins of the doctorate in particular dates back to the ijazat attadris wa 'l-ifttd ("license to teach and issue legal opinions") in the medieval Islamic legal education system, which was equivalent to the Doctor of Laws qualification and was developed during the 9th century after the formation of the Madh'hab legal schools. To obtain a doctorate, a student "had to study in a guild school of law, usually four years for the basic undergraduate course" and at least ten years for a post-graduate course. The "doctorate was obtained after an oral examination to determine the originality of the candidate's theses", and to test the student's "ability to defend them against all objections, in disputations set up for the purpose" which were scholarly exercises practiced throughout the student's "career as a graduate student of law." After students completed their post-graduate education, they were awarded doctorates giving them the status of faqih (meaning "master of law"), mufti (meaning "professor of legal opinions") and mudarris (meaning "teacher"), which were later translated into Latin as magister, professor and doctor respectively.

In the medieval European universities, candidates who had completed three or four years of study in the prescribed texts of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic), and the quadrivium (mathematics, geometry, astronomy and music), together known as the Liberal Arts, and who had successfully passed examinations held by their masters, would be admitted to the degree of bachelor of arts, from the Latin baccalaureus, a term previously usually 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. Masters of Arts were eligible to enter study under the "higher faculties" of Law, Medicine or Theology, and earn first a bachelor's and then master's 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").

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 but, for instance, the highest degree was variously 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 - Medicin� 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 and studies outside theology and medicine have become more common (such studies were then called "philosophy", but are now classified as sciences and humanities - however this usage survives in the degree of Doctor of Philosophy).

The University of Bologna in Italy, regarded as the oldest university in Europe, was the first 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. 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 Scottish universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh.

The naming of degrees eventually became linked with the subjects studied. Scholars in the faculties of arts or grammar became known as "masters", but those in theology, medicine, and law were known as "doctor". As study in the arts or in grammar was a necessary prerequisite to study in subjects such as theology, medicine and law, the degree of doctor assumed a higher status than the master's degree. This led to the modern hierarchy in which the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), which in its present form as a degree based on research and dissertation is a development from 18th and 19th Century German universities, is a more advanced degree than the Master of Arts (M.A.). The practice of using the term doctor for all advanced degrees developed within German universities and spread across the academic world.

The French terminology is tied closely to the original meanings of the terms. The baccalaur�at (cf. "bachelor") is conferred upon French students who have successfully completed their secondary education and admits the student to university. When students graduate from university, they are awarded licence, much as the medieval teaching guilds would have done, and they are qualified to teach in secondary schools or proceed to higher-level studies.

In the past, degrees have also been directly issued by authority of the monarch or by a bishop, rather than any educational institution. This practice has mostly died out. In Britain, Lambeth Degrees are still awarded by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Only the universities of Oxford and Cambridge still permit the D.Phil. (Oxford) or Ph.D. (Cambridge) to be conferred upon a student by an individual member of the faculty.

Examples of Degrees:

Some examples of specific degrees follow each general term. For more information, see the article about the general term.
* Associate's Degrees: AA (Associate in Arts), AS (Associate in Science), AAS (Associate in Applied Science), AGS (Associate in General Studies)
* Bachelor's Degrees: AB or BA, BFA, BSc or ScB or BS or SB, BBus, BSBA, BPE, B.Math, BSW, BVSc, B.Eng, BBA

* Master's Degrees: MA, MFA, MS or MSc, MCM, M.Div., MPIA, MPS, MAS, MMus, MSSc, MBA, MPA, MHA, M.Ed or EdM, M.Eng, M.J, M.Des
* Licentiate Degrees: LDS, JCL, LP
* Specialist Degrees: Ed.S., SSP, SClP
* Logistician's Degree: CPL
* Engineer's Degrees: Ch.E., C.E., E.E., Env.E., I.E., Mech.E., Nucl.E., Sys.E.
* Professional Doctoral Degrees:DMD or DDM, DDS, BM BS, ND, D.C., OD, DVM, V.M.D, M.Div., M.D., D.O., Au.D., PharmD, J.D., D.C., P.Th.D., D.Th.P., EdD, D.P.M., DProf (UK)
* Research Doctoral Degrees: J.C.D., Drs, Ph.D., EngD, DTech, DBA, DPA, DHA, DPS, D.D., D.Min., D.Th. or Th.D., J.S.D. or S.J.D. or LL.D., DPM, DSc or ScD, DSocSci, M.D., DSW.

 

Abbreviations for degrees can place the level either before or after the faculty or discipline, depending on the institution. For example, DSc and ScD both stand for the (higher) doctorate in science. Various other abbreviations also vary between institutions, for instance BS and BSc both stand for 'Bachelor of Science'.

There are various conventions for indicating degrees and diplomas after one's name. In some cultures it is usual to give only the highest degree. In others, it is usual to give the full sequence, in some cases giving abbreviations also for the discipline, the institution, and (where it applies) the level of honours. In another variation, a 'rule of subsumption' often shortens the list and may obscure the chronology evident from a full listing. Thus 'MSc BA' means that the degrees conferred were - in chronological order - BSc, BA, MSc. The subsumption rule reflects the principle that a person of a given high status does not separately belong to the lower status.

For member institutions of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, there is a standard list of abbreviations, but in practice many variations are used. Most notable is the use of the Latin abbreviations 'Oxon.' and 'Cantab.' for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in spite of these having been superseded by (little used) English 'Oxf.' and 'Camb.' Other Latin abbreviations include St And. for the University of St Andrews, Exon. for the University of Exeter, Dunelm. for Durham University, Ebor. for the University of York and Cantuar. for the University of Kent (formerly the "University of Kent at Canterbury"). Confusion results from the widespread use of 'SA' for the University of South Australia (instead of S.Aust.) because 'SA' was officially assigned to the University of South Africa. For universities of different commonwealth countries sharing the same name, such as York University in Canada and the University of York in the UK, a convention has been adopted where a country abbreviation is included with the letters and university name. In this example, 'York (Can.)' and 'York (UK)' is commonly used to denote degrees conferred by their respective universities.

The doubling of letters in LL.B., LL.M., LL.D. is because these degrees are in laws, not law. The doubled letter indicates the Latin plural (genitive case) legum as opposed to the singular (genitive case) legis. Abbreviations for the degrees in surgery Ch. B. and Ch. M. are from Latin chiruguriae and often indicate a university system patterned after Scottish models. The combination of M.B. with Ch. B. arose from a need to graduate the students at the time of year allocated to graduation rituals, but the legal inability to confer the M.B. before they had been properly approved by professional regulatory bodies. Thus the Ch. B. was conferred first, and the M.B. was conferred later, after registration, and without ceremony. In recent times the two have come to be conferred together and are widely (mis)understood to constitute a single degree.

Some degrees are awarded jure dignitatis. That is, a person who has demonstrated the appropriate qualities to be given a particular office may be awarded the degree by virtue of the office held. It is another kind of earned�but not strictly academic�degree.

Degree Systems by Regions:

Brazil:
Undergraduate students in Brazilian universities normally graduate either with a Bacharel degree (equivalent to an American B.S. or B.A.) or with a professional degree (roughly modeled on the old German Diplom).

Bacharel degrees are awarded in most fields of study in the arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, or natural sciences and normally take four years to complete (a bachelor's degree in Law requires an extra fifth year to be obtained). Professional degrees are awarded in state-regulated professions such as architecture, engineering, psychology, pharmacy, dental medicine, veterinary medicine, or human medicine and are named after the profession itself, i.e. one graduates with a degree of Engenheiro (engineer), Arquiteto (architect), or M�dico (physician/surgeon) for example. Professional degrees are generally regarded as being of higher social standing than a Bacharel degree and are considered more academically demanding. A typical course of study leading to a first professional degree in Brazil normally takes five years of full-time study to complete, with the exception of the human medicine course which requires six years.

In addition to the standard Bacharel and professional degrees, Brazilian universities also offer the Licenciatura degree, available for students who want to qualify as school teachers. Licenciatura courses exist mostly in mathematics, humanities, and natural sciences. Although Licenciatura courses also last 4 years, they are nonetheless considered to be of lower standing than a Bacharelado course. A lower degree of Tecn�logo (Technologist) is also available in technology-related fields and can be normally obtained in three years only.

Admission as an undergraduate student in most top public or private universities in Brazil requires that the applicant pass a competitive entrance examination known as Vestibular. Contrary to what happens in the United States, candidates must declare their intended university major when they register for the Vestibular. Although it is theoretically possible to switch majors afterwards (in a process known within the universities as transfer�ncia interna), that is actually quite rare in Brazil. Undergraduate curricula tend to be more rigid than in the United States and there is little room to take classes outside one's major.

Individuals who hold either a Bacharel degree, a professional diploma or Licenciatura are eligible for admission into graduate courses leading to advanced master's or doctor's degrees. Criteria for admission into master's and doctor's programs vary in Brazil. Some universities require that candidates take entrance exams; others make admission decisions based solely on undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and possibly oral interviews. In most cases however, especially for the doctorate, the candidate is required to submit a research plan and one faculty member must agree to serve as his/her supervisor before the candidate can be admitted into the program; The exception are the Natural Sciences post-graduate programs, that accepts students with very broad and/or vague research prospects (sometimes the prospect is given in promptu during the interview), preferring to let the students define their study program and advisor in the course of the first year of studies.

Master's degrees normally take two years to obtain and are classified into academic master's degrees or professional master's degrees. Requirements for an academic master's degree normally include taking a minimum number of advanced graduate classes (typically between five and eight) and submitting a research thesis which is examined orally by a panel of at least two examiners (three is the preferred number), sometimes including one external member who must be from another university or research institute; The emphasis of the thesis must be in its clarity and ease of understanding by future students, not in its originality. Professional master's degrees on the other hand normally involve taking a larger number of classes, and, in the case of engineering programs in particular, often completing a project as an intern in an engineering company and submitting a final project report. The most relevant difference to the international scenario is that, due to restrictive production goals set by government agencies, in most universities a Master degree is not only considered inferior to a Doctor degree but a pre-requisite for the admission in a Doctorate program.

Master's titles in Brazil normally include an explicit reference to the field of study in which they were awarded, e.g. one graduates with a degree of Mestre em Engenharia (Master of Engineering), Mestre em Economia (Master of Economics), and so on. The generic title Mestre em Ci�ncias (Master of Sciences) is used sometimes though, especially in the natural sciences (physics, biology, chemistry, etc.). The word profissional is normally added to the title to distinguish it from an academic master's degree, e.g. Mestre Profissional em Engenharia Aeron�utica (Professional Master in Aeronautical Engineering).

Doctor's degrees on the other hand normally take four additional years of full-time study to complete and are of a higher standing than a master's degree; With very few exceptions (namely, people with outstanding accomplishments in research), a Master degree or equivalent is required for admission in a Doctorate Program. Requirements for obtaining a doctor's degree include taking additional advanced courses, passing an oral qualifying exam, and submitting a longer doctoral dissertation which must represent a significant original contribution to knowledge in the field to which the dissertation topic is related. That contrasts with master's theses, which, in addition to being usually shorter than doctoral dissertations, are not required to include creation of new knowledge or revision/reinterpretation of older views/theories. The doctoral dissertation is examined in a final oral exam before a panel of at least two members (in the state of S�o Paulo the preferred number is five, while the other regions prefer three members), usually including one or two external examiners from another university or research institute.

Conventions for naming doctoral degrees follow similar rules to those used for master's degree, i.e. an explicit reference to the field of study is normally included in the title itself, e.g. Doutor em Engenharia (Doctor of Engineering), Doutor em Direito (Doctor of Laws), Doutor em Economia (Doctor of Economics), etc., although a generic title like Doutor em Ci�ncias (Doctor of Sciences) may be occasionally used.

Finally, a small number of Brazilian universities, most notably the public universities in the state of S�o Paulo still award the title of Livre-Docente (free docent), which is of higher standing than a doctorate and is obtained, similar to the German Habilitation, by the submission of a second (original or cumulative) thesis and approval in a Livre-Doc�ncia examination that includes giving a public lecture before a panel of full professors.

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