Education, Postgraduate, courses of study in colleges and universities, professional schools, and other postsecondary institutions offered after completion of an undergraduate curriculum. Specific programmes of postgraduate education usually require a baccalaureate or bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a prerequisite for admission. Education beyond the undergraduate years is often directed towards preparation for entrance into a profession such as law, medicine, or dentistry, in which advanced training is necessary for recognition as a practitioner. Although some professions, such as engineering or teaching, require only a baccalaureate degree for entrance, further education is frequently needed for advancement.
Formal professional training in law and engineering originated in ancient times in Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Medieval universities offered instruction in law, medicine, and theology. Beginning in the 16th century, great impetus was given to advanced technical and medical education as a result of scientific discoveries.
III COURSES OF STUDY
Postgraduate study ranges from courses emphasizing intensive training in a specific aspect of professional practice to degree programmes of several years’ duration, either in an academic discipline or a professional field. Many professions also require periodic postgraduate study in order to maintain certification for practice.
Graduate schools generally award master’s degrees or doctorates to those who have satisfactorily completed prescribed courses of study. A year is usually required to obtain a master’s degree, which demands the acquisition of a higher level of knowledge than is needed for a baccalaureate. The doctoral degree involves a longer period of study and requires participation in and summation of some type of original research, as well as written and oral (viva voce) examinations.
The demands for specific courses of postgraduate study change with the needs of society. In most developing nations, for example, professional training in engineering and the health sciences is in great demand. Preparation for a career in medicine represents one of the most intensive curricula, as a medical degree requires at least four years beyond the baccalaureate, and entry into a medical specialty can require four or more additional years of study. Most postgraduate students require funding of some sort. In the United Kingdom, a certain number of postgraduate grants are provided by research bodies, such as the Economic and Social Research Council or the Medical Research Council. Highly competitive scholarships are also sometimes available to support students from industry or from developing countries.
IV CURRENT TRENDS
An ever-increasing number of women are now students in higher education programmes throughout the world. Traditionally, many professions, including engineering, law, and medicine, were dominated by men. Women are now demanding and acquiring equal access to the postgraduate education necessary for entry into all professions. This trend is likely to continue as political, economic, and social barriers to equal opportunities for women are removed.
As per capita income increases in a society, the demand for professional training in technical and human services also increases. Foreign aid from developed nations and educational programmes sponsored by the United Nations have done much to support the expansion of postgraduate education in developing countries. Many nations now include plans for the development of postgraduate studies as part of their own systems of higher education rather than supporting professional training abroad for citizens who may or may not return to their own countries.