PhD programmes are essential to the whole education system. They are the pool of future university researchers and teachers. Last week, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, a US based non-profit organisation dedicated to promote excellence in education, released the report "The Responsive PhD: Innovations in US Doctoral Education", an extremely interesting document on doctoral education in the US that calls for important reforms: "there have been too many words and too little action", it states. The report also comprises a series of successful initiatives developed in PhD programmes at different US universities.
I want to focus on two recommendations of this report. First, that pedagogy should be an important part of doctoral preparation. For some time, PhD programmes have focused almost exclusively on training academic researchers. This has been essential, but not sufficient. In fact, the omission of some other important facets, such as preparing candidates to teach effectively and to link with the corporate world, has reduced the potential development and the opportunities of PhD graduates.
Another recommendation is the need of connecting doctoral programmes with other major social stakeholders outside universities, mainly the organisations that may recruit or work with PhD graduates: "the doctorate in totality and in every discipline will benefit enormously by a continuing interchange with the worlds beyond academia", says the report.
This report should be very welcome and it comes at a time when there is a growing market for DBA (Doctor in Business Administration) programmes in Europe. Significantly, the Association of MBAs (AMBA) recently launched a new accreditation scheme aimed at DBA programmes, to cope with the increasing demmand from the market. I do not dare to dissect here the differences between PhDs in Management and DBAs. Maybe in some future post. But it seems that the latter category of programmes is where the growth will take place in the future.