May 4, 1964

Whose Degree Is Best?

JAMA. 1964;188(5):472. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060310072022

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To the Editor:—  In The Journal of Feb 15, 1964 (187:543) a letter from Walter Chizinsky, PhD, states that the PhD is the highest academic degree. By whose authority? Chizinsky's?Academic degrees are conferred at university commencements in the order of their rank, from the lowest to the highest. For years at Johns Hopkins commencements, the MD degrees were conferred last—after the PhD's. Both were based on the foundation of a bachelor's degree. It took four years after the bachelor's degree to get the MD, whereas the PhD could be obtained in three years ( sometimes less). If one makes a distinction between academic degrees and professional degrees (an academic distinction!) Dr. Chizinsky's contention is correct.The value or rank of an academic degree does not depend upon its name but upon its content. Undoubtedly, some PhD's are worth more than some MD's. The contrary is also the case. There

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