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The Story of Notre Dame
Academic Development: University of Notre Dame / by Philip S. Moore, C.S.C.


VI. The Graduate School


We have had occasion to remark that the first announcement of the possibility of earning the degree of Master of Arts at Notre Dame appeared as early as 1854-55.[154] This is interesting not only because it appears so early in the history of this "frontier school" but also because it was about that time that American educators were becoming aware that American colleges, which had been our highest educational institutions, were not able to offer the advanced study and research required to prepare the scholars that the country must have in the arts and sciences. Out of this awareness issued the gradual establishment of our graduate schools and the creation of the American university. In the 1854-55 announcement it is stated simply:

No program of studies was specified nor a thesis, and not even the requirement of an examination was expressly mentioned. This announcement continued to appear for a great many years with variations. Thus the period of study beyond college varied from two to three years at different times; in 1858-59 it was stipulated that "a thesis must be presented to the faculty or an oration delivered on some subject related to the student's liberal pursuits."[156] Soon the thesis or oration requirement disappeared.

A development occured in 1873-74 when a Post-Graduate Course was announced under a section of the Annual Catalogue, entitled Specialties. The statement reads:

This seems to indicate a Course in residence and not merely a period of study after leaving college, but again there was no program specified, no thesis or examination required. Not even the length of the Course was mentioned, nor the degree to which it led, though we can presume that it was the Master of Arts, and optionally the Master of Laws and the Master of Civil Engineering. The announcement continued in subsequent catalogues and then oddly enough disappeared in 1890-91, the very year in which the proud boast was made that Notre Dame had "assumed the proportions of a University."[158]

The conferring of the degree of Master of Arts was first announced in the Annual Catalogue for 1859-60 (p.28). Two such degrees were conferred in June, 1859. But no distinction was made between honorary degrees and earned degrees until the schoolyear 1882-83.[159] It is impossible, therefore, to determine how many took advantage of the opportunity afforded them to earn the Master of Arts before that date. We can suspect that most such degrees conferred in those early years were honorary.

In the same year that announcement of the opportunity to earn the degree of Master of Arts disappeared, namely 1890-91, a program leading to the degree of Master of Laws was established. We have treated of this under the Law School.[160] Then a Master of Letters in Journalism was offered between 1899-1905,[161] and two advanced degrees in Architecture, Master in Design and Master in Architectural Engineering, between 1906-1926,[162] but all these programs were on the periphery of the development of graduate studies at Notre Dame, though a number of Master of Law degrees were conferred between 1900-1920.

Steps forward were taken in 1905-06. Some graduate administrative organization was set up -- a Committee of the Faculty on Graduate Study -- but the names of the members were not given.[163] Separate announcements for the degree of Master and for the degree of Doctor were made in which more specifc requirements were listed.[164] For the degree of Master all work had to be approved by the Committee; at least one year in residence was prescribed, but the Committee could make exceptions for graduates of Notre Dame; one major and one or two minor subjects constituted the curriculum; satisfactory examination in writing and a dissertation of not less than five thousand words completed the requirements. For the degree of Doctor three years had to be spent in university work of which two had to be spent at Notre Dame and one year at some other university approved by the Committee; satisfactory examinations in French and German on entrance were prescribed; one major and two minor subjects constituted the curriculum; original research formed "the most important part of the candidate's work," and the resulting dissertation had to be defended before the Faculty, and then presented to the University in one hundred and fifty printed copies; finally examinations in all subjects of the candidate's curriculum were required.

These announcements continued in the Bulletin of the University without change until 1918-19. There was still no set program of studies even for the Master's degree; in fact there were no graduate courses which are identifiable. Between 1906 and 1919, sixteen Master of Arts degrees, fourteen Master of Science degrees, most of them unqualified by subject, and four Master of Science degrees in the departments of Engineering were conferred. During these same years four Doctor of Philosophy and two Doctor of Science degrees were awarded, the first in 1911 and the last in 1917. Of these four were to men on the Notre Dame Faculty, one to a Guillermo Patterson, Jr., one to the medical doctor, James J. Walsh, who was highly regarded for his amateur work in mediaeval history. A search of our academic records reveals no record for any of these men, except one. The one extant record carries simply on the reverse side: Ph.D. June, 1915. All other recordings are toward a Certificate in Pharmacy.

Among the Master's degrees conferred between 1906-1919 were four in departments of Engineering, but there was no statement under the course listings of these departments that graduate work was available. The course listings under which such statement did appear were English, Greek, History, Latin, Philosophy, Politics, (Economics, Political Economy, and Sociology), in the College of Arts and Letters; Botany, Chemistry, and Physics in the College of Science. Awarding of advanced degrees in Engineering, except in Architecture, was discontinued after 1920.

The first and only separate Graduate Bulletin published in those years appeared in 1924-25; in subsequent years a section in the back part of the General Bulletin entitled Graduate Studies set forth general regulations and information. The 1924-25 Bulletin opens with the statement (p. 9):

This sums up neatly the situation we have been describing. Graduate work was so unorganized that, as we have seen, the work done by the few students was apparently not properly recorded. By 1924, however, graduate work may rightly be said to have become regular part of the work at the University. First step toward this was the reactivation in the schoolyear 1920-21 of the old Committee on Graduate Study. This was at first a ten man committee, though in its twenty-four years existence the number varied from five to ten. It took over the administration of all graduate work which heretofore had been under the colleges.[165] In the previous year were announced for the first time a prescribed number of hours for the Master's degree -- thirty-two credit hours, of which sixteen were in a major subject and sixteen in one or two minor subjects; up to eight hours could be earned by examination.[166] One foreign language was also required. For the Doctor's degree no set number of hours was laid down -- that will come later -- but it was stipulated that the course of study was three years, all of which must be at Notre Dame, no credit being given for work in absentia, except that done in preparation of the dissertation. Written and oral examinations were required on major and minor subjects and dissertations, one hundred printed copies of which had to be deposited in the University Library. Reading knowledge of French and German completed the requirement .[167]

In 1918 Notre Dame established its Summer School. Today the great majority of the summer students are in the Graduate School and the summer session constitutes an important segment of graduate work at the University. Originally, however, it was designed more to enable religious teachers to complete their baccalauerate work than to earn advanced degrees. Nevertheless, graduate work was offered from the beginning and graduate students increased steadily in numbers -- two-hundred and forty by 1925. This made possible more organized work in the summers, and this in turn influenced more organized work in the regular year. We have seen the reactivation of the Committee on Graduate Study, and the specification of requirements for advanced degrees. Then in the Summer School Bulletin for 1922 under some of the departments distinction between undergraduates and graduate courses is made for the first time. This distinction appeared in the Graduate Bulletin, 1924-25, but in the regular year Bulletins, except for English, it is lacking throughout the 1920's.

In the 1924-25 Graduate Bulletin, the requirements for the Master's degree are substantially the same as those established in 1919-20. But distinction was made between admission to graduate work and admission to candidacy for degree. Admission to candidacy was passed upon after the student had successfully completed one-half his work.[168] Those working toward the doctorate who held the Master's degree from Notre Dame or another approved university were automatically admitted to candidacy. A program for doctoral students was spelled out -- twenty-four courses of ninety-six credit hours of which fifteen courses were in a major subject and nine in a minor. A passing grade of 80% was set for course work. Other requirements remained as they had been legislated in 1919-20.[169]

In the humanities advanced degrees were offered in Ancient Languages, English, History (only in the summer), and Philosophy; in the social sciences, in Economics, Education (including the master's in Boy Guidance), Politics and Sociology; in the sciences, in Astronomy, Botany, Chemistry (Ph.D. restricted to organic), Mathematics, Physics and Zoology. Theoretically it was possible to work for both the master's and doctor's degrees in all these departments, even in the one man Department of Astronomy. But between 1920-1925 doctorates were awarded only in Ancient Languages (2), English (2), History (1), Philosophy (1), Politics (1), and Chemistry (4). Two years later, 1926-27, doctoral programs were limited to English, History, Philosophy, Economics, Education, Politics, Sociology, Biology and Chemistry (organic), and between 1926-1930 degrees were awarded in English (1), History (1), Philosophy (2), Economics (2), Education (1), Chemistry (2), and Metallurgy (1), in which a doctoral program was offered between 1928 and 1931, though the Department of Metallurgy was not established until 1933. Because of the Summer School enrollment, several hundred master's degrees were awarded between 1920-1930.

Looking back today upon the library resources and other conditions essential to genuine graduate work, especially on the doctoral level, we must conclude that in the 1920's Notre Dame was over-ambitious or over-extended in most of the fields in which advanced programs of study were offered. This was recognized in 1932, under Father J. Leonard Carrico, who became Director of Studies in 1931, and doctoral programs were reduced drastically to Systematic Botany and Organic Chemistry. In this same year the Graduate School was formally established and this greatly strengthened the administrative organization of graduate study.[170] Finally, in this year clear-cut distinction between undergraduate and graduate courses and courses open to both undergraduate and graduate students, was made for the first time throughout all departments included in the Graduate School. That these distinctions be clear and understandable, a system of course numbering was adopted: courses numbered 1-99 were strictly undergraduate and those numbered 300 and above strictly graduate; courses numbered 100-199 were primarily undergraduate but open to graduate students under approved conditions and for a limited part of their programs; courses numbered 200-299 were primarily graduate but open under approved conditions to advanced undergraduate students. These numberings of courses are still in effect today.

The measures taken in 1932 cleared up much of the uncertainty about the graduate programs in the University, defined more precisely the status of graduate studies, and prepared the ground for their development. From this year, therefore, dates the Graduate School not only in name but also in fact, though it would be another twelve years before it was given an adequate and effective administrative organization.

As constituted in 1932, the Graduate School offered in regular year programs for the degree of Master of Arts in seven departments -- Boy Guidance, Economics and Politics, Education, English, History, Philosophy, Sociology --; for the degree of Master of Sciences in four departments -- Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics --; and for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Systematic Botany, and Organic Chemistry. In summer session only, the degree of Master of Arts was offered in Classics and Modern Languages, and the degree of Master of Music in the Department of Music.

Up until the end of World War II the picture did not change substantially in regard to the master's programs. In 1933 a master's program in Metallurgy was initiated, and in 1934 Economics and Politics were separated into two departments, each offering its master's program. Boy Guidance was dropped in 1936 and replaced two years later by a one year program leading to a Certificate in Social Work. This in turn was suspended in 1942 because of the war and never reinstated, but instead in 1946 a master's degree program in Correctional Administration was established under the Department of Sociology. An ill-fated two year program in Apologetics leading to the degree of Master of Arts was introduced in 1938 and dropped three years later.

On the other hand, there was considerable development and expansion of doctoral programs in the 1930's. In 1933 Metallurgy (now Metallurgical Engineering) was added and the program in Chemistry extended to Physical Chemistry; Philosophy followed in 1936, Mathematics and Physics in 1937, and Politics (Political Science) in 1938. This growth was evidence of the new vitality of graduate study and research in the University.

The war years were years of marking time, but they were also years of planning. Even before war's end a notable administrative reorganization was effected in 1944, with the appointment of a dean and Graduate Council. With the ending of World War II, the development and expansion took up where they had left off in 1938, with notably increased tempo. Better qualified Faculty members have been continuously recruited, library resources built up, laboratory facilities expanded, sponsored research tremendously augmented, symposia, lectures, and publications multiplied and the quantity and quality of the student body increased. Doctoral programs have more than doubled from seven to fifteen. English and History were added in 1945, Sociology in 1947, Education in 1948, Engineering Mechanics (now Engineering Science) in 1950, Mediaeval Studies (Mediaeval Institute) in 1951, Economics in 1956, and Gnotobiotics (Lobund Institute) in 1958. Also in 1946, the doctoral program in Biology which had been limited to Systematic Botany was extended to other fields in both Botany and Zoology. In regard to master's programs, they have been introduced in regular year into several departments of Engineering -- Aeronautics, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Engineering Mechanics, add Mechanical; into Art (both the MA and the MFA), Mediaeval Studies, Music, and Religion (now Theology). Furthermore summer programs have been initiated in Business Administration, and Speech (now Communicative Arts). Finally in 1947 provision was made for a nonresearch master's degree in all departments offering graduate work. For this degree no foreign language nor dissertation is required, but instead an additional six semester hours of course credits.

Among the doctoral programs were mentioned those in Mediaeval Studies given in the Mediaeval Institute, and in Gnotobiotics given in Lobund Institute. The founding of these Institutes were notable events in graduate education at Notre Dame. Lobund grew out of pioneering research in germ-free-life which began at the University in 1928. This area of research originated in a question posed by Pasteur as to whether animal life was possible without bacteria. Though others had taken up this idea, their research was short lived and inconclusive. Lobund was the first research organization to answer definitively, that such life is possible and that it can be prolonged through generations. But the objective was not merely to answer Pasteur's question but also to produce the germ free animal as a new tool for biological and medical research. This objective was reached and for years Lobund was a unique center for the study and production of germ free animals and for their use in biological and medical investigations. Today the work has spread to other places. In the beginning it was under the Department of Biology and a program leading to the master's degree accompanied the research program. During the war Lobund achieved independent status as a purely research organization and in 1950 was raised to the status of an Institute. In 1958 it was brought back into the Department of Biology as integral part of that department, but with its own program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Gnotobiotics.

The Mediaeval Institute was formally founded in 1946, but it too issued out of an earlier Program in Mediaeval Studies which dates back to 1933. It is "a center of research, instruction, and preparation of teacher-scholars in the Christian civilization of the Middle Ages,"[171] and offers courses on mediaeval thought, life and culture.

Most of the graduate work, however, in the post-war period has been developed in the departments. To go into details would be to prolong this study unduly but some indications of the vitality of the Graduate School can be singled out. Throughout the University, publications, the results of research, have greatly multiplied. These include monographs as well as articles in learned journals. And speaking of journals, Notre Dame has itself established some journals and learned series. The earliest of them, Publications in Mediaeval Studies, predates the war, having been begun in 1936. This is true also of the Review of Politics, founded in 1938. Texts and Studies in Mediaeval Education published its first volume in 1953. The Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic has been launched in the schoolyear 1959-60, and another learned review with the proposed title of Humanistica is under consideration. Another journal, long of international repute, the American Midland Naturalist, celebrated its golden anniversary in 1959. Then out of the Law School and its Natural Law Institute has come the Natural Law Forum, first volume of which appeared in 1956, while the Notre Dame Lawyer, primarily a student publication but a review which holds honorable place among the professional law journals of the country, is completing its thirty-fifth year in 1960.

This increased publication and the research and scholarly activity to which it bears witness has raised tremendously the expenditures of money. Twenty years ago the money put into research did not exceed $100,000 dollars, and almost all of it was University money, In the fiscal year 1959-1960 the research expenditures are approximately $3,300,000, an increase of 3300%. Of this amount $2,000,000 dollars represents research sponsored by government, foundations and industry; $1,300,000 research sponsored by the University. And that the end is not yet, is evidenced by the fact that proposals to outside agencies for support of research for the immediate future has now reached over $4,700,000 dollars in the present year [i.e. 1960]. In terms of outside support attracted, the Radiation Project in Chemistry and the work of Lobund Institute hold the most important positions among our research activities.

Besides the Lobund and Mediaeval Institutes, three other teaching-research organizations have been established. The first of these, The Committee on International Relations, was founded in 1949 under the late Waldemar Gurian. It is a coordinating group "for research in contemporary international political problems with special emphasis on the ethical aspects and implications of international relations."[172] It has sponsored symposia, and lectures, and published twenty important monographs. Allied to the Committeeon International Relations both in personnel and to some extent in common interests is the Studies in Soviet Policy and Eastern Europe, begun in 1954. The work here has been focused "on Soviet policy, its ideology, its background, and its method of expansion and operation, particularly in Eastern Europe."[173] Now attention will be directed toward the broad field of diplomacy, which in its structure and operation, especially in the present, needs thorough scholarly investigation. The third organization is the Program in American Studies, which dates from 1953. This involves the cooperation of the departments of English, History and Political Science. The aim of the Program "is integrated knowledge and understanding of the American life of the past, not artificially compartmented and fragmented but viewed as an organic whole," with the future aim of applying the fruits of its studies to the American life of today.[174] It has sponsored lectures and symposia, of which one has recently been published.[175]

The requirements for advanced degrees were spelled out more thoroughly in 1932 than they previously had been. To gain unconditional admission to the Graduate School the student must have received baccalaureate degree from an approved college or university and have fulfilled the prerequisite requirements for the field of his graduate studies. For the master's degree a minimum residence of one school year or five summer sessions was set, with twenty-eight semester hours of course work plus a dissertation required. No transferred credit toward the master's degree was accepted. One foreign language, any language in which there was critical literature in the student's major subject, was prescribed. Candidacy for degrees was implied in the acceptance of the student's program by the head of the major department and by the Committee on Graduate Study. A written examination covering all course work and the dissertation was the final requirement.

For the Doctor's degree the minimum residency was three years -- or two years after the receiving of the Master's degree -- of which at least the final year had to be spent at Notre Dame. There was no specified number of hours of course work, but it was specified that this work should be about equally divided between a major and two minor subjects. Half the student's time was to be devoted to research and the writing of the dissertation. The dissertation, after approval, had to be printed and two hundred copies deposited in the University Library. French and German were the required foreign languages, though the Committee on Graduate Study could approve a substitution for one of them by another language judged to be especially useful in a student's research. Candidacy for degrees was determined by a preliminary examination given at least one year before completion of all requirements. A final oral examination before a board of five members, appointed by the Committee on Graduate Study, and covering all course work and dissertation was the final requirement.

Requirements for these advanced degrees are substantially the same today as they were in 1932, but they have been refined and strengthened over the years. To the admission requirement have been added the Graduate Record Examination, letters of reference, and a B average in undergraduate courses in the major subject. To be admitted to candidacy the master's student must now have satisfied all prerequisites in major subject, have completed a semester of satisfactory graduate work, fulfilled the language requirement, had his dissertation subject approved, and evidenced ability to carry on research. (Students in the non-research programs need only to have satisfied all prerequisites and completed a semester of satisfactory graduate study.) Moreover, a time limit has been set, and the student who has not been admitted to candidacy by the end of his second semester is eligible for dismissal. The name and character of the examination for candidacy for the doctorate have been changed. It is now called the candidacy examination and consists of a comprehensive written examination given by the major department and a comprehensive oral examination before a board of five members appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. The chairman of the board is chosen from outside the departments in which the student has studied. This examination is taken on completion of all requirements except the dissertation. It, therefore, thoroughly covers the subject matter the student is supposed to have mastered in his courses and reading. For this reason the character of the final examination has also changed. It is now an oral examination limited to the area of the dissertation, and taken before a board of five members of whom three are the readers of the dissertation. This board is appointed as is that for the candidacy examination. Residency for the master's degree remains the same but for the research degree the required hours have been reduced from twenty-eight to twenty-four; residency for the doctor's degree is a minimum of two years instead of one. The rigidity of the language requirement for the doctor's degree has been further relaxed and now substitutions may be made for both French and German if these are thought to be in the student's interest. Finally, a time limit has been set for outlawing work. All requirements for the master's must be fulfilled within two years after completion of residence and all requirements for the doctor's within five years, under penalty of forefeiting credit for courses taken.

In 1932 the number of students enrolled in the Graduate School was fifty-five, and the number fluctuated between fifty and seventy-five throughout the 1930's. During World War II even this small number diminished. This was obviously a great weakness, and only Chemistry, in which most of the students were registered, was in fairly good position. After the war, the number of students soon more than doubled, and then there was a leveling off in the early 1950's. This despite the facts that evening courses were initiated in 1950 to serve professional groups in the local community, and that religious Sisters were admitted to the Graduate School in regular year. But now the fallow period seems to have passed. Seven hundred and forty-eight students were enrolled at the beginning of the present school year, an increase of twenty percent over the preceeding year, and steady growth should continue.[176] Even now many of the departments have too few students to operate optimumly. Lack of financial aid in the way of grants, fellowships, and teaching assistantships, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences is a serious obstacle to the attracting of students, especially those of superior quality.

As indicated earlier, research and its resulting contributions to fields of knowledge -- the slow penetration of the vast area of human ignorance -- has taken its place as rightful and even essential function of the University Faculty members and the advanced students under their direction. For this reason effort has been concentrated on bringing to the Notre Dame Faculty men who are qualified for and interested in exciting, fruitful research, as we shall see in the following section of this study.

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