Fill out the brief form below for access to the free report.
I left academia a decade ago, a departure originally intended to be a brief sabbatical until more interesting opportunities presented themselves.
A number of my friends seem inclined to go in the opposite direction: After having made significant accomplishments in their profession, they want to give something back to their profession and community by joining academia. And to a person, my friends with this ambition have a lot to give, namely keen minds and a wealth of experience that is exceptionally relevant to their fields.
The only problem they face is that they lack terminal degrees in their field. These days most universities feel obligated to hire professors with Ph.D.s, a compulsion driven partly by the accreditation bodies and partly due to the fact that the various entities that publish university rankings penalize schools for having too many teachers without the degree.
In some places (like my current home of Washington, D.C.) this requirement is a trifle: The city is lousy with Ph.D.s in all sorts of fields willing to teach for a pittance. But in most places that is not necessarily the case.
And it’s doubtless true that for some disciplines there is no substitute for the years of academic training that people receive in graduate school. But in other disciplines — such as economics (my own field) or other business-related fields, a Ph.D. is neither necessary nor sufficient to be an exceptional professor.
In fact, a couple decades of experience would be much better preparation for a business professor than the four to six years of often-tedious academic training, much of which is irrelevant to any discussion that would occur in an undergraduate classroom, which earning a Ph.D. necessitates.
But most communities have a wealth of people with the background and acumen that would make them great professors. Some of these people already do teach a class or two. Making it easier for these people to devote themselves full-time to academia would be an unmitigated boon for students both here and at universities across the nation.
The credentialism of academia stems in part from well-intentioned efforts to improve the professionalism of academia, but it is a too-blunt tool that hurts universities in very real ways.
Ideally, a university’s faculty would be a mix of people with practical experience as well as in-depth academic training. In such a setting, students could have the best of both worlds, being informed by the practical experience of the business community while also learning from the traditional academician.
This part of the article is usually reserved for a pithy policy remedy, but I’m not sure that there is one, other than to plead with the various university accreditation bodies to reduce their emphasis on the Ph.D., with prospective college students and their parents to put less stock in the various college guides, and with college administrators to take a risk and put more people with a career’s worth of experience and wisdom into the classroom.
It’s hard to see who would lose from such an arrangement.
Ike Brannon is a Senior Fellow at the George W. Bush Institute and President of Capital Policy Analytics, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.
TARIFFIED: Trade Talk with Matthew Rooney
This week, trade relations between the U.S. and India are continuing to escalate. Earlier this month, the U.S. stopped granting India special trade privileges by taking away the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, and India has responded by enforcing more tariffs of its own. The George W. Bush-SMU Economic Growth Initiative Director Matthew Rooney breaks down the trade conflict: For more information on trade groups and the global economy, visit www.bushcenter.org/scorecard.
How Trade Spreads Holiday Cheer
It is projected that the average American household will spend more than $1,000 during the holidays this year.
Deporting Salvadorans May Lead to Economic Decline
We should think carefully about a policy whose major impacts are likely to be reductions in employment and economic activity here at home, and increased instability and lawlessness along our borders.
Bush Institute's Laura Collins Talks Immigration on Good Morning Texas
Last week, Deputy Director of Economic Growth at the George. W. Bush Institute Laura Collins spoke with Good Morning Texas about immigration myths. During the interview, Collins had the opportunity to set the record straight and address common misconceptions about legal immigrants living in America today. The segment was inspired from facts released earlier this fall by the Bush Institute in the third edition of America's Advantage: A Handbook on Immigration and Economic Growth. Watch the full Good Morning Texas interview here.