The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Education, Professional

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EDUCATION, Professional. Professional education as distinguished from elementary, secondary, industrial or liberal education, is that form of higher education specially designed as a preparation for “learned,” technical, commercial, or social professions or callings in which men and women deal with their fellows, with institutions, or with material things, according to abstract principles, with an understanding of natural or social forces and the ways in which they have been or may be applied. To the three “learned professions” of the older time, other professions have been added to meet the need of a developing civilization. Hence professional education takes account of dentistry, chemistry, engineering, education, pharmacy and veterinary medicine, while certain other callings are so well-organized as to their materials and methods that education for them might be included in the professional group. In this latter class belong journalism; commerce and business organization, including banking, insurance, transportation, foreign and domestic trade and accounting; public service, including expert service in federal, state, municipal, and diplomatic administration; and social service, comprising charities, corrections, Red Cross, welfare work and sociological research.

At the close of the American Revolution there were, besides the semi-ecclesiastical colleges like Harvard and Yale, only two professional schools in English-speaking America — the medical college of Philadelphia, now a part of the University of Pennsylvania, and the medical department of King's College, now Columbia University. The law school of Harvard University, the oldest of existing law schools in this country, was opened in 1817; the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery dates from 1839; the oldest school of veterinary medicine (Iowa State College) began as late as 1880. From these early beginnings the present long list of American professional schools has grown. The recent expansion of these institutions in the five clearly recognized professions, as published by the United States Bureau of Education for the years 1900 and 1916, is shown in the accompanying tabulation, from which are omitted statistics of schools which train for the professions of engineering (see Technical Education), chemistry, commerce and social service, for the reason that such training is still carried on largely in the usual four-years undergraduate course, either in close co-ordination with other undergraduate divisions or in parallel separate schools, with the inclusion of a considerable amount of fundamental or buttressing material of a non-professional character in the quasi-professional curriculum. Statistics of training schools for nurses are likewise omitted because these institutions are not, by organization, faculty, curriculum or special equipment, quite comparable with professional schools which are independent establishments, not merely adjuncts or accessories to major enterprises like hospitals which exist for an entirely different purpose.

Comparative Statistics of Professional Education for 1900 and 1916

Class Schools Students Graduates With A.B.
or B.S.
Endowments Reported
1900 1916 1900 1916 1900 1916 1900 1916 1900 1916 1900 1916
Theology  154   169   8,009   12,051   1,773   2,090   2,338   4,454   $19,979,565   $40,395,681   $1,123,802   $2,171,624 
Law 96  124  12,516  22,993  3,241  4,323  2,166  4,451  567,900  2,091,592  105,500  352,027 
Medicine 151  92   25,213   14,767   5,219   3,436   2,477   3,086  2,236,087  23,227,896  49,239  2,485,501 
Dentistry 54  48  7,928  10,715  2,029  1,852  192  167  105,000  461,915  500 
Pharmacy 53  71  4,042  6,034  1,130  1,796  51  44  19,202  205,000  1,700  4,324 
Veterinary medicine 13  22  362  3,064  100  759  14  47  5,064  4,000  597 

The standards of admission, instruction and graduation in professional schools have markedly improved since 1870, notably in medicine, engineering and education. In the case of medicine the changes since 1904 have been almost revolutionary under the firm and statesmanlike guidance of the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges, two voluntary organizations within the medical profession, which have neither legal nor coercive authority over schools licensing boards or individual teachers or students. Organizations quite similar to these two have exercised in a smaller degree an elevating influence on corresponding forms of professional education during the last two decades. Legislation by the states now regulates more or less effectively the practice, and hence the education to practice, of the last five of the six tabulated professions, and in some degree also the quasi-professions of accountancy, nursing, etc.

Several specific examples are here given to illustrate the progress just described and the present state of certain forms of professional education. The law school of Harvard College required no previous course of study in 1857; male students, 19 years of age and of good moral character, were eligible for admission. Not until 1870 was the course extended to two years; in 1877 it was raised to three years; since 1899 only graduates of approved colleges are eligible for admission. Yet in 1916 this law school had 791 students, more than any other law school in the country except certain evening schools in Chicago and in Washington, D, C. By 1916 all but 20 of the 124 law schools reporting to the Bureau of Education prescribed three-year courses and only one remained on the one-year basis; all but 26 maintained a standard year of at least 35 weeks. The requirements for admission, until after 1870, were merely a knowledge of English and the common branches; by 1880 they were made the completion of a four-years' high school course; at the present time nearly all the better schools require the completion of at least two years of work in a college of liberal arts. Though the content of the work of these two years is not prescribed, students are urged to choose such subjects as history, politics, English literature, logic, philosophy, economics and public speaking.

The professional curriculum in law is usually quite closely prescribed during at least the first year, including contracts, torts, personal property, real property, domestic relations and criminal law; for the remainder of the course a varying degree of freedom is accorded the student. The methods of instruction have been remodeled along with the changes just noted; the original lecture system was succeeded by the textbook system, and this in turn by the “case system,” in which the student makes analytical studies of actual cases decided in courts, discusses these cases in the classroom, and passes examinations on them and upon lectures dealing with the principle involved. The degree of bachelor of laws (LL.B.) is generally conferred upon the completion of the regular course; certain schools, e.g., the universities of Chicago Michigan and Yale, confer instead the degree of doctor of law (J.D. or J.U.D.) upon those graduates who entered with an A.B. or B.S. degree from an approved college. For a fourth or graduate year the degree of master of laws (M.L.) is sometimes given.

Medical education has undergone even more striking evolution than law. The early medical schools were usually connected with colleges, but, beginning in the early 19th century, came a period of about 75 years when the independent proprietary medical school flourished, to the grave detriment of the profession. In about a century 437 medical schools appeared in the United States and Canada, of which 162 were in operation in 1906 when the campaign for improvement began to prosper. The famous Flexner report on “Medical Education in the United States and Canada,” published in 1910 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, is a landmark in both medical and professional education in North America. Concerning the majority of these numerous schools the report states:

Nothing was really essential but professors. The laboratory movement is comparatively recent. . . . Little or no investment was therefore involved. . . . Occasional dissections in time supplied a skeleton — in whole or in part — and a box of old bones. Other equipment there was practically none. The teaching was, except for a little anatomy, wholly didactic. The schools were essentially private ventures, money-making in spirit and object. . . . Many of the schools had no clinical facilities whatever. . . . The schools had two sessions of 16 to 20 weeks each; the course was ungraded and the two classes met together. The student had two chances to hear one set of lectures — and for the privilege paid two sets of fees. . . . State boards were not yet in existence. The school diploma was itself a license to practice.

From this chaotic and almost standardless condition, medical education moved up in 25 years so that the best American schools are quite the equal of the best European schools. The universities have resumed actual and vigorous control; graded courses of medical studies, adequately based on two years of college training, including chemistry, physics and zoology, and covering four school years of approximately nine months each, are the rule. Six medical schools have already taken still more advanced ground by requiring before graduation the satisfactory completion of a fifth year to be spent in an approved hospital or in other acceptable clinical work — Minnesota, Stanford, Rush, California, Northwestern and Vermont, and six State boards have established a requirement of one year's internship for licensure to practice. Numerous full-time salaried teachers have replaced the volunteer practitioner-lecturer, even in important clinical chairs. Great laboratories for instruction and research, supplemented by extensive hospitals for clinical teaching, have been built at enormous expense, sometimes by individual gifts, as in universities like Harvard, Cornell, Washington and Leland Stanford Jr., and sometimes by State or municipal appropriations, as in universities like Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and Cincinnati, thus setting the highest standards now known in the profession. The degree of doctor of medicine (M.D.) is almost invariably conferred upon graduates. A special degree in public health (Dr.P.H. or Gr.P.H.) is given by several institutions, e.g., Michigan, Harvard and California.

Such progress meant inevitably the death of many weak and scandalous schools; by 1917 the roster of medical schools showed 96 names, of which 29 were integral parts of State universities. Proprietary, profiteering schools clearly could not live when the amount spent annually on each student in 82 schools for which an estimate was made in 1917 was $419, and the corresponding return from the student in fees was about $150, the fees ranging from $25 in Oklahoma to $275 in Columbia.

Out of 48 schools of dentistry only 12 are independent institutions. The dental curriculum covers three years of professional work based upon four years of high school, and leads to the degree of doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.). A movement to raise the course to four years, comparable with medicine, has attained considerable momentum with the cordial support of the leaders of the profession. Tuition fees range from $60 to $200, averaging about $150.

The schools of theology represent a wide variety of standards, from the “full salvation” school (in Kentucky) to the great group of seminaries about the Catholic University of America, the Union Theological Seminary of New York, Princeton Theological Seminary, or Boston University School of Theology, all of which as a rule require a bachelor's degree or its equivalent for admission and a three-years course for graduation. The degree usually conferred is bachelor of divinity (B.D.) or bachelor of sacred theology (S.T.B.). The theological schools reporting to the bureau of education in 1900 and 1916 are summarized in the accompanying table. The attendance of 11,291 in 1916 included 760 women, but these figures do not include the considerable number of students in semi-professional Bible schools and institutes for training evangelists, missionaries and other church workers. Theological schools in 1916 were located in 32 States, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois having each more than 15. By denominations the distributions of 1900 and 1916 were:

  1900   1916
Roman Catholic 29 27
Presbyterian 23 20
Lutheran 22 24
Methodist 18 19
Protestant Episcopal 13 13
Congregational 11 9
Baptist 11 13
Non-sectarian 3 11
Christian and Disciples   7 9
Reformed 6 6
Universalist 3 3
Hebrew 2 2
Miscellaneous 6 13
154 169

All but 15 of the 71 schools of pharmacy have university or college connection. Admission requirements to the two-years course are two to four years of high school; to the four-years course, usually the full high school course of four years. The former leads to the title of graduate in pharmacy (Ph.G.) or pharmaceutical chemist (Ph.C.), the latter to bachelor of science in pharmacy (B.S. in Phar.)

One of the chief reasons for the rapid development of veterinary medicine is found in the great demand by the Federal government for inspectors of food animals and by the farmers for the prevention or cure of swine and cattle diseases. Nine of the 22 veterinary schools are connected with state agricultural colleges. The course of four years is generally based on a high school education and leads to the degree of doctor of veterinary medicine (D.V.M.). The largest schools are those of Iowa, Cornell, Ohio, and Kansas City.

The training of teachers for the elementary schools does not fall under the heading of professional education, but the last decade has seen a gradual standardization of really professional training of teachers, comparable with the other professions in scope and severity of requirements. Few of the normal schools and colleges of education do more than incorporate into the regular undergraduate curriculum considerable courses in psychology, history of education, educational organization, and practice teaching in neighboring schools, or in college-controlled or laboratory schools as at the universities of Wisconsin, Missouri and Minnesota. The better institutions limit the specialized studies in education to the last two years. Teachers College of Columbia University, which has been a graduate school since 1914, and the education divisions of graduate schools like those of Chicago, Harvard and California, are the best examples of professional courses in education, though they may not, with the exception of the first, be known technically as professional schools. The volume and significance of the researches of this group of institutions augur well for the further development of the profession.

Illustrative of the newer type of professional schools which require more than a four-years high school course for admission, are the Graduate School of Business Administration of Harvard University, the richly endowed New York School of Philanthropy, the Tuck School of Administration and Finance of Dartmouth College and the Yale School of Forestry.

So enormously expensive has the maintenance of professional education of all kinds become, that it must more and more depend upon tax-support or upon generous endowment, and less and less upon student fees and the free services of lawyers, doctors and dentists. No first class professional school can be content with mere teaching; it must engage in investigations of new conditions and new problems, in medicine, theology and education as well as in journalism, chemistry and social service, in the strenuous endeavor to master alike the social and natural forces which affect human welfare. Hence the graduate professional school and the research institution or endowment are new integral parts of professional education at the present time. Examples of these are the Graduate School of Business Administration of Harvard, medical endowments for research in cancer at Columbia and Harvard and in urology at Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research at Minnesota, the Veterinary Investigation Department of Iowa State College, the Engineering Experiment Station of the University of Illinois, and the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research and School of Specific Industries of the University of Pittsburgh.

To meet these multiplying and mounting needs of professional education, men and states have poured out during the last two decades a veritable stream of gifts and appropriations as evidence of approval of the soundness and progressiveness of the management of such schools. In 1917 the University of Chicago received nearly $5,500,000 for its medical schools. Vanderbilt, Washington, Johns Hopkins and Yale have each recently received $1,000,000 or more for medical work; Pennsylvania received more than $1,000,000 for dentistry; the Pulitzer donations to Columbia for journalism were $2,000,000. The endowments of eight theological schools are above $1,000,000 each, three passing $2,000,000 and one (Princeton), passing $3,000,000, while the grounds, buildings and library of the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church are reported at more than $2,000,000. The building and library of the law school of the University of Chicago are estimated at $500,000, and the properties of the Harvard Law School (including $600,000 of endowment) at $2,000,000.

Bibliography. — Annual Reports of the United States Commissioner of Education; United States Bureau of Education (Bulletin, 1913, No. 4, G. E. MacLean, “Present Standards of Higher Education in the United States”); Annual Educational Numbers of the Journal of the American Medical Association (in reprints); Annual Reports of the Conferences of the Council on Medical Education; Annual Reports of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; Bulletins of the same: Flexner, “Medical Education in the United States and Canada” (No. 4, 1910); Redlich, “The Case Method in American Law Schools” (No. 8, 1914); Annual Reports of the Meetings of the Religious Education Society.

Kendric C. Babcock,
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois.