Who needs rules?  Well…we do.  And you do, too.

Let’s fast forward a few years.  You’ve applied to Fletcher and have been admitted.  You enroll and study for two years.  Now you’re looking at the job hunt and your future career.  When you tell potential employers that you have a degree from The Fletcher School, don’t you want it to mean something?

That’s where we bureaucrats come in.  It’s our goal to ensure that your degree has value.

I plan to use this theme, “Who Needs Rules,” now and then, when I feel it could be beneficial to provide detail on an admissions policy.  Today, I’m going to explain one of the guidelines for applicants to Fletcher’s PhD program.

Generally, I’m the Admissions Office contact for PhD applicants, and one of the most challenging questions I need to answer goes like this:  I saw on the Fletcher web site, that to enter the PhD program directly, I need to have a master’s degree from a program that required full-time study for one and a half to two years.  But my master’s program only lasted one year.  May I apply to Fletcher’s PhD program?

The answer, I’m afraid, is no.  Not that long ago, all students in the PhD program had completed our two-year MALD.  Then the faculty decided to open the doors to applicants from comparable programs at other universities.  I wasn’t part of the decision making, but I reckon they were expecting the applications would come from graduates of our closest peers — APSIA schools.  And some do.  But many don’t.  And then we need to figure out if the degree is comparable.  Step one:  Did the program last roughly as long as the MALD?  No?  Then the degree program is not comparable.

This policy has potential to irritate many applicants, but the ones who object most often are graduates from master’s degree programs in the U.K., where a one-year master’s is the norm.  Sometimes there are challenges involved in going from one education system to another.

Why does the faculty stick with the policy?  Because they believe that a degree program similar to the MALD is what prepares students best for PhD study here.  Thankfully, there are many other programs out there to accommodate all the different types of pre-PhD education.  And prospective students always have the option to start at Fletcher in the MALD program, and move on to the PhD later.  Either way, I know that the future PhDs will find a place that meets their educational needs.  Meanwhile, we’ll do our best to ensure that everyone admitted to the program has the academic platform on which to rest their future study.


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