OP-EDS

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October 24, 2004

Degrees of Irrelevance

Last spring, the first class of students graduated from European colleges under the Bologna process—an ambitious process that condensed the traditional four-year undergraduate program into a streamlined three-year plan. The recent graduations mean that there will soon be a wave of European applicants to Chicago's graduate schools who have earned these three-year degrees.

Many American universities, however, including the University of Chicago, do not yet officially recognize the three-year degrees, on the basis that they require applicants to complete four years of undergraduate studies. As such, hundreds of European scholars may find their applications in limbo as the University debates the validity of these degrees.

While it is understandable for the University to make sure its incoming graduate students are prepared, the Maroon believes the University should base its decisions on quality of study, not years taken to obtain a degree.

Time should not be an issue for graduate student admissions. How should earning a degree in three-years in Europe be any different from earning a degree in the United States, especially in Chicago, where students do it every year? For that matter, how is it worse than earning a degree in five or six years?

Not recognizing these degrees will not only be a disservice to these European applicants, but also will also deny our graduate schools some of the best international scholars and compromise our reputation abroad.