Professional doctorates: An Australian perspective

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Malloch, Margaret (2010) Professional doctorates: An Australian perspective. Work Based Learning e-Journal, 1 (1). pp. 1-24. ISSN 2044-7868


Professional doctorates proliferated in the Australian academic environment in the 1990s with programs being developed in diverse academic fields and with overseas partnerships. By 2000, the numbers of professional doctorates doubled (Maxwell and Shanahan, 2001), with courses in 19 areas of study offered in 30 universities (CDDGS, 1999). In England and America, professional doctorates similarly have grown in number of programs and students. The Australian experience is that this growth has been followed by a retraction and diminished popularity paralleled by a change in government policies, funding and the realities of delivery of the qualification. This article explores these national trends whilst drawing upon data gathered from interviews with course coordinators and doctoral students carried out for a study into links between learning in the workplace and the academy at (professional) doctoral level. Qualitative, ethnographic research methodology was employed to gain perspectives through interviews of the professional experience of course coordinators of the Doctor of Education, from a range of universities, interviews of students from a regional university and participant observation by the researcher. The interviews enabled the students to reflect on their learning, and links between study and work. They also reflected on potential models for the shape of a professional doctorate. Coordinators interviewed have moved on to a range of transformations of the professional doctorate program, influenced by the impact of the 21st century economics and commitment to providing alternative pathways for doctoral study. Their views contribute to a consideration of the future of professional doctorates in Australia.

Item type Article
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Historical > FOR Classification > 1399 Other Education
Keywords ResPubID24535, professional doctorates, models in doctoral programs, work, learning
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