The University of Pennsylvania has offered modern research degrees since 1882, when the faculty and Trustees established the Department of Philosophy. In its first years, the Department of Philosophy offered only the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, but in 1888 and 1891, the Department added the degrees of Master of Arts (A.M.) and Master of Science (M.S.) respectively. These three graduate degrees have remained the only graduate degrees offered by the University of Pennsylvania up to the present time; however, the Department of Philosophy is no longer the only department granting graduate research degrees.
The Wharton School began offering the Ph.D. in 1891. In 1906, the faculty of the Department of Philosophy formally requested that the Trustees change the name of the Department to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; and of course this department continued to grant research degrees. As the twentieth century progressed, othe schools also began to offer research degrees. In 1910 the School of Medicine offered its first Ph.D. degrees, followed by the Graduate School of Fine Arts (now Design) in 1920 and the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1921. The Annenberg School for Communication was founded in 1959 and granted its first Ph.D. in 1967.
In October 1973, the Trustees merged the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences into a new academic division of instruction known as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In May 1974, the Trustees amended the Statutes of the University to provide for the new Faculty of Arts and Sciences. One month later, the Trustees further emphasized the significance of graduate education at Penn by confirming the establishment of a new staff position in the Office of the Provost to be known as the Vice-Provost for Graduate Studies and Research.
In November 1976, the Provost and the Faculty Senate came to an agreement that the three research degrees [of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Master of Arts (A.M.) and Master of Science (M.S.)] are University-wide degrees requiring University-wide standards. The Provost and the Faculty Senate therefore jointly approved the establishment of the “Graduate Council of the Faculties” to serve as the chief advisory body to the Provost on the oversight of graduate education at Penn. The Vice-Provost for Graduate Studies and Research was the named Chair of the Graduate Council.
1977 to the Present
Beginning in 1977 and continuing to the present time, the Graduate Council of the Faculties, acting through its Chair, has served the central administrative function of certifying candidates to the Trustees for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Master of Arts (A.M.), and Master of Science (M.S.). These three modern research degrees are offered and awarded as University-wide degrees requiring University-wide standards.
Since these changes in the oversight of Penn’s graduate education were made, the Ph.D. was first offered by the School of Nursing in 1984 and School of Social Policy and Practice in 1990.