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courses for grad students

user at mpi.com user at mpi.com
Thu Nov 20 11:11:25 EST 1997

In article <64vqch$3p0$1 at fremont.ohsu.edu>, nospamnishir at ohsu.edu (Rae
Nishi) wrote:

I seem to be the minority of this faculty in thinking that a
> <<minimum>> number of courses should be required but that many should
> be offered.  My feeling is that the good students will take the courses
> because they're interested and enthusiastic about learning the material
> and that students who choose to take a course will be more enthusiastic
> than those who are forced to take it.  I think that by the time you get
> to a postgraduate education (especially training for a PhD) that you
> ought to be mature enough to figure out how to get what you need and
> that we should foster an environment of multidisciplinary training. 
> Unfortunately, most of the faculty don't trust students to get the
> training.  We have even gone to the extreme of requiring two terms of
> journal club.  The faculty seem to want to require more and more course
> work to be completed. I think that this turns off good students instead
> of getting them interested ('course, I was a student that hated being
> told what to take so much that I went to a grad program that had no
> required courses). What do you think?

I agree that requiring specific courses is counterproductive and I think
requiring a set number of "credits" is much better.  The required courses
I had to take as a first-year grad student were worse than a waste of
time, they were taught so poorly that they were a real turn-off. (like
you, I also hated being told what to take...I managed to argue my way out
of some of it, but apparently offended a faculty member in the process). 
However, that being said, I think people come to grad school with very
different backgrounds and preparation, and the school may require mastery
of certain subjects/skills, like the ability to critically read papers,
and a strong background in the basics of the field.  If students lack
that, then I think it's ok to require them to get it (through courses or

stubdal at mpi.com

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