Letters to the Editor

Professional-School Training Is Invaluable, Even for Scholars

February 14, 2012

To the Editor:

I applaud Leonard Cassuto for recommending that graduate programs include professional-school coursework in their curricula ("Making a Public Ph.D.," The Chronicle, February 12). In the face of an ever-shrinking academic job market, as Mr. Cassuto points out, professional preparation is essential for doctoral students who enter into nonacademic careers. But I would argue further that professional-school training is invaluable even for those who remain in academia.

Policy-oriented courses and classmates can be vital for those hoping to have impact outside the academic community. Moreover, interaction with practitioners guides much of the research scholarship in disciplines such as law, medicine, and public health.

Personally, exposure to professional coursework during my joint business-school/economics-department Ph.D. studies has informed even my approach to graduate instruction. For example, I draw upon "lean" methods—learned in an entrepreneurship class—in order to craft my current doctoral seminar's trajectory in response to real-time student feedback.

Scott Duke Kominers
Research Scholar
Becker Friedman Institute
University of Chicago