• U.S.

Education: The New McCoy

2 minute read

The current boom in “continuing education” is such that many U.S. campuses enroll far more part-time adult students than full-time undergraduates. A case in point is McCoy College, the pioneering (1909) night division of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, which now has 6,000 students, nearly three times the university’s daytime enrollment. McCoy’s students mostly toil to upgrade themselves economically. Yet more and more yearn to go beyond bread-and-butter specialization. As one McCoy engineering graduate put it: “I’d like to take more courses in liberal arts. I’d like to be a person—not a machine that can work problems.”

Last week Johns Hopkins, backed by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, announced a significant encouragement toward this goal: a new McCoy degree called master of liberal arts. Aimed at any qualified college graduate, regardless of his undergraduate major, it requires one full year of study (within five years) in “the history of ideas.” Thus it contrasts with the research and specialization toward a Ph.D. that characterizes most master’s degree work. It will consist largely of seminars in the humanities, social and natural sciences, but McCoy’s M.L.A. program will be no simple dip in middlebrow culture. Johns Hopkins plans to staff it with top scholars, and hopes thereby to set a new standard for part-time study all over the U.S.

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