The last 1960s and early 1970s was a time of upheaval in higher education. On campus, student protests against the Vietnam War were all the rage. At the same time, the creation of--and demand for--degree programs that could be completed by working people began to emerge. But off in the corner, so small you could hardly see it, another revolution was being attempted: the Doctor of Arts degree. The following is a bit of history and some thoughts on how this degree might be revived for the 21st century. The PhD is the Cadillac of academic doctoral degrees. It is designed to fulfill one of a university's two main purposes: to create scholars who can conduct research that advances scholarly academic disciplines. Split from that we've seen arise another set of doctorates, the "professional doctorate" was developed to focus more on advancing praxis (practice) as opposed to scholarship (theory), while still retaining the academic rigor of the PhD. Examples of this type degree include the EdD, DBA, and many more. And, for a brief flash, the Doctor of Arts (DA). (The lines between scholarly doctorates get blurred a bit, where some people are able to earn a PhD without doing strictly scholarship and some doctorates with professional titles are actually scholarly. But the distinctions largely hold.) (NB: "Professional doctorates" are not to be confused with "first professional doctorates," which are non-scholarly degrees that are post-bachelor's degrees designed to enter a profession. Examples include the MD, DDS, DO, DC, JD, OD, and many others.) As mentioned above, one of the two classical functions of a university is scholarship. The other is teaching. With the rise of the PhD--a whole other article someone else can write--the emphasis was on preparing graduates for research, not teaching. This did not go unnoticed, and by the 1960s there was a really strong feeling that people destined to focus on teaching their disciplines--especially at 4-year colleges and community colleges--needed to be prepared differently. Thus, the rise (conceptually) of the Doctor of Arts. The typical PhD program in the US uses the "taught" model. That is, the student undertakes advanced coursework in the chosen academic discipline, is examined on it, then conducts a substantial, original research project that makes a significant contribution to the scholarship of that discipline. (Then it's put on a shelf and forgotten, but that's for another day.) The contribution takes the form of a doctoral dissertation. (I won't get into the distinctions regarding research methods, inductive and deductive inquiry, etc.) But what about teaching? The thinking was that those who would focus on teaching were not well-prepared by the PhD process (for what should be obvious reasons). Yet, the feeling was, they still needed a terminal degree, one that focused on teaching the chosen discipline instead of researching it. The DA was meant to address that in three ways: An emphasis on pedagogy (teaching) More training in the chosen discipline A doctoral dissertation focused on teaching that discipline But it wasn't that clean. Other alternatives were considered (and rejected). These included putting pedagogy into the regular PhD, or using the EdD (but the EdD is focused on education as a discipline, not on teaching a different discipline--more on that below). Still, with help from the Carnegie Foundation, the DA was designed and launched at a few dozen universities as an alternative to the PhD in a variety of different disciplines. And then it flopped. Oh, not immediately. It took more than a decade of trying. But it really was doomed from the beginning. Why? The mighty PhD! The DA was quickly seen as an inferior doctorate and graduates were not as competitive--again, even at teaching colleges and community colleges--as were holders of the PhD. (Holders of non-PhD doctorates sometimes still face this stigma.) So the DA faded from view and is now offered in only a few situations. But there has been a significant development in higher education that begs for a reformulation and reintroduction of the DA: online learning. Pedagogy is, in a nutshell, teaching. It's what we do with children, and we keep doing to them long after they become adults. (Death By PowerPoint, anyone?) Pedagogy is still useful for training skills. But adults do something far more important that sitting and being trained: they learn. Adult learning is a fascinating concept that goes far beyond pedagogy. In fact, Malcolm Knowles coined the term "andragogy" for just that reason. Pupils are taught. Adults learn. Anyone who's taught a university-level online course to working adults knows this. Gone are the lectures (and lecture halls and classrooms). Instead, instructors don't instruct; they facilitate. That is, the adults in the (virtual, asynchronous) room drive their own learning. The facilitator provides learning materials, manages discussion threads, provides feedback and guidance, and assesses learning. No longer the "sage on the stage," he/she is now the "guide on the side." So what about the DA? How cool would it be to take master's-trained practitioners and prepare them to be online facilitators of their disciplines? That's what a modern DA could do. DA candidates would dive deeper into their chosen disciplines--with an emphasis on facilitating others in learning it (andragogy). The degree experience would include coaching and mentoring on facilitating in the online arena. The DA would conclude not with an scholarly dissertation, but a learning project (properly sourced and supported with an exegesis) that demonstrated the candidate's ability to design, develop, and deliver instruction in the discipline to learners pursuing it. The result: a person well-qualified and credentialed to facilitate adult learning in any delivery methodology (online, classroom, etc.). Who benefits? Everyone. Colleges get better-prepared teachers with much more experience in the practice of their professions. Students get to learn with facilitators skilled not only in what students are learning, but also how to make it happen. And the DA graduates themselves would benefit by advancing their professional practice, as either a side hustle or even a new, full-time chapter in their careers. Who pays? The usual suspects. Colleges might be interested in attracting that kind of talent with some quid pro quo--assistance in return for some commitment. And DA candidates would pay as they would in other situations where they receive advanced learning and development experiences to advance their careers. Who would conduct the DA? This is a tough one. It was tried at traditional universities and didn't do well. It would be hard (or impossible) for teaching colleges and community colleges to do it. But a free-standing, new school designed around this concept--and in partnership with those colleges--might be able to pull it off. Or, perhaps, an innovative university could create a such a program under its accreditation. Who would put all of this together with the colleges, create the program, negotiate the agreements, consult with the stakeholders, and conduct it all? I have no idea. But I have to go now; my mom wants me to go outside and play. Bye!