DEGREE, in a college or university (Fr. degre, from Lat. grades, a step), is a recog nition of the student having made a certain step in advance, and having attained, as it were, to a certain resting-place in his academical career. The evidence of a D. is usually called a diploma (q.v.). Degrees may be divided into various classes, according to the privileges which they confer. 1. They arc either simple certificates of attainment granted by a competent authority; attesting either that the college or university grant ing them has ascertained the fact by examination—in which case they are ordinary degrees—or that the common fame of the individual is such that the learned body conferring the D. is willing to take it for granted, in which case they are honorary degrees. To this class belong our degrees in arts, and the honorary degrees of LL.D., D.C.L., and D.D., which are granted by most universities. 2. They are licenses to teach the branch of knowledge with which the holder is certified to be acquainted. To this class belonged all doctors', and probably all masters' degrees in the universities of the middle ages. See DOCTOR. 3. They are licenses to practice a certain profession or art. As the latter privilege is one in which the general community is more deeply interested than in either of the others, it is generally requisite to its full exercise that the university D. should be accompanied by a government license. These latter degrees—of which the D. of m.o. and D.C.L. DOCTORS-COMMONS) are the only ones known in this country— in this case resolve themselves into one or other of the former classes.
University degrees, like most institutionswhich have held their place in society long, arose out of public exigencies, and are not traceable to any single founder or to any sin gle act. There is every reason to suppose that, substantially, they have existed for ages. The doctors or teachers of the law (nomodiddekalot), so often mentioned in the New Tes tament—and probably the scribes also—were a class, taken, it would seem, very fre quently from the sect of the Pharisees, but essentially distinct from them (Luke v. 17), possessing privileges very closely resembling those which were attached to the D. of a teaching doctor in after times. In classical Greece, though far less formal than it after wards became, education was probably more systematic than is commonly supposed. In the schools of Isocrates and Plato, Mr. Kirkpatrick, in his ingenious book ou the His tvrically-reeeired Conception of the University, has traced not only substantially the func tion, but much even of the external organization of the university. He has shown also, very clearly, that it was the systematic training which had become necessary for success in public life that called the Sophists into existence, and gave to them the marvelous social influence which they possessed. It was the ambition, not of the higher class of orators and statesmen alone, but of every noisy demagogue who aspired to notoriety, to conic before the public with the prestige of having been the pupil of some famous Sophist, or, as we should say, of having been to a good school, and taken a good degree. All the appliances of modern teaching existed unquestionably in the museum at Alex andria, and it is inconceivable that those who had passed through the kuklos or cycle of studies, should not have carried away some testimonial of proficiency very much resem bling a degree. As there was a distribution both of teachers and students into what we should call the faculties of philosophy, philology, and medicine, it is probable, more over, that there were distinct degrees corresponding to each of them. During the three centuries which intervened between Alexander and Augustus. Athens continued to be the great school of philosophy, as Rhodes was of oratory, and Alexandria of philology and medicine. The importance of an education in the Greek schools rather increased than diminished during the period of the Roman empire. So entirely, indeed, was the success of the young provincial in public life also dependent upon his literary acquirements, that. as Mr. Kirkpatrick informs us, students, before leaving the provinces for Rome, were obliged to obtain a written permission from a magistrate, and that a record of the pro ficiency of each student was sent in to the government, in order that the latter might be thereby guided in the selection of fit individuals for the public service. In Constanti nople, moreover, down to the very last, lifeles,sand unproductive though the intellectual life unquestionably was, it was formally organized to an extent which reminds one of China rather than of any existing European nation. The worthless and contemptible
Byzantines, male and female, like the Chinese, passed endless examinations, and took abundance of degrees. After the incursion of the northern nations, the extreme rude ness of the general community of western Europe caused the learned class to stand out from it with a prominence unknown in the society of antiquity, and hence the greater importance which academical degrees assumed in the middle ages. A man who had passed through the trivituu or quadrivium at Constantinople before barbarism had made learning rare, or who had received the far higher instruction which was communicated at the museum of Alexandria, by no means differed from the society which surrounded him to the same extent as did a master or a doctor at Paris or Bologna. The minuter history of academical degrees in the middle ages is involved in much obscurity. The following are passages from the above-mentioned work of Mr. Kirkpatrick, who has gone over the authorities with much care. " Wood mentions (Hist. and Antiq. of azford, i. 50) that St. John of Beverley (680 A.D.) was commonly reported to have been the first who took the D. of master of arts at Oxford. The same writer informs us that this D. had become common in the reigns of John and Richard I. According to Bulfcus (Hist. Univ. Paris, ii., pp. 256, 679, sqq.), academic degrees were first instituted at Bologna. The forms designative of the various orders of academic dignity in that uni versity are stated to have been the Baccalaureatus Licentiatus, and Doctoratus. Of these, the last two were probably equivalent to the degrees of the master incipient and the magister socins or regent of Paris. Certain stadia, or successive courses of legal study, are said to have been in existence from the time of Justinian. The five years devoted to the acquisition of juristic knowledge were divided into the Anni Justinian], edictales, papinianistm, lytte, and prolytte. The student who had passed through all sue. cessively was described as a licentiatus, from the circumstance that he was considered qualified to discharge the duties of an antecessor or public professor of this subject. The practice adopted in this respect by the schools of jurisprudence was afterwards trans ferred to theology at Paris by Peter Lombardus. The name bachelor is supposed by Malden (History of Universities and Academic Degrees, p. 23) to have been borrowed from the terminology of the military hierarchy of those ages." See BACHELOR. " Bach clors are often styled scholars (Wood, Kist. and Antig. of Oxford, i. p. 59), and the individual invested with this D. was regarded as, at the utmost, an imperfect graduate. At the same time, in accordance with the system of mutual instruction so thoroughly adopted in the schools of the middle ages, the more advanced class of scholars were both encouraged and commanded to perfect their own acquirements, and extend the educa tional influences of the university into the minutest ramifications of the system by teaching and catechising the junior members of their own body (Crevier, Ilistoire de 1' Universal de Paris, ii. p. 160). Bachelors, though thus intrusted with certain tutorial functions, never possessed any of the legislative powers assigned to the masters" (pp. 206, 207). It was to the teaching masters—and all who took the master's D. were bound to perform the duties of tuition for a time—that the term regent was applied both on the continent and in Scotland. On retiring from the office of regent, the master—at Paris, at least—ceased to take an active share either in the legislation or the government of the university (Bullet's, par. iii. p. 420). The question as to whether the institution of teaching masters or regents ought to be revived, to the extent of permitting them to compete on equal terms with the endowed professors, is one of the most important now under discussion amongst the university reformers of Scotland. A very excellent pam in favor of it was published by Dr. Kilgour of Aberdeen, in 1850. Sec BACHELOR, MASTER OF ARTS, DOCTOR, REGENT, UNIVERSITY. DEGREE, in music, is the difference of position or elevation of the notes on the lines and spaces. When notes are on the same line or space, they are on the same degree, even though one of the notes should be raised by a sharp, or lowered by a fiat. When two notes follow diatonically, so that one of them is on the line, and the other on the space adjoining, the interval is of one degree. Subtracting one from an interval, gives the degrees which separate the two notes; thus, a third is separated by two degrees; a fourth, by three, etc.