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March 17, 2008
Volume 86, Number 11
p. 11


Soon In Germany, U.S. Ph.D. = Dr.

Officials move to allow U.S. doctoral graduates to use the title "Dr." in Germany

Sarah Everts

Scientists in Germany with U.S.-acquired doctoral degrees will soon be able to use the "Dr." title without fear of criminal prosecution.

In Germany, the "Dr." title is reserved for individuals who acquired their doctoral degrees in Germany or other European Union countries. Using the title without government consent is considered a criminal offense, carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

Seven directors at Germany's prestigious Max Planck Institutes with Ph.D.s from respected institutions such as Stanford University are facing or have faced charges of impersonating a "Dr." (C&EN, March 10, page 11).

Since publication of the incidents involving the Max Planck directors, however, a conference of German state education ministers has agreed that people with doctoral degrees from U.S. institutions can legally use the "Dr." title in Germany. The only stipulation is that their Ph.D.-granting institution must be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, an independent California-based policy and research center devoted to the cause of higher education. The 16 German states must now turn the ministers' resolution into law.

"I think this decision is just great," says Ian T. Baldwin, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and a Cornell University alumnus who has faced charges of misusing the "Dr." title. "Science is globalized. It's good to see the German educational system adjusting to this."

Analogous recognition for people with doctoral degrees from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, and Russia is also currently being considered by the education ministers.

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Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society


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