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Where did the phrase bachelor degree originate?

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10/09/2007

Those holding the preliminary degree of a university (or of a four-year college, in the American system of higher education). In this sense the word baccalarius or baccalaureus first appears at the University of Paris in the 13th century, in the system of degrees established under the auspices of Pope Gregory IX, as applied to scholars still in statu pupillari. Thus there were two classes of baccalarii: the baccalarii cursores, i.e. theological candidates passed for admission to the divinity course, and the baccalarii dispositi, who, having completed this course, were entitled to proceed to the higher degrees. The term baccalaureus is a pun combining the prosaic baccalarius with bacca lauri "laurel berry" -- per the American Heritage Dictionary, "bacca" is the Old Irish word for "farmer" + laureus, "laurel berry," the idea being that a "baccalaureate" had farmed (cultivated) his mind. * Modernly, in Anglophone academia, the Bachelor's Degree is part of a distinct hierarchical ranking of six degrees. From lowest to highest, they are: Associate's Degree, a two-year degree most typically conferred in the United States by junior and community colleges; Bachelor's Degree, a three-, four- or five-year undergraduate degree conferred by universities and, in the United States, also by senior (four-year) colleges; Master's Degree, the first graduate degree above the baccalaureate; Specialist Degree, a degree that ranks above the Master's but below the Doctorate; Doctoral degree, the highest degree awarded in most fields of study, the doctorate may be a research degree (i.e., Ph.D. or D.Phil) or a professional degree (e.g., J.D./D.Jur., D.Min., Ed.D., M.D., D.M.A./A.Mus.D., etc.); and the Post-Doctoral Degree, which is a doctoral degree that requires the conferee to have previously earned another doctoral degree. For example, the S.J.D./D.J.S. is conferred upon people who already possess the J.D./D.Jur. degree. * At Oxford and Cambridge the bachelor can proceed to his mastership by simply retaining his name on the books and paying certain fees; but generally, further studies are necessary. But in no case is the bachelor a full member of the university, meaning that he does not have the right to teach. With the admission of women to universities from the late 19th century, the term in its academic sense could also apply to women.