One contentious part of graduate student training in the US system is the mechanism by which we evaluate student potential for continuing on to the dissertation about halfway along.
Oral or written “qualification” exams. Closed book, open book or take home. Research or grant proposals. Review articles. On specific subfield topics or designed to cover the breath of the fields defined by the Department itself.
It is almost always a constant argument within the faculty, within the student body and between students and faculty about the “best” way to construct the process. I recall that over the course of my doctoral stint, my training department had three distinct qualification processes in place!
As a student I was a big fan of the breadth exam, either written as closed-book or as oral exam. My rationale was basically what I saw as the continued “value” of me getting a doctorate from the department in question. It was a matter of the reputation gained by other grads from the program conversing with scientists across the field. I wanted them to come across as informed as possible, to as many discussants as possible.
Maturing through the career arc, I care less for this. Mostly because I’ve come to realize nobody that is judging me now gives a rat’s patootie what University or Department of -ology appears on my doctorate. They care about the papers I have published. Period. Full freaking stop.
So if I were dictating a graduate program, I’d be looking to enhance the ability of the students to publish papers. This would pretty much rule out the examination approach.
My younger self would be absolutely appalled.