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The right to grant a licentia docendi (i. e. the doctorate) was originally reserved to the Catholic church, which required the applicant to pass a test, to take an oath of allegiance and pay a fee. The Third Council of the Lateran of 1179 guaranteed the access—at that time largely free of charge—of all able applicants. Applicants were tested for aptitude. This right remained a bone of contention between the church authorities and universities that were slowly distancing themselves from the Church. The right was granted by the pope to the University of Paris in 1213 where it became a universal license to teach (licentia ubiquie docendi). However, while the licentia continued to hold a higher prestige than the bachelor's degree baccalaureus, the latter was ultimately reduced to an intermediate step to the magister and doctorate, both of which now became the exclusive teaching qualification. According to Keith Allan Noble (1994), the first doctoral degree was awarded in medieval Paris around 1150 at the University of Paris.

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