I knew different countries had different approaches to graduate education: there are those countries that provide research masters with only one year of coursework and the other year is dedicated to research (Canada, Germany, Japan, Russia, UK) and also where direct-PhD entry for undergrads isn't common, if it exists at all (in Canada's particular case, direct-PhD entry from undergrad is associated almost entirely with psychology). There are those countries where masters offer much less research experience (Belgium, France, Switzerland?) or otherwise amount to a two-year continuation of undergrad (Netherlands, Poland, Austria?) and hence do not fund masters much, if at all. But the US seems to be an oddball in this respect: it is perhaps the country where direct-PhD entry with just an undergrad is the most common, probably far more common than everywhere else in the world. The only explanation I could come up for why that would be the case, at least as far as STEM disciplines is concerned, has to do with funding issues. Research-funding industries, as well as government funding agencies (NIH, NSF, DOE Office of Science, to name some of them), realized that they would get much more out of their hard-earned money out of doctoral students than from masters students and, as a result, very little willingness to fund masters, and offer them, since students didn't want to incur extra debt for masters anymore. But how credible is that explanation? Are there other explanations you either know about or you can think about?