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  1. #1
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    The Case for the NA Doctorate

    (Posted elsewhere, repeated here)

    Earned doctoral degrees are made up of several types. The one most are familiar with is the scholarly doctorate, which is typically the PhD. The PhD is designed for entry into academia. However, many mid-career adults go back to school to earn them.

    Another type is the first professional doctorate, which has no dissertation and is designed for entry into particular professions. The MD, DDS, OD, and JD are examples.

    Then there are the professional doctorates. These are somewhat scholarly in nature, but their emphasis--especially in the dissertation--is on practice, not advancing scholarly theory. These degree titles include the DBA, EdD , DM, and others. Many times, mid-career professionals earn these degrees. (But not exclusively.)

    Confusing things is the fact that some professional doctoral programs are every bit as scholarly as the PhD. They're really just PhDs with alternate titles. For example, some schools only award the PhD in arts and science disciplines, and professional titles for applied disciplines (like education and business), even if they require a scholarly dissertation. (An original and significant contribution to the theory of the academic discipline.)

    The two national accrediting agencies who accredit degree-granting schools and are talked about most on these boards are DEAC and ACICS. Both of these accrediting agencies have their roots in tertiary trade schools. They subsequently began accrediting trade-related associate degrees, eventually moving on up to academic degrees--bachelor's, then master's, and finally professional doctorates.

    Because these degrees come from schools that are not regionally accredited, there is some diminished applicability at RA schools. (The degree to which this is true is hotly debated.) Students and graduates sometimes find it difficult to have their credits and degrees accepted at RA schools, either for transfer or for entry into a higher degree program. Again, the extent of this schism is hotly debated, but the available facts point this out.

    The same situation exists in the employment sector, where such degrees are not always acceptable to hiring managers and HR departments. Again, the extent of this isn't certain, but both anecdotal evidence and what empirical evidence exists points to a real difference. However, there are anecdotes to the contrary. It's just not know how significant these are in the larger scheme.

    Still, a strong case can me made for the mid-career professional to consider taking a professional doctorate from an NA school. These are:

    -- The professional doctorate is more suited for mid-career practitioners looking to advance both their careers and their practices.
    -- Employers are less likely to reject such a degree, while academic institutions almost universally do so (for professorships).
    -- Professionals in private practice don't even have employers to answer to, making it even less likely the source of their doctorate will be problematic
    -- NA schools are geared towards educating mid-career practitioners. (True for some RA schools and false for many, many others.)
    -- NA schools are almost universally less expensive.

    Now, the same case could also be made for degrees from unaccredited schools, but it is a much weaker one for several reasons:

    -- Recognized accreditation ensures a baseline of quality and acceptability; these are hugely hit-and-miss for degrees from unaccredited schools
    -- These degrees, even from legitimate and rigorous schools--are like time bombs, waiting to go off. There is a much greater potential for them to cause embarrassment.
    -- While there are a few long-standing unaccredited schools, a persistent lack of accreditation can doom many schools--and make the degrees they've issued less valuable if the school fails
    -- The general public (and employers) make much clear distinctions between "accredited" and "unaccredited" compared to "RA vs. NA." It's huge.
    -- There is almost never a legitimate reason to pursue a degree from an unaccredited school these days. Some long-standing, very "niche" schools in California and that's about it. Otherwise, the market has now evolved to serve almost everyone else.

    Because the benefits could outweigh the limitations for some people, I think a mid-career practitioner looking to advance his/her career and/or practice by earning a professional doctorate should seriously consider taking one at an NA school.

  2. #2
    Abner is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Douglas View Post
    (Posted elsewhere, repeated here)

    Earned doctoral degrees are made up of several types. The one most are familiar with is the scholarly doctorate, which is typically the PhD. The PhD is designed for entry into academia. However, many mid-career adults go back to school to earn them.

    Another type is the first professional doctorate, which has no dissertation and is designed for entry into particular professions. The MD, DDS, OD, and JD are examples.

    Then there are the professional doctorates. These are somewhat scholarly in nature, but their emphasis--especially in the dissertation--is on practice, not advancing scholarly theory. These degree titles include the DBA, EdD , DM, and others. Many times, mid-career professionals earn these degrees. (But not exclusively.)

    Confusing things is the fact that some professional doctoral programs are every bit as scholarly as the PhD. They're really just PhDs with alternate titles. For example, some schools only award the PhD in arts and science disciplines, and professional titles for applied disciplines (like education and business), even if they require a scholarly dissertation. (An original and significant contribution to the theory of the academic discipline.)

    The two national accrediting agencies who accredit degree-granting schools and are talked about most on these boards are DEAC and ACICS. Both of these accrediting agencies have their roots in tertiary trade schools. They subsequently began accrediting trade-related associate degrees, eventually moving on up to academic degrees--bachelor's, then master's, and finally professional doctorates.

    Because these degrees come from schools that are not regionally accredited, there is some diminished applicability at RA schools. (The degree to which this is true is hotly debated.) Students and graduates sometimes find it difficult to have their credits and degrees accepted at RA schools, either for transfer or for entry into a higher degree program. Again, the extent of this schism is hotly debated, but the available facts point this out.

    The same situation exists in the employment sector, where such degrees are not always acceptable to hiring managers and HR departments. Again, the extent of this isn't certain, but both anecdotal evidence and what empirical evidence exists points to a real difference. However, there are anecdotes to the contrary. It's just not know how significant these are in the larger scheme.

    Still, a strong case can me made for the mid-career professional to consider taking a professional doctorate from an NA school. These are:

    -- The professional doctorate is more suited for mid-career practitioners looking to advance both their careers and their practices.
    -- Employers are less likely to reject such a degree, while academic institutions almost universally do so (for professorships).
    -- Professionals in private practice don't even have employers to answer to, making it even less likely the source of their doctorate will be problematic
    -- NA schools are geared towards educating mid-career practitioners. (True for some RA schools and false for many, many others.)
    -- NA schools are almost universally less expensive.

    Now, the same case could also be made for degrees from unaccredited schools, but it is a much weaker one for several reasons:

    -- Recognized accreditation ensures a baseline of quality and acceptability; these are hugely hit-and-miss for degrees from unaccredited schools
    -- These degrees, even from legitimate and rigorous schools--are like time bombs, waiting to go off. There is a much greater potential for them to cause embarrassment.
    -- While there are a few long-standing unaccredited schools, a persistent lack of accreditation can doom many schools--and make the degrees they've issued less valuable if the school fails
    -- The general public (and employers) make much clear distinctions between "accredited" and "unaccredited" compared to "RA vs. NA." It's huge.
    -- There is almost never a legitimate reason to pursue a degree from an unaccredited school these days. Some long-standing, very "niche" schools in California and that's about it. Otherwise, the market has now evolved to serve almost everyone else.

    Because the benefits could outweigh the limitations for some people, I think a mid-career practitioner looking to advance his/her career and/or practice by earning a professional doctorate should seriously consider taking one at an NA school.

    Good read. Excellent points!
    XVI.8: Confucius said, "There are three things of which the superior man stand in awe. He stands in awe of the ordinances of Heaven. He stands in awe of great men. He stands in awe of the words of the sages. The mean man does not know the ordinances of Heaven, and consequently does not stand in awe of them. He is disrespectful to great men. He makes sport of the words of the sages."

  3. #3
    Steve Levicoff is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Douglas View Post
    (Posted elsewhere, repeated here)

    <snipperooney>

    -- There is almost never a legitimate reason to pursue a degree from an unaccredited school these days…
    Posted “elsewhere?” Usually, one would expect a person with a doctorate, let alone two doctorates, to name the, um, “elsewhere.”

    Or did you not want us to know, Rich, that you posted it at DLTruth?

    Or that when you wrote the original on DLT, you stated, “-- There is almost never a legitimate reason to pursue a degree from an accredited school these days…” [Emphasis added.] And that your cojones were immediately busted on that one?

    Frankly – and I’ve oft admitted that I like the humor of the guys at DLT, even when it has occasionally been directed at me – I fail to see why you’re posting there at all, o’ “twodocdoug” (Rich’s username at DLT). Are you actually expecting to have a substantive two-way discussion there?

    Dude, you’ve come a long way over the years, and we’re all proud of you. Don’t get sloppy now. And don't waste your talents or expertise.

  4. #4
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    So, one day there is a massive car accident. A driver on I-81 is killed just outside of Scranton (I promise I'm not looping this allegory into a retelling of 30,000 Pounds of Bananas). As the driver lay on the side of the road, an actuary walks up and shakes his head.

    "This is highly unlikely. Based upon your age, driving experience, and zip code of your primary residence, you have a 98% chance of arriving at your destination safely."

    This is obviously a snarky observation that that 98% likelihood of safe arrival is irrelevant if, in fact, you are in the 2%. That doesn't mean that the first calculation is "bad." The knowledge that I have, roughly, a 98% chance of arriving safely at work every day is part of the reason why I choose to accept that risk. If I worked in, say, South Sudan, that likelihood might decrease and I would have to re-examine the risk entirely.

    That said, Rich you did some excellent research into the acceptability of NA degrees. Your research is enough to convince me that if my children walk up to me in a few years and say "Dad, we just picked our dream college, we want to go to Ashworth College !" I should, at a minimum, sit down and have a very serious conversation about the potential limitations of a degree from a DEAC accredited institution.

    These limitations exist. It's the difference on a WES assessment between "Recognized" and a notation that's basically saying "Well, legally conferred but..."

    Transfer limitations, limitations in some employers stated policies, these are all good reasons to second guess a decision to attend an NA school.

    Mid-career individuals, however, are a much more difficult demographic to make any sweeping statement about. I'm sure that as a fellow HR professional you acknowledge that the needs of organizations differ greatly. Certain in-demand professionals can walk through the front door with not even an associates degree to their name and land a job on the spot. That, I imagine, is one of the reasons why Edward Snowden managed to score a six figure job for a top government contractor with only a handful of college credits from a smattering of schools. A TS/SCI clearance is, frankly, more valuable in some circles than many degrees from many schools.

    Additionally, many mid-career professionals are not interested in moving to other companies. Just the other day I had a gentleman walk into my office. He has 36 years with us. He could retire any day. But he has plenty of working life left in him because he likes his job (and he started with us at a very early age). He lamented over how he needed a Masters degree if he wanted to get (what would likely be his last) a promotion. It's true. He does need a Masters degree to ascend the ladder any further.

    Would an MBA from Ashworth or Grantham work for him? Of course it would. because our corporate policy is that any USDOE recognized accreditor is acceptable. We'll pay for it. We'll recognize it. Oh, he might run into an issue with another employer? Two things:

    1. Most employers, barring regulatory or legal requirements to the contrary, are not going to look at a highly skilled and experienced engineer with decades of experience at a large, highly recognizable international company (with a reputation for engineering excellence) and say "Whoa whoa whoa, let's check out this 'Grantham ' place and make sure it is RA because we're RA or the highway." That just isn't how most employers approach degrees and it certainly isn't how most employers approach hiring (particularly when it comes to skilled workers and professionals)/

    2. He doesn't care. He has no intention of ever leaving anyway. The idea that he should spend $12k on a "better" Masters degree (minimum) when he could meet this requirement for $5k is silly.

    Another thing is that mid-career employees require a different type of education . Years ago, when an (many of them, anyway) MBA program required a minimum of two years of experience, you had the confidence that the person seated next to you had some industry experience and was building a stronger theoretical foundation before they tackled bigger, better challenges.

    Now, a significant number of MBAs are offered as one year add-ons to bachelors degrees. It's a seamless transition for a 22 year old who just takes the same sort of classes from the same professors for an extra two semesters.

    A mid or late career professional doesn't need small group break-out work to teach them what it's like to work as part of a team. They don't need that because they have experience working as part of a team in an applied setting. The lessons that are designed to "finish" a twenty something so that they don't utterly embarrass themselves when they hit the working world are simply not as relevant to mid and late career professionals who, by the way, are more than capable of doing their jobs. The only reason they need a degree is because higher ed in the U.S. is incredibly screwed up. Graduates are unemployed? No problem, the schools will gladly sell you another degree so that you're "more competitive." The result is an over-educated, under-skilled pool of applicants and with job descriptions inflating degree requirements.

    So, that's the first "thing" about NA schools. Now, let's talk doctorates.

    Periodically we find a professor, generally at a small liberal arts college, who has a completely legitimate undergrad and Masters degree but tacks on a diploma mill doctorate. There was recently a scandal along those lines in D.C.

    So, you have these people who have masters degrees and are smart, capable teachers who are already working in academia. To remain competitive or, sometimes, just to keep their jobs, they need to then go out and earn a doctorate. Many of these people have enough publications under their belt that they would be solid candidates for a PhD by publication.

    The problem is that the typical American doesn't know what PhD by publication is or where to find a program (all of them overseas, to the best of my knowledge). Nor do they know how to vet those programs to weed out the diploma mills.

    Clearly, some of those professors are making smart decisions because, as we did in another thread, we can find more than a few tenured professors with doctorates from for-profit schools (including one center Director at Dartmouth with a PhD from Capella ).

    So there are clearly a number of individuals who have made a career for themselves in academia without an RA doctorate (using their Masters degree only). Then, pushed to the limit, they need to go out and get a doctorate to either advance or just remain employed. Would an NA doctorate work for them? Yeah, probably.

    But there are also a number of variables at play. A professor of an in-demand field is going to have a lot more leeway than a professor of English Lit. Publications are likely going to come into play much more than a typical private sector employee. And I doubt that an already employed academic with a stack of publications to his or her name would be ousted if it were "discovered" that his or her degree was from, say, Harrison Middleton. The scandal would, at a minimum, be far less impressive than when the good doctor has a degree from Almeda or Atlantic International. And I doubt it would result in their immediate termination.

    What's interesting, Rich, is that in another thread you made a statement about me "believing my own hype" about my own DEAC accredited Masters. Despite the fact that, you know, it cost $5k (ish) and landed me a promotion making significantly more than that. And yet, here you are creating your own hype.

    For someone who doesn't have an NA degree, you sure do spend a lot of time thinking about how "good" or "bad" they are. I'm teaching at an RA community college for the same reason I've stated some of these employer surveys are flawed; the majority of employers do not ask about a school's accreditation, do no research into the accreditation of an applicant's degree and, frankly, have bigger and better things to worry about.
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  5. #5
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Levicoff View Post
    Posted “elsewhere?” Usually, one would expect a person with a doctorate, let alone two doctorates, to name the, um, “elsewhere.”

    Or did you not want us to know, Rich, that you posted it at DLTruth?
    There are other conclusions available regarding not using their name here.

    Also, there are other conclusions available regarding why I'm posting there.

    Feel free to think it through.

    Your continuing condescension is noted. It's also boring and off-topic. I'm sure your hijack will be successful, as usual.

  6. #6
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neuhaus View Post

    For someone who doesn't have an NA degree, you sure do spend a lot of time thinking about how "good" or "bad" they are.
    It's a common subject on this board. I've researched it. I have a PhD specializing in this field. Of course I spend time thinking and writing about it.

    And yet, here you are creating your own hype.
    No, I'm examining the alternative and considering the paradox. Perhaps, to you, this is "hype."

    I'm teaching at an RA community college for the same reason I've stated some of these employer surveys are flawed; the majority of employers do not ask about a school's accreditation, do no research into the accreditation of an applicant's degree and, frankly, have bigger and better things to worry about.
    This may come as a shock, but it isn't about you. Nor is it about me. Funny how the first two replies try to make it such. For 15 years it has been this way. You're just newer.

  7. #7
    Steve Levicoff is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neuhaus, written to Rich View Post

    For someone who doesn't have an NA degree, you sure do spend a lot of time thinking about how "good" or "bad" they are.
    That's not to say that Rich has not had personal experience with the wacky world of NA degrees. For comic relief, if you haven't already done so, take a look (starting with the earliest posts) in the Monterrey Institute of Graduate Studies forum on this board. Rich was, um, intimately involved.

    And happy anniversary, Rich. I did not realize that you've been feeling persecuted by me for 15 years, but the MIGS forum seems to bear that out. However, you neglect to realize that I have credited you with cleaning up your act tremendously, and I have never questioned your ultimate credential (which would be difficult since we share an alma mater).

    Nonetheless, I do wish you would stop whining whenever someone points out your weaknesses, especially since you now purport to be a scholar in this field. You always seem to be in the mode of feeling you have to defend yourself, and you do not have to do so. At least you avoided using the phrase ad hominem this time.

    Like I said, there's still hope for you.
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  9. #8
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Still plucking that one-string banjo after all these years.

    You have no credit to give anyone. You don't matter.

    Oh, and the answer to your attorney's question is "yes."

    Looking forward to getting back on topic, but the hijacker is still busy.

  10. #9
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    Rich, I'm not trying to make this about "me" but I am honestly curious how, in the span of a few weeks, you go from basically telling me I'm foolish to think my MSM has any worth to writing an analysis, which appears to borrow heavily from the pro-NA arguments raised by others in prior threads by the way, basically saying "Hey, NA degrees may have a place, after all."

    If you read what I wrote I agreed in many areas with what you've said.

    It's a common subject on this board. I've researched it. I have a PhD specializing in this field. Of course I spend time thinking and writing about it.
    Yeah, that's great. But you posted an uncited rant (which, again, seems to touch upon many of the points made by others here about NA degrees) on DLT and here and are trying to wave your PhD flag (the fact that you have two doctorates, by the way, is a fact that I've noticed you feel compelled to mention in virtually every argument. We get it. Two doctorates. I'll call you "Dr. Douglas" if it makes you feel better when we discuss these things).

    But, if you'd like to just step away from all of this, let me just summarize what I wrote in my first post:

    Yes, there are many mid-career professionals who benefit from NA degrees.
    Yes, there are many mid-career professionals who might benefit from an NA doctorate.

    There we go, see, we agree! There's no need to distill my entire post down to a single sentence where I referenced my own credentials and then accuse me of trying to make the post about "me."
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  11. #10
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Rather than argue, I'll just let my post stand as-is. I wanted to make the case in favor of practitioners pursuing doctorates from NA schools. (Not master's degrees; the doctorate.) It was an opinion piece.

    Making the case for it doesn't mean there isn't a case against it.

  12. #11
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    I've noticed you feel compelled to mention in virtually every argument.
    Interesting, because I didn't even mention the two doctorates thing in the quote you cited. You did in quoting it.

    Now, go bother Levicoff and his "I've-got-an-RA-doctorate-and-you-don't" thing, which he's used hundreds of times. (Which I've appreciated him doing over the years because doing so has been invariably relevant to the conversation.) I would contend that every time I've mentioned the two doctorates thing, it's been relevant, too. But I didn't do it here.

    Finally, the CLMS was accredited by DETC when I enrolled, so I guess I was doing an NA degree after all! (They resigned from DETC while I was enrolled.)

  13. #12
    John Bear is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Douglas View Post

    Finally, the CLMS was accredited by DETC when I enrolled, so I guess I was doing an NA degree after all! (They resigned from DETC while I was enrolled.)
    Despite the fact that DETC was not permitted to deal with schools with doctoral programs, and was not permitted to deal with a single school or department within a larger university. When I asked then-DETC-head Mike Lambert about this, his response, in its entirety, was "Let's not go there, John."

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  14. #13
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bear View Post
    Despite the fact that DETC was not permitted to deal with schools with doctoral programs, and was not permitted to deal with a single school or department within a larger university. When I asked then-DETC-head Mike Lambert about this, his response, in its entirety, was "Let's not go there, John."
    When their accreditation was up for renewal, they consulted me on the decision to continue. I suggested that if they weren't getting enrollments that could be tracked back to that accreditation, they should drop it. They weren't. They did.

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    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Douglas View Post
    Rather than argue, I'll just let my post stand as-is. I wanted to make the case in favor of practitioners pursuing doctorates from NA schools. (Not master's degrees; the doctorate.) It was an opinion piece.
    OK, fine.

    till, a strong case can me made for the mid-career professional to consider taking a professional doctorate from an NA school. These are:

    -- The professional doctorate is more suited for mid-career practitioners looking to advance both their careers and their practices.
    -- Employers are less likely to reject such a degree, while academic institutions almost universally do so (for professorships).
    -- Professionals in private practice don't even have employers to answer to, making it even less likely the source of their doctorate will be problematic
    -- NA schools are geared towards educating mid-career practitioners. (True for some RA schools and false for many, many others.)
    -- NA schools are almost universally less expensive.
    Every single one of those points makes a case for an NA Masters or bachelors, however.
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  17. #15
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neuhaus View Post
    OK, fine.



    Every single one of those points makes a case for an NA Masters or bachelors, however.
    Yes, but the case is much weaker for bachelor's and master's degrees, both of which occur, typically, earlier in one's career and always earlier in one's education . That means there's more building to be done on those foundations versus the professional doctorate. The criterion of "be sure a degree will meet your present AND future needs" is more likely to be a challenge.

    In my opinion, the bachelor's and master's are foundational and need to be as solid as possible.

    But the point of the thread wasn't the comparison you suggest; it is instead intended to consider this option compared to pursuing one from an RA school. It would be interesting to hear from people who've done a doctorate (either RA or NA) so we can consider their perspectives.

  18. #16
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Douglas View Post
    ....both of which occur, typically, earlier in one's career and always earlier in one's education. That means there's more building to be done on those foundations versus the professional doctorate. The criterion of "be sure a degree will meet your present AND future needs" is more likely to be a challenge.
    Rich, did you read your own argument? The whole thing is about mid-career individuals. A person with 10-20 years of work experience is in a different boat than a 20 something.

    Your argument also falls apart if we apply it to someone who is very young. A 25 year old who intends to pursue in academia is not going to be well served by an NA doctorate. That's why you took special care to establish that your arguments were for a mid-career individual. Stop trying to change the parameters.

    I have numerous employees who rose through the ranks before bachelors degrees were required. I just recently celebrated the retirement of an engineer whose formal education ended at high school. Had he decided to hang around for another 10 years, he might have decided that a bachelors degree from Grantham would, at a minimum, make him feel a bit more comfortable around his (mostly) college educated colleagues.

    In my opinion, the bachelor's and master's are foundational and need to be as solid as possible.
    Well, a bachelors can be foundational. But it depends upon the student. A mid-career student who has made it to his/her "mid-career" without a bachelors degree is likely at a place where a bachelors degree is either needed for the last lap or who simply desires one for personal fulfillment (i.e. a private business owner, one of the individuals you cite in the section I quoted from you).

    As for a Masters, I'm not sure why you consider a Masters to be "foundational." I don't need a Masters to get into most RA doctoral programs. Nor is a doctorate necessary for the vast majority of working professionals. If you're a CPA working at, say, my company, having a PhD might enhance your teaching opportunities outside of the office but it isn't going to get you more money internally. And, while it may be a feather in your cap if you go up for promotion, doctorates do not tip the scale where a decision is being made between two equally qualified individuals.

    If your feeling is that one doesn't complete their education unless/until a doctorate is achieved then that is a personal preference rather than a reflection of how society views academic credentials.

    But the point of the thread wasn't the comparison you suggest; it is instead intended to consider this option compared to pursuing one from an RA school. It would be interesting to hear from people who've done a doctorate (either RA or NA) so we can consider their perspectives.
    That would indeed be interesting. It would also be interesting to hear the slew of people who have an NA masters and how it helps them. At a minimum, we should consider how many people do not agree with your assessment that a Masters degree is a "foundational" degree.
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    B.S.B.A. Colorado Technical University
    A.A. University of Scranton
    Certificate in Human Resources Management - Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations
    Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS)
    Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

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