A (Qualified) Case for Legitimate Unaccredited Grad Degrees

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by David Yamada, Feb 20, 2001.

  1. David Yamada

    David Yamada New Member

    Oops, in my attempt to intersperse my responses to Mark Syke's post, I looked at how it turned out and it appears that my comments remain in bold, as if Tom had wrote what I actually wrote in response to Tom.

    Sorry Mark!
  2. Neil Hynd

    Neil Hynd New Member


    I applaud David Yamada’s writings on the subject of "legitimate unaccredited graduate degree programs" (which I shall call LUGD programs).

    I can also understand his defensive explanations, given that he is a tenured professor at a Regionally Accredited university where acknowledging the value of LUGD programs could be a hanging offence !

    But why?

    Maybe this is not the place to argue about "legal/legitimate qualifications (by state approval/licensing)" versus the "obligatory requirement to hold a voluntary accreditation" so I won’t - but some serious aspects have been unearthed, namely: Applicability, Accessibility and Price (AAP not GAAP !)

    * Applicability - since the LUGD programs offered by the serious institutions we all know about do address very particular needs, and generally in strongly vocational areas.

    * Accessibility - since the method of working tends to know no boundaries, and is not restricted by what can often seem to be contrived reasons to justify physical/campus meetings, reject prior learning or outdated staff/student ratios. (For example, I read recently that Phoenix reckons on about 1 faculty member to 12-15 students, but that some LUGD operations can be 1 per 50 or more. I don’t know about the USA, but I certainly remember Loughborough University Maths lectures in the UK of one lecturer and 120 students !)

    * Price - since David quotes his own example of a 2 1/2 factor, this translates to a serious LUGD
    program being 40% of the price of an equivalent one with recognised accreditation (if there were one which is certainly not always the case).

    So, instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater as some would prefer, my suggestion would be to look for some method of integration which recognizes the benefit and value of LUGD programs (maybe Rich Douglas’ research will help here) and help to provide the needed acceptability.

    As some will know, my own experience of LUGD programs mirrors David’s by virtue of rock-solid UK bachelor, graduate and teaching qualifications plus professional certifications, yet still looking for personal development and updating that only the alternative non-traditional institutes were able to offer me ten or so years ago. This I did via Century University of New Mexico, with two faculty advisors over six years while working here in the Middle East, both of whom had BS, MS and PhD degrees all from traditional, regionally accredited US universities plus a dissertation panel of three RA PhD’s.

    OK - so there’s a lot more choice today, and I’d be the first to suggest looking for the most acceptable as well as affordable route - but not at the expense of getting no education at all just to meet some (to my mind) outdated quality measures which haven’t moved sufficiently to meet the needs of learners, especially in flexible delivery and working methods such as 100% non-resident doctorates.

    David is using a California state-approved institution. I recall the BPPVE predecessor producing a document showing that clients of institutes it oversaw greatly outnumbered those in the California “recognized accreditation” sector. The number of 600,000 in total sticks in my mind. I don’t believe for one minute this was to get a qualification easily, but because the offerings were designed and delivered in a way which suited the needs of the learners - and were acceptable eg. in business or other sectors.

    The "micro-colleges" concept mentioned by David sounds worthy of further development, not least due to the success of "micro finance" in totally different circumstances in Africa. Plus, "micro colleges" do not sound to be too far away from the origins of universities in 12th century Europe where teachers were often paid no salaries, hired their own lecture rooms and charged their own fees - and then formed themselves into a guild or union which is what universitas originally meant.

    This might also lend itself to a more world-wide and international perspective, which I’m sure US distance education would benefit from, especially in locations such as mine in the Middle East. It would be a great achievement if the Applicability, Accessibility and Price factors of US LUGD programs could be developed to include Acceptability, and then distributed more widely around the world.

    After all, hasn’t one of the recent strengths of the US been all of those factors in world-wide use of the Windows operating system - and even the MS certifications that go along with it ?

    Finally, I’d like to add the potential for "genuine contributions" emerging from LUGD programs. For example, I guess David’s work will give rise to some meaningful output. He might even be able to use it to the benefit of his students at the law school in Boston.

    Is there any reason that the results of his work should be demeaned and belittled because of the way he did the work or the nature of the institute he used ?

    I think not ... and I’m drawn to a case I know about of a CU doctorate holder who teaches part time at a US RA’d institute in the highly specialised area of his PhD, yet is paid at his RA’d MS degree rate.

    He’s not bothered about the money difference (he’s a $250m company Technical VP), and chooses to do it for the love of the subject and the benefit of his students ... but doesn’t it all seem rather prehistoric to have to put up with that sort of treatment ?



  3. Bill Highsmith

    Bill Highsmith New Member

    Before entering an MS CS program, I considered entering the RA HUX program for the fun of it; it has little to do with my professional life (engineering) and would be refreshing. Here is another example: I've considered helping set up an unaccredited online Certificate/AA/BA/MA Bible study for a church, based on a well-meaning Aussie program. The rational: it would be a comprehensive, structured alternative to the classes taught at the church by laity. Certainly, the online, unaccredited program is no "worse," credentially speaking, than the layman-taught classes. The people using the structured program might find the periodic learning goals to be encouraging.

    Bill Highsmith

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