Accredited Master's degree from an unaccredited "non-university".

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by mintaru, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    This is an actually quite academic question about GAAP status.
    In an other thread (, the user Pap did ask if anybody here has previous experience with Joseph-Schumpeter Institut Wels in Austria. This is a quite odd institution. It is, in fact, an unaccredited "non-university" which offers accredited Austrian Master's degrees. I don't want to explain it again, so I will simply quote myself:

    And here is my question: Has such an institution, or the degree offered by it, GAAP status? I doubt that. Its status is probably comparable to the status of an US university with national accreditation, but I don't think it is comparable to RA.
    What is your opinion?

  2. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    If the country's Ministry of Education considers the degrees to be legal, then most U.S. higher education institutions would likely consider the degrees on an individual basis. This appears to be quite and unusual (and messy) situation the goes to show what happens when educational politics are involved.
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Like many other things in depends.

    When things get gray then the individual gets to decide "How dark can it get before I become afraid?"

    There is no such thing as "GAAP status." It's an invented term. It has no real, official meaning. If you are asking such questions it means that you are walking in a minefield. Please watch where you step.
  4. Stanislav

    Stanislav Well-Known Member

    Actually, this sounds pretty GAAP to me.

    Similar thing: in post-Soviet countries, all PhDs (and higher doctorates, and things called "Docent" and "Professor" "titles" - as opposed to "positions") are conferred by a non-university. They're all conferred by a branch of central government called Higher Attestation Council (VAK in Russian and Ukrainian). Degree candidates defend their theses before "Specialized Dissertation Councils" which "recommend" the bestowal of the degree - the actual award is given by VAK. These Councils are created and accredited by VAK. About half of them are NOT affiliated with a university - often with research institute, but it can be an R&D "buro" of a big manufacturer, local government agency or anything, really. If you look at CVs of academics from the exUSSR, you'll see a lot of entries like "PhD, Russian (Ukrainian, etc.) Academy of Science" - RAS is NOT a university. It usually means that the individual defended his dissertation (and likely did the work) at one of the hundreds of research institutions operated by RAS.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2009
  5. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    I know, of course, that GAAP isn't an official term, but is there any foreign degree which is recognized in its country of origin and automatically has any type of official status in the US, or in any other country? I think GAAP only means it's unlikely that an university will question the legitimacy of that degree. This doesn't necessarily mean that every university considers that degree equivalent to an US degree, but it certainly means that institution considers it a degree. The recognition of foreign degrees is, of course, always an individual decision of the recognizing institution.

    I'm from former East Germany and therefore know all that. ;) If you look at the CVs of some people from former East Germany, you will also see entries like "PhD, East German Academy of Sciences". The probably best known of these people is the current German chancellor Angela Merkel, who has a PhD in physics from that academy.

    But it is not really a problem if a degree isn't granted by an university as long as it's granted by an institution which has the right to grant such degrees.
    The problem with a "Lehrgang universitären Charakters" is that Austria always was a country where only universities had the right to grant academic degrees, and the term university degree only was a synonym. Today, there are university degrees from universities and academic degrees from universities or "Ausseruniversitäre Bildungseinrichtungen" with the right to offer a "Lehrgang universitären Charakters". Every university degree is also an academic degree, but not every academic degree is also an university degree. I know that distinction doesn't make any sense outside of Austria. The Austrian Ministry of Education considers these academic degrees to be absolutly legal, but some Austrian universities do only recognize university degrees. I think the real question is: What is the Austrian equivalent to an US degree, for instance? Is it an Austrian academic degree or an Austrian university degree?

  6. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    If we look at GAAP, which for our purpose means Generally Accepted Accreditation Principles then it's obvious that there isnt' likely to be a GAAP degree which is universally accepted by all regionally accredited school registrars in the US. The GAAP standards, as the group of registrars at an AACRAO meeting some years ago described them (quoting John Bear here):

    So if we use the GAAP criteria as described by the group of registrars themselves, and realizing that it is only a description to which a group, probably a majority, of AACRAO registrars subscribe, then it is the institution granting the degree to which GAAP criteria are applied and not to the degree itself.

    Additionally, the statement
    is problematic, because when we talk of an institution that "has the right to grant such degrees", then we open the doors to all sorts of fraudulent schools located in obscure jurisdictions where flimsy or poorly written regulations allow a school to grant such a degree, but confer no validity on it. Capitol University, a mill that claimed domicile on some obscure island, would fall into this category, as would many other programs.

    I think the most reliable answer is that there really can be no degree that is slam-dunk guaranteed acceptable by every registrar, but if the degree is issued by a school that fulfills more than one of the GAAP criteria, it is unlikely to be a problem to have it recognized by any credible US school.
  7. Stanislav

    Stanislav Well-Known Member

    ...and "Academy" PhDs are, as a rule, MORE prestigious than most University's. Former President of Ukraine, Mr. Kuchma, had a PhD he earned while working at "Southern Machine-building Plant". His degree is somewhat suspect because it's "secret" and he was a Party boss at the time, but not because of the institution ("Juzhmash" is a rocket-building plant and has plenty of resources for an engineering science "dissertation council").
  8. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    I understand that GAAP criteria are applied to the degree granting institution, but the consequence is that the degree itself will be generally recognized. Actually, that's the reason why I think a "Lehrgang universitären Charakters" is comparable to a degree from an US university with national accreditation. But it is possible that I'm wrong. There certainly isn't a single Austrian university in the Commonwealth Universities Yearbook, and I know that Joseph-Schumpeter Institut Wels also isn't listed in the International Handbook of Universities. I do not have any access to the other two publications, but it is at least possible that this institute isn't listed in any of of these. This would probably mean that degrees from an Austrian "Lehrgang universitären Charakters" are not recognized by US schools.

    I think I must agree. My mistake was to take for granted that there are meaningfull regulations.

    I agree, but even there are exceptions! For instance, I know that a few US schools do not recognize a German Bachelor's degree if that person lacks the German Abitur. (The Abitur is a high school diploma from a college-preparatory school. However, this applies to a very small minority of German graduates, currently less than 2 percent - and that number is huge compared with five years ago.) The justification is that such a person lacks most of the general education that would be part of an US Bachelor's degree.

    Yes, it was the same in former East Germany. But that's no longer true since German reunification.

  9. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    If I were to earn a degree from a non-US organization/university then I think that one of the first things I'd do is to go to one of the reputable credential evaluation service organization and have them do an equivalency evaluation. The report, especially if the degree involved was "different sounding" (like a South African D. Lit. et Phil. v. PhD) would accompany any resume that I submitted for employment.

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