Anyone heard of The European Graduate School??

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Amigo, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. Amigo

    Amigo New Member

    Anyone heard of this? i'm trying to do a Google search on this school and see if it has international accreditation. But I'm just wondering if anyone know if this school legit? Thanks.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    There isn't a form of "international accreditation" that would per se cause the school to be recognized here in the U.S. as being comparable to an accredited U.S. university.

    I see it operates from Switzerland. Having approval from a canton will not cause the school to be recognized as comparable to being accredited.

    It is not clear to me--and I sure didn't look for it very hard--that the school has the form of national recognition necessary to deem it comparable to an accredited U.S. university. Is the school recognized as part of a national system?

    The school claims to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for Title IV (financial aid). This seems to be accurate. Here's the listing from the USDoE's website:


    The USDoE has made a few mistakes in the past--Senator Susan Collins created a fake school and got it a Federal School Code to show the cracks in the system, so this is no guarantee. But it's a good sign. A better sign would be some foreign degree evaluations.
  3. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    The European Graduate School has in the past (I don't know if currently) claimed to be "accredited" by the University of Wallis, which in turn claims licensing from the Canton of Wallis, which is where EGS says they are.

    I have real problems with the University of Wallis, as a quick visit to their website will make clear:

    The listed EGS faculty have, by and large, impressive credentials, even "Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid."

    They claim that "Jacques Derrida amicably supported our work for many years and held several workshops until [he] passed away..." If so, that would be really impressive. Derrida is the 3rd-most-famous person ever to come to our house for dinner. It was 1988. We talked a lot about distance education, and he asked for and went away with a copy of Bear's Guide. I wonder if EGS can supply proof of his connection?

    I note they also publish Disfagia Magzine
  4. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Apparently it's one of those weird Swiss cantonal things. That's sort of roughly analogous to American state-approval I guess. I don't think that it technically qualifies as 'GAAP', though it is interesting and perhaps significant that the US Dept. of Education has seen fit to give it a financial aid number.

    My own impression of the European Graduate School is that it's a real school, a true good-faith effort and a very interesting thing indeed.

    A Google search for '"european graduate school" saas-fee' shows some American academics are taking it seriously.

    The amazing thing about European Graduate School is a faculty list that includes names like Alain Badiou (chairman of the philosophy dept. at the Ecole Normale Superieure), Bruce Sterling (the sci-fi writer) and Slavoj Zizek (a Slovenian cultural critic with an international cult following). Apparently film makers like David Cronenberg, John Waters and David Lynch have taught there as did the late Jacques Derrida, Jean Boudrillard and Jean-Francois Lyotard. A veritable who's-who of postmodernism. Amazing!

    Maybe now that they won't let people smoke in Paris cafes any longer (!!!), the trendy intellectuals have all decamped and moved to Switzerland.
  5. Amigo

    Amigo New Member

    Rich, John, and BillyDayson, thanks for all this information!
    Its always good to get reliable feedback from people that know about foreign schools. I had a feeling that EGS was somewhat legit, but the whole Canton accreditation thing was confusing, and also the fact that this is one of those schools that almost no one really knows about made me uneasy (I travel to Europe frequently and never heard of EGS until recently).

    But I was also very surprised to see that some of their faculty include film makers like David Lynch or David Cronenberg. Wow!
    Thanks :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2008
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    A word on famous faculty: you don't know how much involvement they really have. Two cases:

    1. Bear reported for years that the otherwise pretty cool International College in Los Angeles would list some pretty prominent names as mentors. (Their model was one-on-one mentorship.) But it turned out that some (most?) had few--or no--students.

    2. For years, while it was still trying to be a legitimate univeristy, Clayton University had listed on its board of directors two-time Nobel Laureate, Linus Pauling. Very cool, but Pauling had nothing really to do with the school. (Surprising, since he was on a decades-old jag about Vitamin C, and could have started a nutrition program at Clayton around it.)

    This isn't to cast aspersions on EGS or its famous faculty, all of whom may very well be as engaged as one might expect. We just don't know.
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Beware Wallis!


    There certainly seem to be problems with Université de Wallis. I believe it operates from Wallis and Futuna Is. in the Pacific - not Switzerland.

    The recent guru-speak I've heard is that U. of Wallis appears to be doing back-door VAE, and has been compared to Université Robert de Sorbon in this regard. Wallis is said to be accessing a loophole that basically allows any business registered as a "school" with the slightest presence in France (or possibly a French territory) to do the VAE process.

    You can't, of course do real VAE by mail. You've got to show up - in France and be tested.

    I'm told the "degrees for life/work experience" available from these two schools are largely conferred via Internet, MasterCard and UPS - and not even a side order of apostilles will equate them with proper VAE.

    I get VERY VERY wary when I hear the name of Université de Wallis (this Pacific one, anyway) in any association - despite the star-studded faculty!

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2008
  8. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    It's a good point.

    I do think that there is evidence that something happens at the European Graduate School (it isn't clear exactly what) and that some of the big names really are involved.

    The internet is filled with videos of lectures that the recently deceased Jacques Derrida reportedly delivered at EGS.

    The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy thinks that Slavoj Zizek is really involved with EGS.

    UCLA thinks that Alain Badiou teaches at EGS.

    Here's a SUNY Empire State College professor who translated for Jean Baudrillard at EGS.

    Here's a University of Louisville art professor who feels very lucky to have been able to study at EGS every year where he's met lots of the big names.

    I'm really not sure what to make of EGS. It looks like a group of sometimes prominent people with interests in the very-trendy 'cultural studies' area of the contemporary humanities, coming together to start their own ad-hoc 'university'. That's something that a Californian like me can appreciate. I really don't know how much utility an EGS degree will have. Perhaps little in formal terms, but maybe a bit more among like-minded individuals. It might even impress a few people. Somehow I expect that the experience is more important for most of its students than the degree that they may ultimately receive.
  9. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Two Wallis Universities - one good one bogus!

    Hi -

    I don't think the problematic Wallis University cited by Dr. Bear (in the Pacific) is in any way affiliated with EGS - at least I hope it's not, because like a lot of people, I'm blown away by the star-studded cast. (Wasn't DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid once on the EGS faculty, or a guest lecturer?)

    There IS a Swiss canton called Wallis - known in French as Valais. And there are many web-references to a legit University there - University of Applied Sciences, Valais, although I haven't been able to find a website. has been suggested to me but I don't think so...

    Anyway, I think it's the Swiss Wallis (or Valais) University that may be somehow linked with EGS, not the Pacific VAE-by-UPS one Dr. Bear referred to in his posting.

  10. filmguy

    filmguy New Member

    I just wanted to bump this thread to see if anyone here has found out any more information on EGS... Does anyone know if anyone who is/has attended it and what are their experiences?
  11. craftwork

    craftwork New Member

    EGS: I was a PhD student and I dropped out. Here's why:

    EGS is a nice Swiss vacation experience, but is not, in my opinion, a bona fide master's or PhD program. Here is why I dropped out after one summer in the PhD program:

    You spend the academic year reading texts and participating on online bulletin boards with other students and it is rarely moderated by faculty. (and by faculty, I mean Mr. Wolfgang Schirmacher. He was, when I did the program a few years ago, the only full-time faculty member. The school is his creation and it is his school. )

    The famous faculty are paid (what I assume is) large amounts of money to come and LECTURE or present papers of works in progress. It is a large schmoozefest and you DO get to meet and hear presentation by the world's most bleeding edge scholars. HOWEVER...

    WOLFGANG WILL BE YOUR FACULTY ADVISOR. Period. Students in my cohort tried to get other faculty to assist them, etc, but usually that was a no go. These people are busy with their research and cannot be bothered (nor are they paid to) be your faculty advisor.

    I found Wolfgang difficult to work with on a personal level; he is prone to temper trantrums unbecoming a seasoned academic. I left EGS because I did not want to work on my thesis with him. Also, a University president in the US questioned the validity of the degree. He said if he were hiring, it would raise a red flag.

    I ended up at another US Institution and am glad for the switch. EGS is great if you are an artist, a theorist or a writer not concerned about accreditation or if you are interested (and can afford) to pay for a summer of amazing lectures...that part I DO miss, however...

    I decided that the EGS was a bit too unconventional an academic institution for my tastes. I am glad I made the academic shift that I did. And although I did enjoy the summer of lectures, and met some of my idols, I regret the insane amounts of money I paid towards a degree that, IMO, would not get me anywhere academically.

    I hope this helps you with your decision.


  12. filmguy

    filmguy New Member

    Thank you for an incredibly informative post as I really have not heard anything about EGS...Please forgive the intrusion but I am wondering as to what you are studying now and if you are planning on using your degree to teach?
  13. craftwork

    craftwork New Member

    what I am up to...

    Dear filmguy,

    I have been an assistant professor of Multimedia at a 2 very well-regarded institutions in the US, and have taught as adjunct at many other colleges, some highly regarded, others not so much. So I have a lot of experience teaching and doing admin work at the university level. Some of my opinions about EGS come from that experience.

    I am an internationally-exhibited artist and have worked as a professional web designer and graphic designer. I am currently living in Canada and making and exhibiting my work.

    I ended up at the University of Chicago where I studied clinical social work; this was a departure from my work previous to that, but I made that decision due to health reasons. I am now finding that the clinical social work degree has immensely helped my work in teaching and disseminating the use of media within communities that often do not have access to or adequate knowledge of, technology. I am working quite a bit off of the narrative therapy model developed in New Zealand.

    I don't want to trash the EGS because I think it is a wonderful wonderful idea...but I believe that marketing it as a bona fide MA/PhD program is misleading. I believe that it is a rather new kind of educational experience..but of course students need to take out loans to pay the large tuition bills, so Wolfgang needs to frame it as a traditional MA/PhD program.

    Are you looking at an MFA or a PhD program? An MFA is a terminal degree, therefore it is harder to find a suitable PhD have to expand your practice into the theoretical realm somehow and find a niche for yourself in academia.

    There are lots of great MFA film programs out there...I would recommend doing a program that is not a distance program...but you if you are looking for a distance program, the only one that comes to my mind is Bard.

    Hope this helps.

  14. filmguy

    filmguy New Member

    Thanks C,

    I really appreciate all of the information you have provided as it has given me much to think about... I am currently working on completing my MA in English and want very much to do a PhD somewhere in the near future (Sept 2009 or Jan 2010) in either English or Film Studies. Currently, I teach at a small CC outside the US and am not really anxious to leave my position to attend a regular B & M school because it would require leaving my job. I am hoping against all odds that I can continue teaching at the CC level for the experience while working on an online PhD somewhere as I really cannot afford to attend a regular B & S school.

    The only way for me to do a PhD would be if I did it through Nova in Education which is not really my first choice. Some people on this forum were kind enough to offer some information on school such as Union but they require that I spend some time on campus which I really cannot do as my school will most likely not give me the time off. As of right now, I would say that I am leaning towards the PhD program at Exeter since it is in Film Studies.

    It must be a small world as I am also from Canada and went to school in Ontario which has many wonderful schools. I have thought about returning to Canada upon completing my PhD but the truth is that I really cannot tolerate the cold weather and am anxious to live somewhere that is warm and sunny...

    I will definitely check out Bard but as of right now, I really need help finding a reputable PhD program that is completely online. I would study either English or Film but would not rule out things such as Media or Communications... Thanks again!
  15. craftwork

    craftwork New Member

    other ideas

    I understand not wanting to leave your position...and I am not sure what is available in canada...concordia's phD program in interdisciplinary arts is supposed to be very good, and I imagine there are programs in BC - I am thinking simon fraser might be an option.

    CAIIA-STAR in the UK is an interesting program...but I don't know of too many others.

    are you sure that your school will not allow you to flex your schedule somewhat for a phd program? after all, it would be a valuable degree and is related to your work there.

    I would urge you to find a phd program that is attached to a bona fide brick and mortar university...wherever that may be!

    hope this is helpful


  16. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    I am so pleased to have this first-hand report on EGS. It is very reminiscent of the relatively short-lived school called International University, started by some senior faculty at UCLA and elsewhere in the late 70s. They, too, could list some well-known and impressive adjunct faculty ("Here's your chance to study film with Richard Attenborough, violin with Yehudi Menuhin, poetry with Anais Nin, etc....") who also turned out to be not nearly as available to help as students wished.
  17. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Hi Filmguy,

    If you're somewhere warm, sunny, foreign, and can do a program through Nova Southeastern without using vacation time, I assume you're in Jamaica. How well connected are you in the local higher education community? Well enough to know whether the PhD from Exeter would make you competitive for a faculty position at UWI or NCU?

    As an aside, it's not my life, obviously, but being a department chair at a community college in Jamaica actually sounds pretty good to me. Are you sure you're being careful what you wish for?

  18. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Have you checked out Middlesex University in the UK?
    They offer a variety of doctorates including some by public works.
    I'm not familier with their residency requirements.
  19. filmguy

    filmguy New Member

    Hey Steve,

    I do work in the Caribbean and while I enjoy all the benefits of living down here such as the friendly people, laid back atmosphere and of course, wonderful weather, there is something to be said for living in North America. My experiences down here have taught me that it is very difficult to make a good living even if you do work at a CC or university because the salary scale is different (lower) down here. In addition, the medical facilities and education system are very problematic. We do have a Nova campus in the area but I am very concerned about doing a PhD there. For one thing, it would have to be a PhD in Education (they only offer it here) which, while not completely opposed to this, is not my first love as English and Film are. Secondly, I have heard that it is difficult to find a job with a Nova degree as most CC's do not look at a degree from Nova very favorably as they consider them on the same terms as University of Phoenix (degree mills). I would do the PhD in Education if I thought I could still get a job teaching English or Film with it but I think if I really want to teach those two areas at a CC that an online Film or English degree would be the route to go. I have never really seen anyone with a PhD in Education teach English or Film and I am not sure that anyone else has either?

    I am really in limbo because I seem to waver, do I do the online thing in the fields that excite me or do I go the safe route and get a PhD in Education from a regular B & M school... thoughts ??
  20. cixous

    cixous New Member

    EGS is for independent scholars

    The statement above may have been the experience of Craftwork. As a graduate of EGS I would like to offer another perspective. Many in my cohort were advised by Badiou, Vitanza, Ronell, Jean-Luc and many others. To have anyone other than Wolfgang requires the student to engage the faculty in a compelling way. Simply asking is not sufficient. EGS is about bringing your voice in a way that challenges and moves thinking in new directions.

    There is no doubt that the school will not get you auto-sorted to the top of the academic job pile in the way that Chicago, Fordham or Stanford will. One has to know why one is going to EGS and be willing to do more than academics in other programs--to include doing a second MA/PhD if necessary. This fact does not stop hundreds of students from boarding the train every year (since 1994!) and walking the last kilometer into Saas-Fee for the life changing philosophical encounter that is EGS.

    EGS makes you research independently (on the British model) and do seminar work interdependently (on the US model) as preparation to create new knowledge in one's writing. Students who have a difficult time motivating themselves to read without structured tuition or who do not come to the table already having academic writing skills will not flourish in this program.

    None of this should be taken as a reflection on you, Craftwork. I simply used your snippet as the catalyst for this reflection.

    All the best.

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