Bakke Graduate University vs Piedmont International University

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Pugbelly2, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    I've been looking at the doctorate programs at both of these schools. Bakke offers a Doctor of Transformational Leadership and Piedmont has inherited Tennessee Temple's PhD in Leadership. I know these degrees are quite different in nature. It is not my intent to weigh the pros and cons of each. I like both of them for different reasons. My desire is to solicit opinions on the quality/reputation of each school. Both are TRACS accredited. In summary, here is my question: If you found both of the doctorate programs equally satisfying, which school would you attend?
  2. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    For many people in many situations, the degree title can be more important than the school. PhD (everyone knows what that is) trumps DTL, which seems to be offered by only one school, and does not appear among the 3,000+ doctoral titles in the book "Epithetology." On the other hand, if you're applying for a job in the field of transformational leadership . . .
  3. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Thanks for the feedback. Yes, the PhD definitely has name recognition, but that's not a primary driver for me. I'm set in my career, so the title that comes with my degree is fairly unimportant.

    I've been looking at the PhD since 2010-2011 whem TTU was offering it. However, I've come to be really taken with the Bakke program. It's really quite unique. I'm just wondering about quality and/or reputation differences between the institutions themselves. Piedmont has a real campus, but I'm not sure that matters.
  4. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    It matters. Punch up Bakke's web site, then go to Google Maps and take a look at the address Bakke lists - it's a fairly small three-story office building in which they indicate they have a suite.

    Then look at Bakke's faculty listings - all of them. You'll find that many of their so-called faculty has at least one degree from Bakke, which makes them (as Julie Andrews might say) egregiously home grown. Harvard or Yale can get away with that, but smaller legitimate schools generally want to diversify their faculty credentials more than Bakke has. I haven't looked at their programs (I don't want to spend too much time on them), but I'd lean toward them being questionable as a university if it weren't for the TRACS accreditation. (As most people know, I've also never been impressed with TRACS.)

    Minor issue: I question any university that's named after its founder. Look what happened to Jimmy Swaggart Bible College.

    Suggestion: I'm not generally a fan of University of the Cumberlands, but you might want to check them out - also a Christian school that offers a Ph.D. in Leadership As you might be aware, a few DegreeInfo participants are in the UC program and they speak highly of it. And it has regional (rather than TRACS) accreditation. That may not matter to you now, but could make a difference in any of your future goals.
  5. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member


    Thank you. I've looked at UoC in the past. They are in fact RA and have reasonable tuition. Their PhD curriculum is centered around education, which doesn't thrill me. In fact, with the exception of 6 hours, it's the same curriculum as the Ed.D. For about the same cost, Johnson University offers a PhD in Leadership Studies that is far more interesting to me. I haven't ruled them out.

    The reason I'm looking at Piedmont is because they adopted Tennessee Temple's PhD program in its entirety. I've always liked the program and, for whatever reason, really liked TTU as an institution. I guess I feel TTU lives on through Piedmont. Silly...

    You make outstanding points regarding Bakke. Thank you. I will definitely consider all you have said. The reason I am drawn to them is because of their program. It's much more practical, as opposed to theoretical, and centered around the concept of changing/improving lives (the life of the student as well as the lives of those in need). It has a component that requires the student to travel to one of several destinations, national or international, to witness and participate in humanitarian relief efforts, education, etc. It even allows the student, if desired, to stay in the home of one of the local families. Additionally, it is truly an international program where about half of the students are from various countries around the world, all of whom are required to communicate, network, and collaborate throughout the program. I find it all very intriguing. Still, your points are well taken. I am less concerned about the campus/suite presence as there are other accredited schools, some RA, that have no campus presence. I know the model for these schools typically includes a large office building that serves as a central HUB, but Bakke doesn't operate like this. They have, as you mentioned, a suite to serve as the "HUB." Their professors and administrators all work from various leased spaces around the globe, which to me is necessary to maintain the international nature of the program. I also think it's representative of the time we live in and is increasingly the way organizations do business.

    I'm not pumping the school...just sharing a little about them since you said you didn't look into the program. I like them a lot, but I also like Piedmont and Johnson.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2015
  6. mattchand

    mattchand Member


    While I wouldn't rule out anything Drs. Bear and Levicoff have noted about Bakke, nomenclature and accreditation, it depends, perhaps, on how one would want to use this. BGU has made something of a name for itself in mission circles as having a good program focused on urban ministry. I have a friend who was involved in urban ministry in Asia for many years, and did his own DMin with BGU a number of years ago, and loved their "hands-on" approach.

    Disclosure: I taught one session in Asia years ago as a pro bono one-off for a visiting BGU cohort of very sharp students from a number of different countries; at the time, I was ABD in my own PhD program. I have had no further association with them. If your goal is to have a credential by which you may be able to teach, this may not be the best degree. For getting into a reputable program for leadership and urban ministry, this may not be a bad choice.

    Just my 2 rupees....


  7. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I think Drs. Levicoff and Bear make some excellent points.

    But I, personally, would go with Bakke.

    I hate it when schools are named after their founder as well. But I really, really dig the international requirement. I think that we, as aficionados of distance learning, sometimes ignore the value of in-person experiences. Bakke could have taken the easy way out and forced students to find their own activity or just go with an all coursework model.

    Two field experiences required. This year it looks like they are doing their thing in Manila and Kingston (Jamaica, not PA, NY or ON, that would be kind of lame). They appear to be a month long each. I'm no churchy McGee, but even I think that would be an enriching experience.

    As for the three story office building aspect, meh, I went to UMT. PhD? It would be impressive in an academic setting of it wasn't in leadership. There are only a handful of programs in leadership (and every one I've seen seems to be at a christian university). Will that change in the future? Maybe. But unless someone can show me a bunch of people who used their PhD in leadership to land teaching positions, I'm going to say it's academic utility is minimal.

    So, between two degrees (both unlikely to land you a full time teaching job) I would focus on which one was going to make me a better person. Which one is going to force me to think about the world in a different way. On the one hand, I can do research in the field of leadership. On the other, I can go out into the world and, at a minimum, probably have two unforgettable international month long experiences.

    Third option would be just to volunteer overseas and screw the degree altogether.
  8. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Thanks for the comments. I would be using this degree for personal enrichment, inspiration for future endeavors, and perhaps as an additional credential for writing, coaching, etc. I really love the hands on, applied approach of this degree. I also love the global flavor (half of every class is made of up non-U.S. students). The more I consider this degree, the more I love it. I'm very close to applying.
  9. warguns

    warguns Member

    Bakke is accredited only by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) a very dubious accrediting agency. As an "additional credential for writing, coaching, etc.", I would consider it of very little value except among a very limited, poorly educated, fundamentalist Christian audience. As well-noted THREE of the FIVE full-time faculty have their terminal degrees from Bakke as apparently (I didn't bother to review the entire list) do most of the adjuncts. Frankly, any school with only FIVE full-time faculty members should not even be granting degrees, much less doctorates, but obviously TRACS has very low standards.
  10. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    I would urge you to work on your delivery. It lacks courtesy and tact. It also shows an astonishing level of narrow-mindedness. There is obviously some truth to your comments in that there is limited utility to a degree earned at a TRACS school. However, your sweeping generalizations are incorrect and offensive. Some people require slick credentials to open doors because they lack ability, experience, prior success, or suffer from mediocre performance. Others can truly maximize the utility of "lesser" credentials because they have already achieved a great deal of success and notoriety, are consistently outperforming their peers, are pursued by rival organizations, etc.

    I am very blessed in that I enjoy a lucrative, successful career. I already coach. I already teach. I am already considered an expert in my field. As such, I am regularly consulted for my opinion, invited as a guest speaker at business events, etc. The Bakke credential would in fact add to my resume, not detract from it. Educated, secular executives already solicit my advice and pay for my time. If I earned the DTL from Bakke, it wouldn't suddenly stop, nor would I be reduced to working with poorly educated, fundamentalist Christians. That's laughable.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2015
  11. novadar

    novadar Member

    Where do we draw the line then on what is an "appropriate" accrediting agency? TRACS is recognized by both the United States Department of Education (USDOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). They seek to serve a particular audience. They don't seem to accredit diploma mills. What more is needed?
  12. Michelle

    Michelle Member

    If you do decide to enroll in Bakke, please let us know what you think of the program. I am intrigued by it too, but I'm not at the point of being able to earn a degree for personal enrichment. Do you know how the college's name is pronounced?
  13. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I think everyone here has opinions on various accrediting agencies and how they compare to other recognized agencies. At the end of the day, TRACS is recognized by USDOE and CHEA. Your finding them "dubious" is far less significant than those recognitions.

    For starters, the "additional credential" for activities already undertaken doesn't really need a great deal of utility. If I earned a Th.D. from the unaccredited Trinity College and Seminary (Newburgh) it wouldn't matter, necessarily, that the degree itself held little value to future employers since I am integrating it into my existing professional, personal and civic life. I'm not going to do that because:

    1) I'm not Christian, so that particular integration wouldn't work very well.
    2) While I agree that unaccredited studies may have some value to some people, I would never earn an unaccredited degree. And if, for some reason, I chose to earn an unaccredited degree I certainly wouldn't use it publicly.

    Still, my point stands. I'm also not sure if you intended to say that the audience for the Bakke degree is "limited, poorly educated" and just happens to also be fundamentalist Christian or if you were implying that all fundamentalist Christians are poorly educated. In either case, I think it a fairly ludicrous assertion. I am an atheist. I'm not a militant atheist. I have been known to dabble in Buddhist thought. I have zero interest in protecting the interests of Bakke. But their website doesn't scream "Christianity!" at the top of its lungs like most bible.

    I'm also not a militant atheist who thinks every member of every religion (or even specific religions) is a complete moron and not nearly as enlightened as I. So when I see a program like Bakke I can appreciate what it is trying to do. I think, as a personal experience, two month-long mission trips could be fun as long as I was doing something other than teaching kids about Jesus or trying to convert people. Were I actually doing something to develop a community I think it would be an interesting experience. I'm not in the community development world, mind you, so I'm not going to pursue this path. But it's interesting nonetheless. (And, as noted, my equally atheistic wife who works in the secular non-profit world might be interested in it despite its Christian-ness).

    And, were this an unaccredited school, that would raise a major flag for me (well, it being unaccredited would be a major flag. The degree thing would just probably push it toward a degree mill).

    But the school is accredited.

    The doctorate issue was first raised by Dr. Levicoff, who noted that it is a red flag. But red flags do not always indicate that something is, in fact, wrong. I've never taken a course at Bakke. Perhaps the coursework is a joke. Maybe their field work is a "feel good" vacation where you only pretend to help people. I don't know. The only thing close to an objective review of Bakke we have is that TRACS says that the coursework ISN'T a joke. And we have the USDOE and CHEA saying TRACS is qualified to make that call.

    I'm sure that Bakke Graduate University is very upset at not achieving full recognition by "warguns" and that they have to settle for the national accreditation they currently possess. It does appear that TRACS standards are different than ATS or ABHE. If we had to rank them, I imagine ATS would sit atop the mountain of theological education while ABHE held a spot somewhere nearby. I don't know where TRACS would fall. I honestly don't care. The utility of a theological degree is typically can it get you a job in ministry. Bakke doesn't even purport to do that. They have a specialized curriculum that would only appeal to a relatively small segment of people anyway.

    That is the most arbitrary rule I've ever heard. How many full time faculty members are needed for a school to offer a doctorate, in your expert opinion? What if Bakke only has 1-2 students per year?

    Sorry warguns, I never find myself defending evangelical institutions very often, but your critique seems like it was born of your disdain for fundamentalist Christians rather than an actual review of the program offered by this particular school. You can disagree with a theology all you want. But if you let it cloud your objectivity bad things start to happen.
  14. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    I ertainly will keep everyone informed if I decide to pursue the program. It's pronounced Bah-Key.
  15. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Neuhaus, this was an outstanding, well articulated post. Thank you. I know you are not defending Bakke, but you remained objective which is all one can ask. It's also, I think, what educated individuals are supposed to be able to do do. I can't defend the institution as I have never taken a course. I can only say that they're accredited, their curriculum is appealing to me, thei Christian world view is appealing to me, and I like the international "cohort" structure.

    Though the school is accredited by TRACS, there is much fundamentalist theology worked into the curriculum. I'm certain that every class is viewed from a Christian perspective, as it should be at a Christian school, but there really aren't any theology classes in the degree plan. The closest thing is one class, The Theology of Work. A cursory review of the program syllabi (and associated required reading) show this degree to be distinctly different than the stereotypical, fundamentalist, theological program. The DTL is clearly focused more on leadership that fosters change (organizational, cultural and/or civic). The fundamentalist, theological education is more likely to be found in their DMin.
  16. novadar

    novadar Member

    I guess mine wasn't long enough to impress, huh Pug? LOL.
  17. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    I dole out accolades based on word count. :)
  18. mattchand

    mattchand Member

    I'm guessing that you wanted to say here that there isn't much fundamentalist theology worked into the curriculum.

    Given what I have observed about BGU, and what I am aware of regarding their founder, Ray Bakke, I'd be surprised if there were "Fundamentalist" theology taught here at all. I would associate Fundamentalist with schools such as Pensacola Christian College or Bob Jones University. I haven't looked through their curriculum, so I could be wrong, but I'd define them as Evangelical rather than Fundamentalist.
  19. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Yes, that's what I get for not reviewing before posting. I meant to say there would be almost no fundamentalist theology in the DTL. After looking through many syllabi, I agree with you. Fundamentalist? No. Evangelical? Yes. Make no mistake about it, this is not a "religious" degree. It's a leadership degree geared toward the creation of positive change, inspired by a Christian world view.
  20. warguns

    warguns Member

    Not convinced

    TRACS is recognized by USDOE and CHEA. Your finding them "dubious" is far less significant than those recognitions.

    I am unconvinced. As everyone in HE knows TRACS is recognized by the DOE because of political pressure from Fundamentalists, so that they can received Federal financial aid. CHEA is not an accrediting organization; it is a membership organization.

    The institutions accredited by TRACS are almost uniformly narrow, sectarian, and tiny, often, as is the case with Bakke, only a few full-time faculty, usually with degrees from the same narrow, sectarian institution. These places are not really universities in any realistic sense of the word. Indeed, they are the opposite of everything a real university stands for: the free exchange and expression of of ideas and the advancement of knowledge.

    Of course, everyone is entitled to pursue the education that they want. However, in my opinion, it is a disservice to this forum to pretend that these little, narrow fiefdoms are in any way equivalent to real higher education. This only serves to confuse those who understand little about the complexities of accreditation.

    Tactless? No, realistic.

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