Bircham International University

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by jimwe, Jan 8, 2023.

  1. jimwe

    jimwe Member

    I have been working as a substance abuse counselor for the last 8 years, I am interested in becoming a Life Coach specializing in Trauma, Grief and End of Life Issues. I am considering Bircham International University and know it is not Regionally Accredited in the USA. But is it a degree mill like some overseas schools are. Thanks in advance for the info.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The term "degree mill" is a term of art. What is and is not a degree mill is in the eye of the beholder. One person's degree mill is another's alternative university.

    You're right that BIU is not accredited in any recognized way. Degrees issued by them would not likely be useful in any situation where a degree is required. Because of its lack of accreditation, it is also difficult to determine the quality of the instruction.

    You go to a university to get an education and a degree. You can be sure the latter is of little use except with low-information parties. The former will be something you'll have to determine from others or find out first-hand.

    • Speaking with someone from the school
    • Search for graduates of the school and reach out to them
      • You might be able to get names from the school
      • Consider a LinkedIn search
      • They have this internet thing that site called "Google" can help you with
    • Conducting a search on this website for threads discussing the school
    Here's what John Bear had to say about the school:
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  3. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    @jimwe We've had threads on Bircham for years and years. They have approval to operate as a private university from the Spanish Government. Their degrees do not have recognition from Spain's higher education authority - but this is not required, for them to operate legally.

    We have no less than six pages of threads on this school, over the years. You might glean something useful from looking at them. Just enter "Bircham International University" in the search bar at the top of this page.
    RoscoeB likes this.
  4. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    I agree completely with everything said. Especially John Bear's comment about making sure that the degree will satisfy what it is that you're looking for. For example, if all you want is a diploma hanging in your new office then BIU might satisfy that need.

    Personally, if I found out that a life coach I was using or considering to visit had an unaccredited degree like from BIU I would without hesitation reject that coach/counselor from any consideration. I would consider it more of a disqualifier. I'd be surprised though if this kind of reaction was common.
    nosborne48 and Johann like this.
  5. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Another thing that may be useful. Spain is home to the "master propio" - degrees taught by approved universities, for which they have not sought permission. They don't have to - it's optional, and the degrees "propio" (their own) are 100% legit. They do have some caveats in Spain - they can't be used for government jobs - and a master propio won't admit you to higher study in Spain. Everything else - including non-government employment - all good. (I would imagine there might be some exceptions in professional licensing, too.)

    The advantages - they're very. very cheap. You can get a legit master's (taught in English) often for under $1,000. The equivalency you'll get for it here on a foreign credential evaluation is... a crapshoot, basically. Anything goes, depending on the evaluator.
    But of you don't NEED an evaluation -- who cares? It's a Masters. From a Ministry-approved University.

    Here's a school that brokers programs (in English or Spanish) from accredited Spanish Universities. All health-related. Unfortunately this one doesn't have the particular subject you want - but others will. Consider it a sample of what's out there.

    You can get some other names from the various propio threads here.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2023
  6. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I wish it was, Bill. I really do.
    Bill Huffman likes this.
  7. Messdiener

    Messdiener Active Member

    At some point, it would be great to put together a wiki or similar with a listing of all these propio degrees at reasonable rates. Right now, they're all spread out between various threads. I know we have ENEB for business-related degrees, your SAERA site for health stuff, we have anything for philosophy, education & pedagogy, engineering, the sciences, etc.?

    At the very least, should we start a 'Titulo Proprio - Master Thread'?
  8. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Spanish schools do -- I've seen education and sciences offered. The rest - most likely. I know you can get sexology. :)
    (1) It's 'propio' - not 'proprio.' No biggie. Everybody does it. Some keep right on doing it forever. :rolleyes:
    (2) Sure we should. Oh, wait a minute. Who's 'we'? :( (Sigh) Oh --- not again???
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2023
  9. Messdiener

    Messdiener Active Member

    I've seen plenty from Spain, in Spanish. The trick is finding programs in English from these schools.

    My bad. Mixing up my Spanish and Latin again! It seems a titulo propio and a motu proprio are not the same thing, even if my brain seems to think so!

    The people of DegreeInfo! But for this case, I'll kickstart the initiative! Give me just a few minutes.
  10. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Tengo el mismo problema. ¡Latinista aquí! :)
    Messdiener likes this.
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    In the course of doing this for 4+ decades, I am always stunned by the number of people who do not even know diploma mills exist.
  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I can understand your astonishment, Rich. It is amazing, especially now. Conversely, another continual source of surprise to me, is the number of people, many in high places on the food chain, who DO know - and buy degrees from these operations, knowing full well they're fake - and later, when they're found out, claim no knowledge that the degrees and the schools are bogus. So many highly-placed liars in our midst.

    Funny thing - degree mill people buy their own "degrees" from other degree mills. I remember when 9,000+ names were published, people who bought degrees from the US-Liberian "St. Regis" scam. (Nothing to do with RA Regis University). Known US degree mill operators were among the purchasers of the Liberian "degrees" in their own names.
    Bill Huffman likes this.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Ignorance bothers me, but what really, really bugs me is when someone gets caught with a bogus degree and, instead of being fired for an utter lack of integrity, the employer retains the person, rationalizing that the degree wasn't mandatory for the job.

    But honesty isn't either? Also, did you take the degree into account in the hiring process? So, the scam worked. Gee, nice.
    RoscoeB, JBjunior, Rachel83az and 3 others like this.
  14. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    It's especially bad news, when you hear that from an employer that is a university, a school board, a police department or a health facility. Sadly, I think these are the places where most of the bogus degrees eventually come to light. In industry and often business, they tend to hide in the cracks - like vermin or insects.
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  15. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    Personally, the fact that you have asked that question should preclude its consideration. Besides, for the money this institution wants, there are far better options.
  16. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Before I'd consider them, the prices would have to come down to about 1/4th of what they're currently asking, and even then I would never list them on a resume given their history, and, just the way their site looks. Wouldn't want a potential employer seeing that, because even if they were accredited, it wouldn't appear so from the way their site looks, lol.
  17. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    What might be better is pursuing training in Coaching and Thanatology separately rather than an unaccredited program that only appears to give you the grounding you need. Durham College has an online Thanatology certificate program that doesn't require a degree to get into: This combined with your existing experience as a substance abuse counselor may be all you need.

    You can also consider volunteering with your local hospice. I did my second of two Social Service Worker internships at my local hospice. I went through training on providing end-of-life care (the Fundamentals of Hospice Palliative Care (FHPC) course and met with clients in palliative care. The training is available online now (though I'm not sure it will be as impactful.) Later I completed an 8-week training in Bereavement Peer Support, the kind offered by many hospice organizations before I worked one on one with people grieving someone close to them.

    This kind of experiential learning is likely to be far more important to your clients than a specific degree.
  18. Mac Juli

    Mac Juli Well-Known Member

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  19. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    This one can be...tough.

    I used to come down on this in a very black and white manner. Fake degree? Take it and get out.

    Having encountered the situation in real life situations, however, I find that the one size fits all approach isn't the best.

    Separating an integrity issue from a mistake arising from ignorance is often the biggest one. Is it possible a person is a master manipulator and lying about not knowing better? Sure. And I think if the degree in question is one where you purchase it outright then it's a harder thing to defend.

    Even still, imagine it's 2004 and you've just retired from the military. You get an email telling you that you are eligible for a degree based on life experience. You submit your 20 years worth of stuff and hey, congratulations! You get a bachelors degree! Maybe just to really sell it to you they have you write an essay or two. You do it. You pass. Here's your degree.

    It sounds silly to us because we live in this world. Online ed, accreditation, this rises to the level of hobby for us. It's not unlike when some silly fool buys a tiny tank and puts a betta fish in it and then gets torn to shreds when they go onto an aquarium forum asking why their fish died. Should they have done research before? Of course. But they walked into a marketplace that sold these items and didn't know that they shouldn't trust whatever advice was dispensed there.

    That does happen. When I was in the Navy, Almeda tore through our base. One person was fooled and referred others. And they trusted the person who was referring them. Are they accredited? Why, yes they are (by unrecognized accreditors they made up). But they didn't think to dig deeper.

    Sometimes even smart people do stupid things.

    In corporate, I've seen people from other countries working in the U.S. be fooled by the mills operating under religious exemption. To them, "State Approved" is A-OK. Only to have the degree blow up in their face when they apply for a promotion, a teaching position or try to continue their education further.

    And, at the end of the day, even if it was fully intentional there is the simple reality that today, not all matters of integrity end in termination. Stealing? I have never seen anyone recover from that. Violence? Out the door. Lying? People lie. They lie about outcomes. They lie to cover their butts. They lie about all sorts of stuff. In an ideal world lying would be so punishable that anyone would be deterred from it. However, businesses are in business to make money. And if that person is making you money then a lot of sins can (and are) forgiven. Gets added to the file. You start finding other cracks and it can be the straw that breaks the camel's back. But it just doesn't rise to the level of importance where corporate will bother overriding a hiring manager's decision on the matter.

    And today? Forget it. I have 68 open requisitions we are struggling to fill. We have doubled the number of places where we post. We have tripled the schools we recruit from. We have dropped bachelors requirements from a handful of jobs where they had been the norm. The labor market is in a period of adjustment. The tolerance for a termination for someone where the ONLY visible problem is a degree? Depending on the level of fudging taking place I wouldn't at all be shocked by a manager demanding that it be handled with internal discipline rather than a termination.

    If nothing else, it keeps them out of Congress.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is the "Victim or Villain?" question. I'm fine with looking at intent since there is some scheming out there and people can be fooled. But I mostly fall on the "Villain" side of this question. I'm all for taking each situation separately.

    I was considering a retired chief master sergeant for a federal position. His resume indicated an abrupt end to his service. I told him about my background and he leveled with me. He took an Article 15 (non-judicial punishment) for fraternization--he was dating a more junior enlisted member. That forced his immediate retirement, too. He ended up marrying that woman (who also retired, but didn't receive punishment.) I didn't select him, but not because of that. I felt he deserved the action he received, but I didn't hold it against him. Ironic to this thread, I didn't hire him because his didn't have a bachelor's degree (after 25 years of service), despite being at the top of his field. Given the team I was assembling, I just couldn't (and there were some really qualified candidates for the position). Most interviewers without my background never would have spotted it, so I'm sure it didn't hold him up. But that lack of a bachelors degree sure did.

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