Central University of Nicaragua Degree Scheme

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Rich Douglas, Nov 21, 2021.

  1. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    It's hard to argue with a vaguely stated conclusion, but I'm going to try. Slightly.

    I disagree (again, slightly) with the "icing on the cake" metaphor. Done right and done well, taking a doctorate--even while in mid-career--can be transformative. It can help you define--or re-define--who you are, your professional identity.

    It can even happen twice. My first doctorate put rocket fuel in my career engine. The second became the basis for the practice I now have, and could not have if I had not done that work.

    This is another reason why I'm dubious about focusing on costs. Yes, doing a UCN doctorate through SMC is relatively cheap. But so is Wonder Bread. But is it any good? In fact, the Wonder Bread comparison fails because that is a straight transaction: money for bread. In the case of doing a doctorate, you also have to work off your hind end. Or, at least, you should. So, besides the money, is it worth all the effort of earning a doctorate to end up with one from one of these schemes? And do you really get a transformative experience? Or is it largely transactional instead?

    Our colleague John Bear used to say he'd pose this question to people: "If you could have either the education or the degree, or both, what would you chose? No one ever chose the education without the degree. His point: the credential matters in and of itself. My point: so does the opportunity to do something really important to and for yourself.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    There are a lot of non-practicing lawyers from 3rd= and 4th-tier schools who might quibble with this.
  3. tadj

    tadj Well-Known Member

    I think that Rich’s advice on the matter is generally good, but it applies to individuals who choose fields that are better suited for careers outside academia. Rich has chosen one doctorate with a focus on HR. This degree can definitely be translated to the marketplace. But it’s hard to extrapolate from that to PhDs in general. Even the more controversial advice of “initially putting money considerations aside” might be good in fields where tangible rewards can be expected in long-term perspective. But how would this apply to disciplines like; Anthropology, Religious Studies, Critical Dance Studies (with focused PhD research on topics such as; Tango and Neo-Liberalism), Art, Medieval History? Is it really good advice to seek a “transformative experience” and end up with prestigious university doctorates that bear little value outside academia (an academia where getting the more stable tenure appointment is increasingly difficult) and a life burden of debt? Wouldn’t it be a bit more sensible to seek out more affordable doctorate options, especially if a person is dead set on getting a PhD in one of those less marketable fields? It might be even better to re-examine the reasons for being attracted to earning a doctorate in the first place. Also, I am not entirely convinced that career exploration should be done in the post-enrollment phase, or that doctorates can supply “reasons for being.” I am not saying it’s impossible, but I wouldn’t have that expectation. Take a look at the mushrooming of online consulting services that seek out to help directionless PhD grads, often run by other PhD grads. Does this indicate that the PhD program provided these grads with ample opportunities to consider their life and career goals, or just the opposite?
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  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I don't suppose to advise people, generally, about careers in academia since I've never had one.
    I have not.
    It is crucial not to miss one.
    I've never suggested that. If you're no longer talking about me, it would help if you made that clear.
    Money is one consideration. Unfortunately, many posters on this board write as if it is the only consideration. Almost always, however, they're not actually doing a doctorate as they post about it.
    Do you have one? And if you do, how did you miss this aspect? And if you don't, do you have some reason to offer in support of this?

    Earning a doctorate is unlike any other academic endeavor. It is unique. But you're projecting onto it arguments that miss the whole point of doing the doctorate, especially at a distance for mid-career professionals.

    This board is focused on earning degrees by distance learning, normally by those already in their careers. This is not about going to some university and studying anthropology (or whatever). You're taking what I posted and depositing it into a different context, one I did not use to frame my perspectives. In short, you're creating a strawman argument.
  5. tadj

    tadj Well-Known Member

    One of your public consulting profiles states that you have a “Doctor of Social Science (in Human Resource Development) from the University of Leicester” Was I wrong in saying that you’ve picked a doctorate with an HR focus? You’re denying that you’ve chosen this focus. I am simply confused now. It would seem that someone who “never had a career in academia” would fully appreciate the point about distinguishing between doctorates that largely prepare you for academia and PhDs that potentially also provide substantial extra non-academia benefits. You’ve apparently accepted this larger point, but you’re still somehow attempting to discredit what I’ve said. Any particular reason for that?

    The people who visit this board come from all walks of life. I thought that it would be helpful to add a bit of nuance to the transformative doctoral experience talk, as I myself considered the very decision to enter a PhD. I am in my thirties. I hold three Master’s-level degrees and already qualified for a humanities-oriented PhD program in one of the better European institutions. However, I’ve postponed the decision due to a lack of perceived benefits on “the other side of the doctorate.”
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2021
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    That's correct.
    That's correct.
    That's not correct.
    That's correct.
    That's correct.
    That's correct.
    That's not correct.

    When you decide to make it about me, especially the way you're doing it, I'm going to pass. I hope you don't mind. When you decide to make it about you, I really don't have anything to say, except that it sounds like you made the right decision for you.

    I've expressed an opinion. You might agree, disagree, or not even care. But I am not interested in trying to be right, or show that you are wrong. I'm sure your opinions can stand on their own.
    mintaru likes this.
  7. tadj

    tadj Well-Known Member


    I did not make it about you. Notice how I’ve transitioned from “Rich has chosen” to “it’s hard to extrapolate from that…” I was speaking in the abstract. I did not say that you’re personally drawing equivalency between doctoral fields of study. Still, English is a second language for me. Don’t assume the worst when you read my posts.
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I did not. I didn't appreciate you calling me out, but otherwise the tenor and purpose of your posts seem quite good and valuable.
  9. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I agree with Rich perspective but it obviously a personal opinion. I checked and most of the people getting a PhD from UCN are not Americans with regular jobs in academia or industry but many come from Africa, Middle East. etc. If I am professor in Africa making 20K USD a year, all I can afford is UCN regardless of all our arguments. They can care less of NACES, etc. The UCN operation is not being targeted to Americans but to people in Africa, Middle east and Asia as most of the foreign operations are in these areas. I don't think there are thousands of Americans doing a PhD from UCN, as someone said here, it can be seen a continuing education for a regular person in the US but not a transformative experience nor a game changer for most.
    If if works for some people, let it be. I live in Canada and wouldn't follow this option unless it was just for personal development in a field that I love. I agree that If I want a PhD in Theology, Arts, History, etc, it is not worth for me to spend a fortune. If I can earn a legit PhD that I can hang on the wall that is not a fake in a field that I love, then why not.
  10. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I think that in many cases, that African professor could possibly find a program at a recognized University in his own country, with cost geared to his/her means. Alternately, there are some distance programs abroad, e.g. UK, that have a much-reduced cost, specifically for students in Africa - the exact same distance programs available at full-price for students who live in more prosperous countries.

    Well-recognized universities such as IGNOU (India) often have tiered costs, depending on where the student lives. Their rates for African countries are generally very low. Accordingly, I don't think UCN is the "only hope" or indeed, the "best hope" for Africans who need a degree that their own Government will recognize. Not with its interlocking maze of cross-validations.

    If someone wants a wall-hanger degree, that's different. OK, as long as it stays on the wall.
    mintaru, Mac Juli and tadj like this.
  11. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I agree, but there is the pragmatic aspect. A long time ago, I wanted to do a PhD from UNISA. Many roadblocks with this school, you need to find a dissertation supervisor and negotiate a dissertation, the school was (maybe things changed) not very responsive, most professors would not bother to answer your emails. In few words, it can be a real nightmare to deal with a public African school. The private companies are there to make money so they give you superior support compared to public schools, it is very realistic to get a UCN degree by distance and many would just care about getting it for a promotion. If you do a search on linkedin, you will find many professors from Africa and Asia using this degree, you and many others might not like it, but there is evidence of this degree working for some.

    For people living in Canada, Western Europe or US, the degree might be just good enough to get adjunct teaching gigs provided you get an equivalence certificate. Again, if I am pragmatic, it is not worth for me to get a local PhD that would take me 10 years of part time study just to get a poor paid gig at a community college teaching psychology 101. If I can get a foreign PhD for the same purpose, this can be OK for some. Some Universities and colleges in Canada pay very low wages for adjunct faculty, it is hard to justify lots of work and investment for this, on top you have tons of competition due to massive immigration of foreign PhDs from India, Asia, etc. If I had a passion for a field like Arts, History, Literature, etc and just wanted to fullfil my dream to teach in this area for personal reasons, I would consider this option.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    If you get a PhD to check a box, you're cheating yourself. You're also likely wasting a lot of time, effort, and money because you won't get that much out of it compared to all you have to do to get it.
  13. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes - there are certainly pragmatic considerations. Might indeed be the choice for you, if you can make it work. But I think for the African professor, who needs a degree within his/her budget, that will work unquestioned in his/her own country, there can be better choices.

    To each his/her own.
  14. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    This a good summary but I would include the risk factor that as we speak, many Latin American schools are starting to prepare DL English PhD programs. In the near future, you will have probably a lot more options. By then, most of these degrees would lose value in an already saturated market. There are some Mexican schools already offering PhDs targeting Spanish speaking US population.
    If anyone wants to consider this option, I would not wait and do it now while the degree might be worth something.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2022
  15. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I agree, this can be an argument from the perspective of us that we are already employed and using the doctorate. However, there is a large sector of the population that are dealing with credential inflation. At my own University, 30 years ago most faculty teaching continuing education just had a bachelor's degree, today most new hires have a PhD. If I am professional adjunct making a living based on contracts that need to be renewed every year, it is hard to be static when you see that you are losing the jobs against new comers with PhDs from all over the world. Imagine yourself as an English teacher with a 30K yearly income that needs to survive, you cannot afford to spend 10 years to get a local PhD and don't have time to commute to attend local classes, they need a PhD fast according to their budget so they can remain employed. It doesn't mean that the PhD from UCN might be the best option, but for many this is better than nothing.
  16. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    But you'll still be stuck with the degree later, when it's NOT worth anything. Not a foolproof strategy.
  17. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Is there any foolproof strategy?
  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Maybe not. But with some strategies, the odds are better than with others. If the degree is likely to decline in value to nothing, then that strategy is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you're bothered by credential inflation - consider trying for a career where a PhD. isn't so desperately needed. I have relatives who are long-term high school teachers. Secure job, once you get some time in - great pension - good money. No doctorate needed. Or maybe avoid teaching altogether - most people work without doctorates - some at very good positions indeed.

    I apologize for stealing this concept from Robert Heinlein: When the population gets over a billion and they start issuing ID cards AND demanding doctorates - it's time to move on to another planet.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2022
    tadj likes this.
  19. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    A slight redirection, but sticking with the theme of UCN and utility.

    Is it academic misconduct to submit the same thesis to two different institutions? (Assuming the second institution were aware of it.) Would an institution decline to award a degree on the basis of much of the work being done prior to enrollment?

    What I'm getting is, if UCN provides a quality education but has shaky recognition, could you enroll there, write the thesis, and then seek admission to a better-recognized school (especially in a country where doctorates are research only without coursework) and submit that work for recognition? In this hypothetical I'm assuming some major stars align that wouldn't in practice, like that both schools have professors working in exactly the same subfield.
  20. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    I think there are gray areas. I recall Dr John Bear making the comment that someone was told by an advisor not to tell him about doctoral research he had done at another institution because then he couldn't use it at their institution. So, probably technically a No-No but also in a case like UCN that is remote and not as connected into the world of academia, possible.

    Then too I seem to recall that someone did a professional doctorate and then did a PhD. Two different schools. The material covered looked very similar. So, I assume they took the work that they did in the professional doctorate and the research and then adjusted it to some degree for the PhD. Obviously getting a head start.

    As it is, someone is basically doing a doctorate for Azteca (or another institution) and then paying the extra fee to UCN and getting a second doctorate. I believe someone here posted that in Spain this process of double degrees is not unheard of. I don't think we know the extent to which UCN actually oversees or inspects the doctoral work done for Azteca. Perhaps they just trust the appointed Azteca agents.

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