How to choose an UNACCREDITED school?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by LearningAddict, Sep 4, 2020.

  1. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I'm not looking to study at an unaccredited school, this is purely hypothetical. I know the quickest answer would be "don't choose any!" But I was thinking, if someone were seriously considering an unaccredited school, what things should they be looking at as deciding factors? I thought of four:

    - State approved
    - Doesn't have a bad reputation
    - Faculty with good credentials
    - Priced lower than accredited schools with comparable programs

    Are there any others you can think of?
  2. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I'd like to help - really. But I'm running out of ideas because the market has changed. First of all, I don't really think there's such a thing as State Approved any more. We're not in California, Toto! :) The California of old doesn't exist. We have State-permitted schools here and there - but that's not really "Approved." You have a school - you pays your money and you gets your permit. There may be some consumer protection rules to eliminate or at least cut down on cheating - no degrees in less than a year, courses must exist and be taken, a refund structure if things go sideways etc. But no real academic oversight - the State is not equipped for that. Instruction has to be there - it doesn't have to be good.

    If you can find an unaccredited school without a bad reputation -we've neglected our sworn duty to give it one! :) Seriously, domestically, that's a tough call. Again, a lot of schools that did a fairly good job were clustered in California - a State that had pretty good laws for such schools. Most of them have gone out of business now. A prime example would be California Pacific U. This school was the first to offer home-study business degrees under the new legislation in the 70s and did so, respectably and successfully for over 30 years. The owner, who held an RA doctorate, is long deceased. The school was sold to a new owner who piled up some unpaid BPPE violations and appeared to abandon the school. A few of the California schools have survived - as accredited schools nowadays. An example is the former Pacific Western U., which is DEAC accredited and known as California Miramar U. It's far from the only California school to gain accreditation - and did so far in advance of the "Accredit or Die" law. This same type of law killed off State-licensed schools in Alabama, Wyoming and - I believe - elsewhere.

    I'm not into religious schools, so I can't comment on those, though I'll turn what I think is a bad one inside-out, for sport once in a while. Maybe the best thing you can do is pick one outside the US. There are many jurisdictions where unaccredited schools are allowed, subject to licensing. Switzerland's Cantonal schools come to mind - quality is all over the map from very bad to excellent. The degrees largely have less-than-mainstream standing, though - and some are far too expensive for what they are. Some of the better ones offer degrees validated by British Universities - so that takes them out of the unaccredited market.

    Panama allows licensing without accreditation. Accreditation there means placing the school under the scrutiny of University of Panama and doing everything by their book. Most of the unaccredited schools there I've looked at - nothing to write home about. I can offer no good reasons to study there. Some might be a rather expensive way to improve your Spanish. Most are set up to teach in English - for Americans.

    A couple of the former California schools have left the US - I've seen one re-surface in Latvia. No reason to attend that one, that I know of. No doubt about it. US schools that meet your criteria will be pretty rare now - nonexistent soon.
  3. Mac Juli

    Mac Juli Well-Known Member


    Well, if the institution / school / whatever has a certain, um, "street credibitity", I would choose it anyway. I did so in the past with udacity, and I think it was a good pick.

    Best regards,
    Mac Juli
    Johann likes this.
  4. felderga

    felderga Active Member

    Breyer State and American International Theism University (AITU) I guess two popular ones that come to mind as both are recognized by the state of Florida. AITU has international accrediation with ASIC so maybe that might be one to consider (however I really don't know much about the programs offered and how legit is the school. )
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
  5. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Ummm - that's interesting. What kind of, er, "recognition" does the State of Florida give Breyer State, exactly? We have many threads on this school. I wouldn't call it a popular choice. It began in Idaho - on a Reservation, possibly thought to be beyond the White Man's law, though neither the owner nor his wife were Native American. It migrated from there to Alabama, where easy licensing was once available. When the State of Alabama declined to renew these licenses, Breyer State moved once more - to California, during the "sunset" of the BPPVE - when unaccredited schools were left in peace because there was no State Agency to bother them. After the BPPE was convened, the school moved to PANAMA. After a short sojourn there, it moved back to Idaho - but not the Reservation. Thence to sunny Florida....

    I've known two individuals to get good mileage from Breyer State degrees. A South African who said it improved his dating life. "The chicks know it's not Harvard but --it's a Doctorate!..." And a Greek living in France who had a very good evaluation of his Breyer State degree, solely because because the authorities mistakenly believed it was a "State" degree, as defined in France. It was, in fact a "State" degree (Alabama, IIRC) - not the usual French definition of "State" - i.e. France.

    The old threads on this and other fora are entertaining, but I'd hardly recommend the school to anyone making a serious attempt at scholarship of any kind. As for International Theism U., I've never heard of it. It sounds like a religious school - and as I said before, they're beyond my pay grade.
    Michael Burgos, Mac Juli and felderga like this.
  6. felderga

    felderga Active Member

    Breyer State reeks degree mill and one all should avoid at all cost. Breyer State is supposedly authorized by the state of Florida's Department of Education. Nobody else really recognizes it elsewhere however.

    AITU seems similar on the face of it (DBA for $7500) as they also offer religious based "Ethereal" degrees as well. I haven't heard much about this school either but just happend to stumble across it when doing a search on cheap DBA degrees.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    And it still is. Great choice. Udacity itself is not - and does not pretend to be - a "university" - nor does it grant degrees, although of course there are pathways to good degree-granting schools. I believed (rightly, I hope) the OP was concerned with unaccredited schools that granted their own degrees. They, of course, were numerous, long before the days of MOOCs, Udacity or EdX. I believe the learning opportunities provided by the old-model unaccredited schools have been largely eclipsed by the newer delivery modes, proliferation of onmline programs and legislation that has forced many of the unaccredited schools to close.
    Mac Juli likes this.
  8. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Offering secular degrees is usually a no-no, if a school is claiming religious exemption. This is a bad sign, to me. Don't like to see "MBA in Church Management" or "Doctor of Ethereal Business." That kind of thing is wrong, as I see it.

    If it is allowed - I don't think it should be. Should carry a large Terrestrial (not Ethereal) fine.
  9. Mac Juli

    Mac Juli Well-Known Member


    I remember that the Cleveland Institute of Electronics is now unaccredited (which makes me sad, they had a very interesting program), but has still some "street cred". Maybe this counts as a good example for a good, but unaccredited school?

    Best regards,
    Mac Juli
  10. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    It does and it doesn't. Last I looked, CIE did indeed offer some interesting course materials - but I believe the degree courses, now unaccredited had been completely mothballed. Not available at any price. You could - at that time, at least - pick up some of the course materials for their many non-degree programs at good prices. I don't believe you could get individual instruction in any course, at any price, after Accreditation stopped. You got the books - you didn't get instruction or marks. Too bad. CIE courses used to really count for something. People often got good jobs as a result.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
  11. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    No such thing as Brayer State Univ. There is a Theological school, i.e religious exception.
  12. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    CIE course diploma in Broadcast Engineering is approved by the Society of Broadcast Engineers for certification as a Certified Broadcast Technologist.

    Arent the courses of CIE approved by the Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools to offer postsecondary programs of electronics technology, computer technology and electronic engineering technology?

    The State Board of Career Colleges and Schools (f/k/a State Board of Proprietary School Registration) monitors and regulates Ohio’s private post-secondary career colleges and schools to ensure compliance with minimum standards set by Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3332. During fiscal year 2018, the Board registered 224 schools and approved over ...
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
    Johann and Mac Juli like this.
  13. mbwa shenzi

    mbwa shenzi Active Member

    Oh, you have, sort of. I'll quote myself:

    American International Theology University ---> American International Theism University, now ASIC accredited.

    Here's Dr El Shamy with others
    Johann likes this.
  14. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    Anyone reading this thread, I just wanted to give you another opportunity to read this post by Johann. Excellent post!
    felderga likes this.
  15. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    It's a fascinating question that gets to the heart of what education is. I've thought about it a lot over the years.

    It's unfortunate that discussion in this thread has already veered off towards discussing a couple of mills.

    Perhaps the first question is why would somebody be considering an unaccredited school in the first place? Presumably they find the school attractive for some reason. Assuming that the reason is legitimate, something besides an offer to sell a "PhD" in days for no work, then there's a big part of your answer right there. Why is the student attracted to this particular program?

    As you say, it has to be operating legally. There isn't really any distinction between state "approval" and state "licensing" in that regard.

    Regarding reputation, I'd say that not only must the school not have a bad reputation, it must have a good reputation. Most of the good unaccredited schools are specialist programs in particular subjects. Most of them will already have a reputation in their subject area. Professionals will have heard of the school. That's why a good unaccredited program will probably be a niche player. It won't offer programs in every subject and it won't be offering generic degrees like MBAs.

    As long as Mbwa Shenzi is quoting himself, I'll quote myself. (It's an old post from 2016.)

    Neuhaus had written this

    I opted very emphatically for #2. I think that there are a handful of non-accredited schools that academically speaking offer very good programs. (There were more in the past.)

    There are other objective measures, accreditation isn't the only one. I look at faculty listings, syllabi, publications (and their quality), recognition by those I respect in its subject area, facilities, collaborations, and at awards and grants won.

    Here's how I apply those criteria to a currently unaccredited "religious school" that I consider impeccably legitimate. [This earlier post was written in 2016. IBS has since become regionally accredited.]

    It's the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley.

    Degree Programs – Institute of Buddhist Studies

    The Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley offers three masters programs:

    Two are California-state approved and not formally accredited: an MDiv and a Masters of Buddhist Studies (MBS).

    The former and historically the latter serve for preparation of clergy for the Buddhist Churches of America, the IBS' founding denomination. (I consider the affiliation to a tangible denomination that doesn't just exist 'virtually' on the internet to be a strong plus.)

    Buddhist Churches of America

    The MBS is also aimed at individuals interested in the academic study of Buddhism who don't need an accredited degree for employment or doctoral admissions purposes. It allows them a freer choice of electives, I guess. (I think that the MBS syllabus is comparable to syllabi at many RA schools.)

    Master of Buddhist Studies Program Requirements – Institute of Buddhist Studies

    The third degree program is an MA, awarded jointly by IBS and the Graduate Theological Union (WASC and ATS accredited and perhaps the largest consortium of schools of religion in the United States). While not a 'member' school of the GTU, the IBS is recognized as a GTU 'affiliate'. (That affiliation and the joint degree program are certainly indicators of academic credibility in my opinion.)

    The GTU offers its own RA accredited PhD in Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion and all of the specialist doctoral faculty for the Buddhist Studies specialization in that particular program are drawn from the IBS:

    Buddhist Studies | Graduate Theological Union

    (That communicates a very strong message about how the GTU perceives IBS.)

    [The faculty list includes several well known scholars with extensive publications.]

    There's also an affiliation agreement with Ryukoku University in Japan, founded as a school for monks in 1639, that allows students at IBS with suitable Japanese language skills to study at Ryukoku. This is a private Buddhist university in Japan, fully accredited in the Japanese context, affiliated with the same 'Pure Land' form of Buddhism as IBS and BCA.

    IBS scholarly publications are numerous and impressive, quite influential in their academic context. Pacific World, their primary journal, is widely read and cited in the academic community.

    Publications – Institute of Buddhist Studies

    (Another strong indicator.)

    As far as grants and awards go, IBS is a recipient of a prestigious Numata Endowment for Buddhist Studies (along with peer institutions like UC Berkeley, Harvard U., U. Chicago, U. Toronto, U. Leiden, U. London and U. Oxford).

    Numata Programs in Buddhist Studies at Major Universities | BDK America

    Bottom line: Given this thing's reputation in the Buddhist world both here in California and internationally, and given its productivity and associations, I'd say that even their California-approved MBS is not only going to be credible, but perhaps even impressive.

    I would have no hesitation enrolling here and listing the MBS degree on my CV. Anyone who would have any interest in a Buddhist Studies degree in the first place could be expected to already know about this school. That's precisely why I often say that credible non-accredited degrees are most useful in niche applications, where anyone educated in the subject will already be familiar with the program in question.

    This is the kind of model that many other small non-accredited 'religious schools' should try to emulate, assuming that they are really serious about whatever it is that they are doing.
    LearningAddict and Johann like this.
  16. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Well, there is, actually. Not much of a thingy, but still here. Site is: breyerstate-dot-edu . It's joined-at-the-hip with the religious school, but still has its own site and offers six "ethereal" degrees - Ethereal Business Admin etc. Just the sort of thing that raises my blood pressure. I'm old - I don't need that.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    There was a time when you could make an argument for doing a degree at an unaccredited school. The reasons mostly revolved around alternative delivery methods and (in some cases) subject matter. But as Johann said, most of the legitimate (and, IMHO, a few not-so-legitimate) unaccredited schools went on to become accredited. (As things loosened up with the regional associations and with the expansion of DEAC's scope.)

    There are very few left who are legitimate-but-unaccredited--and the state of California is going after the ones there with an edict to get accredited or get gone.

    I can see why someone might still be drawn to an unaccredited school, but only because it offers a niche program you particularly need. (I provide some pro bono work to one such school.) But there really is no longer a sound reason for suggesting this route generally. But one could also make the same argument about DEAC-accredited schools, so there's that.
    LearningAddict and RoscoeB like this.
  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Great post - but relevant to religious schools basically, which I kept out of discussing, I have no knowledge or interest in the field and in 22 States (I think) accreditation is not required, if such schools do not want it. A lot of other "niches" have been eliminated - even the famous Jet Pilot School is now accredited. I remember some other niche degrees that have disappeared, such as Lion Investigation Academy's excellent Associate degree program in Private Investigation (Pennsylvania). I tried to sign up for that one myself - but I was too late: already discontinued.

    Yes - niches were great reasons to pursue unaccredited degrees - but secular unaccredited niche degrees are pretty well gone, now. At least in US. Religious degrees are a different matter - but some of those have become accredited schools.
  19. Stanislav

    Stanislav Well-Known Member

    One attends a school that is helpful to achieve one's goals. This may well be an unaccredited school (now less often than before). Then one needs to establish if (1) the program will indeed help with that goal (2) goal itself is worth pursuing and (3) there are no negatives that can outweigh the potential gain.
    So, a training program at CIE leading to Certified Broadcast Technologist easily satisfies (1); (2) depends on a student but seems possible; and the harm (3) seems rather limited.
    IBS Bhuddism degrees seem, similarly, worthwhile for people interested in that niche. I can easily imagine how it can be suitable for someone.
    I'm duty-bound to bring up St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary. For those who, for some reason, want to be a priest in UOC-USA (NOT an easy or lucrative job), the case is clear: the school's Provost, Archbishop Daniel, is also that jurisdiction's Vocations Director - so he'll both sign the diploma AND is in charge of accepting it for empolyment. It is also the logical place if you want to learn to celebrate Liturgy in Ukrainian in a way older parishioners expect. You can get the same goal with accredited degrees (Euclid's Fr. Laurent Cleenewerck was, ironically, ordained in the UOCUSA with a degree from St. Serge in Paris and additional studies at St. Vladimir's), but Sophia is a substantially more direct route. It also has some utility (slightly) outside its teeny tiny pond: our other friend triple-Dr. Rector Count Archimandrite Andrew (Vujicic) successfully served in 3 other Orthodox jurisdictions and now apparently in the Catholic Church, and his seminary degree is from St. Sophia's.

    I see no argument for Breyer State or the Theistic thingy. They'd fail on account of (2) and (3), if not (1) as well.
  20. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes - I was COMPLETELY WRONG. The only programs that have disappeared are the degrees. They still teach the others. Yes, there are some fire-sale prices on discontinued stuff, but courses, instruction etc are still approved and still available. A colossal goof by Johann!

    I wear this in shame and apologize to CIE and the forum! CIE still offers its valuable courses and may it continue to do so forever!
    Just no degrees any more.

    As a token of apology, I almost linked to the school's Course Catalog - but I don't want to add a TOS violation to my list of sins - you can find it on their site.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020

Share This Page