I am leaving the NCU DBA program........

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by truckie270, Apr 23, 2007.

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  1. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Yes, students must satisfy degree requirements to graduate, but the supply of doctoral diplomas in Year 4, 5, and 6 (i.e., graduation) is unknown and certainly limited by accreditors at both for-profit and non-profit schools, but the demand for doctoral diplomas in Year 1 (i.e., admission) is vast. The open-enrollment doctoral program is practically a license to print money at for-profit schools.

    Another way to think about the for-profit doctoral program business is compare it to booking an airline ticket. Imagine if you booked and paid for your ticket to Maui six months advance, but when you arrived at the airport, you were confronted with the following questions:

    1. What is your favorite color? (You may not have the correct favorite color.)
    2. Maui? No, only trips to Fresno are available.
    3. Where is your green suitcase? You can only fly with a green suitcase.
    4. Why didn't you arrive four hours ago?
    5. Does your suitcase weigh exactly 13 lbs?
    6. What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
    7. Where is your shubbery?

    See, you made your plans, paid your ticket, arrived at the airport, and then are confronted with Monty Python-like questions, because the plane was overbooked. There are no refunds. At a non-profit school, they don't have to ask you these ridiculous questions, because if you satisfy the doctoral degree requirements, you will eventually earn your degree.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2007
  2. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Hi. Is it not a purely fictitious scenario? Or is it not real? Who put the tribbles in the quadrotriticale and what was in the grain that killed them? Will I persist in machine-gunning you with questions or will I remain satisfied with your inability to answer?

  3. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Dave Wagner, you have identified what you perceive to be a problem with open enrollments at for-profit doctoral programs. What is your proposal for a solution?
  4. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    Let me regurgitate that for a minute...

    Are you saying that because the accrediting agencies feel only a certain number of PhDs can be "minted" each year, for-profit schools manufacture reasons to not issue the diploma?

    I understand what you're saying because I've heard similar things from an optometrist buddy of mine and a dentist friend. They attended B&M traditional colleges but when it came time were often put off by six months or more by stupid stuff that was buried in the fine print of their learning contract.

    I'm just wondering if having more supply (e.g. more schools - for profit or not) will help the "minting" process. I would expect supply of teaching to rise causing the supply of PhDs to rise as well.

    Unless the for-profits are really out to get you to pay for yet another year's worth of education...

    What came as a surprise to me was that there is a target number of PhDs allowed by the accrediting agencies. That doesn't make sense except to protect the value of each degree from dilution. In my mind there should be no limit to academic advancement outside of personal capabilities.

    Anyway...This is an interesting thread. I'm learning tons from degreeinfo.


  5. bing

    bing New Member

    So, what then is the difference between open enrollment(i.e. for profits) doctorates vs. the non-profits? There's not a doctoral diploma waiting for everyone who is admitted into even highly selective doctoral programs. One has to actually complete the dissertation process.

    Personally, I haven't heard anyone tell me, as far as profit schools go, that they could not complete their dissertation due to changes in requirements. Do you know of any offhand? Care to share some stories? I have met some who actually completed their PhD's through NCU, Fielding, and Walden. Fielding and Walden may be non-profits, though.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2007
  6. raristud2

    raristud2 New Member

    On a more serious note. My wife's doctor, who is a partner of a for-profit practice, made a quick decision that saved my infant's life. It is also serious when the wifey is hungry after intense hardship. Hey, you better get her those Chicken McNuggets ;).
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2007
  7. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member


    I disagree with your reasoning here. My personal belief is that the wash out rate at for profits has nothing to do with "changing requirements," or a "conspiracy" to keep grad rates down.

    The doctoral learner at a for profit is more than likely working a full-time job in addition to working on the doctorate. DOCTORAL STUDY IS TIME CONSUMING. My guess is that many doctoral learners are unable to manage the time needed for personal life, family, and the discipline to work on and complete a dissertation - therefore they wash out.

    Yes, Capella is making a good deal of money. I have no issue with that whatsoever. But the traditonal colleges are making a great deal of money off of their grad students; paying them peanuts to perform teaching, research, make coffee, etc. for the tenured faculty. So in the end....

    it's all about the money - profit or non-profit.

  8. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    Agreed - I think that I should start more threads around here...........
  9. buckwheat3

    buckwheat3 Master of the Obvious

    Ok I see that a for profit school has the ability to reap big financial rewards by washing out many doctoral students in the 11th hour. However, I would be amazed if any administration officials in our huge system of "non-profit" schools never thought of that too; yet applied the same strategy in a more subtle manner.

    Who are we kidding here?

    But in the end I agree with Shawn, I really dont see the conspiricy either, however this issue offers equal opportunity to profit an non-profit's alike!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2007
  10. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    You are free to believe what you want to believe. I really don't see a conspiracy either, but a situation in which for-profit schools with open enrollment policies for doctoral programs are selling a product that does not, in fact, exist and investors are temporarily exploiting this opportunity; only a small fraction of their students have diplomas waiting for them and can be permitted to graduate regardless of whether they complete the degree requirements. There are a million ways to slow down doctoral students. It's a killing field; think it through, Friend. Don't drink the Kool-Aid.

  11. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Jacob, if the number of doctoral graduates becomes unusually large at a school, the academic reputation of the school will be called into question by the accrediting body. Other schools in the same region will fuel the investigation. For-profit schools have typically overbooked their doctoral programs to maximize profits (in some cases 10 or 20 to 1 over their non-profit colleagues), so there will be a day of reckoning as students are needlessly delayed from graduating as they continue to pay and pay tuition. On the other hand, producing a gazillion masters degrees does not raise as many eyebrows.

  12. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Yes, but if you admit 12 highly qualified students who plan to teach and research in higher education, you can justify awarding 12 doctoral degrees 4 to 6 years down the road and prove it by showing the original contribution of the students, even if you awarded slightly fewer doctoral degrees in the past. However, if you admit anyone (e.g., hundreds of students) who has a tuition reimbursement plan, regardless of whether they plan to do anything involved with higher education, you are going to have to flunk or exhaust most of them in the process of producing a few dozen teacher/scholars. For-profit schools have every incentive to admit anyone and take their money, regardless of whether they can be transformed into a scholar. It's shameful.

  13. cumpa

    cumpa New Member

    Very interesting thread. I agree with alot of what's been pointed out which is why I have avoided exploring the for profit schools. A doctorate is a completely different animal from other degrees as has been eloquently pointed out. That's one of the things that makes the Valdosta State program so attractive. They certainly aren't going to make a huge profit off of that program and since it's geared towards practitioners the students won't be on campus slaving away for pennies either. It seems like the motivation for creating the program was to fill a need in the field of public administration.
  14. bing

    bing New Member

    If you have any evidence to this effect then please share. You might persuade me to leave NCU for "greener pastures" if your evidence is convincing enough. I do keep searching for other interesting programs that may be a better fit for me. Thus far, most of your comments about for-profits have contained too many "ifs" to be of any decision value...other than food for thought.

    I'd have to make commentary with your comments on for profits admitting anyone so they can take their money. It's not that I really disagree with it. I just believe it is an unfair comparison when in fact non-profit colleges are doing the exact same thing with online/distance programs. An example of this is Harvard's extension school. They admit about anyone, too. They, and other high caliber schools, have relaxed their normal admissions standards to take advantage of the gravy train...all the while doing a 3 cup and ball trick as to whether or not a degree from that program is really a degree with all prestige, honor, rights and privileges associated with regular degrees from the schools.

    One driver that seems to be overlooked is capacity. Online and distance programs, which I would say most for profits are a part of, do have a greater capacity to handle more students than most non-profit brick and mortars(the more students they get the more adjuncts they hire). Given that, they will have more students able to be admitted. Obviously, the non-profit online programs may have similar capacity. Certainly, it may be something to watch.

    If we want to talk about lower admissions standards at regular public non-profit schools, we only have to look as far as diversity programs. That's a whole different topic, though. Also, we could look at student athletes for a different view of lowered admissions standards.


  15. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    Interesting indeed, but...

    I too agree with a good bit of what's been pointed out in this thread. I agree that for-profits appear greedier than non-profits and charge higher prices for similar or lesser quality merchandise. The Valdosta State program is very attractive right now. If you read the bylaws that created the program, you'll note that the program was created to increase the skills of public administrators for the purpose of assisting rural Georgia in municiple growth and stability. Thus the purpose is indeed to fill a particular need (all be it - a Georgia need).

    Mr. Dave, sir:
    If the reputation of the school is ever called into question, can't administration simply go back to the long-term, detailed projects that their students have done and to the physical doctoral thesis material and research datum to prove the validity of their model? You see, I generally don't see a reason to defend myself unless I'm doing something wrong. If someone outside of myself makes a claim that I'm acting inappropriately, I will draw their attention to every action comprising the offending behavior until I either find the flaw or prove them wrong.

    I agree that if there were some kind of limit to the number of PhDs that the market can bear, then you might see all kinds of steps taken to ensure that you graduate fewer. The most likely would be to raise the admissions standards (which is what many Ivy-league and state run schools do). The second most likely would be to rebuild the curriculum to increase the line of passing demarcation. Doing either of these would cut the number of graduates. However, if you have students currently in the process, from a legal standpoint they have a binding contract which the school is attempting to negate. The day of reckoning will not be what you expect. It will be students getting fed up and suing and winning in court. Then the for-profits and to a limited extent the non-profits using a "ala cart" process will have to cut back on admissions or increase the difficulty of the course of study.

    However, there is no limit. Therefore the entire preceeding paragraph was an exercise in critical thinking.

    Again, you've proved the concept at point. Why not (whether you are for-profit or non-profit, the argument really is the same) simply use the original contributions of each student as validation of your process? I can't see any reason why the market can't generate as many PhDs as is generates Masters and Bachelors combines. If potential students were truly interested in self-advancement, they would find a way. Every school wants to genenerate scholars and therefore collect higher and higher revenues.

    If I could find a backer for all the study, I can't think of a degree I couldn't earn. Most importantly, if I can do it, so can everyone...

    That's ultimately what this discussion is about, isn't it? I fully believe that every human being can become a scholar here and now in this world. Admittadly, if they have some form of mental retardation or developmental failure, society may have to make some accomodations for them to enable their success. But they can still contribute meaningfully to the world around them in an academic sense. I believe that life is a great big cohort; we all have to get through it together.

    With all of that said, here's the only limit on PhDs that I can imagine might be "real":


    By adding an extra PhD, you have effectively decreased the value of existing PhDs in proportion. This I can see as being true. We see this when we look at the masters degree as being this year's bachelors. As a result, we'll eventually have to create "super" PhDs of some sort to compensate.

    As a result of dilution, accrediting commissions and competing schools may try to decrease the number of PhDs being generated by a given school. If the program was well designed and the process was established in such a way to prove the competency of the student, there can be nothing negative said and therefore ALL students who meet the criteria can succeed.

    I'm sorry that you've run into a brick wall of some kind Dave. I hope to never hit that limit. If I do, my work will be so extremely detailed and logical that an impartial body sent to look at my work would have nothing to say except, "Yes, Mr. Metro has succeeded in meeting the qualifications for this degree and has generated new knowledge for the society at large."

    Therefore if I do hit that limit, I will work harder to overcome and believe that if the program was designed well it would help me to overcome the objections of third-party observers. I made the agreement with the school not with the accreditor or a competing college. It is in the school's best interests to ensure that I exceed the requirements for graduation such that when the final audit comes down, there can be no doubt as to the veracity and authenticity of the program.

    That's the end of my opinion at this stage of the discussion.

  16. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    It is a fictitious open-enrollment scenario relating to doctoral programs that is painfully (and unfortunately) close to reality; if you can falsify any part of scenario, I welcome hearing your reasoning. For-profit open enrollment doctoral programs are ballooning in size and record profits are being recorded, but a very small fraction of the doctoral students are trickling out the other end. Since Harvard's extension school does not award doctoral degrees, it is really outside the scope the discussion.

  17. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Dance band on the Titanic... Best of luck to you.

  18. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused

    Called to the carpet, but failed to produce.
  19. jmetro

    jmetro New Member


    The question really is about whether the school (profit oriented or not) can prove that their program adds value to society by producing scholars who are capable of increasing the knowledge level of the field.
  20. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    Isn't that the whole point of education in general? To walk through the gates of heaven and demand your birthright? There should never be a case where your degree is withheld if you did your part. The very thought is antithetical to the nature and purpose of education. It is a cautionary tale though for those who don't fully comprehend the program they are embarking on.
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