If you were accepted to both NCU & UNISA...

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by distancedoc2007, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. distancedoc2007

    distancedoc2007 New Member

    Hi folks,

    I am currently enrolled in both the UNISA (South Africa)Doctor of Business Leadership and NCU's PhD in Organizational Leadership. Since both are paid for for 2007, I am going to pursue both for this year and make a decision for 2008. My goal in doing a doctorate is to flex some brain muscles, and to achieve some career growth (I am a tenured college faculty member considering moving into management). The cost will work out the same considering the required visits to South Africa.

    I am really torn between the 2 options and would appreciate your insights. Here's what I see:


    Positives - it is a PhD, so no need to explain what the degree is. It is US-based, which speaks for itself. The curriculum looks really good so far - the course outlines I have are great.

    Negatives - It is a for-profit, online school - I have already heard some snickers about "diploma mills" and "easy PhD's." Even though I know this is false, the sentiment is definitely out there.


    Positives - It is a recognized state school. The doctorate is research-based, which allows some flexibility. There is something unique about a South African degree in North America. Having to make 3 trips to South Africa as part of the program (could be fun).

    Negatives - Foreign degree stigma. Negative perceptions about South Africa enduring from apartheid. Having to explain that a DBL is a "real doctorate." Having to make 3 trips to South Africa as part of the program (adds to the cost).

    So there is my dilemma - thanks for any insights you can provide! What would you do in my position? Cheers...
  2. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    I faced a similar dilemma, once upon a time, so I have some thoughts...

    UNISA is an excellent choice, but it is hard to shake the foreign degree effect; not because of apartheid in this case but because you are earning a degree that is readily available here (i.e., the "couldn't do a doctorate here" effect). If you go the UNISA route, you need to construct an explanation of why you chose to earn a foreign doctorate. Did you want an international or global perspective? Was there something about the program that was unique (besides cost) that attracted you? Were some scholars available there who were not accessible in North America?

    Now for NoCentral... It would be hard to construct a winning argument for the case that this school offers a better Ph.D. BA than the UNISA DBL or any of the distance learning Ph.D. programs emanating from North America. However, I know of one Ph.D. graduate from NoCentral who is very smart and did something impactful. I know of a few current Ph.D. students who give it mixed reviews; these are the kind of review that may be reflective of the newness of the program and policies that may be corrected over time. Still, the Ph.D. designation is going to be better understood that the DBL.

    By the way, how did you select the NoCentral Ph.D., when there are so many other North American options? Curious.

  3. distancedoc2007

    distancedoc2007 New Member

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your comments. I don't really "need" the doctorate (I have a good bricks & mortar MBA), and so am doing it almost as a hobby to freshen my skills.

    I wanted a degree that would let me continue working full-time (hence the distance angle).

    I appreciate your frankness, because I wonder if capping my education off with an NCU doctorate would do more harm than good. The UNISA degree at least has the 'unusual' factor going for it. I could also make a case that I wanted an international perspective.

    As for NCU, I chose it because I liked the curriculum. The progression of courses in Organizational Leadership make total sense to me. I also like that there is a structure to the whole process, which I appreciate, being busy at work.

    I also like that NCU doesn't have a "reputation", the way that Phoenix, Touro and others do. Ignorance is bliss, I figure!

    What other schools would you recommend, for a mostly online doctorate? Thanks...
  4. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    What have you heard about those schools? If you read the threads on this board, NoCentral has never completely been able to shake its unaccredited (i.e., CA State Approved) heritage from SCUPS and charges that some its courses can be completed quickly. By the way, I can't imagine that completing a NoCentral doctorate would hurt you in your present position.

  5. distancedoc2007

    distancedoc2007 New Member

    Hi Dave,

    No offense intended; hopefully none taken.

    I sit on faculty selection committees, and there is definitely a stigma attached to distance degrees. I hate the fact that the stigma exists, but it really does. It is particularly frustrating because we 'support' distance learning philosophically and in practice.

    When a resume crosses our desk with a distance PhD, the first thought is: "Why there?" "Why didn't they do a 'real' doctorate?". The image that is conjured is that of a troubled person with an exaggerated need for recognition, who lacked the resources to do a 'real' doctorate.

    Truly I don't like this perception, but it is out there. We have a faculty member with a distance doctorate, and I have heard others joke at grad ceremony that "he paid more for his doctoral robe than for his degree." This from people with NO doctorate at all!

    It sucks. I do what I can to change the perceptions. Partly I want to do a distance doctorate as an example to to others that it is perfectly reasonable to want to continue learning while holding down a demanding job.

  6. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    No offense. Not sure how I would have been offended. :) Yes, I'm familiar with the type of ignorance that you are describing. I suppose these attitudes will exist until those individuals are replaced and we will have to suffer fools gladly until then...

    So I would ask why do you care what fools think? If distance education is your only option, then go for it. Are there any Ed.D. in Leadership programs with weekend residencies available in your geographical location? (Many state universities have some option like this and they will be perceived [by the dinosaurs of higher education] as having more legitimacy.)

  7. sshuang

    sshuang New Member

    This program is quite tempting.

  8. distancedoc2007

    distancedoc2007 New Member

    Hi Dave,

    Yes, I have a colleague who is pursuing the Ed D route at a good local school, with weekend residencies. It seems like a great path to take, and I wonder why I am so stubborn about not doing it. I think it is because I don't want to get "slotted" into education forever. I consult on the side, and the idea of being a "business guy" is important to me.

    I really appreciate your comments. It is really true about the dinosaurs out there, and they aren't going away anytime soon. I've been thinking about 'layering over' my 'second-rate' doctoral studies with a top exec program when I am done, to dilute the doctorate! Cheers...
  9. sshuang

    sshuang New Member

    Hi distancedoc2007,

    What top exec programs do you have in mind?
  10. distancedoc2007

    distancedoc2007 New Member

    I was thinking about Harvard, Columbia or Stanford. It would be nice to have the 'last' education entry on the resume be a good ivy-league school. Harvard's leadership programs look interesting, and I have a small professional development budget I can put toward it. Are you looking into exec programs yourself?

  11. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    If you want to remain in Industry, a PhD from NCU won't do much for you as the companies that normally pay for a PhD won't pay from NCU or any other low tier school but the same I would expect from a UNISA degree. If you are already a community college professor, NCU it is an excellent option as it will be put in a higher pay bracket but the same will be with a UNISA degree. If you are looking for a full time academic career, I feel that UNISA has a bit of more chances only because there are already many full time academics graduated from UNISA so its possible but not easy to get an academic position with a UNISA degree while I haven't see many full tenure professors teaching with a NCU degree.

    If you want to be an adjunct, both will be acceptable for most of the Universities.

    At the international level, UNISA has more credibility as many of their graduates work woldwide in academic positions.

    In summary, I think UNISA would be a bit better just because it has been tested in the US market and there is proof that can be used for full time tenure track position while I haven't seen proof of full time tenure professors with NCU degrees. It would also give you more international chances and it is respected in the international community.

    Yes, UNISA won't impress your friends because the South Africa label or you coworkers but it is a more tested product than NCU.
  12. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Good stuff. I think this is enough ammunition of sufficient caliber to explain earning a UNISA DBL, but I think the solution set is much broader in North America than NoCentral.

  13. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    What is the reputation with Touro that you are referring to?
  14. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    You say you're already tenured, so the most of the drawback to either approach wouldn't apply to you. You refer to the opinions of others, but the whole point of tenure is that you're a made man, as it were. Since you have that enviable situation, why not simply stick with whichever program you enjoy more? You'll be "Dr. DistanceDoc2007" either way.

  15. thinktank

    thinktank Member

    No brainer

    I also considered both of these univ. It came down to the question, "Where did you get your degree from?" A RA university or a south african one. If you aren't south african, the degree from there looks suspect. I went with NCU and have enjoyed by time there.
  16. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I must agree that for some one that doesn't know about DL, an African degree looks almost like a bought degree. However, from the academic point of view, UNISA has more solid reputation than NCU. I would agree that UNISA is not something that you could hang on a wall of an accounting practice office and impress customers. From the average American citizen perspective, it looks like you bought it from ebay. On the other hand, NCU since it is american might look more credible but also you have people thinking that online schools are non credible so the online PhD might look bogus to some.

    I still think that in the long term, the UNISA degree might have more value. It is not a degree to impress people or to hang on the wall, it is a degree that it is more bullet proof as it has a solid reputation and easy to defend.

    NCU although american, might also raise questions like why you went for a online school? couldn't afford something local? Were you rejected from a "real" school and that is why you decided to buy your way in? I know it is not the case but these are the type of questions that you might have to face with an online degree from a virtual school.

    None of them are ideal but if I had to live with one, I would choose UNISA just because I can always tell the person that asks about my choice that I went there because it has a very solid reputation and has low tuition fees since it is government subsidized, I couldn't afford higher tuition fees and the local online schools did not have the solid reputation that UNISA could offer. There is nothing wrong by saying that you went there because you looked for quality at a low cost.
  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Hi RF - I agree with your thinking but I've highlighted the above quotation as it relates directly to the cost issue. Someone who pursues a higher degree without any realistic expectation of a big promotion, a raise, would be foolish to spend "NCU money" for a degree just so that they might avoid having one of their co-workers sniff at their degree. You are going to bow to the prejudices of ignorant people?
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Degree: Hands down, UNISA. I would rather deal with the issues of having a foreign degree compared to having one from NCU. (I'm not putting down NCU, but UNISA is superior.)

    Degree title: While the Ph.D. sounds impressive--I know, I've got one--the DBL is just fine. Don't worry about it. (In fact, the occasional comment it will draw will help, not hurt.)

    Process: NCU, by far. U.S.-based, straight-forward (in communications and in delivering the program).

    Cost: Duh.

    Conclusion: If the DBL from UNISA meets your needs and is clear in terms of how you proceed and complete it, go for it.
  19. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I agree, as I said, UNISA is by no means a vanity degree. It is something you can use for positions where a doctorate is required. The NCU PhD might look good on an office since it has an official sounding name and can pass by your average accredited University; however, I would expect problems trying to sell it for academic of research positions.

    So, as you said, it you don't care what people say about your degree and vanity is not your main goal, UNISA would make the best candidate.
  20. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Too straight forward and this could actually be seen also as a problem. NCU would offer admission to anyone with a credit card while UNISA would actually check if the candidate is serious and has the ability to earn a PhD. I don't know about the DBL, but the PhD requires a serious research proposal and list of previous publications before admission. The letter that I got from the department of computer science said that admission was really competitive and only few would be offer admission. I wonder if NCU would actually reject any candidate.

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