Minister with unaccredited Doctorate

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by potpourri, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. potpourri

    potpourri New Member

    I came across a minister who has excellent credentials as far as schools from Associates to Masters degrees all from regionally accredited or nationally accredited schools but one of their Bachelor's degrees is from a non-accredited school by Louisiana Baptist University. I have heard mixed reviews about the school.

    However, they have a Doctor of Ministry degree from an unaccredited school. I asked them why they didn't get an accredited degree and they stated that it as due to cost and that they felt that they had received a good education and had to do much work for it. The school that they graduated from is Trinity College of the Bible. The minister uses the D.Min after his name and also is called "Doctor." I don't know anything about this school but reading from Wikipedia it looks as though they tried accreditation but failed and then tried to have some connections with schools in the UK and that was stopped.

    Is it legal for ministers to use the title of "Doctor" from an unaccredited school and it seems like there is much debate about the role of separation of church and state and religious entities.
  2. dclawman

    dclawman New Member

    There are a lot of pastors who hold unaccredited doctorates. James White is an elder and holds his PhD from Columbia Evangelical Seminary. I believe R.C. Sproul holds his PhD from Whitefield Theological Seminary.

    Every denomination has its own standards and guidelines regarding accepting unaccredited degrees. There are several PCA pastors who hold doctorates from New Geneva Theological Seminary.
  3. potpourri

    potpourri New Member

    Just a thought that comes to mind. It seems like the religious schools that are unaccredited are mainly of the independent Baptist and a few of the Churches of Cheist. It's not just them but the Baptists seem to make up a majority of them.

    If you look at Catholic or Adventists they make it a point to make sure that the schools that are associated with them are accredited. It is something that I was just thinking about and just wonder why?
  4. graymatter

    graymatter Member

    I think Dr. Sproul obtained his doctorate in Europe. Switzerland maybe.
  5. dclawman

    dclawman New Member

    There are many unaccredited schools within the Reformed circle as well. Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary comes to mind. They actually have a really good reputation.

    Many churches within the SBC are pretty strict on accreditation. It varies by congregation.
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Catholics are more jazzed about central authority than Baptists are?
  7. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Well, they do have that whole Pope thing going.
  8. JWC

    JWC New Member

    Sproul does in fact hold a PhD from Whitefield as well as a doctorate from the Free University of Amsterdam.
  9. JWC

    JWC New Member

    Remember too that Dr. Charles Stanley earned his doctorate from Luther Rice Seminary BEFORE it became TRACS accredited.
  10. potpourri

    potpourri New Member

    Thank you all for your input. I didn't want to judge my friend, but wanted to get some feedback. I figured that they were ok but just that their degree isn't accredited. It wasn't like they did no work or just paid as a diploma mill operates.

    Now my other question is if someone like them were to speak to a professional organization wouldn't it be improper to be addressed as "Doctor?" In other words a person who holds an accredited doctorate this would be acceptable, but what about a person with an unaccredited doctorate?
  11. novadar

    novadar Member

    As long as the degree was granted under legal authority via a relevant government entity (typically a State), in many cases by a religious exemption clause in several States, yes it is "legal" for him/her to be called Doctor.

    Propriety is a entirely different question all together.
  12. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    Quite a few things are legal that aren't necessarily ethical or moral.
  13. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    That may be, but this isn't one of them. There's nothing awry with calling someone doctor when they've earned a doctorate. The school's accreditation status doesn't change that, because accreditation doesn't confer legitimacy, it just verifies it. Obviously that verification matters in the overall system of higher education, but that doesn't justify not seeing the forest for the trees when it comes to recognizing individual accomplishments.
  14. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    There's another factor that has to be considered: which state are you planning to claim the title of "Doctor" in? If it's not the same state where the degree was conferred, then there are potential complications.

    Let's say you obtain an unaccredited doctorate in State A where this is legal, perhaps by religious exemption. OK, you can use the title in State A.

    But now let's say you move to the State of Oregon. Oregon has different rules. You can still claim the title of "Doctor" based on your legal unaccredited degree -- but Oregon state law requires that a legal disclaimer must be added:

    “(Name of school) does not have accreditation recognized by the United States Department of Education and has not been approved by the Office of Degree Authorization.”

    Incidentally, Oregon also has a disclaimer rule for honorary doctorates. If you use the title of "Doctor" based on an honorary (rather than earned) doctorate, you must specify this explicitly. Seems reasonable.

    Which implies that the validity of an unaccredited doctorate is unverified. The State of Oregon has ruled that a "caution" signal is warranted in this situation. Seems reasonable.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2015
  15. JWC

    JWC New Member

    New Geneva is accredited by Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries which accredits quite a few Reformed seminaries. While not USDoE or CHEA, it is a legitimate accrediting body with fairly stringent standards and its seminaries offer very rigid programs.
  16. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    If what has been earned is a doctorate! How many unaccredited institutions offer a doctorate with the same level of academic rigor and substance as a legitimately accredited doctorate?
  17. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Greater than zero, which is why it makes sense to err on the side of respecting people when addressing them in conversation, which is what the original question apparently was about. I mean, I'm trying to imagine someone saying, "Sorry, but I can only call you Mister So-and-so, because I see that your doctorate, if one can really call it that, was bestowed by a dreaded unaccredited institution."
  18. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Your argument is incomplete, because it only addresses "people".

    What about dogs with unaccredited doctorates?
  19. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Surely you of all people aren't suggesting that dogs aren't people? :eek:
  20. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Realistically, there are differences -- one being that dogs are much less likely to hold unaccredited doctoral degrees. But since the number is clearly greater than zero, we have to address the possibility, right ?

    I mean, I'm trying to imagine someone saying, "OK boy, I will address you as Dr. Dallas, because I see that you hold a doctorate from Ashley University, which is unaccredited and therefore unverified, but it makes sense to err on the side of respect. Good doctor! Who's a good doctor?"

    This might be funny except for one thing: try googling "Ashley University" and "linkedin".
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2015

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