Minister with unaccredited Doctorate

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

  1. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    They "prove themselves" by achieving state approval. This is an incredibly difficult process (relative to other states) in places like New York, Pennsylvania and NJ. So if there is a school that is on the list of approved schools in New York, it is a bit silly to try to claim it isn't a legitimate school. Take a look at what is required to open a college in New York State compared to opening a religious school in Florida.

    New York requires you to submit your curriculum. They review it. They send you back concerns to which you must respond. It's a process similar to accreditation (a separate service offered by the NYS Board of Regents). It's rigorous. There's a reason why you don't find many diploma mills operating out of the Empire State.

    Let me break this next part up a bit:

    And yet, Oregon felt it necessary to list those institutions on a separate page of their website alongside institutions whose curriculum they have reviewed (for out of state institutions). I'm sure if any of these schools were found to be engaging in diploma mill tactics, they would be removed and the approval of their exempt status would be revoked.

    Suspect, sure. I definitely arch an eyebrow at a school with a religious exemption. By virtue of that school having an exemption that means it hasn't actually been evaluated by anyone at the state level. It is exempt from the requirements of other schools. Suspect does not mean that it is illegitimate, merely that it makes me wonder.

    I never said you can trust an unaccredited school because it operates in Oregon. I said that I would generally trust a school AUTHORIZED in Oregon because Oregon has strict authorization standards. Oregon also reviews out of state universities and has approved some of these unaccredited schools to offer programs in Oregon. Again, it's a matter of whether a review of curriculum is being done and if a school is behaving like a normal school should.

    Do you know what else that would do? That would make it so no new schools can be formed. Every school has to start out as an unaccredited school. You have to operate unaccredited before you can even apply for accreditation. If accreditation = legitimacy then any new school is illegitimate regardless of how rigorous their authorization process is. Does that really sound reasonable to you? Does that really sound fair to either the school or the student?

    State authorization would be a fine means of determining legitimacy if every state uniformly worked to shut down diploma mills. They do not. Some states lack the legislation. Some states require state approved schools to achieve accreditation within a fixed period of time. Others, like Florida, will allow me to start Neuhaus College of the Bible where we can award Phds tomorrow and forever into the future as long as we file an annual affidavit attesting to our degrees still being religious in nature.

    Also, those "alternative definitions" you speak of are actually the primary definitions of academic legitimacy. Accreditors require state approval before you can initiate the process. If you feel state approval is so worthless, why is it necessary?

    I think what is more impractical is tying accreditation to legitimacy. Using your logic, a school operating as an unaccredited college is illegitimate. It's degrees are completely worthless and without merit. If it graduates individuals with a doctorate those individuals are not entitled to use the title of "doctor" all throughout the multi-year process of achieving accreditation. Then, one day, the degrees magically become "legitimate."

    All accredited colleges are legitimate colleges. But not all legitimate colleges are accredited colleges.
  2. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    True, but it is the topic of this discussion.

    Without the benefit of empirical evidence I'm reluctant to make a brazen assertion. However, let me just say that I would probably be comfortable putting money on the likelihood that most people who obtain diploma mill doctorates aren't planning to use them professionally. People have clearly done so in the past. But there is a reason why there are so many religiously themed diploma mills. Self-taught reverends and wannabe missionaries love a good bit of wall-bling (and usually a smattering of post-nominals).
  3. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    I am not aware of unaccredited doctorate-granting schools operating in NY or PA (with the exception of new schools that are still in the process of achieving recognized accreditation). But I could be wrong, so maybe you could provide examples.

    Me too. So maybe it is appropriate to use a disclaimer, like Oregon requires.

    And since they don't, it is not a "fine means of determining legitimacy", at least in its present form. So we are in agreement.

    State approval isn't worthless, it is the first step towards academic legitimacy. But it doesn't guarantee that academic legitimacy will be achieved, any more than pulling a state business license guarantees that your business will be successful.

    New schools are entitled to a "grace period" to pursue recognized accreditation, and this is made explicit in the laws of certain states. There is no problem with that.

    Incidentally, your statements that "Every school has to start out as an unaccredited school" and "You have to operate unaccredited before you can even apply for accreditation" are technically incorrect. It is possible, for example, for a new school to start as a branch of an existing accredited school, to operate under the "umbrella" of the older school's accreditation while simultaneously pursuing independent accreditation, then to split off after independent accreditation is granted. So the new school is never unaccredited. But this doesn't mean that all new schools should start that way -- the "grace period" approach is also reasonable.

    I haven't suggested banning anything. I just like full disclosure and transparency where uncertainty exists -- the kind that Oregon requires.

  4. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    LOL...great comment! Sadly, I can actually see some of our members doing just that! :-(
  5. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Wow...I am not at all surprised at this perspective.
  6. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Not always. In theory we all want to believe that accreditation confers legitimacy, but we all know it doesn't...not in all cases. There are MANY substandard, accredited institutions out there.
  7. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    You are mistaking legitimacy with utility. My friend, these are not interchangeable terms.
  8. JWC

    JWC New Member

    "but received his DMin from St. Petersbourgh Theological Seminary in Florida."

    St. Petersburg
  9. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

  10. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Please pardon my brief reply. Aside from having woken with a head cold this morning, I have noticed that the discussions where people just go back-and-forth picking apart the other's post section by section rarely accomplish anything in the end. They do tend to veer quite off topic in the course of it all, as well. So I will just address one or two points to drive my final point home.

    This is a really odd comparison for you to make. For starters, business licenses don't evaluate the "legitimacy" of a business. They are merely consent for a business to operate in exchange for a fee. Secondly, you tie "success" to the business license. This is a really apples to oranges comparison. Accreditation does not lead to "success." You've been arguing that accreditation is really the only measure of "legitimacy" that can be reliably used. There are plenty of illegitimate businesses (some of them diploma mills, in fact) which are "successful." Likewise, there are a number of legitimate business which never achieve financial success.

    Your comparison actually supports my position more. If I open a restaurant in say, New York City, I am required to get a license. As part of that license, someone from the city inspects my facilities, ensures I am handling and storing food properly and ensuring my staff is observing proper hygiene. The city is establishing to the satisfaction of the public that my restaurant is a legitimate food service establishment that is operating according to the law, at least at the time of inspection.

    In your version, this is merely a stepping stone toward establishing that I have a "real" restaurant and my restaurant isn't truly legitimate until it has an entry in Zagat's which, like accreditation is 1) voluntary. There is no law requiring me to be listed in Zagat's to operate as a restaurant 2) a private entity

    My contention all along is not that accreditation is "bad" or that accreditation doesn't tell us anything, but merely that accreditation validates a school as meeting the standards of accreditation. My contention is that a school lacking said accreditation isn't necessarily illegitimate. Sure, accreditation helps us with that sorting process. It's the reason why I, personally, would not spend money on a degree from an unaccredited school. But, I also recognize that there are some unaccredited schools, generally in a niche subset like religious institutions, which have established that they are legitimate despite lacking formal accreditation.

    There are really two issues at play here. There is what you consider acceptable and what the government considers acceptable. You evidently feel that unaccredited degrees, in virtually all forms, are not "legitimate." You are entitled to your opinion and you have indicated that you don't wish to change that opinion. Trinity College, the college brought up by the OP, has a decent reputation in Christian circles. They are very clearly not a diploma mill. Accreditation aside, they previously also had endorsed programs through Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Wales.

    None of this means that Trinity College is a "good" school. Just that it doesn't appear to be an illegitimate venture designed solely to separate you from your money.

    You want a blanket rule. I want to evaluate schools on a case-by-case basis. You feel that is "impractical" as if it commits a person to validate every single degree from every single university ever. It doesn't. If two job applicants came before me, one with a degree from Almeda University and another with a degree from Trinity, they both might not get the job. Honestly, if a third candidate with an accredited degree came forth (all other qualifications being equal in this hypothetical) I would scrap the first two. The difference, and this is a really big difference, is that I would view the person with a degree from Almeda as trying to deceive me while I would be more inclined to view the second candidate as a person who pursued a strictly religious education.

    That difference may not matter to you. That difference may be immaterial to the broader implications of this discussion. But for me, as an HR person and a business professional, having an earnestly earned unaccredited degree is going to be viewed in a very different light from someone who pays $500 for a certificate. How do we determine that? It takes about five minutes of web searching to determine that Trinity College and Seminary offers real coursework. It takes the same amount of time to establish that Almeda will award a degree to anyone with a post office box and a credit card.

    Your binary presentation of this issue is really just a false dilemma. I don't need to provide you a "clear, comprehensive, and practical alternative" because this isn't a "this or that" situation. Your approach of only using accreditation as a measure of legitimacy is a fine opinion, but it is merely that. It is your personal opinion. There are states that have laws on the books more in line with your opinion than others but that doesn't make your opinion the universal law of the land or the status quo. You offered an opinion, I offered another. Clearly we are not going to agree with one another but that doesn't mean we need to be dismissive of the other's view.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2015
  11. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Quick addendum:

    Let's look at a good example of "legitimate" schools lacking accreditation: California Non-ABA accredited law schools. Some are accredited by DEAC.

    Some are merely authorized by the State to award the JD (and approved by the Bar Examiners to sit for the bar).

    To argue that Peoples College of Law is "illegitimate" while Concord School of Law or Taft is "legitimate" is just silly. A JD from any of those three allows you to sit for the same bar exam.
  12. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    This is one of the best posts ever.
  13. graymatter

    graymatter Member

    1. No, nationally accredited Bible college.
    2. Yes, one from the Trinity noted earlier in this thread.
    3. Yes, both have RA masters degrees.
    4. No.
  14. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Accreditation is an indication of quality, but it is certainly not a guaranty of it. Accreditation is a guaranty of acceptance, which is a very different thing. Lack of accreditation may be a sign of poor quality, but it is certainly not a guaranty of it. Further investigation is warranted. More questions have to be asked. I have 3 accredited degrees. I would NEVER spend a dime on an unaccredited degree in a business field because acceptance is FAR more important than quality. This is not always the case when it comes to religious education. I am considering 2 institutions right now for religious education. I consider both to be legitimate. I am aware of the limited acceptance due to the unaccredited nature of the institutions, but that's ok. The degree would be no less legitimate. The education earned would be no less valid.
  15. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I completely agree.
  16. Stanislav

    Stanislav Well-Known Member

    I drove past it once.
    This looks like a church-basement kind of place (a church in question is Messianic synagogue or whattheycallit). I wonder what a visit can possibly reveal. It's not a double-wide :)

    Why do I keep bringing Orthodox priests into these discussions?
  17. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Thank you to Steve and pugbelly. As I look back at the post all I can see are my punctuation errors and some weird sentence structures. I'm going to blame that on cold medicine.

    No one ever said the brick and mortar had to be pretty.
  18. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    Thank you, graymatter. As I said, it sounds like the school doesn't want to officially acknowledge the unaccredited doctorates. I don't blame them.
  19. Stanislav

    Stanislav Well-Known Member

    I wasn't saying it in any derisive sense. Just a statement of fact. Again, I know of nothing that suggests that StPete Seminary & Yeshiva is not legitimate. The fact that it used to be accredited and that it attracted the priest I've met (and, if I recall correctly, 2 other Orthodox clergymen) as students speaks positively of it (inconclusive, I know). It seems rather small, and I'll be surprised they'll regain accreditation, though.
  20. Stanislav

    Stanislav Well-Known Member

    Also of interest: St. Sophia Theological Seminary, an unaccredited school of UOC-USA, is now a distance learning provider! It offers a distance MA and "hybrid" (low-residency) MDiv. The MA degree qualifies for the Diaconate and is apparently a rough counterpart of the popular St. Stephen's Course ran by the Antiochian Archdiocese. MDiv qualifies for the Priesthood. So, here we have an unaccredited DL school that can definitely be a very good choice for a few people.
    The Church that sponsors St. Sophia, Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, is canonical Orthodox jurisdiction under Patriarchate of Constantinople, and a full member of the Standing Assembly of Orthodox Bishops. It is not a large Church and I believe suffers from decline in number of both members and priesthood candidates. Looking at the seminary's news page, it is evident that they have a whooping 8 residential students. The Rector of St. Sophia is UOC-USA Primate, Metropolitan Anthony, and it is the school approved by Synod for priesthood candidates. Thus, it has full hierarchical blessing, which is the only kind of approval a seminary really needs. Unquestionably, 146% legitimate.

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