My journey to becoming a Liberty Ph.D. student

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by chrisjm18, Dec 15, 2018.

  1. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I always knew I wanted to earn a doctoral degree ever since I was a child. I remember during my first job interview at age 17, I told the director of HR/Admin. and the manager of HR that I was going to pursue a BBA, an MBA, and a DBA. They both marveled at my ambition and was impressed that I seemed to have had it all planned out. Anyway, earning a doctorate for me then, and still is a personal goal which might also offer some professional benefits.

    Between May 2016 to August 2018, I applied to 10 doctoral programs and was admitted to 9. The schools and programs are as follow:

    American College of Education (For-profit) – Ed.D. in Leadership (admitted 2016), completed the first course, withdrew to pursue an M.S. at Lamar.

    Grand Canyon University (Non-profit, then for-profit) – Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership (admitted 2016), declined the offer.

    Argosy University (Non-profit, then for-profit) – Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership (admitted 2016), declined the offer.

    Abilene Christian University (Non-profit) – Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership (admitted 2016), registered and started week 0 then had a life-changing event and had to withdraw.

    Southeastern University (Non-profit) – Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership (admitted 2016), declined the offer.

    Franklin University (Non-profit) – DBA in Management (admitted 2017), declined the offer. My plan was to withdraw from Lamar at 18 credits and pursue the DBA but then I learned of Cal U’s D.CJ.

    California University of PA (Public, state) – D.CJ., Doctor of Criminal Justice (denied admissions 2018).

    West Chester University of PA (Public, state) – DPA, Doctor of Public Administration (admitted 2018), declined offer when I learned of Saint Leo’s D.CJ.

    Saint Leo University (Non-profit) – D.CJ., Doctor of Criminal Justice (admitted 2018), paid and lost my $250 seat deposit. I had all my reservations in place to attend my first residency but had to cancel at the last minute to accept a teaching position. I had to take a loss on my airline fares but was able to get a refund for my hotel and car reservations.

    Liberty University (Non-profit) – Ph.D. in Criminal Justice (admitted 2018), currently enrolled and hope to graduate by the end of 2021. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).” I completed my first course and I am registered for my spring classes. I will be taking three courses in Spring 2019 – one core course in the B term, one elective course in the C term and one methods core in the D term. Some of you may have seen my many posts soliciting advice on choosing a doctoral program. I always made it clear that I wasn’t interested in Liberty, Cumberlands or any other conservative schools (anti-LGBTQ). So, what changed? To be 100% transparent, the 25% ERP tuition discount caught my interest at Liberty. However, I had an ongoing debate with myself concerning my moral principles. Anyway, I decided to do some research on Liberty University. These are some of the findings which led me to pursue my education at Liberty:

    1. The article “Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University.”

    2. The article “No anti-gay bias at Liberty University, Falwell says.”

    3. The article “Jerry Falwell Jr.: I Agree With Trump's LGBT Platform '100 Percent'”

    4. Liberty has never applied for Title IX exemption based on sexual orientation.

    5. Liberty’s School of Law and College of Medicine both include “sexual orientation” in their non-discriminatory policies.

    I am not saying that there are no anti-LGBTQ sentiments at Liberty, but I think that this exists among faculty members in any school, especially if they are guided by certain religious principles. Another factor which played a major role in my decision to attend Liberty came from a conversation with a current student who graduated from Liberty with four previous degrees. She told me that she wrote on several liberal topics and had never been penalized. She told me that many of the professors are more liberal than the school itself, which is consistently ranked the most conservative school in the U.S.

    A doctorate is a major investment (time, money) which requires many sacrifices. You don't have to apply to 10 different programs like I did, but be sure to do your research before embarking on your doctoral journey. You want to make sure that you pick the program, one that you're going to be happy with next year or 5 years after you've completed that degree.
  2. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Yet another ancillary factor: Fundamentalist guys are hot looking. And they have better hair styles than Pentecostal guys. :D

    But seriously, I've been out of the closet since I was 18, but have taught largely at Fundie schools. One of the reasons I decided not to teach anymore was when I team-taught an educational administration course at what was then the Philadelphia College of Bible Graduate School. One of the students, a Fundie pastor who had charge of a Christian day school, asked, "Can our church be forced to hire homosexuals?" (The answer is no.)

    But as I answered the question, it occurred to me that I was referring to homosexuals as them. "Dude," I thought to myself, "it's time to move on from this gig." When I told my academic dean from Biblical Seminary why I decided to move on from teaching, you could see his discomfort level: It turned out that Biblical had just bought 75 copies of my book Street Smarts: A Survival Guide to Personal Evangelism and the Law for use as a fundraising premium.

    The following year, the head counseling honcho from PCB (now Cairn University) called to ask if I would teach a course in the upcoming semester. "Um," I asked, "Is this an on-the-record request?" Yes, he said, it had been approved by the school's president, and they trusted that I wouldn't use their venue for gay evangelism. No more, I told them, than I would expect them to use the school for "straight" evangelism, whatever that is.

    Anyway, to this day, I'd rather hang out with Fundies than with liberals. They're better at dialogue on sensitive issues, not as constipated in their thinking, and they're both fun and mental.

    As for Liberty, Chris, I think you made a great move. Jerry, Sr. put together an amazing university, and they achieved SACS accreditation in record time. Jerry was a laid back guy, and he wasn't afraid to get in hot water with the Fundie community by appearing in a series of debates with Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine, going so far as to consider Flynt a friend. (Amusing when you consider that at an earlier time, Falwell sued Flynt for defamation over a satirical cartoon implying that Falwell had sex with his own mother. Jerry won the suit up to the U.S. Supreme Court level - the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts, finding that Falwell was a public personality and thus subject to satire.)

    Jerry, Jr. has neither the style, nor even the wit or wisdom, of his dad, especially when Junior mouths off about wanting all students at Liberty to be armed on campus and when he acts like a Trump shill. Fortunately, Liberty is large enough that Jerry, Jr. is basically a figurehead. Unfortunately, a visible figurehead.

    Within the Fundie community on the whole, Jerry, Sr. was actually considered on the liberal end. Bob Jones (I forget whether it was BJ Jr. or BJ III) actually called Jerry, Sr. a heretic, and a lot of us were amused when Jerry stepped in to take the helm of the PTL Club after the Jim Bakker scandal.

    Needless to say, Chris, I think you made the right choice. Liberty is known for its criminal justice programs (I took a modular course on the correctional chaplaincy there many years ago, and I think I was the only one there who was not a cop. Moreover, the guy they got to teach the course was one of the leading authors in the field, to the extent that I had actually read his book before I even signed up for the course or knew he would be teaching it.)

    The other factor is my feeling - you may have read this in another thread - that the Ph.D. is the best way to go when it comes to doctoral degrees. Better than the DPA or the DCJ, it bumps your potential chance of being hired to teach multi-fold. And definitely better than an Ed.D. in Leadership, which I have stated elsewhere is a bullshit degree.

    Finally, there's an old expression, "Once your head stops turning around, we can only hope that you're facing forward." After two NA degrees and a foreign MBA, your Lamar degree plus a Liberty doctorate puts you clearly on the RA side in terms of your terminal credentials.

    I don't know if you've been to Lynchburg yet, but if you do get down there you'll find that Liberty's campus is awesome.
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  3. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    I have considered Liberty as a place for a doctoral degree. However, upon further research, their Business is not AACSB like I prefer and they only offer a DBA. :(

    That said, I noticed they offer a PhD in Public Policy which has peaked my interest.
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  4. newsongs

    newsongs Active Member

    A diligent search, challenging journey and a good choice!
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  5. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Interesting… but what do I know lol:D

    That’s interesting because I recently saw a video ad on YouTube which questioned whether liberals were really liberals and it had me thinking. The guy suggested that true liberals are accepting of everyone, even those who they don’t necessarily agree with. A true liberal would not disrespect someone who’s opinion is different from theirs. I just think liberals are just the opposite of what conservatives stand for and vice versa.

    Wow! Interesting information here. I knew nothing about this, partly because I am too young, lol and because I didn’t research Falwell, Sr. since he’s no longer at the helm of the institution.

    I realized that Liberty’s criminal justice programs are nicely ranked by various websites. Their CJ programs are even ranked better than Lamar’s. Btw, Lamar is primarily known for their engineering programs.

    As you can see from my list of applications, the Ph.D. wasn’t what I was looking for, especially because I always felt like the Ph.D. should be the degree for future academicians and researchers. However, it is the most prestigious of all doctorates and there is no confusion when you mention Ph.D. I am from a country where, to the best of my knowledge, the only doctorates offered are the Ph.D. (I believe D.Phil as well), Ed.D. and DBA. All the others, DPH, DPA, D.CJ., DNP, DSS, DGS and the list goes on, are nonexistent there. Whenever I was in the Ed.D. program, people would ask me how my Ph.D. program was going, and I always had to be clarifying that I wasn’t pursuing a Ph.D. but a professional doctorate. Now, I don’t have to deal with that anymore.

    About two weeks ago, I made a reservation for my mid-winter break to visit Lynchburg (Liberty). Everyone who's seen the campus and I've spoken to has shared a similar opinion to yours. I can’t wait to experience it firsthand in February.

    Btw, thank you for sharing your own faculty experience working at those religious institutions.
  6. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I think it will be hard to find an online/hybrid (75% or more online) AACSB accredited Ph.D. However, thankfully UNC Greensboro might have one soon if SACS gives the green light!

    I look forward to reading about your next step once you've completed your MBA!
    JoshD likes this.
  7. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Thank you!!
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Jerry Falwell Sr. was a segregationist and a homophobe, but it doesn't matter because he's dead now, and millions of southerners who lived during his time period fell into those categories.

    Liberty University is not ranked in CJ by any entity that matters. Whether people like it or not, search committees only care about U.S. News. If it's an unranked program or a program that doesn't have aspirations of becoming ranked, then they won't care about any ranking. They'll take almost anything regionally accredited.

    I also wouldn't say that Liberty is known for CJ. Public safety professionals are always looking for online and other flexible programs due to their irregular work schedules. Schools like Liberty, Excelsior, and APUS just happen to be well-known for their online programs, and Liberty offers an emergency responders discount. At best, the view of Liberty will be neutral unless you want to work at a fundamentalist, Christian college. In that case, Liberty will be viewed as a plus on your CV. At worst, the sociologists who dominate criminology and CJ departments will be skeptical of the quality of education the school provides. Similar to SNHU, it's starting to be viewed as more of a non-traditional university, but I think its reputation for being highly-involved in politics and its creationism classes have more of an impact on how people view the school.

    In short, the PhD in CJ at Liberty will be a check-the-box degree that will be slightly better than getting one from a for-profit school. Unless things change within the next few years, that shouldn't be a problem since there are plenty of jobs.
  9. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Joel Osteen once said, "everyone has a right to their own opinion, and I have a right not to listen to it."

    Moving right along!
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
  10. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    If you only want to hear positive things, then that is your right, but it's certainly not becoming of an academic to only look at one side. I believe my assessment was balanced, and it's based on my direct exposure to the hiring process of criminal justice faculty and members of search committees. Liberty is just like any other school unranked in criminology. That's not good or bad. It's a historical fact that Jerry Fallwell Sr. supported segregation, so it's not an opinion. It's also a fact that Liberty does not grant military discounts to same-sex military spouses. That is their right, but it shouldn't be ignored just because Jerry Falwell Jr. doesn't support violence against gay people. No mainstream Christian supports violence against gay people. Trump's policy on transgender members of the military also shouldn't be ignored. It's his right to hold that stance, but it's not a pro-LGBTQ stance.
  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Chrisjm18 doesn't care to read this because he's only interested in talking himself into his last resort, but those who are interested in seeing everything might want to.

    It's disingenuous to say that Liberty is open-minded and accepting of all political ideologies. While student Democrats can meet on campus, they cannot use the University name or funds because the University pulled the group's recognition.

    While Liberty has not applied for Title IX exemption, it has threatened to pull out of federal programs if they feel that anti-discrimination laws interfered with their curriculum. They don't want homosexuality to be treated like race.

    Liberty University gave beauty contestant Carrie Prejean a scholarship simply because she spoke out against same-sex marriage.

    Jerry Falwell Jr. also co-wrote a letter threatening to boycott the CPAC conference if it didn't drop its official co-sponsorship from GOProud, a group of LGBTQ conservatives.
  12. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    I did a master at Liberty because it was a master that i wanted to do. I have nothing in common with the founder of liberty. I am not god believing, god fearing, and god loving. C-18, I wish you the best. I hope your dream of a phd becomes a reality.Your dreams are similar to that of many young people from the Islands who love education for the sake of education. Most of us never fulfilled those dreams because of lack opportunities. God bless!
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  13. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    So was George Wallace, but he did quite a turnaround on racial issues. So was Jesse Helms, and ditto. So was Robert Byrd, and ditto. And if it doesn’t matter because all of them are dead, why did you bother to bring it up if not to instigate?
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “Well, sanantone, there you go again…” Conveniently forgetting to mention the primary difference between you and Chris: He is a former cop. You are not. And faculty committees in CJ are known to give preference to candidates who have actual experience as LEO’s. (For civilians, that’s cop-speak for Law Enforcement Officers.) Whether you will eventually be hired as an educator, sanantone, depends less on the ranking of whatever school you’re allegedly pursuing a Ph.D. at now, it will depend on whether you have ever had LEO experience.
    Whoa . . . Did you actually list Liberty, Excelsior, and APUS in the same breath? You are not even comparing apples and oranges here, you’re attempting to compare apples and moon rocks. For one thing, Liberty is a mega-university with a very strong brick and mortar presence. The other two are (my favorite oxymoron, as you know) online colleges. Liberty, regardless of their religious presuppositions, is way ahead of the other two.

    You’re generalizing here. These things may have an impact on how you view Liberty, but if you’re going to make it a blanket statement you’d better have some statistics to back it up.
    Again, you’re generalizing and making statements that have no statistical basis.

    If you look at the opening post in this thread, I think you’ll find that Chris pursued a number of program options at a variety of colleges and universities (even some dreaded for-profits). And you accuse him of looking at only one side?

    Moreover, what “direct exposure to the hiring process of criminal justice faculty and members of search committees?” Did you actually serve on such committees? Or did you simply apply for positions (unsuccessfully) and have minimal “direct exposure?” You’re trying to come off as an expert here, sanantone. I’m calling you on bullshit, especially since you’re trolling anonymously vis-à-vis not listing the source or majors in your degree, um, list.

    Again, you are instigating by bringing up long-ago history. It’s a given that Liberty will not take pro-LGBT positions (pardon moi if I refuse to be PC by using the latest abbreviation, which is actually LGBTQQIA). If you have a problem with that, you have a simple solution available to you: Don’t enroll at Liberty. But don’t judge people who do

    Editorial note for our readers: sanantone is a woman of color. I have no problem with her bringing up the fact that Falwell was, at one time, a segregationist, but knowing her ethnic background may help readers understand why she would bring this fact up, irrelevant as it is to Liberty today, in the first place. I am not aware of Chris’ ethnicity or background, although he indicated earlier, “I am from a country where, to the best of my knowledge, the only doctorates offered are the Ph.D. …” I would suggest, however, that harping on the segregation issue, factual as it may be historically on the part of Liberty’s founder, serves only to hijack the thread.

    In other words, give it a rest, sanantone. I’m not taking sides here, but if I compare apples and oranges, I look at Chris and see solid progress toward earning a doctorate. When I look at you, I see… well, not a hell of a lot, since you’re still anonymous.
  14. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Did you not bring up old history with other Christian schools? How is that relevant to Liberty?

    Sure, there is a preference for adjunct faculty members who have work experience. For law classes, lawyers are preferred. For community supervision classes, probation and parole officers are preferred. For corrections classes, correctional officers are preferred. For law enforcement courses, police officers are preferred. However, before I worked as a corrections or parole officer, I taught court systems and practices, penology, police systems and practices, and correctional systems and practices. If one looks at the CVs of faculty members at various colleges and universities, especially those in full-time positions, most do not have law enforcement experience. You have no stats to back up your claim. And, you do know that most CJ courses are not specifically about police officers, right? I don't know why you're trying to make yourself an expert in a field you know little about and have no experience in.

    The comparison is based on those schools being well-known for offering flexible programs through advertising and word-of-mouth. People, generally, don't pick Liberty because it's known as a great CJ school. If they wanted a great CJ school, they would attend Sam Houston State University or Arizona State University online.

    In my proseminar, we had to read an article on CJ/criminology faculty. It stated that schools tend to hire applicants who graduated from programs that are close to theirs in rank. If I can find that article anywhere, I will share it. What anyone can do now is look at the CVs of faculty members at the top criminology schools. It will become clear that ranked criminology/CJ programs rarely hire people who come from unranked criminology, public policy, psychology, or sociology programs.

    How is this even related to what I said? He only cares to hear about positive things regarding Liberty University. It doesn't matter how many other schools he's applied to.

    As a funded doctoral student, I was required to attend applicants' presentations at Texas State University and review their CVs (all of the seriously-considered applicants came from ranked schools, by the way). We were also required to give feedback on each one because our feedback was taken into consideration when making a selection.

    If it's irrelevant to Chris, then why does the OP focus so much on sexual orientation?

    Most of your post had nothing to do with Liberty University, lol. What does the liberal vs. conservative issue have to do with this thread? Chris only liked your post because of his confirmation bias.

    You're one of only a few people who care about this anonymous thing. Most forum posters go on happily with being anonymous. I don't see how applying to a bunch of programs shows progress. I applied to one CJ program, was accepted, and I enrolled. That's not a knock on Chris. I know it can be hard to find online programs that are the right fit. I chose to go on-campus. I'm not like Steve, who always takes the easy way out from going to Union to quitting his professional career to truck drive and not use any of his education.

    So, Chris can choose to listen to the guy who studied theology and "law," has no criminal justice work experience, and who chose to drive trucks for his last working years instead of someone with direct experience.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
  15. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member


    I really don't care about anything you have to say. At no point in my initial post or subsequent replies did I once mention that I wanted to be a college faculty. Therefore, I don't know where you got off thinking you can school me on search committees. I don't care about you and any search committee. I teach at a prestigious college preparatory high school (thankfully teaching both areas of my master's degrees). I recently proposed and received unanimous support for a new criminal justice elective to be added to our curriculum. Quite frankly, I am content where I am at and I look forward to joining the ranks of our current three doctoral faculty members. I receive tuition reimbursement and I am enjoying a 25% tuition discount at Liberty. In case you missed the WHY of my degree, it is "PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT." Oh, btw, I recently wore my Liberty jacket to work and I had a junior expressed to me that Liberty was her #1 pick for college and solicited my feedback. Interestingly, I will have her in my Financial Management class in the spring.


    Thank you for your words of encouragement. One love, from one Island brother to another!

    Steve L:

    Thank you for addressing the issue the way it should be addressed. I think you generally honest in your analysis on here. I am in no way saying that Liberty is an Ivy League or there is no history or current issues concerning LGBT. I am a black man who earned a degree from Lamar University, which up until 1956 had a "white only" admissions policy.
  16. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Yet, you had no problem with Steve talking about teaching even though college teaching is not your goal. Just be honest and say that you are only looking for positive comments about Liberty.

    Who cares if some kid has Liberty as her #1 pick? There are people who have Oral Roberts as their #1 pick. Heck, there are people who have APUS as their #1 pick for various reasons.
  17. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Gotta love it . . . when your weaknesses are pointed out, and when care is taken not to make it a personal attack, you come back with a personal attack. I call that desperation, sanantone.

    I'll keep it simple with my usual response . . . I have an RA Ph.D. And you don't. Not to mention several years of teaching experience at RA graduate schools. Not to mention two of my five books still being used as legal textbooks, and another two that are about nontraditional education. I could out-do you on several occupational issues, but I'm not into competing with you or trashing you (even though you sometimes deserve it).

    If the best you can do is trash me for leaving education and becoming a cross-country trucker, that's pretty sad. The past 20 years have been the most fun of anything I've ever done (including the teaching and writing), and I never felt the need to trade it off in response to ignorant comments.

    But who are you? Ah, but I digress . . . You'll notice that I did actually take a step not to engage in my usual pattern with you, sanantone. But since you're back in your attack mode, I feel comfortable giving you the treatment I reserve for people of your demeanor. Ready? Here goes . . .

  18. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Desperation is you talking about me on topics that are irrelevant to the thread. But, I already know that you're obsessed with me for whatever reason. Once again, I didn't initiate a conversation with you. It's usually you initiating a conversation with me.

    Your RA PhD is just as Mickey Mouse as Argosy University. I am all for non-traditional schools and education, but for someone who completed such a non-traditional and questionable program, you certainly do attack other people's school choices a lot. I will say one thing, Liberty is definitely better than Union.
  19. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for hijacking this thread and injecting your unsolicited opinion about Liberty. I already made my decision to earn my Ph.D. at Liberty and there's nothing that you've said or will say that will let me reconsider that decision. Like I said at the ending of my initial post, choose a degree you'll be happy with next year or the next 5 years. I took my own advice! Be blessed!
  20. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    For someone who claims to not care, you sure keep reading and responding to my posts. My first post was pretty tame, but you chose to make an issue out of it because your feelings were hurt. You didn't solicit anyone's opinion. This is an open thread any member can post in.

    I don't care where you go to school. I'm just responding to all the sugarcoating so others reading the thread can see both sides.

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