Reality Check - California Coast University

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by AuditGuy, Nov 10, 2005.

  1. AuditGuy

    AuditGuy Member

    Interested in opinions on the realities of an MBA from California Coast University.

    I see that it was DETC-Accredited in 2005. Prior to that it was highlighted when the government took a look at their employees with diploma mill degrees (Laura Callahan and others).

    Wondering if they have cleaned up or are using some loophole in the DETC process to appear clean.,1283,63436,00.html?tw=wn_story_related

    What say you?
  2. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    Re: Reality Check - California Coastal University

    You say "cleaned up" as if they had something "dirty". Why would you think they cleanedup or are using a loophole? They are, and have been, a quality school. They did change their process to get DETC approval but have been a good school for many years.
  3. AuditGuy

    AuditGuy Member

    They were featured prominently in the linked article right next to Kennedy-Western as an unaccredited school. CCU has a bad rep here because of that article.

    DETC makes it an accredited school, but beyond that I have no means to independently verify whether it's actually a good school or not.

    Maybe this is a better way to ask:

    How does a CCU MBA rate in your book?
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    CCU was guilty of some shenanigans during its first few years. A self-awarded doctorate or two to the owner, a department head claiming a doctorate from a diploma mill, even the original name. (California Western University, which they had to stop using when it was ruled that the original school under that name still held the rights to it--gee, I wonder how many people they were fooling by issuing degrees with the old name of an accredited school?)

    By the early 1980's, however, CCU was a leader in the California unaccredited DL school scene. It was the first DL school offering degrees at all levels to have all of its programs approved. It operated like that for the next two decades.

    CCU was implicated in that business of chopping up the degree program to make it look like courses, thus allowing federal employees to claim reimbursement for training, not education. (Training doesn't have to come from an academic program, but education--leading to a degree--had to come from an accredited school.) There is no doubt CCU was doing this--the information about it came from CCU. A bad, unethical thing, IMHO. But it was only a bad thing--it wasn't necessarily indicative of all of CCU's operations.

    DETC took its time accrediting CCU, even deferring their application at one time. But DETC never disapproved CCU's bid, and it was all worked out last year. (No one knows exactly why DETC deferred CCU, and I'm not implying it was because of the financial business, or because of CCU's measurement process, or something else entirely. Whatever it was, CCU obviously remedied it--or operated for a time longer to give DETC confidence in their intent to accredit CCU.

    I suspect an MBA from CCU would have about as much utility as one from any other DETC-accredited school that wasn't otherwise affiliated with an RA school (or equivalent). Shop around. If CCU is your choice for a DETC-accredited school, so be it. (But don't make that decision before considering regionally accredited schools, some of which are competitive in price.)
  5. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah...what he said...
  6. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Re: Reality Check - California Coastal University

    All I can do is give you my personal opinion of Cal Coast. (MBAs aren't really my thing.)

    It seems to have gone though three phases. The earliest was a period when it was apparently offering doctorates in many different subjects. A Google search still finds references to Cal Coast Ph.D.s in things like the sciences, engineering, religious studies and philosophy. I don't think that the school had the resources to pull that off and I don't think that those programs were credible.

    Then they focused on a few professional subjects like psychology and business, lost the other stuff (with some prodding from the state?) and seemed to be satisfied with their CA-approved status for many years. During this period I don't think that they were a 'mill' exactly, but I wouldn't call them 'good' either. A back-in-the-pack, mid-tier CA-approved school would be my assessment.

    Most recently they have lost their doctoral programs entirely, strengthened their academics somewhat, and successfully sought DETC accreditation. I'm still not tremendously impressed with CCU, but once again the changes are improvements.

    Bottom line: I don't think that Cal Coast has ever had the brilliance of the best CA-approved schools. Some schools are run by people with a passion for the subjects that they teach, while others are run by people with a passion for running profitable businesses. I much prefer the former. Cal Coast has been improving though, slowly over time, which is certainly a good thing. But I don't like my impression that those changes were business motivated, matters of repositioning the school in a changing marketplace.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2005
  7. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    For some reason, perhaps coincidental, there seems to be a fairly large number of posters here that have attended CCU. So it seems to get far more attention here than it really deserves. I guess that another reason that CCU used to get more attention was because (previous to becoming accredited) they were one of the few examples of an unaccredited distance learning general education school that wasn't a diploma mill. However, IMHO it is unfair to place CCU into the same category as Kennedy-Western University which is really bad.
  8. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    There was historically (1952-1968, according to Wikipedia) a "California Western University" in the San Diego area, which included an ABA-accredited "California Western School of Law". The university ultimately changed its name and merged out of existence (it is now part of "Alliant International University"). However, the law school retained the "California Western" name, became a separate, free-standing insitution in 1975, and is still known as the "California Western School of Law" today. Not surprising that the name was an issue.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2005
  9. AuditGuy

    AuditGuy Member

    Very impressive depth of background and much appreciated.

    Since part of the answer depends on the timeframe, could you please comment on 2 specific examples?

    1990-1991 MBA, all credits earned by "CBX" - Credit by Exam. Their website calls them Challenge exams.

    1996-1997 MBA, same method.
  10. JamesT

    JamesT New Member

    I can tell you that proctored examinations are not required of students enrolled prior to the beginning of the accreditation process. I know a friend that just withdrew because he felt his degree would not be recognized because of this fact, should the word got out.
  11. AuditGuy

    AuditGuy Member

    So, we're talking self-paced open book credit examinations basically?
  12. JamesT

    JamesT New Member

    Yes. Self paced open book exams. The kind you could have done by someone else. Or better yet, purchase a former graduate's tests answer sheets on Ebay, because there is no supervision under the old testing system.
  13. Alan Contreras

    Alan Contreras New Member

    For what it's worth, our office did not consider California Coast University a degree mill even before it was accredited. Its degrees were not legal for use in Oregon because of its accreditation status, but it was not a fake.

    I will also note that the staff and legal counsel at CCU have been very professional to work with (we did a review of one of their doctoral programs a few years ago, they were not accepted but they were not bogus by any means) and in our view were trying to improve their operation. They succeeded.

    Are they equivalent to a regionally-accredited school? Not the last time we looked. Are they a school rather than a degree seller? Yes. Do we allow use of their degrees by faculty at ODA-approved schools in Oregon? Yes, to the master's level.
  14. JNelson467

    JNelson467 New Member

    Thanks Alan for your comments. I spent alot of time working on my coursework through CCU and I am extremely proud of my accomplishments and also for the continual success and progressive improvements of the school.

    Thanks for sharing.
  15. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, just like ones I took at RA schools.
  16. AuditGuy

    AuditGuy Member

    Thanks Alan and others.

    This is part of a good conversation at my employer. We've never routinely verified academic credentials. HR leaves it up to the hiring manager to ask for transcripts, etc.

    I ran the ODA unaccredited list against the 56,000 applicants over the last 5 years and you can probably guess the results.

    So now that we have found some problems, there is a push to revise our applicant screening. Fortunately or unfortunately, one of the time bombs was high enough to force some action.

    This CCU MBA is a good case study as we formulate our policy.

    It will be interesting to see which way this goes with our executive team. It could run the gamut from rewriting job descriptions to accomodate the employees to looking through every single applicant since the beginning of time.

    Again, much thanks to all.
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Just to clarify, you took open-book, multiple-choice, unproctored examinations as the basis for earning credit for each of your courses for a degree at an RA school?

    Which RA school is designed around that evaluation methodology?
  18. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    Well...not each course. I did take an online course at a B&M community college. It had six essay questions for the mid-term and six essay questions for the final - unproctored. When you started the class you got the mid-term and the final and a deadline when to send them in.

    At DeVry open book tests were not uncommon but they were in a classroom. Ok...Ok...maybe I overstated my point.

    Thanks for keeping me honest Rich
  19. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Wow! What a refreshing attitude!:)

    I believe a mix of evaluation methodologies is most effective. I have no problem with open book essay exams--they're very much like assigning a term paper on a set of specific issues, something UoP does all the time. Can students cheat on these? Sure, they can get someone else to do the work for them. (We saw recently where the Walton heiress got someone else to do her work for her entire B.A. program at USC!) A locked-down, closed-book, sit-in-front-of-the-professor-in-the-classroom exam is likely the safest from cheating. It also resembles least how we actually use the knowledge gained.

    I'm sure CCU is now every bit as rigorous as DETC requires.
  20. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you for responding like a true gentleman :)

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