the Oregon degree mill law has been clarified

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Kizmet, May 20, 2009.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  2. Robbie

    Robbie New Member

    Good deal.
  3. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    So my reading is that you can't claim a diploma mill degree even if you specify a disclaimer admitting that it is unaccredited? But, what defines a diploma mill?
  4. GeneralSnus

    GeneralSnus Member

    The Office of Degree Authorization website states:

    I imagine that any change would limit permissible degree claims to those earned at schools with accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or a foreign equivalent, or by a school authorized by Oregon to offer degrees.
  5. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    The bill did not actually need to address that particular question, because Oregon had previously established legal definitions of the terms "diploma mill" and "degree mill." You will find them in Oregon Administrative Rules 583-050-0011:

    So an unaccredited school that has valid authorization to issue degrees from another state or country does not qualify as a "diploma mill". Degrees from such schools are legal for use in Oregon as long as the appropriate disclaimer is attached.

    In contrast, an unaccredited school that operates without any legal authorization from its state or country, or which has been legally found to be academically questionable, could qualify as a "diploma mill." Degrees from such schools are not legal for use in Oregon, even with a disclaimer.

    In practice, the distinction may be of limited significance. Right now, for example, private schools are essentially unregulated in the neighboring state of California. So it seems that any unaccredited school -- no matter how good or bad -- could set up shop in California, claim valid authorization to issue degrees, and thereby avoid legal "diploma mill" status in Oregon. Of course, the disclaimer requirement would still apply, and this is probably still a significant deterrent.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2009
  6. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    And don't forget holders of religious degrees are exempt, we must thank the Founding Fathers for the First Amendment for that one.
  7. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    thomaskolter: "And don't forget holders of religious degrees are exempt..."

    Typically, OK when used only for religious purposes. The guy who bought a Universal Life PhD in pastoral counseling and then opened a sex therapy clinic would be in trouble -- as would be LaSalle, which claimed that all degrees are religious degrees because God created everything.
  8. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Oregon, like many other states, does have an exemption for religious degrees. However, it's not an automatic or general exemption: it only applies to certain schools that have specifically applied for the exemption, and that have been found in compliance with the requirements as defined by state law. At present, only 7 schools are listed as qualifying for the religious exemption in Oregon.

    A school that seeks to qualify under the Oregon religious exemption must meet a number of requirements and accept a number of limitations. These are listed under Oregon Revised Statutes 348.604 and 348.605.

    This Oregon ODA page on religious exemptions also lists the various other states which do and do not have such exemptions. It seems possible that an unaccredited religious school could bypass any restrictions, even in states without a religious exemption, simply by using some term other than "degree" for its religious credentials.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2009
  9. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I think of this as "the sorbon rule.":rolleyes:
  10. jerryclick

    jerryclick New Member

    I believe California private schools, while not accredited, have to pass some sort of muster from the Board of Regents for the state. If I'm wrong, I know I will get promptly corrected. :)
  11. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    The only "regents" in California are the "Regents of the University of California", and their only responsibility is the University of California system.

    You may be thinking of the "New York State Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education," which licenses (and in some cases accredits) schools in the State of New York.

    The current situation in California is summarized by the State Dept. of Consumer Affairs as follows:
  12. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    Oddly a ULC minister in Oregon found a way around this and he could use the title of doctor, he just bought that title Reverend Doctor to go along with his ULC Doctorate. He ,when challenged, told the judge he never used the doctorate after his name and the religious title is granted for his clerical office. He stated if he bought the title Rabbi or Interfaith Minister or Reverend they would not be complaining about that. So his church title is Reverend Doctor just like that, so was protected. The use of his degree wasn't he just never noted that outside ULC use on their forums for example.

    But Dr. Bear I agree with the use of degrees for religious use and suspect no ULC degree could be used in this state, all are legal however in California and many others. But states rights must prevail here since I feel use of a degree is a privilege but allowances should be made for religious degrees if not a degree where there is licensure. Use of a religious title is a First Amendment right of practice of faith. No state would dare say a church can't issue ordination and a title to a person of faith I would think. Even if that is Flying Nun from the ULC its a religious title.

    In oregon I would just not note my degree and use my title as a minister, if necessary, one must obey just secular laws.
  13. jerryclick

    jerryclick New Member

    CalDog: Thank you for the correction/update.

    My bulldog is very proud of his Ph.D. from the Universal Life Church. He also preaches sermons.His most recent one was to a neighbors cat. The subject was "Respecting property boundaries of others." :D
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2009
  14. mallou

    mallou New Member

    Does this mean if the school is registered with the state that even though it is unaccredited there will be a fine if it is used?
  15. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Courts have tended to define religious education as integral to the practice of religion and therefore protected from government interference.

    The separation of church and state DOES NOT imply that religious education must therefore all be academically legitimate. Nor does it imply that people's boasts that they are "holders of religious degrees" are true or ethical or must be recognized by anyone else. It just means that the government washes its hands of the matter.

    The fact that religious education is largely unregulated here in the United States suggests that unaccredited religious degrees are pretty-much meaningless by their nature, outside whatever religious denominations or traditions that happen to know and respect them.

    Of course, religious degree programs can always seek accreditation. That way, individuals in the larger community who aren't already familiar with a program can still have some confidence in its academic integrity, at least in so far as they trust its accreditor. And religious schools can always make a name for themselves the old-fashioned way, by participating in the intellectual life of their tradition and of religious studies generally.

    Absent academic reputation, accreditation and/or recognition by trusted religious traditions, ostensibly religious degrees and degree-grantors start to resemble confidence-games and ego-aggrandizements. That's not a good thing from a religious standpoint.

    So phony education is probably going to be counterproductive from a purely religious perspective, whatever the government's relationship is to it.
  16. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    While well intentioned, the Cole article equates unaccredited schools with diploma mills without qualification, which is rarely correct. I suppose this sort of logic error does more good than harm though, when you are trying to protect consumers.
  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Hi Dave - I'd like to challenge that remark. Considering the number of degree mills in the world, I'd guess that equating unaccredited schools with degree mills is correct far more often than "rarely."
  18. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Actually, the relationship between unaccredited schools and diploma mills (implied in the article) isn't correct at the group level, as there is no one-to-one correspondence on a reasonable set of defining properties; I was just being kind to the author of the article, who obviously was new to the field.

    You can reason this through for yourself. Are all diploma mills unaccredited? Yes, I hope so. Are all unaccredited schools diploma mills? No, certainly not. Are most unaccredited schools diploma mills? No, there are many, many schools that are non-standard and substandard but are not diploma mills. Are some unaccredited schools classifiable as diploma mills? Certainly, just briefly search in Google and you can find "schools" offering "diplomas" for little or no "work".

    Perhaps you are confusing the terms "diploma mill" and "degree mill".
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2009
  19. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I agree with Dave it's a mistake to suggest that 'unaccredited' necessarily implies 'mill'. All it takes to disprove that kind of universal generalization is a single counter-example which isn't very difficult to provide.

    That's one reason why I'm inclined to oppose laws that simply criminalize use of unaccredited degrees. (I don't really object to laws that require full disclosure of the unaccredited status though.)

    I agree with Kizmet there. The great majority of unaccredited schools do seem to be mills, at least in my estimation. So while the unaccredited => mill implication clearly isn't logically necessary, it does seem to be a valid probabilistic assumption.

    So it's rational to hold an a-priori bias that an unaccredited school is likely a mill. But it's also rational to remain open to the possibility that it just might be something more. The exceptions are unusual, but they can be very interesting.

    That's Steve Levicoff's distinction I think. I don't place a whole lot of weight on it. There probably is some value in differentiating schools that require some clearly substandard quantity/quality of work from schools that simply sell "degrees", but I'm inclined to lump both categories together as mills and to use the terms 'degree mill' and 'diploma mill' interchangeably.

    I prefer to locate my primary distinction between 'mill' on one hand, and 'academically credible school' on the other.
  20. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Neither does the State of Oregon, which may be the only place where the terms "degree mill" and "diploma mill" are both legally defined. Oregon Administrative Rules 583-050-0011 (quoted previously in this thread) treats the two terms as synonyms.

    At the Federal level, the Higher Education Opportunity Act provides a definition for "diploma mill", but not for "degree mill".

    There may be other legal or regulatory definitions of the terms "diploma mill" or "degree mill" elsewhere, but I doubt whether there is any US jurisdiction that has specifically distinguished between these two terms.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2009

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