The RA or No Way Debate Continues

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by CurtO, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. Arch23

    Arch23 New Member

    That's based on the assumption that a doctorate was required for the work position currently held by the holder. What if the position doesn't require a doctorate at all (just a master's), which the applicant met, but he applied for the position after earning the NA doctorate. I ask again: do we FACTS/RESEARCH regarding this or are we just making ASSUMPTIONS, no matter how logical they may sound?
  2. HikaruBr

    HikaruBr Member

    I agree with that. I'd never do a NA Phd - I'd either go for a RA or a Rsearch Phd in the UK.

    Actually, I think the UK route is one of the bests by far.
  3. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    That's assuming that the student studied on campus in Europe or Australia and that the Australian or European university has some reputation in the student's research subject. If that's not the case, then we would still have the DL-doctorate concerns and the unknown-university concerns, with new foreign-university concerns added to the mix.

    My impression is that the typical British practice is for PhD students to win 'studentships' that provide them with a financial stipend and involve them in established university research groups working alongside their professors. Many American doctoral programs do very similar things, offering their students financial stipends and embedding them inside research activities. It's kind of a research apprenticeship arrangement. That's the usual practice at the University of California.

    My worry with doing UK-style "research degrees" by DL is that students can end up doing their research and writing their theses/dissertations pretty much on their own, without being integrated into whatever the university is doing.
  4. HikaruBr

    HikaruBr Member

    Most UK Phd programs don' t have any course requirement - is just the dissertation. So in most cases you would be able to do the program with just some visits to UK to talk with your advisors and the mandatory panels.

    You would have a "on campus" Phd but practically DL.
  5. telefax

    telefax New Member

    Great discussion! I hope differences of opinion don't produce hard feelings, but this topic is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be discussed here.

    Well, that’s technically true, but practically not. UK doctorates are evaluated entirely on the thesis, but there is still a substantial amount of support available to students in residence.

    Yes, that kind of research synergy would be difficult to duplicate by DL. I'm not saying one can't produce quality research on one's own, but doing it in company with one's professors and fellow students and improving your work with insights from ongoing work is valuable. It also gives one the opportunity to participate in research leading to journal articles, etc. I like the term Bill D. frequently uses, "research footprint." The resources a major center of research can offer is why equating such to DETC schools producing no such "footprint" will not be thought very valid outside of an internet discussion board.

    It is possible, although I imagine it will be the major research universities that expand into new modalities over the next century while producing that exciting research, rather than new schools specialising in the modality, but new to major research. Perhaps I will be proven wrong - we live in interesting times.

    Short version: In my opinion, the doctorate is your last degree and you have to live with it forever - make it count!
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2009
  6. CurtO

    CurtO New Member

    Below is a simple reply to the above post and to ones like it in this and in other threads.

    Within the data I've collected, there are some RA faculty members with only NA master level degrees. This would indicate that they were hired on the basis of their NA degree, since most RA hiring policies require a graduate degree for faculty positions.

    As I have said, the collected information shows that some RA schools have do not reject faculty members with NA masters and/or NA/UA doctorate degrees. In fact, it would appear that a number of RA schools (CalState, SUNY, Walden, Webster…) have actually embraced them. These RA schools with such faculty openly list the NA masters and/or NA/UA doctorate degrees under their faculty member websites and in their catalogs, thus, lending legitimacy and credibility to the degrees and degree holders.

    And finally, I agree with you that these acceptances are more an exception than a rule. However, I disagree that they were based on incompetence. We all know, or should know, that RA faculty hiring decisions are not left to inept staff. Faculty candidates are thoroughly vetted by extremely capable faculty hiring committees – made up of RA school faculty, staff, administration and other stakeholders. (Come on, RFValve! We’re not talking about Pop’s Kite Building School in Chicago. We are discussing real Universities like CalState and SUNY that have hired these folks as faculty.)

    On a side note: Thanks to all the members who have contributed to this discussion.
    On behalf of all degree seekers and others, I appreciate your comments, input and advice.
  7. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    It is more likely that Dave was guessing and didn't recall the specific teachings of the Prophet Bear... :)
  8. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Lest my true view is mis-inferred... I am not against NA degrees in general and DETC-accredited degrees in particular. You see, I try to resist the temptation to see schools as having attributes that can be classified as nominal data. The data is really ordinal or interval if you take an honest look. Moreover, the levels of degrees offered by many schools are not comparable: teaching graduate students is far different from training doctoral candidates. That said, an NA MBA degree could be rigorous and acceptable for promotion in business and government, but unacceptable for teaching because of the breadth / depth of the subject matter. Moreover, an NA DBA could be rigorous and interesting, but unacceptable for admission to the "guild" for many reasons... In sum, it is possible to hold multiple views of a specific school, depending on the variable under inspection.
  9. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    At the time the CCU PhDs were awarded, CCU didn't have DETC accreditation. Are you asking if it's possible that a RA college or university would hire someone based upon an unaccredited CCU Phd degree? Well, anything is possible, but it's highly unlikely.
  10. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Unless students have some effective way of being involved in their university's research activities from thousands of miles away, they won't be involved in those activities. Students will be "lone rangers", working some project of their own, largely on their own.

    At Britain's Open University, PhD students look like they get involved in things. Here's what the OU's extreme-environment astrophysics group is doing with accreting binaries.
  11. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Astronomy and astro-physics make for an interesting case. There is lots of data from space borne instruments that has not been looked at yet (in fact some of it has been lost) . I've no doubt that a research doctorate in this area could be done and yield important scientific information. James Cook University has a DL DA/Ph.D. program in this area:
  12. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    It's already happening and starting to become routine. If you look at important scientific papers, they often have lots of authors' names on them, from many different institutions, often on different continents. They aren't enountering much difficulty working on a single research problem from locations thousands of miles apart.

    There are even virtual research institutions. The Joint Center for Structural Genomics isn't really a place at all. It's a consortium.

    The intent with this one seems to be to find ways to translate emerging genome-sequencing information into better predictions of the nature of the proteins that the genes synthesize. Stanford is contributing time on the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource so as to image proteins, forming the consortium's Structure-Determination Core. Burnham Institute and UC San Diego form the Bioinformatics Core. The Scripps Research Institute and Novartis form the 'Crystallomics' Core and overall administration is based at TSRI. There are additional collaborators all over the place.

    As you say, it's the boffins at the established institutions who are discovering how to best conduct distance-research, largely by winging it and making it up on the fly. The DL doctoral programs are kind of conspicuous by their absence and DETC is a non-player in this space.
  13. telefax

    telefax New Member

    Bill D. is correct that this could well lead to a student doing research in isolation from their supervisors. However, that problem for DL students across the board can be ameliorated by one already being a part of a research community. Examples that come to mind would be Bill G., who was at Western Seminary all the time and lectured for them as well, or Cory S. who was on faculty at a US seminary. Even with that caveat, a doctorate from a European research university would still in my opinion be a better option than the NA or for-profit RA schools in the US.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2009
  14. mongoose65

    mongoose65 New Member

    Some state regulations just cannot be circumvented. NY's Board of Ed in particular only recognizes RA degrees. CPA, many certifications (including teaching and school administration), it's RA or the highway. Maybe in time it will change, but for now, that's the stadium we're playing in.
  15. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Well, Degreeinfo does have that reputation; however, it is largely unfounded. The prevailing opinion tends to be that NA degrees have utility in many areas. If one's intention is to seek a full-time tenure-track position at a university, on the other hand, the holder of an NA degree with find his or her options extremely limited. Let's look at the examples below:

    Marlene Palazzo – Seattle Central Community College

    At the community college level, vocational areas like hers areallowed to be taught by faculty with undergraduate degrees and years of experience, so the CalCoast masters would not be a requirement for teaching in this area.

    Jim Estes - California State University, San Bernardino

    Faculty in the CSUSB's College of Business can teach with masters degrees

    Thomas Depaoli - Walden University

    He is a member of Walden's undergraduate program, which only requires a masters (his MBA is from Notre Dame)

    Kenneth L. Oakley – The University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions

    He is an "affiliate" faculty (not a full-time tenure-track faculty) who has a full-time job as CEO of a rural health center network. He has an RA masters in counseling, which seems more in line with his position in public health professions than in Cal Coast degrees in business.

    Anna M. Rizzi - Webster University

    Most of the Webster faculty are teaching with masters as their highest degree. Rizzi has an RA masters from Webster.

    Katia V. Shkurkin - Saint Martin's University

    This one is appears to be the strongest case for your argument. The other faculty in her area have RA PhDs.

    Lisa Walters - SUNY at Fredonia

    She is a visiting (i.e. temporary non-tenure track) faculty.

    Lets see, with a California Coast University degree these folks landed faculty jobs at: CalState, SUNY, Walden, Webster...

    Well, perhaps. With one possible exception, the CCU masters or doctorates were not necessary for the teaching assignments. For the most part, the RA masters, not the NA PhD, was the required credential.

    I've accumulated many, many more examples in my study on the acceptance of different types of degrees in the work place - including a long list of folks working for the government with NA degrees.

    As I said, there are many areas (such as many government jobs) where an NA degree will be quite useful.

    Dave, with all due respect, please point me to your research on this matter. I’d be interested in reviewing it before making up my mind and you’d be helping fellow board members, lurkers, as well as, would be degree seekers.

    As someone who hires both academic and non-academic personnel and who works for a system that includes both RA and NA institutions, I am not someone who would disparage NA degrees. If you are looking for a position in government, non-profit, healthcare or industry, an NA degree may make sense and would certainly be more economical. Many people on Degreeinfo have produced lists of faculty with non-RA degrees. In most instances, the positions were obtained prior to earning the non-RA degree or they were teaching at a level in which the RA bachelors or masters would be enough for the position.

    I wish you the best in your decision.
  16. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Out of the hundreds of faculty with whom I'm acquainted, I don't know anyone who with an NA doctorate (or who is working on one) who has been hired based on that doctorate.

    I haven't yet seen a position description that specified an NA doctorate.

    I haven't yet seen a position description that required a doctorate and allowed anything less than a regionally-accredited (or foreign equivalent) doctorate.

    The NA doctorates currently have no demonstrable utility for attaining full-time teaching and research positions.

    I'm guessing the NA doctorates might fly for attaining and keeping administrative positions within a University.

    I realize that those who are marketing NA doctorates don't like these views, but potential students (customers) need to be aware of the significant limitations of NA doctorates.

    In sum, I'm not against NA doctorates, but I am against pretending that they are unquestionably suitable for use in a university.
  17. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    If 'NA', whatever it means, includes NY-Regents accreditation, then what are we to make of NYR-accredited Rockefeller University and the newer doctoral programs at Cold Spring Harbor and Memorial Sloan Kettering? All three of these are internationally renowned research institutions, complete with Nobel prize winners. I doubt that their graduates have any more difficulty finding positions than do graduates of comparable RA programs. See evidence here.

    Having said that, I'll go on to say that most/all of the DETC and ACICS doctoral programs that I've looked at don't look like they would fare very well in competitive faculty or research hiring.

    But unlike most of Degreeinfo, I'm less inclined to think that the lack of competitiveness is a function of the schools' non-RA accreditations than I am to think that it's the result of them not being strong research institutions to begin with. If research-prominent DETC or ACICS doctoral programs existed, then their accreditation wouldn't be an issue any more than NY-Regents accreditation is for Rockefeller.
  18. emmzee

    emmzee New Member

    What does it mean for a university to have approval by "New York State Board of Regents"? Is that sort of like state approval in California? Or, for example, Tyndale, where I did my MTS degree, was given approval by a special act of the Ontario parliament to award its degrees (both secular & religious nature) ... sorta like that?
  19. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    The New York State Board of Regents has a unique status among state higher education boards.

    US schools are typically (1) licensed by state government, and then (2) separately accredited by a private accreditation agency recognized by the US Dept. of Education. Licensing and accreditation are separate processes, and are normally conducted by separate institutions. A "state-approved" school in the US is typically one that is licensed (or otherwise permitted to operate) by state government, but not accredited by a recognized agency.

    However, the New York State Board of Regents -- unlike any other state education board -- has the status of a "National Accreditation" agency with the US Dept. of Education. So NY Regents is an "NA" accreditation agency, like DETC. A school in NY can be both licensed and accredited by the same state agency.

    This is not particularly common; most of the best-known schools in NY (e.g. SUNY, Columbia, Cornell, etc.). have regional accreditation, as you might expect. But there are a number of NY schools that have opted to get their accreditation from the NY Regents, and are therefore NA.

    These include the very prestigious Rockefeller University and a few other graduate-level biomedical research institutes. Technically, these schools are NA and not RA, but no one cares. The only place where it matters is in debates about RA vs. NA, when these schools always come up as examples of prestigious NA institutions. And this is true; however, these schools have little in common with the DETC schools that most people associate with NA.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2009
  20. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    For USDoE purposes, NY Regents is considered a "National" accreditation agency, even though it only deals with schools in a single state. Go figure.

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