Utility of a UNISA Doctorate

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by BinkWile, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. BinkWile

    BinkWile New Member

    Hello all,

    As some of you may know, I've been pursuing my PhD in Management at NCU for some time now. I am preparing to take the comps, and will be preparing to undertake my dissertation proposal later this year (I'm not looking forward to it).

    Now not that I'm looking to get right back into another doctoral program any time soon, I have always been interested in completing a Doctor of Public Administraion (DPA).

    I have noticed that the University of South Africa offers a DPA, which only requires the completion of a "thesis" which I'm assuming would be the US equivilent of a dissertation, and has no required coursework.

    So, here are what I see as the positives:

    No coursework=quick degree
    No coursework=cheap price
    No residencies=cheap price

    Here are some negatives I see as well:
    DETC accredited=Not RA
    DETC accredited=can't teach in most academia dealing with public admin.
    DETC accredited=may not be recognized in some businesses/organizations.

    Thus, I am wondering what others have found of UNISA. Is it worth it? Or should I just wait a decade or too when I have finished paying off my loans to NCU before undertaking a DPA?

    Any experiences, comments, diatribes, etc?
  2. RXI

    RXI New Member


    UNISA has had a Britsh Royal Charter for decades. This is equivalent to RA. This is why it offers the doctorate programs. It does work in many academic situations.

    DETC is only a recent addition.

  3. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    Hi Bink - I have a couple of comments. The first is that the lack of coursework will not make this a "quick degree." While I haven't looked at the DPA program specifically, the PhD programs I've reviewed all indicate 3-5 years for completion. I would check that out carefully prior to counting that particular batch of chickens. Also, UNISA is legendary for the slowness of its communications. This will effect program completion rates regardless of how quickly YOU work. Finally, what makes this a "cheap" degree is not so much the lack of coursework or residencies as it is the favorable exchange rate. You could fly to ZA once per year and still have this program work out to be substantially cheaper than any comparable US program.
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Active Member

    The biggest challenges with UNISA are (a) working with a foreign school, (b) dealing with a strange (to us) bureaucracy, (c) doing a dissertation-only program (that may, at the discretion of your advisor, involve coursework!), and (d) style, formatting, and stuff like that. Costs and utility (the two things you have emphasized) are simply not issues.
  5. BinkWile

    BinkWile New Member

    Thank you all for the insight. I'll revisit UNISA in a few years then once I have completed my current studies.
  6. ComCollege

    ComCollege New Member

    Beware that there are state and federal jobs which specifically require a certain number of credits/courses (detailed in an official transcript). And PhD degrees by research only do not generally issue transcripts with courses/credits. Here is a situation very close to me.

    A friend of mine from Connecticut has a PhD in education from the University of Hull (UK). The degree was based on dissertation only, hence credits/courses could not be listed on the transcript. The degree was deemed unacceptable by the State Ed. Department for the purpose of promotion. Also, UK institutions do not generally issue PhD transcripts.
  7. simon

    simon New Member


    How would you rate your experience at NCU in terms of responsiveness, assistance and availability of faculty; quality and extent of their library as well as helpfulness of their librarians; Course content and whether they allow you to orient courses to your professional goals. Thanks, Simon
  8. DTechBA

    DTechBA New Member

    On a side note

    There was an email posted here from the dean of the UNISA Public Administration department. In it, he indicated no travel to South Africa was required.
  9. BinkWile

    BinkWile New Member

    Re: Re: Utility of a UNISA Doctorate

    On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it an 8 or 9. The staff has always been very responsive to my questions/concerns, and accept criticism as much as praise.

    The library is very good. They have access to several resource sites such as Proquest, Wildcat, and Wilson Select. These are all used by other universites such as Colorado State and UNC. I have been able to find ample articles to help construct my dissertation bibliography and use in other coursework.

    As far as the dissertation process goes, I've been very impressed. NCU takes the dissertation VERY seriously, and is very well done. There are 6 research courses, then a comprehensive final exam, then the proposal, dissertation, and defense. They have prepared me very well.

    If you are looking for an online PhD or EdD, then I would highly recommend NCU. I did 2 quarters at Capella University before transferring, and found Capella to be less satisfying. While they have a more visually appealing webpage and setup (NCU is said to be working on this right now) their courses were unecessarily focused on page length and the classrooms were somewhat chaotic (IMHO).

    If you are interested in a Masters or undergraduate degree, then I would suggest many other online programs, as they are much more inexpensive, but as far as the PhD goes, NCU is very good.
  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Active Member

    This is a terrific point.
  11. humbug101

    humbug101 New Member

    Off Topic!

    I see Rich has created post 5,280 for himself.

    As we all know that is how many feet are in a mile!

    Does that mean you win the First Mile award?

    For the fun of it!:confused:
  12. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    What is the point of paying someone money so you can write a dissertation for them? (Especially since you will already have a PhD.)

    Write and publish a book instead. Cost is free and you might actually make money. It will probably help your career more as well.
  13. simon

    simon New Member

    Re: Re: Re: Utility of a UNISA Doctorate


    Am I correct in assuming that the coursework at NCU does not require participation in an online classroom and is completed on a self-directed basis? Simon
  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Active Member

    While the utility of a second doctorate is depatable, there are reasons for doing it.

    First, I suspect it could be considered an "upgrade" from NCU. UNISA is known around the world.

    Second, it's not like the candidate is on his/her own in writing the dissertation. Much learning takes place between candidate and advisor, and the advisor guides the process.

    The "write and publish a book instead" advice might be key here.
  15. BinkWile

    BinkWile New Member

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Utility of a UNISA Doctorate

    Yes and no. There is a mandatory weekly interaction between mentors and students, but not so between learners, making it more individual based. So while you will be interacting with the mentor, you won't with other students.
  16. RFValve

    RFValve Active Member

    I would expect the UNISA PhD degree to be a lot much harder than the NCU degree. I explored at one time the PhD in Computer Science at UNISA and NCU. The UNISA admission application required an original research proposal and although the minimum requirement is two years full time, the chair of computer science commented that students normally take 4-6 years to complete the degree and most of the students are already faculty members at many universities. They only have a hand full of PhD students and admission is very competitive.
    On the other hand, NCU has almost open admissions and although course work was required, it was mainly at the undergraduate level (C and C++ programming courses for a PhD?).

    I would think that a UNISA PhD would be more respected only because they have many graduates teaching full time in the UK, Australia and SA and the University is an old respected University. They also graduate only few PhD graduates contrary to the tons that online schools seem to graduate every year.

    In any case, I think that you shouldn't think that UNISA is faster only because has no course work as the same thing applies to Oxford or any top Australia, UK or SA University.
  17. BinkWile

    BinkWile New Member

    I understand what you are trying to say, but that wasn't my intent. My first love is public administration/policy. I wanted to enroll in Walden's PhD program in Public Policy and Administration, but the University would not incorporate all of my credits from OU (all my courses are 2 SH vice 3 SH). Thus, I would have had to do most of my MPA coursework over.

    My local University of Choice - George Mason University - offered a PhD in Public Policy, but courses were only offered during the day. Then the University of Baltimore offered a weekend DPA, but don't make me get started on MD's cost of out of state tuition.

    Being a veteran, and working full time, I decided to make the most out of my GI Bill with NCU, after a disheartened try at Capella.

    I don't want another PhD, but I am interested in a DPA. UNISA seemed like a cheaper, reasonable choice. However, I have no regrets about NCU, and don't necessarily consider UNISA an upgrade, it's just that I prefer public admin.
  18. RFValve

    RFValve Active Member

    Re: Re: Utility of a UNISA Doctorate

    I also would like to add that I was required to sign a contract as part of the admission process where I would agree to go to SA in case I was required to do so during my PhD studies. I was told that in most of the cases, PhD students are required to attend campus .
  19. BinkWile

    BinkWile New Member

    Re: Re: Utility of a UNISA Doctorate

    If you look at my earlier posts, I have already accepted that fact. I was under the impression that it was faster. That is why I was looking for information.

    It was the DETC accreditation that threw me off, as I was unaware that the school had a British Charter.

    Now I know. I have no negative comments about UNISA. ;)
  20. simon

    simon New Member

    Re: Re: Utility of a UNISA Doctorate


    Do you feel that due to NCU 's relatively new status as an RA school that it may adversely affect the perceived value of degree recipients in the job market? Thanks, Simon

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