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Peer review: Think a dog can’t get a degree?

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From Inside Higher Ed:

It’s surprising how many house pets hold advanced degrees. Last year, a dog received his M.B.A. from the American University of London, a non-accredited distance-learning institution. It feels as if I should add “not to be confused with the American University in London,” but getting people to confuse them seems like a pretty basic feature of the whole AUOL marketing strategy.

The dog, identified as “Peter Smith” on his diploma, goes by Pete. He was granted his degree on the basis of “previous experiential learning,” along with payment of £4500. The funds were provided by a BBC news program, which also helped Pete fill out the paperwork. The American University of London required that Pete submit evidence of his qualifications as well as a photograph. The applicant submitted neither, as the BBC website explains, “since the qualifications did not exist and the applicant was a dog.” More.

On a more serious note, there is little data on the topic, but what there is does not reassure:

in the United States, according to one study, “at least 3 percent of all doctorate degrees in occupational safety and health and related areas” are bogus. Also keep in mind Ezell Bear’s estimate in Degree Mills: The Billion-Dollar Industry that 40-45,000 legitimate Ph.D.s are awarded annually in the U.S. — while another 50,000 spurious Ph.D.s are purchased here.

“In other words,” they write, “more than half of all people claiming a new Ph.D. have a fake degree.” And so I have decided not to make matters worse by purchasing one for my calico cat, despite “significant experiential learning” from her studies in ornithology. More.

Good thought. For one thing, the cat’s credentials are probably all too real as far as the birds are concerned, so she shouldn’t be of interest to a degree mill anyway.

The BBC story is here.

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Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

8 Replies to “Peer review: Think a dog can’t get a degree?

  1. 1
    Piotr says:

    Last year, a dog received his M.B.A. from the American University of London, a non-accredited distance-learning institution. It feels as if I should add “not to be confused with the American University in London,”…

    Both are unaccredited, and both are essentially diploma mills. It’s interesting how may fraudulent “universities” try to create an appearance of dignity by using the adjective American in their names.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....r_learning

  2. 2
    Acartia_bogart says:

    I might add, not trying to be confrontational, that many of these diploma mills are Christian based. Just saying.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Acartia_bogart at 2: But, in fairness, the Christian ones only give diplomas to good doggies … the others just get newspapers 😉

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    One should note that not all non-traditional institutions are diploma mills. Bear’s guides used to make a point of this distinction.

    Sometimes the distinction blurs. For example
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....University

    Religious institutions of learning might have a rigorous curriculum, but not one that conforms to secular academic standards—or they might indeed be diploma mills.

    -Q

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    Are these critters creationist/ID/evolutionists???
    Are they part of the scientific community??
    Imagine being beat by them when up for the same job position. More education.

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    Considering how dog-matic they seem to be, I guess that would make them darwinists or neo-darwinists. 😉

    -Q

  7. 7
    OldArmy94 says:

    Doggone it, the problem is that when people think that a PhD on a resume is the cat’s meow, it opens the door to fraud. I suppose the perpetrator thinks that every dog has his day, but their feline-ious behavior ends up biting them in the rear.

  8. 8

    @Arcatia:

    “not trying to be confrontational, that many of these diploma mills are Christian based”

    Really? Then what was your motive?

    I looked at the list at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unaccredited_institutions_of_higher_education and did see some that had names which incorporated words with Christian connotations. But if an organization is making money by selling fraudulent degrees, what is there to stop it from adding such a word to its name? That approach wouldn’t qualify it as being “Christian based” in any meaningful sense of that phrase.

    As a parallel, consider a Communist front organization which incorporated the word “peace” in its name after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Treaty of Non-aggression in 1939–the American Peace Mobilization (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_front#American_Peace_Mobilization) group. That organization began supporting US involvement in World War II immediately after the Germans violated the treaty by invading Poland. So much for peace.

    On the other hand, there are legitimate institutions which find that the cost and effort of a formal accreditation process is not necessary to their goals. The state of Oregon, which has very strict laws relating to diploma mills, approves the use of degrees from a small number of unaccredited schools (see http://www.oregonstudentaid.go.....leges.aspx) including some Christian ones. As long as the institution is up front about its lack of accreditation, the reasons why it isn’t, and the implications of that lack, there shouldn’t be a problem.

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