DECEMBER 26, 2080




What does it mean to hold a “doctorate” from a university?

Well, it can mean lots of things.  A doctorate from M.I.T. is an inordinately valuable asset for the person who earned it.  It provides the holder with entrée to employment, acceptance of papers (articles) in non-juried publications, invitations to hold forth on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, etc., and may even result in invitations to a politician’s gathering with a seat near the head of the table or even an invitation to the White House itself.

M.I.T. and similar universities of high standing and high standards for “doctorates” issue a limited number of doctorate degrees.

Nonetheless the number of doctors with doctorate degrees has mushrumed to number in the thousands, if not more.  A number of universities, small educational enterprises, some of them new and others of the mail-order variety have entered the “doctorate” granting enterprises.

One net effect of the stampede for tuition dollars has had intended or unintended confusion.  In fact, those who know little or nothing about the quality of a “doctorate” might open doors that would (and should) otherwise remain closed.  For today, anyone holding a hard earned doctorate or one earned mail order may both designate the holder “Doctor.”

The list of fields that award such degrees is endless.  Law school graduates, even those at the bottom of the class and who fail the state bar exam, hold J.D (juri doctor” degrees.  They can call themselves “doctor,” though most do not; and the lawyer who does quickly finds himself the object of scorn and ridicule from his knowledgeable contemporaries (bad enough) but also from judges before whom the “juris doctor” must argue cases.

There appears, however, to be insufficient scorn and ridicule in other cases, and now there appears to be no end to the doctorate degrees some educational enterprises will grant.  One “University” awards “doctorates” in (1) business administration,(2) education and education leadership, (3) health administration, and (4) management (all after taking a few courses that are just eight weeks long) and all of which can be taken remotely.  This university’s enchantment with awarding doctorates, might rise to the level of “scam” in the view of some and may be more usual than unusual.

Of course, some doctorate programs are rigorous.  They may require a dissertation, that must be “defended” in front of a panel, usually comprised of scholars in the field.  Some programs, moreover, require the candidate’s thesis to be published by a journal or university with standing in the field.

It is probably fair to say, however, that doctorate degrees awarded without such high standards far outnumber those that do.

Regrettably some institutions “sell” doctorates on the cheap, and academically designated “Doctors,” churn out dissertations no one reads, or receive the designation “doctor” without having written a dissertation.

As a result of all this brouhaha, holding a doctorate may get you an invitation to chat, but most employers are not fooled, just as most university folks are not fooled.  The marginal educational enterprises have cheapened the Ph.D. designation, sort of the way every Tom, Dick, and Harry has cheapened the term “CEO.”

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