Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not a fake degree but...

It was reported that Deputy House Speaker Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar came out to vehemently deny that his Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) was from a certain American Northeastate University, supposedly a fake degree mill. Instead, he told Malaysiakini that his DBA was obtained from the Southern California University for Professional Studies in 2005. While this school is not a fake degree mill, it's not exactly a stellar academic institution either.

The Southern California University for Professional Studies (not exactly a name which inspires confidence, is it?) is now called the California Southern University. It also happens to be an online university which offers doctorate programs in business, psychology, criminal justice, and law.

Now, I've never been a big fan of online universities when it comes to doctorate programs. Frankly, I don't see how someone who is working part time can find the time to read up on the relevant literature in a specific field and then gather the necessary data and information and research to write one's thesis. Most of my colleagues take about 2.5 years to finish their coursework and another 3.5 years to write up their thesis. I'm hoping to finish in 5 years total. I don't really see how one can come up with a PhD thesis that's worth the paper its written on by doing a part time online degree.

Furthermore, how many regular hours of supervision can one get from an online doctorate program? How many credible and recognized academic advisers would be advising PhD programs for an online university?

According to a wikipedia entry, Cal Southern is an unaccredited university which means that any degree from Cal Southern is probably not recognized by other private universities in the US. Which means that if one got a DBA from this university, one couldn't even apply for a teaching position in any major US university.

In other words, I suspect that the Deputy Speaker probably found an easy way to obtain a DBA from this particular dodgy online university.

What really amazed me and my wife was the fact that he could so confidently and proudly clarify that he got his DBA from a university called the Southern California University for Professional Studies. Frankly, I would be ashamed to say that I got a doctorate from a university with a name like this and one which is unaccredited at that. Unless he really doesn't know that the online outfit from which he obtained his DBA from is actually a dodgy outfit.

Wonder what his thesis was about?

P.S. Don't confuse Cal Southern with the University of Southern California (USC) which is a legit research university with a great football team!


Fikri said...

USC also has a famous film programme :)

Anonymous said...

Kalau takda kemampuan, berhentilah setakat yang mampu... jangan pulak beli degree. Buat malu aje...

Unknown said...

I also think that an on-line programme lacks the interaction which you get from an actual "classroom" environment.

Also, sometimes, you never know is actually sitting behind the other end of the computer screen, a bona fide academic or his 12-year old son.

IE Business School offers quite an impressive Masters Programme which is done mostly online for quite a hefty fee. Are such programs (on-line) worth it since the interaction from fellow classmates is greatly reduced?

There is another quite impressive on-line program for MBA which maybe you care to comment


This is in addition to the Asia e-University. I wonder are the degrees from these on-line Universities, esp Masters / PhD / DBA actually genuine.


Anonymous said...

KM, can you comment a bit about the UoL External Programmes? Are they good? I plan to further my studies (masters level) but due to work and family commitments I'd have to decide whether to apply for UoL external or locally by part-time basis.
What do you think?

Kian Ming said...

Lala, email me and I'll let you know what I think about the UoL external programs. A lot depends on your own personal situation including funds available.

Anonymous said...

Well, Southern California university really does not sounds that bad. I graduated from Golden Gate University, San Francisco. IT IS accredited and has one of the best law and graduate tax programs in the US. The telecommunication and tourism programs are not shabby either. It is small, but most students work during the days and take classes at night. Most lecturers are professionals in their field. Many of our lectures were based on real life situations. I learned more from fellow-classmates and lecturers than text books. I had to work hard for my grades.

I do not know how Harvard, Yale and other ivy leagues universities are like, but I am proud of GGU and am very grateful to most of the professors and lecturers who taught me. BUT I have to admit Golden Gate does sound very much like a Chines restaurant!!


clk said...

I think what KM is trying to say is for a genuine PhD degree, its rather hard not to get it done full-time. Online and external programs have been around for sometime in both undergrad and grad level programs but very seldom does it extend to PhD especially those from legit uni/colleges.

I graduated from the OU in the UK with a Master after few years of hard work whilst working.

I've come to understand why despite the OU being a truly "Open University" in all sense and offer courses to only part-time students DOES NOT offer PhD part-time. In fact, nearly all of its students are part-timers except that ALL its PhD students are full-timers.

Tek Seang said...

it is true that it is rather difficult to do your phd part-time. there are exceptions tho. for example, if what you do at work, can be used for your thesis. I know people who had done this. One very famous example, is Daniel Raymer, the famous author who wrote the defacto aircraft design textbook.

Anonymous said...

This article is touching on a few issues:
1) Degree from illegit uni;
2) Degree from unaccredited uni;
3) Degree from online uni;
4) Part-time doctorate degree; and
5) Part-time online doctorate degree.

Quite a fair bit on contention here stemming from one politician's dubious(?) degree.

Anonymous said...

There are exceptions to doing a PhD on a part-time basis. Not everyone is lucky enough to get a scholarship or has enough cash to quit his job to pursue a PhD on a full-time basis.

Many academics / Lecturers do pursue their PhD on a part-time basis.

Of course, its true that it is better to do a PhD on a full-time basis. It is also true that a BMW is better than a Proton.

Anonymous said...

As a Ph.D. graduate from a regionally accredited online U.S. university I would like to correct the misperception regarding the quality of online study. It is unbecoming of the writer of this blog to post a general sweeping statement unless he has concrete evidence to back such statements.

We have to differentiate between online universities and diploma mills.If a particular organization is a diploma mill (i.e. one pays money to get an instant and worthless piece of paper), it doesn't matter if the medium of transaction is via the internet or via post. I am guessing these unscrupulous bodies may even offer "tele-degree" if their clients require them to do so.

On the other hand, kindly do not disparage the many people who work hard and long to improve themselves while also working because some of us do not have the opportunity to be full-time students. I took 5.5 years to complete my program (with many lost weekends and nights) in the same field where I am also professionally working. Said another way, I get to apply my studies at my workplace. Thus for me, it is VERY POSSIBLE for someone to study part-time and STILL gather the necessary literature to write a quality thesis worthy of a doctorate.

My humble request is for the writer to differentiate between diploma mills and proper, accredited schools that utilize the internet as a medium of instruction. As you are presently undertaking your doctoral studies, I'm sure you apprecite the need for critical analysis supported by rigorously established facts prior to making an assertion.

Thank You and all the best in your studies,
Accredited Ph.D holder

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dr Tan above.

I'd like to add that I find it repulsive that an institution's name should be one that inspires KM's confidence be taken a benchmark for quality.

Also, I think it is totally uncalled for to sneer at part-time PhD students by insinuating that their works of being inferior.

I really do not see what the issue is being debated here. So the good politician has a DBA from an accredited (but not from an institution that inspires KM's confidence) university. Should a degree be a full-time PhD from Duke for it to be of acceptable standards?

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Southern Californian University that politician attended is accredited. That is the main problem...

For those who are striving hard,or think themselves are indeed working hard, just make sure you attended a proper, accredited institution. Nobody can be insinuating you work provided you did good job in your research, and publish in good journals. Nobody will look at your degree alone to judge you.

Unknown said...

I think at the back of everyone's mind, getting a "recognised" degree is importance.

The term recognised means very different things to different people. Recognised by who?

The Government of the host University? Many Governments esp US and even in Europe don't really regulate Post Graduate Education.

Specialised Business Schools such as INSEAD and IE offer up to PhD and they are not even officially known as Universities.

So called International Accrediation Bodies such as AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS specialise in accrediting Business Programms, so where does this leave the non-Business Programms.

Also, it does not mean that if a certain University is not accredited by the so-called International Bodies, that the University is not good. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of Universities in the World but only a few thousand are accredited.

is recognition by our Government important. If you graduate with in the right course from Beijing University, you can definately get a job with any MNC. So does it matter if the Malaysian Government does not recognise it.

Of course, no one wants to be ripped off by a a bogus University or "Trans National University".

This would mean contacting the Overseas University (for programms conducted via a local partner) and also to contact the local Embassy as to whether the University actually exist.

Third party reviews or by the respective Government bodies of the Host Country is also important.

The Internet has made all these searchies a lot easier but there are still ppl who are too lazy to do it.

However, on-line Programms will remain a contentious issue. As I said, you can't be sure who is marking answering your answers and vice versa, the University can't be sure who is actually answering the questions.

The term is "Caveat Emptor"

KM, some of the readers are right. You should not discriminate based on the name alone.

I must admit that some Universities name does sound dodgy
but that should not be the yardstick to measure the Uni.

IE Business School - sound like Internet Explorer to me.. but its very famous in Europe.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyobe here seen the interview given by Rafeah Salim on her non extebsion as VC of UM.
What are TP and KM comments?

I was shocked to hear from the interview her reference to " between the legs" and this comes from a former VC of UM.

Care for comments anyone?

Unknown said...

I would say a very honest and frank opinion from the ex-VC. If only she was that frank when she was still the VC. Right now, to many ppl, its just sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

God is great! Maybe Dr Azmi Sharom's prayers were answered ;))

clk said...

I think some of the readers are missing the point where one is a high ranking public officer and holds the degree publicly.

In such instance, public trust is indirectly put onto such a person and if such person "buys" a degree knowingly with the intention to deceive the public, then I believe there is an element of deceit in his/her act.

In such a case, we should hang this person publicly.

In any other instances I really don't give a damn whatever degree one holds.

Anonymous said...

Do people, employers or society absolutely and conclusively trust a person because of his degree?

Or could a degree absolutely and conclusively create magic for its holders?

If so, then one has to absolutely and conclusively believe a degree holder's declaration of innocence in criminal matters.

If so, then there could not be so many "non-degree holders" sitting in good positions in the corporate world.

There are people with no degree but are absolutely, conclusively, extremely and terribly superior in many ways including brain works.

Society has to recognize and respect them for the "prowess".

Is the society going to ignore, slight and marginalized them?

If so, the society would lose out absolutely and conclusively.

Deng Xiao Peng said, "A cat must be able to catch mice. If it can do that then it is a cat be it yellow or white."

People should not be suffering from degree hypochondria.

If a person could reach the position of authority, do one think one is more sane or better qualified to adjudge him in poor light?

If he has a particular or all round superiority, what fraud or pain is he committing on any individual.

Is there a locus standi, an actus rea and a mens rea?

One has to be mature in mind and actions. Time should be properly utilized in better recreation.

Confucius said, "If a logic has no logic don't waste time on it."

Anonymous said...

One most effective step to reduce people from buying fake degree is when the government offering free higher education like in Germany and Taiwan.
Wawasan Open University offering the cheapest degree in Malaysia with price tag of RM17,000.00
This figure is still way to high for poor Malaysians and somemore now the inflation is skyrocketing.
Imagine a family with household income of RM3000 per month and 4 teenage childrens could afford the degree from Malaysian cheapest university?
Wait a minute...goverment is providing PTPN loan for unaffordable FULL TIME students at local institutions.
hey bro,the cheapest full time degree courses is RM30,000.00 by Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University College ( last time known as Cosmopoint)
In reality, to get a first degree is very tough for poor MALAYSIANS.
I sincerely wish the next generations will get free educations. MALAYSIA IS A NET OIL EXPORTING NATION

Unknown said...

One can always self-study for a professional qualification such as CIMA, ICSA which is recognised as equivalent to a degree.

Its cheaper and you can work at the same time.

That said, ppl who study part-time and work for a professional accounting qualification are a dying breed. Back in the 80s and 90s it was the most popular choice for many ppl who could not afford to go overseas or did not manage to enter local U.

Anonymous said...


Do you aware that the CIMA, ACCA bodies had increase their exams fees tremendeously in Pound Sterling. Do not compare to the tuition fees in 80s and 90s which is reasonable. Remember, Ringgit was 2.50 against US dollar before the 1997 financial crisis. See what today Ringgit value is?
This exams fees is not include the tuition fees students need to pay to private local college that charge so expensive nowadays.
CIMA and ACCA only applicable to Accounting students, how about students who want to do engineering, law etc?

Unknown said...

beggars cant be choosers. Not everyone who wants to be a Lawyer or and Engineer can be one and not every one who is an Accountant wanted to become an Accountant.

I agree that professional bodies continue to increase their exam / membership fees. But it is still cheaper than a 3 + 0 degree.

As for Law, there is always the UoL (external) Degree or the Bachelor of Jurisprudence(external) offered by Uni Malaya.

Sure the tution fees are not cheap but one can always self study. I know many ppl who self studied for the professional and law degrees.

As for engineering, if its Computing / IT, I believe there are still cheaper options to a Degree available but if its hardcore engineering such as civil, either get a scholarship or kiss your dreams goodbyt.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tan that unfortunately the public is ignorant of any difference between a online diploma mill and an online accredited university, since they're both acquired online. I looked into one diploma mill today. I haven't yet looked into what accredited, wholly online degree programs are like, but having had some of my class material delivered online, I understand some of the difficulties. The interactions are not as rich: you can't ask the teacher a question when watching a streaming video, feel the shudder sweep over the classroom as test material is announced, or collaborate as easily with students as they walk out of the classroom. It's just as difficult as telecommuting, or perhaps long-distance relationships. That's not to belittle the act at all, and I can't say online degrees are worth less. I've just never worked with anyone that got their degree completely online before, so I'm at a lack of information right now.

Anonymous said...

Online education is becoming more the norm in U.S. since most people pursuing a graduate level degree must continue to work while they study. It is ignorant to make the blanket statement that an online education is inferior to one that you would receive from a brick and mortar school. There are now MANY universities offering doctorates 100% online and the degrees are well respected in the US.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a blog, OK I am fully aware of Cal Southern University since I was a student with them. What I find amazing is this. Let me get a PSYD from Cal Southern and become a licensed Psychologist in California. But the Military and many other states would not accept it as legit and even illegal to say you have a PSYD unless it is US DOE Recognized. I challenge anyone to seriously suggest that my doctorate is bogus or fake. Is it Ivy League? NO but by no means a fake. I have 3 degrees all from RA schools and a PSY D from CAL Southern. Is my degree inferior to other schools, well that is subjective; I have a legal degree from a real school that took me 3 years to obtain and was very very demanding might I add. We all too often place DIPLOMA Mill in front of unaccredited and that is just ignorant. Diploma mills SELL degrees and I challenge anyone to find the commonality between a diploma Mill and CAL Southern (an unaccredited school).

Another example is this, A National Accredited Law School, William Howard Taft. I can become a California Bar Approved Attorney but it is not R.A or even A.B.A approved. Is my degree fake, it’s accredited but I could not become an attorney at over 30 different states. You see the whole accredited issue is so convoluted at this point as long as you understand the limitations of your desired degree and you didn’t BUY it then it will never be equal to those with assumed superior academic credentials.

I think some of you need to conduct some real research before you open your pie hole and show us all how ignorant and uninformed you really are. DO YOUR RESEARCH and stop the pampas I’m better than you attitude. I am a Psychologist with my doctorate on the wall, Where are you mister I think distant learning is weak and inferior.

Faye Blackheart said...

Regardless of the past, California Southern University, located in Irvine, CA, is most definitely accredited today. It is DETC accredited, which is a natationally recognized accrediting agency according to the US Department of Education. Moreover, DETC is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). I am thinking about enrolling in the Master of Science in Law program, and would seriously be disgusted by any attitude that suggested that because something is obtained through self study outside of a classroom, it is somehow less valuable or "easier" to obtain. Tuition is so expensive at traditional universities due to high overhead, land use taxes, personell, staff, etc., distance learning is the wave of the future. It provides affordable education for a fraction of the cost to the university. It is becomming more legitimate as nearly all major universities have SOME form of online learning, and a large percentage of those schools are now offering graduate and doctoral degrees online now. I have a BA from University of Washington, Seattle, a paralegal certificate from UW's online distance learning program, which I was took me a year of studying to obtain while working in full time at a law firm. Now, as a successful paralegal and AR manager, I am looking for a masters degree that I can do while working. There are only TWO universities in Seattle. I would say that is a pretty limited prospect for someone to continue their education without completely uprooting their life and moving across the country. I would not advocate for an unaccredited school, but I think that once a school obtains accreditation, it should be respected and not sneered upon because it is not 100 years old. Just wait and see, economics is the driving force for all decisions. The economical advantage of online self-guided learning through a cost-effective accredited university is, and will continue to become wide-spread knowledge. It already is fairly common now to see some form of online self-guided studies, look at how many certificate programs exist and are held by professionals, many of which can be done on campus or online. I look forward to the next couple years, where all those who have sneered at affordable education have to bite their tongues. Just because you and (even I) had to spend so much money on a degree from a well known university years ago, doesn't mean that education can't evolve and change for the better. I think most are against it because of fear. They are paranoid that if more people can afford higher education, at a cheaper price, that their education is somehow less valuable. Well it isn't, and it won't be. In the workplace though, you better watch out. There will be more competition for the same jobs, and if someone can do your job better than you, it doesn't matter where you went to school. That is how it should be. The best people for the job should be holding that job. If you went to a big-named school and paid big bucks for your education, and someone went to CalSouthern, and just got a promotion over you, well that is just too damn bad! That is life. Don't trash a perfectly good education just because you are afraid of a little competition.

online diploma said...

Do not compare to the tuition fees in 80s and 90s which is reasonable. Remember, Ringgit was 2.50 against US dollar before the 1997 financial crisis. See what today Ringgit value is?

Anonymous said...

Simple. Just stop recognizing all forms of online programmes and doctoral degree without research. Make it a rule that only PhD holders can use the title doctor, while those with DBA or others are not allowed to use it. Besides, it was announced that all PhD holders must register themselves with the MQA to ensure that their degrees are genuine ones. Is it not made mandatory yet?