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OPM Operating Manual on Acceptability of Unaccredited Degrees

Here is a link to the portion of the US Office of Personnel Management's Operating Manual pertaining to the acceptability of unaccredited degrees:

http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/SEC-II/s2-e4.asp

The language is a bit convoluted in places, but overall this document shows that the feds take a very broad approach to determining what is an "accredited" degree, making no distinction between NA and RA.

Also, they make a fairly realistic evaluation of unaccredited programs. Generally if accredited schools are accepting the unaccredited coursework the work will be deemed equivalent of accredited as well by the feds. And even if it's not accepted, it still can be used for ranking purposes as long as it is not from a diploma mill.

Accredited--As a general rule all "accredited" schools are accepted as meeting minimum qualification requirements. The term "accredited" is defined broadly. It includes "the entire institution, applicable school within the institution, or the applicable curriculum if it was appropriately accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education."

Thus not just RA, but also NA and any accredited curriculum, presumably even in the rare event that the institution itself is not also accredited.

"Correspondence or distance learning course work is also acceptable if the applicable school within the institution or applicable curriculum is accredited by an accrediting body that is recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education."

Unaccredited--Non-accredited education may not be used to meet minimum education requirements, but still may be considered during the ranking process when evaluating qualified job applicants who already meet minimum qualification standards.

Most significantly, there also are exceptions which treat unaccredited courses as accredited if they are accepted for credit by accredited institutions. These exceptions include situations where "an accredited U.S. university or college reports the other institution as one whose transcript is given full value."

This in effect makes each accredited school an evaluator of unaccredited programs, at least as far as the feds are concerned.

Non-qualifying--This is unaccredited education that is not within the exceptions. This includes "diploma mills," but is not necessarily the equivalent thereof. "Diploma mills" are expressly forbidden from use in the ranking process, while "unaccredited" education is expressly allowed in the ranking process, so clearly they are not equivalent. They define "diploma mills" as those "granting degrees with few or no academic requirements."

So the bottom line seems to be four groups of institutions, with the distinctions between the groups gradually becoming more blurred as you proceed down the hierarchy.

1. Accredited--includes both RA and NA, as well as DoE approved program accreditation, such as e.g., PMI, even if the institution itself is neither RA or NA.

2. Unaccredited but accepted by accredited--treated as accredited

3. Non-Qualifying--unaccredited and not accepted by accredited
a. More than a few academic requirements--not accepted for minimum requirements but accepted for ranking
b. Diploma mill--few or no academic requirements--not accepted for minimum requirements or ranking

This document does make it fairly clear that (for federal employment purposes at least) any unaccredited degree that is not an outright "diploma mill" degree does indeed have some utility. Acceptance of such a degree by accredited schools increases that utility to the point that it is the functional equivalent of accredited.

Altogether this doesn't seem like such a bad deal. It gives no value to the clear fakes, but does give a value to the bona fide unaccredited schools commensurate with their value as perceived by accredited schools. It effectively lets the education community itself decide what is or is not equivalent of accredited, rather than some deviant bureaucrat. And it doesn't allow an unaccredited school to stand as the equivalent of an accredited one when it is not accepted by the accredited ones as such.

It's interesting to compare this system of evaluation with more oppressive and less thoughtful systems, such as we see in Oregon. The Oregon system is clearly substandard to that of the feds, in that it takes the approach that every unaccredited school is automatically a forbidden degree mill unless they jump through certain government hoops. In Oregon a bona fide unaccredited school that is accepted as such by accredited schools is treated exactly like a diploma mill. Clearly that is wrong, unfair, and serves no good purpose. All it does is limit competition and oppress the poor and working class people who most likely have the unaccredited degrees in the first place.

[Post courtesy of Degreeboard.com]
At one time, about 4-5 ?? years ago, I made up a list of colleges that had some process for considering unaccredited degrees and credits. Many seemed willing to look at and consider acceptance of them. I can't say what the acceptance is now, things change rapidly, but I suspect that there are still many that are open minded about such schools.

Considering how much crap that the gang and others have put out there it's amazing that the level of acceptance is as high as it is. I hope that in the future we can get back to the many varied options that were once there.

Sure, many schools now offer accredited degrees via DL, but, they want you to take basically the same courses that resident students take. Which means 4-6 years to get a degree. That is hardly what Bear and others were talking about during the 1970's- 80's-early 90's. The idea was, back then, that using life experience and by testing out an adult could get a decent degree from a state licensed school in about a year. What is the value to a 50 year old man of DL if it takes all the same work as for a 18 year old kid. Where is the credit for work, life experience and other events experienced by an older person. Is this what Bear was seeing as the future? I certainly hope not. It's not what I saw or wanted and it's certainly not what he wrote in the front of his guide books.

Unaccredited schools may have been lacking, at times, but they were going in the right direction and would have gotten better if the lies and distortions hadn't destroyed many of the state licensed schools.
California State Approved schools have always been the high water mark for unaccredited distance learning post secondary institutions of higher learning. California pacific University comes to mind. They have an excellent reputation, and their degrees have propelled students into the public and private sector as outstanding employees and managers in business and healthcare administration. In fact, upon graduation, a student can stand for licensure as a nursing home administrator after they have completed their hours of practicum/internship under a preceptor or licensed administrator. CPU is outstanding, always has been and will continue to be...
I have been on the campus of Thomas Aquinas college in Ojai, California. It is a beautiful and contemplative campus, that teaches it's students, the "Classics". It is sequestered in a beautiful valley surrounded by majestic oak trees and the rugged Topatopa mountain range.

The students that this college produces are noble citizens and many are very, very devout in their faith. I must go visit the new chapel that is on campus when next in Ojai; I think it was built a couple of years ago, but I haven't been on the campus in quite a few years. I wish more colleges would follow the lead of this outstanding Catholic college, and teach from the classics. Thomas Aquinas is only an undergrad college though, I don't think they offer graduate degrees.
Well.....I was up in Ojai last weekend,because my wife wanted to attend the "Lavender Festival"...everything from lavender macaroons to lavender pound cake to lavender snicker-doodles...you get the idea..Anyways, I had the great fortune to stop in at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula... The chapel was spectacular and edifying..my wife was in awe...we felt like we were back in Rome. If I were an 18 year old and freshly graduated from high school...this would be my academic institution of choice to attend. The campus is beautifully surrounded by majestic oak trees and well forested trails for the students to hike in... The regal Topatopa Mountain range looms protectively above this wonderful Catholic college. Someday, I hope to attend mass if traveling through the area on a Sunday.
(06-27-2012, 05:09 AM)bigfoot Wrote: [ -> ]Well.....I was up in Ojai last weekend,because my wife wanted to attend the "Lavender Festival"...everything from lavender macaroons to lavender pound cake to lavender snicker-doodles...you get the idea..Anyways, I had the great fortune to stop in at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula... The chapel was spectacular and edifying..my wife was in awe...we felt like we were back in Rome. If I were an 18 year old and freshly graduated from high school...this would be my academic institution of choice to attend. The campus is beautifully surrounded by majestic oak trees and well forested trails for the students to hike in... The regal Topatopa Mountain range looms protectively above this wonderful Catholic college. Someday, I hope to attend mass if traveling through the area on a Sunday.

Sounds like a delightful school. People can learn much from some of the lesser known schools. All does not have to be Yale-MIT.
A new school that was supposed to open never got off the ground...it was called "Buddha Is laughing"... this diploma mill was run by two shysters named Byron and Marshall...LOL!...they gave up on distance education. The school's specialization was motocross and debate...vroom, vroom! They like playing the ukulele now, and getting mauled by one brilliant music professor....a man of incomparable wit and style...
An outstanding California community college is Santa Rose junior College. For years it was a feeder school to UC Berkeley, and continues to have a great academic reputation. I personally always felt that the Cal State System should have continued to call it "schools" state colleges, e.g. San Jose State College became San Jose State University, has a quaint, nicely historical ring to it. The public "state" universities were the domain of the UC system because of the comprehensive nature of the curriculum, and the research that was being done their. I wish the board of trustees would adopt that "title" again...maybe they would take it under advisement from a taxpayer.
What I find particularly amusing is societies understanding of distance education. Many people, erroneously believe that distance ed., has come about, through the advent of the internet!.....WROOONG! Distance education, formerly referred to as correspondence education has been in existence for decades, in fact, since the 19th century. Granted, it often is better, but not always to attend class with a roomful of your student peers, as you work toward a degree/certificate completion program. But if it is not logistically, or reasonably possible to attend the local state college or university, distance education makes a wonderful, and flexible alternative, after all...when you get that "masters" through distance education, you will have the "diploma" to show for your efforts, those who chose not to participate... will not. These detractors will invariably try to put you down and impugn your credential, in order to feel good about themselves...it's called "jealousy". One of those seven deadlies. Go out...get that distance education diploma...make sure it's legal and valid, and will challenge you as well as personally enrich you...happy hunting.
Personally, I always believed that regional accreditation should focus primarily on "high schools"...not colleges or universities. Post-secondary education should be overseen by the various states educational departments. Community colleges and public universities, should be reviewed by "state" personnel, equipped to oversea these academic institutions. It seems over-reaching and outside the scope of a private accrediting body to concern itself with higher education...resources and time should focus on ensuring that secondary schools are providing a quality education to students, "that would prepare" them for meeting the academic demands of post-secondary institutions. Meaning this...colleges and universities should not exhaust financial resources and the skills of competent educators to provide "remedial" education to students who can't grasp high school algebra and high school English/literature. CHEA and the DOE should reassess it's position concerning the scope and duties of the various accrediting bodies and their involvement with higher education.
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