Why Such Limited PhD Access

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. Martin

    Martin
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Messages:
    5,228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Why are PhD programs not set up for the working man or woman?

    I have been toying with the idea of doing a PhD for some time. Just last evening I was looking around the University of South Carolina's PhD in Southern History website. It looked great until I got to the resident requirements. I would have to quit my job to attend and that is something I just can't do. The same is true with other schools. I have looked at PhD programs at UNC Greensboro (United States History), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Church History), George Mason University (United States History), and others. At one point I considered Liberty University's online Doctor of Education program but then realized that was not what I wanted.

    I just don't understand why they don't make these programs more accessible. I teach history and humanities at a local community college. During an average semester I usually teach between 21 and 24 hours (7 to 8 classes) which makes PhD studies difficult to fit in anyway. However if they would offer online and weekend classes I could probably fit it in. Leaving my current position is not an option or a desire. Why can't universities create programs for people like myself? At this point I can either (a) never earn a PhD, (b) earn a Doctor of Education, (c) earn an unaccredited PhD, or (d) wait for a school like APU to start offering history PhDs online. I don't like options "b" or "c" and option "d", though regionally accredited, will limit my ability to move to the University level since APU is not highly regarded in academic circles. At this point I am leaning towards "a" only because it seems like I have no other choice. In today's world that is a sad commentary on the University/Seminary systems.
     
  2. just-want-peace

    just-want-peace
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2002
    Messages:
    5,503
    Likes Received:
    40
    Having gone no further than a BS, I cannot elaborate on your predicament, but I do have an idea.
    IMHO, most ( if not all ) "higher learning establishments" have gone the way of state licensing boards (in general), in that they have ceased to primarily function for the caliber of a particular vocation and are mainly concerned with being self sustaining.

    A few quick examples come to mind:
    1 American Bar association
    2 American Medical Association
    3 Most labor unions

    Not that any of these are totally corrupt ( maybe 'cept unions -:tongue3: ), but the original purpose of protecting the public has been lost as the # one priority.

    Universities, IMHO, fit this category and if they can produce a few truly educated grads, then they are happy. They can/will now focus more on continuing their existence rather than the quality of "output".

    Your desires are not in demand enough for any of them to spend the time & effort to try to meet your (general YOUR) needs, as this does not effect the status-quo of the establishment.
     
  3. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    PhDs are designed to be heavily laden with research responsibilities, which become a full time job. Having undertaken PhD level work, I can attest to this. Is it workable if you have a full-time position? Sure. But don't count on much time with the family or doing silly things like naps, hobbies, recreational reading, etc. It's a full-time endeavor. I've often wondered if that isn't one of the reason professional terminal degrees (D.Min, DBA, EdD, PsyD, etc.) came about.

    Plus, let's face facts. At most schools, PhD students teach....a lot. So you need free time to be able to do a lot of lecturing, grading, etc.

    Now, SBTS is one seminary that is offering modular PhD programs. Others have followed suit and led the pack. And some D.Min programs are getting beefier to fill the need between the library rats and the "Here's How We do Sunday School" dissertation types (Thankfully).

    Were I going to be an academic, I'd have a Master's in the area I was going to teach in, and then do an EdD in administration. That way, you can be a dean, you can be a prof, or in the best of all worlds, both. At one time, I considered an EdD after the M.Div for that very reason.

    Just a thought. It served my cousin very well, as she ended up getting offers to teach and/or be an administrator on the collegiate level. She did both at one time or another before she retired. I owe her credit for this advice.
     
  4. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    72
    Honestly, I think that the lack of accessibility is a good thing.

    Why? There is a glut of PhDs in the Humanities. IMO, it is questionable to pursue a PhD when you are fully funded, but it is absolutely insane to pay out of pocket for a degree that likely will not do much for you.

    A part-time or modular PhD is highly unlikely to be funded because you will not be available to grade, teach, research, etc. for the faculty.

    Even if it were available, it would still likely be considered "inferior" to the full time residential model because of a lack of "immersion" in the field.

    If you want a doctorate, I recommend the Ed.D. It can open doors for you in the community college system.

    If you pursue a PhD, it may not necessarily open any more doors for you anyhow. Tenure-track positions at universities are few and far between, and you are competing with a very large number of candidates.

    The field of U.S. History is even worse. If you were planning to study Asian History, Middle Eastern History, etc. you might have a better chance, but U.S. has way too many candidates.
     
  5. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't entirely disagree that it should be difficult. But it shouldn't be impossible nor impractical for practicioners. Educational models change with the times, and rightly so.
     
  6. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    72
    Is there really a "practitioner" in the field of history? I suppose museum directors and curators would qualify, but that's more "public history" than history proper.

    My question is this: what is the purpose of the PhD? It is not designed for practitioners. It is designed to prepare researchers and university faculty. In the humanities, these purposes generally are combined.

    If a person can't afford to quit his or her job or is unable to relocate, then he or she is not the kind of person that needs to pursue a humanities PhD, IMO.

    In order to get a tenure-track position, you will probably need to relocate far away for a potentially low-paying position.

    I do wish that the "Doctor of Arts" degree would have caught on more. It is designed for teaching undergraduates more than for producing research. This kind of degree, IMO, would work well for those who are already teaching in community colleges or at 4 year institutions.

    If we make the PhD too convenient, we are only going to flood the market further. In some fields, that's ok. For example, a PhD in theology can always be a pastor. A PhD in Biology can work in scientific research. A PhD in history outside of academia can flip hamburgers.
     
  7. Martin

    Martin
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Messages:
    5,228
    Likes Received:
    0
    That is part of my problem. My teaching responsibilities at the college take up most of my time. Adding a full-time PhD program on top of that would be impossible. However if more schools would open the door up to part-time programs that use weekend classes, summer modulars, and online classes, it would be workable. A very few number of schools are doing that. I think, though I would have to check, the Regent University's PhD uses that format. However it is in Renewal Studies and the tuition at RU is far too high.

    Your probably right about that.

    See, this is where they could be creative. Since I, and others, already teach full time at the college level why not allow that to take the place of teaching in the program? In other words, equivalence! People like myself don't just teach introductory classes. We teach sophomore and freshman level courses in the general education department. So, the way I see it, we already do more than most PhD interns do. Not to mention that we generally teach 7-9 classes every semester (not 2-3). Most of us are also interdisciplinary. I teach courses in history and religion.

    Several Universities are using this equivalence idea at the graduate level with the Master of Arts in Teaching program. Professionals who are teaching using the lateral entry program can enter this program and the teaching requirements are fulfilled by their actual teaching. If they have not been teaching then they have to fulfill intern teaching requirements. My point is that there is always a way to be creative.

    I have considered that option as well. However I am not really happy in administration. I am happiest in the classroom (physical or virtual). At our college chairs/deans can only teach two or three classes. That is not enough for me since I enjoy teaching. However there is the old saying that applies here, never say never.
     
    #7 Martin, Aug 7, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2010
  8. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    72
    It's not a matter of creativity. They don't want you teaching to get experience. They want you to teach to take up all the general ed courses that they don't want to teach. It's a part of the trade-off. We fund you, and you teach the classes we don't want to teach.

    This is irrelevant because MAT programs are designed for K-12 licensure, which requires student teaching. This is a state requirement, not a university preference. Being a grad assistant teaching or grading is not a state requirement.
     
  9. Martin

    Martin
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Messages:
    5,228
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is a "glut of PhDs in the Humanities", you are correct. However I am talking about a program for college instructors/professors/lecturers who want to earn a PhD. I am not talking about, no offense to anyone, using these programs for people not already in higher education.

    That is an old-school, out of date thinking imo. However it certainly represents the thinking at most universities. Teaching 21-24 hours of history/religion, I am almost as immersed my field as one can be. Probably more than any healthy person should be. While we don't have a "publish or perish" situation in the community colleges we are expected to stay up to day in our field.

    I understand what you are saying and you are correct. However a PhD would allow me to move if the opportunity ever arose. There would be no rush. Believe me.

    I agree. My focus is Native American History during the 17th and 18th centuries. While that field is not jammed packed like 20th century European or American, it is not as big of a field and has less room.
     
  10. Martin

    Martin
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Messages:
    5,228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Am I a "practitioner in the field of history"? I would say so. I teach history, study history (primary and secondary), I am working on research that will hopefully be published, and do work with local historical museums, archives, and historical sites. One of my coworkers has published two books and I know a gentleman at another community college who has published a very important work on the Civil War. While some professors at the university level look down on us community college folks, we do just as much if not more work as they do. Most of them teach four classes and think it is the end of the world. We teach six classes and think we have it easy. Just last year, one of my coworkers got a call from a professor at UNC Chapel Hill. The professor was impressed that we were teaching freshman level classes on World War II and the Civil War. He was also impressed with the quality of the course. Then, of course, he had to ruin it by making some snobby remark about community colleges. My point is that we work hard and are just as qualified in research as those folks at the university level. Anyone who thinks otherwise should sink to our level and spend a few years in our shoes.

    Sorry about the rant. No offense intended. :thumbs:

    In the current market you are correct. However that does not mean it is right. If location is the only reason someone cannot pursue a PhD (in any field) in this day of technology then something is really wrong.

    I don't disagree. That is why my comments center on folks like myself and not young folks right out of graduate school.
     
  11. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    This perception is very real. I was recently part of a Director of Missions search team. The chair and another member refused to consider anyone with a research doctorate. All PhDs and ThDs, accredited or not, went in the trash. Sad, but real.

    Fade to corporate America. PhDs are just odd ducks. They don't know what to do with you. Heck, they look at you odd if you have a DBA. They might hire you, but you'll get little more than what an MBA or BBA would get for the same position.

    Stefan is right. They want free (or better yet, YOU have to pay to do this) or low cost profs for 101s. Again, it's part and parcel of the model, which in my mind could always use some tweaking.

    Martin, you're right in that you're about as immersed as any PhD prof would be in one of the programs you're looking into. You're on the front lines, in the trenches. It's frustrating.
     
  12. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    72
    That doesn't make you a "practitioner," though. Teaching a subject is not practicing it. Practitioner/scholar distinctions are more common in professional fields. One can practice or teach medicine, religion, psychology, etc.

    How does one "practice" history, English, etc. in a way that distinguishes it from "scholarly" activities? Research and teaching doesn't make you a practitioner. It makes you a scholar.


    The problem is that such programs would draw people right out of graduate school, especially in this market. "Hmm...go full-time and eat Ramen noodles 3X a day, or I could try this modular thingy....." It wouldn't be smart, but I see it happening easily.

    I think that we would benefit from a research-based doctoral degree as in the European system. This approach would benefit both fresh grads and current teachers. If you have time to produce quality research, you have time to complete the program.
     
  13. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    72
    Of course, the university/community college rivalry simply expresses a difference in priorities.

    At an R1 institution, teaching undergrads is something that you have adjuncts and assistant profs handle for you so you might be able to teach a grad section. You don't mind teaching the grad section as much because you can use the students to research things you plan to write about. Research is the key. Why? The tenure system rewards it. It doesn't matter how great your teaching skills are if you don't publish.

    RE: the research disparities--You named two people who produced a total of three books. While the quality of the research likely is equivalent, the problem boils down to quantity. Someone teaching a 2/2 with summers off is going to have more time for research. Unless the CC lecturer is a workaholic, it's going to be extremely difficult to keep up.

    It's an unfair system, but it is the way it is.
     
  14. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good luck getting that program accredited. Columbia Evangelical, Newburgh Seminary, etc., all use the Eurpoean model to an extent, and you're toast in the eyes of American accreditors. That goes back to my point about a changing of a model. It's a hard sell right now.
     
  15. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,406
    Likes Received:
    99
    I'll toss in as a PhD who has surveyed the modern American educational system over the past several years. The OP is a good point and it brings up some essential
    issues that need to be addressed in our modern, western academic settings.

    Given technology and availability of tremendous resources there is little reason to say someone must complete a 3 year residency and then go to dissertation all on campus. Its silly.

    That said, for a PhD to be worth it you really need the interaction with faculty, students, and scholars to grow. With the glut of humanities PhDs out there and the strange consumer model educational process there is a mixed bag when it comes to getting the degree.

    I enjoyed my PhD time though I don't use it in a very academic sense.
     

Share This Page

Loading...