28 November 2012

DeVry Wants You: If You Have A PhD

A friend who works at DeVry University tells me that now the school wants its adjuncts to have PhDs.

She didn't know whether that is a university-wide policy, or one that's specific to the New York City branch.  She also didn't know whether it applies to all subject areas, or simply in the humanities/liberal arts subjects.

Imagine foregoing a regular income and putting yourself in debt to get a PhD--and ending up as an adjunct in a place like DeVry.

I suppose it could be worse.  For all of its faults, DeVry may not be the worst for-profit school. It may not even come close.  However, from what this friend, and others who've taught and are teaching there have told me, they engage in all of the sleazy practices associated with for-profits:  dishonest recruiting, high-pressure sales tactics and lying about the transferability of their credits, let alone the value of their degrees.  And, of course, they probably practice a trick or two of their own.

It's one thing to be a degreed indentured servant. It's something else to be one for such a corrupt institution.

If you're thinking about getting a PhD in any humanities field, and you want to live in some place where "culture" means more than the carton of Dannon you pick up at the local 7-11, think about this post.


  1. ("an degreed")

    leaving this part solo so you can delete it and scrub the evidence

  2. One of the cuter of the many cute parts about the diploma mills is that they almost always won't treat a PhD from one of their type of institutions as acceptable. Generally, instructors there are supposed to get the PhD at a major, traditional university, then teach at the diploma mill under the pretense that a PhD from there is just as good as at a traditional.

  3. Akra: I think that when I was writing this post, I wrote "an indentured", then added "degreed" without taking the "n" off "an".

    You've touched on one of the dirty little secrets of higher education. However, it isn't limited to the "diploma mills". Even the decent state universities and respectable private institutions won't normally hire someone with a PhD from an institution that's on their academic and socioeconomic level. As an example, when I was at Rutgers College of Rutgers University, most of my professors had Ivy League PhDs. And, ironically, I saw several Rutgers PhDs teaching at York College-CUNY when I was teaching there!

  4. At this rate, a person will need a Master's degree to become a "university" janitor - in about ten years.

  5. ((""At this rate, a person will need a Master's degree to become a "university" janitor - in about ten years.""))

    I think Nando's got a point here: Can you say 'devaluing of a degree'?) LOL

  6. I was considering applying to be a professor at DeVry after my law school experience has ended. Now I will have to go back to school again. This blows.

  7. For the "diploma mills" (as though that's not what they all are), faculty requirements are just a way of marketing by investing in the brands of the better schools where the desired professors went--recognizable brands that will mean something when read in an online profile by an otherwise-ignorant customer. So, if someone at University of State teaches at Online Degree College, the potential O.D.C. student sees that their professor will have a U. of S. degree, and feels connected to U. of S. Similarly, as you pointed out, someone applying to University of State can see that their professor will have a Recognizable Private University degree, which gives them comparable warm fuzzies.

    At the highest levels, the real endowments and the intelligence services controlled almost all serious government staffing feeds post WW2, so they had to swap around to one another, meaning even Central Harvard Intelligence College profs occasionally had to suffer the indignity of going to teach in California or Pennsylvania for a few years. Ergo future respected media commentators, defense policymakers, full professors and bankers could do the incest thing around the private university circuit, then become presidents and the like.

    We're seeing those goodies diffuse gradually into more "state" universities, but that trend won't continue as proles begin to perceive that only "real" college degrees matter. Next up, they'll make a big show of fixing education by reversing the degree bubble and passing us through a quieting phase, similar to the "housing bubble" and managed foreclosure washout. Look for a narrative variant on "a few bad apples were responsible for catering to the foolish choices of people with ridiculous expectations and poor planning abilities."

    Then it'll be a generation or so of dropping all semblances of the former doctoral nobility, and using private online networking to coordinate intermarriages and job postings.

  8. Akra: Your comment shows just how much "higher" education has become about "marketing" "brands." In such a system--especially in a field like post-secondary education, in which most people really don't know the difference between the "better" and "worse" schools--the biggest selling point is the actual or perceived prestige of the "brand."

    I used to know someone who worked for Cornell. He used to joke that the smartest person in history was the one who opened Ithaca College, for all that institution had to do was go across town to hire. And students could tell themselves, "Well, my profs come from Cornell--and it's Ivy League!"

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