Mail Order Ph.D's-Worth it?

I dropped out of graduate school, several year’s short of my Pd.D. Now, I’m wondering what I should do. I read an ad in a magazine-there is a “university” in California (called “California Coast University”)-which grabts PdD. degrees by mail. According to them, they are fully accredited by the State of California. All I have to do is (a) send them $5700.00, and submit two copies of a dissertation.
Then they will grant me the degree.
Sounds OK to me, but is it woth it? How likely am I to face ridicule for my newly-earned doctorate?

Likely it might happen from certain types of people. A few years ago I was thinking of going back to college part time at Virginia State University. They give grants to non-blacks in an effort to create more diversity on campus. I only live 5 minutes away and it sounded like a pretty good idea to me. The man I was dating at the time didn’t like the idea. He thought that my degree would not be considered as desirable by most people. He assumed, like some people might, that it would have been easier for me to obtain since it came from a “black” college. Never mind that he attended Atlantic Bible College or some off the wall shit like that! Or that I was working full time with two kids and no husband and that in itself would make it a victory. Or that just because the school was “black” it shouldn’t be assumed that the standards or the curriculum is below average. Burned the shit out of me.

In the end I didn’t go back because the degree I was after would not have helped my financial situation one bit. I would only have been going back for my own personal satisfaction. In my situation you can’t always do things just because it’s something you’ve always wanted to do.

People might snicker behind their hands at you if they find out you got a “match book” degree. But then people will find something to snicker about no matter what you do, people are like that.


Why do you want a PhD? If you want it to give you a feeling of closure with your formal education, and that’s worth $5,700 to you, then I say go ahead. If it’s for professional reasons, you’d better make sure the “university” is accredited, and that your employer, professional society or whatever accepts that accreditation agency.

If you want it to impress your clients, you might want to have an explanation ready when Dateline or 60 Minutes points the camera at your diploma.

Will they absolutely accept anyone? What if you sent in a 50 page dissertation that was really just one long run-on sentence about your cat Whiskers? Do they even bother reading the paper? Do they have any sort of guidance system set up to help you along with your paper if you need it?

If no, why are they charging you $5,700? What are you getting out of it other than a slip of paper that says you paid $5,700?


there is a “university” in California (called “California Coast University”)-which grabts PdD. degrees by mail. According to them, they are fully accredited by the State of California. All I have to do is (a) send them $5700.00, and submit two copies of a dissertation.


Two words-diploma mill. There is no easy shortcut to getting a graudate degree, and any “university” that does not require coursework, meeting with a graduate advisor, or defending your dissertation in front of a faculty panel is not to be trusted.

Gotta agree with Goboy.

No university could be truly accredited with a program that operates like this. You might want to ask them to define “accredited”. They may be using the word to mean that they have a building occupation license, or something.

In addition, states do not accredit universities. Regional accrediting bodies check the schools to ensure that they maintain minimum acceptable educational standards.

goboy is dead on. There is an accrediting body for all schools in California. Here’s a link. Submitting to accreditation by this or any of the other seven regional agencies is entirely voluntary, but most not-for-profit universities and colleges do submit to it. It guarantees that a minimum of standards are met in terms of faculty, library resources, fair governance, etc.

You’re actually not such a bad candidate for this sort of degree-after all, you’ve been to grad school, you know what’s involved, you’ve done some coursework, you’ve been a part of the academy, etc. Getting the PhD is more a formality, a matter of closure as you (or someone else?) said. Lack of faculty, or a godawful library, etc., isn’t such a big deal for you–these aren’t essential for you to say you have a graduate education because you’ve had and used these resources already.

At issue is the worth your PhD will have. True, the average person won’t know CCU is a diploma mill. There are 3,000 colleges and universities in the U.S.; nobody has heard of them all. But someday this could prove embarrassing.

But more than anything, it’s the price that bugs me. $5,700 is way too much for getting a piece of sheepskin from an unaccredited, unorthodox institution that gives you nothing except the dubious credential. That’s price gouging any way you slice it. They ought to discount this product, given what it is worth.

Being ABD is not such a bad state to be in. Screw getting the closure–spend the %5700 on something else.

That’s what most of these places do. You pay a huge fee, and they draw something up in Photoshop/etc. and mail it out. It’s a waste.

If you’re gonna mail order a diploma, there’s got to be a place that’ll do it for less. I would imagine (and this is a WAG) that you shouldn’t have to pay more than $49.95.
(And remember to insist that they throw in a free guide to making millions in distressed real estate)

There was a humorous article in the Washington Post Style section about two Sundays ago about the degree mills: one of the reporters wanted to find out exactly what was involved. He wanted credit for watching the Discovery Channel and got them. His transcript had A’s for classes in “Thermodynamical Physics” or some such stuff, IIRC. And, he talked them down in price.

The photo of the “University” was great; it was run out of a drycleaner or some such place. (My specifics might be wrong, but you get the gist).

Unfortunately, real Ph.D. students aren’t necessarily all that smart. From a personal experience, since I worked at a large university, I knew two Ph.D. students who were going for degrees in Molecular Biology. Just weeks before their candidacy exams (after all their courses had been completed): genius #1 didn’t know how to make a 10% solution of saline without a protocol to go by; genius #2 asked the post-doc in the lab if animals besides humans had immune systems (which I found especially egregious, since a lot of her research is based on antibody assays such as ICC). To me, this is like a bartender not knowing how to make Gin and Tonic. Sharp (or even not so sharp) undergraduates should know this stuff in this field.

So, if you feel the need for a mail-order Ph.D., realize it ain’t worth shit, but you might be just as smart as some people who have them. Your biggest demonstration of intelligence would be not paying a degree mill for one.