No doctorate

The federal government subsidizes employees’ tuition and gives them a raise for earning an advanced degree. Or for getting a piece of paper from a diploma mill. Reason reports:

At least 28 senior-level employees had degrees from diploma mills, the GAO found, while cautioning that “this number is believed to be an understatement.” Among them: Daniel P. Matthews, chief information officer for the Department of Transportation (which oversees the Transportation Security Administration), who got his $3,500 bachelor of science degree within eight months from diploma mill Kent College in Mandeville, Louisiana, and three unnamed managers with super-secret Q-level security clearance at the National Nuclear Security Administration — including an Air Force lieutenant colonel who attended no classes and took no tests to get a promotion-enabling master’s degree from LaSalle University, a diploma mill affiliated with Kent College and also based in Mandeville.

The woman in charge of data base management for Homeland Security had a bachelor’s, master’s and PhD from a diploma mill. She insisted co-workers refer to her as “doctor.”

About Joanne


  1. There are lots of conclusions to draw from this story. What people will do to get ahead. The failure of due diligence on the part of screeners.

    But it also highlights the absurdity of the current craze for credentialing.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    But the ad said “A prestigious non-acredited institution.”
    Ain’t ‘prestigious’ good?

  3. Because my campus work-address for e-mail is a .edu address, I get tons of these every month.

    I vacillate between amusement – I received one offering me a “dimploma” – and irritation that such a practice exists, and that it may make the Ph.D.’s of people who actually worked for them seem worth a bit less. (And that creeps can get ahead in life by buying such a thing).

    (my doctorate, I got the “old fashioned” way: I earrrrrned it. Five long years of spending the summers in the hot sun and the winters hunched over a computer, analyzing data. I still have the 20-lb. stress-weight gain to show for it.)

  4. hopefully, those co-workers now refer to her as “doctored”

    As noted, the issue is devaluing real work

  5. This is not a new phenomenon. 20 years ago I worked with an old USAF MSgt who could make computers do anything but had no degree. He was contemplating retirement and the major companies wanted a diploma. His comment: “I will go down to Alabama State University, where they will give me an easy A because I’m a minority, and then I will have my piece of paper that says I can really do what I’ve been doing for 20 years, go to some company that doesn’t know Alabama State from the University of Alabama, and get a job.” And he did.

    There’s been ways to get a diploma without working for it for a long time.

  6. Half Canadian says:

    Western Governors University, a distance-education, accredited U, offers legitimate degrees based on assessment performance. Using SDN’s example, that MSgt could have gotten his degree from WGU (albeit, it would take somewhat longer) and the degree would be legit. With the emphasis on credentials (particularly in education), experienced workers lacking said credentials have a legitimate gripe about attending classes to hear things they know (and in many cases, know better).
    Full disclosure. I work for WGU as a research analyst. Take it for what you will.


  1. Degree Mills

    Paul Sperry has as an interesting piece in Reason entitled, “Cut-Rate Diplomas: How doubts about the government’s own “Dr. Laura” exposed a resume fraud scandal. ” It discusses the case of “Dr.” Laura L. Callahan, the former deputy chief informa…