Monday, December 19, 2005

St. Andrews College - and other - Doctorates

First things first.

“Prof. Dr” Jessie Chung claims to be both a professor and a doctorate holder. Let’s review the academic credentials that would allow her to refer to herself as a “Dr.”, and we can review her professorship next.

There are 3 legitimate ways to earn a doctorate in North America (where “Dr” Jessie claimed was educated):
1. Doctorate as a first-professional degree in the medical field
2. Doctorate (normally a Ph.D.) via research
3. Honourary doctorate (Honoris Causa) based on a body of significant work and contribution to society.

First-Professional Doctorates
Most in the senior front-line medical professions such as chiropractic, allopathic, naturopathic, osteopathic physicians, dentists, veterinarians, and optometrists are conferred accredited degrees with the suffix/prefix “Doctor” attached to their first-professional degree. Variants include DC, MD, ND, DO, DDS, DVM and OD, respectively. In North America, at least 3 years of undergraduate studies in life sciences or pre-med is required for admissions – routinely a full degree is required due to the competitive nature of admissions. Recently other allied medical professionals such as pharmacists, and therapists are also being conferred degrees with a “Doctor” suffix/prefix, including those in the non-medical fields such as law.

These degrees are professional degrees in the sense that they provide a regulated professional service to the public. There are no requirements for front-line research to be conducted to earn these degrees, but public-scrutiny accreditation (more later) and profession-mandated licensing exams (more later) are required instead. There is an attendant period of clinical internship (averaging 2-3 years) as well. Very very rarely – or never - are these degrees earned with “life experience credits” or via correspondence, since on-site clinical experience is required. By the time these graduates are fully licensed and qualified, they would have spent roughly the equivalent of time as a research-based PhD doctorate-holder (about 8 to 10 years, sometimes longer if a specialization is earned) prior to professional practice.

Others in the alternate medical fields such as acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, etc. are also pushing to have their doctorate recognized, but at this point they are slow in the making. Until there is an agreed upon curriculum, a recognized program of research, real professional ethics, the culling of the quacks, I hope they never will be recognized.

Research Ph.D. Doctorates
Research Ph.D. doctorates are conferred after 5 years of supervised studies and research, only in a very narrowly focussed area on one very specific aspect even (I have a MD friend who spent 6 years from scratch studying one specific type of genes that may be responsible for triggering the early stages of Alzheimer's disease in one racial age group, after spending 4 years to obtain his MD and 2 years in residency). This is preceded by two years of studies and research at a Master’s level, and 4 years of studies at bachelor’s level. In the first two years of the PhD program, the doctoral candidates (which they are called) must undertake a series of prescribed courses. Upon successful completion of these courses and a formulation of a research focus, they then proposed a program of research in their last three years of the program. They will need a faculty-sponsor for this work (akin, in one sense, to an internship). Upon the successful defence of their thesis dissertation, the candidate will be conferred a Ph.D. Very rarely are these degrees earned with “life experience credits” or via correspondence, since on-site research is required. Quite often the 5-year period is extended by 1 - or even 2 - years to improved the dissertation. At some universities and some programs (such as business, as an example), prescribed advanced courses (if the university is equipped – very often the case in very large and endowed universities such as Harvard, Yale, etc.) and detailed papers are substituted for a full dissertation. In this event, another form of doctorate is conferred, one with a “Doctor” suffix/prefix (such as a Doctor of Business Administration).

Ph.D. doctorates are conferred in the research-based non-medical fields primarily (e,g. english literature, physics), although some medical fields which lie more in the domain of applied sciences (such as nutrition, pharmaceutical chemistry, etc.) are also conferring Ph.D.’s. Ph.D. holders that are going into clinical environments (nutritionists, dieticians, chemists, etc.) often have to spend a year or two in a post-doctoral fellowship prior to being engaged in a full-time position. Increasingly so, other Ph.D. holders are also required to do so, as this post-doctoral fellowship period is seen as the internship period, rather than the final three years of the Ph.D. program; such is the competitive nature of advanced research. It takes about about 12-14 years to mint a fully functional Ph.D.

Honourary Doctorates
The least useful of all the doctorates, these degrees are conferred strictly for honourary purposes. The general protocol is none of these honourary doctorate holders addresses themselves at “Dr”, since the title is mostly ceremonial in nature rather than functional. Typical degrees conferred are D.Litt and D.Laws. Holders of these degrees have not earned them via course work or research. Some are artists, politicians, philanthropists (and may even be illiterate).

St. Andrews College

After conducting an exhaustive search for variants of St. Andrews for educational institutions of higher learning, I was able to produce the following list of schools. Most are high schools or theological seminaries. One is the 3rd oldest university in the English-speaking world, while one is a closed diploma mill.

The University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Laurinburg, North Carolina
St Andrew's College at the University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
St Andrew's College at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
St Andrew's College at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
St. Andrews Correspondence College
St. Andrew’s School, Middletown, Delaware
St. Andrew’s School, Nassau, Bahamas
St. Andrew’s School, WALKERVILLE, South Australia
New St Andrews College Moscow, Idaho
St Andrew's College, Christchurch, New Zealand
St Andrew's College, Dublin, Ireland
St Andrew's College, Blackrock, Ireland
St Andrew's College, Aurora, Ontario, Canada
St Andrew's College, Marayong, New South Wales, Australia
St Andrew's College, Grahamstown, South Africa
St Andrew's College, Dumbarton, Scotland

Since St. Andrews College is where “Dr” Jessie earned her doctorate, it would not be a high school that would have conferred the degree. And since she did not claimed to have attended universities in Canada, Scotland and Australia, the two logical choices on the list would be either St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Laurinburg, North Carolina, or St. Andrews Correspondence College. St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Laurinburg, North Carolina is a small liberal arts college, which only confers undergraduate degrees (and no majors in Natural Medicine nor Complementary Medicine – what is your doctorate in Jessie?); the only university left is St. Andrews Correspondence College. Since it is very difficult to forget (or miss) the very long word “Correspondence” from the name of one’s alma mater – and assuming that “Dr” Jessie is not out to deceive anyone (as she, and her two friends have claimed), I would then assume that it is not St. Andrews Correspondence College either. Otherwise, the very guilty and defunct St. Andrews Correspondence College may be where "Dr" Jessie Chung "earned" another one of her dubious degrees.

Which brings us back to what I asked for much earlier, and promised by Jessie’s spokesperson Pierce – what is the address of this mysterious university and the university’s URL for their webpage??

"Dr". Jessie Chung - Clarifications Please
The only way for “Dr” Jessie Chung to clarify her Doctorate in Natural Medicine or Complementary Medicine (which is it?) is to publish the degree (with date and name), disclose the full name and address of the university, and how it was earned. Full disclosure. Notice how real doctors and professors hang up their sheepskins for all to see in their offices, presumably to give some comfort to their patients and students. I have one wall in my office placarded with every certificate, diploma and degree that I have earned since graduating from high school ... the more the merrier.

Personally, I suspect it is one of those diploma mill quick-doctorates or one of those non-accredited “medical” degrees. I am unable to locate her dissertation, and the only medical “licensing” credentials are all from false accreditation bodies. Or she can claim a typing error and drop it from her list of dubious credentials. Suits me fine either way, as long as there is an accounting, since – for the life of me – I am unable to see how she earned this advanced first-professional or research degree.


Blogger howsy said...

Thanks for the insight of the various doctorates in North America. It is definitely different here in the UK.

Appreciate your effort in finding the list of possibilities for 'St Andrew College'. I was also struggling to find one offering a PhD in Complementary Medicine. Hope that she did not just go to St. Andrew's College in Ontario, Canada ( and claimed that she got her doctorate there after actually attending a boys' school for 6-12 years.

Keep up the good work here and I anticipate more revealing truths from you!

Mon Dec 19, 07:51:00 PM EST  
Blogger Q-Buster said...

She already stated she attended the now defunct Dominion College (which was selling high school credits) and the Great Lakes College. Both, I was told, were schools set up for international students, i.e. set up to graduate students quickly without very much career and counselling support, and student servies such as gym, etc.

Mon Dec 19, 09:27:00 PM EST  
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