Stigmas and limited opportunities of on-lineand for-profit university doctorate graduates in Technology, Healthcare, and Business

Darrell Norman Burrell

Marymount University

Introduction: Walden, Capella, and the University of Phoenix universities generate many African-American doctoral graduates, according to Diverse Problems in Higher Education.

Problem: While these universities graduate many minority students with doctoral degrees, they contribute significantly to student loan debt. These universities are for-profit, on-line, or owned by for-profits. Because of that classification, these universities and their doctoral degrees have stigmas in higher education that may hinder African American and other minority faculty chances at elite, state flagship, and prestigious research universities.

Objective: The research aims to formulate strategies to help African-Americans be more knowledgeable about non-traditional doctoral program selection and the current stigmas of graduating with a doctorate from a totally online or for-profit university. The purpose is not to diminish the accomplishment of anyone with the intellect, courage, and talent to get a regionally accredited doctoral degree. This research intends to educate and empower African-American and other students of color in their doctoral decision-making and discuss the stigmas against doctorates from for-profit universities and totally on-line universities in the U.S.

Methodology: The approach used was a content analysis of the literature and qualitative interviews using a phenomenological research approach. The purpose is not to diminish or demonize graduates and degrees from regionally accredited on-line doctorate programs offered by for-profit universities, because they have provided opportunities and access to doctoral education. The goal is to share the realities of the current stigmas of those degrees from those universities in academic communities at the most highly ranked universities. The ultimate aim would be to educate them on the importance of school choice, even if the only viable option for doctoral completion is an on-line or hybrid doctoral program.

Results: Academic careers often depend on having a doctorate and the university that awards that doctorate. So, African-Americans and other students of color should investigate and choose brick-and-mortar universities with online and hybrid doctoral programs, which are often viewed more favorably. This study offers an accurate world understanding of the challenges and stigmas of African American doctoral graduates driven by where they pursue their doctorate degrees.

Conclusion: This project seeks to change the behavior of doctoral program selection and modification practices that would make graduates more successful and favorable for full-time faculty jobs after graduation.

Originality: The gap in the literature explored is the limited academic discussion about how attending and completing a doctorate from one of these universities can be detrimental to African-Americans, especially if they are interested in full-time tenure-track faculty careers at non profit research universities.

Limitations: More current research is needed on the stigmas and challenges of getting a doctorate from a for profit or totally online university. More scholarly dialogues from the literature could have enriched the study.

Keywords: On-line education, on-line doctorates, for-profit universities, African-American doctoral students, on-line universities, Walden University, University of Phoenix, Capella University
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