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ERIC Number: EJ788989
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar-14
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Many Degrees of Separation: States Should Take a Stand
Contreras, Alan
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n27 pA36 Mar 2008
American colleges and universities are often thought as being divided into two tiers--the elite institutions and everybody else. That grouping raises two important questions, however: Is that a full picture of degree providers in the United States, and do the tiers provide similar credentials? The answer to both is no. There are actually between five and seven tiers, and all of them need to be considered to get a clear picture of the degrees that people actually use. All those tiers exist for a reason: the demand for paper credentials. At the upper end of the postsecondary spectrum, credentials come with significant meaning attached to them. That meaning may simply be job marketability, or it may include an implied warranty of academic skill suitable for graduate or professional study. The problem that the society faces in trying to sort out the credentials is that all degrees are called the same thing. A bachelor's degree from Colby College, ITT Technical Institute, some unaccredited business college in Los Angeles, or Big Al's Overnight Degrees in Alabama looks the same, is labeled the same, and--in most states--is legally the same. The author contends that to legally protect the meaning of the college degree, it is time to start formally classifying American degrees according to their provider, purpose, content, or all of the above. The tiers are there for good; they should be labeled accurately so that consumers, educators, and employers know exactly what they are.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States