ERIC Number: EJ818491
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Reference Count: 15
"Inexpedient and Unwise": The First American External Degree Programs, 1876-1910
Pittman, Von V.
American Educational History Journal, v34 n1 p123-134 2007
The first round of attempts to extend the access of working people to higher education began in 1873 with an imitation of the University of London on the prairies of Illinois. For all practical purposes, it ended in the legislature of the State of New York in 1892, although it took more than a decade to formally close all of the external degree programs, due mainly to commitments to students who already had programs of study underway. The reasons for what must now be labeled a failed experiment are several. Denominational politics played a large role in the case of church-affiliated schools. The higher education establishment, including the emerging accrediting bodies and philanthropic foundations cast a skeptical eye on nontraditional course and program delivery. The unsavory reputation of the proprietary correspondence schools and the diploma mills created a guilt-by-association that continues to plague external degree and distance education programs. And, as in New York, traditional institutions perceived an economic threat from institutions with small or non-existent physical plants and low fixed costs. All of these factors can be related to academic snobbery. Whether they created academic snobbery or provided a pretext for it remains an open question. The same question and the same objections are currently being played out again, but on a much larger scale.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Correspondence Schools, Distance Education, Philanthropic Foundations, External Degree Programs, Accreditation (Institutions), Foreign Countries
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois; New York; United Kingdom (England)