Education Dept. takes no issue with top bureaucrat’s online PhD

All you have to do to complete a PhD level course at the Newburgh Theological Seminary & College of the Bible is read a book and summarize its contents, and that's good enough for Yukon's Department of Education.

All you have to do to complete a PhD level course at the Newburgh Theological Seminary & College of the Bible is read a book and summarize its contents, and that’s good enough for Yukon’s Department of Education.

Albert Trask, Yukon’s assistant deputy minister for public schools, received a PhD in biblical studies from Newburgh in 2005.

The school, located in Indiana, delivers Christian education courses online.

It is not recognized by major accrediting bodies in Canada or the U.S., including the Association of Theological Schools, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.

It is recognized by the Transworld Accrediting Commission International, an unrecognized body that claims to accredit bible schools around the world. The U.S. Department of Education calls this sort of entity a “fake accreditation agency.”

Education deputy minister Valerie Royle issued a statement on the issue yesterday, saying that Trask’s religious credentials had no bearing on his hiring for the position.

Trask also holds a bachelor of arts, a bachelor of education and a master in educational administration from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

“What seems to be at issue are Dr. Trask’s credentials in his personal and spiritual ordination into pastoral ministry with the United Church of Canada, which were not verified at the time of his hire since they were not and are not requirements of his position as ADM of public schools.”

In addition to the online PhD, Trask has a master of divinity from the Atlantic School of Theology, which is affiliated with St. Mary’s University in Halifax.

Royle defended Trask’s continued use of the honorific “Dr.” in front of his name.

“Dr. Trask received his PhD from an accredited theological institution and is therefore entitled to use the prefix ‘Dr.’ He is more than happy to discuss his qualifications and his pastoral ministry with anyone who would like more information.”

Trask has not responded to multiple interview requests.

Here’s what you have to do to earn a PhD in biblical studies from the Newburgh Theological Seminary, according to the school’s website:

Pay US$2,595.

Pick six books from the course list. If you don’t like the books listed, you can ask to have other books approved by your advisor.

Order them online or find them in a bookstore.

Read them.

For each book, write a 10-20 page chapter-by-chapter summary of its contents. You may, but are not required to, reflect on what you learned.

If you do not wish to read so many books, you may replace up to three of them with what the school calls “no travel seminars.”

For an extra $175 per seminar, you can download a video of a lecture. Now, you only have to summarize the content in four to six pages. Do that three times, and your PhD course work is half done.

Now comes the real work: In order to complete the PhD, you have to submit a paper of a minimum of 60 pages. You must refer to at least 20 sources.

Quoting directly from your sources is encouraged, but not necessary.

“I encourage students to consider providing some quotes from the author in each paper,” states the college’s “best practices” section of its website. “While not essential to paper writing or your grade, it is helpful because authors often best summarize their own thoughts on a given subject, especially near the end of chapters.”

And that’s it. You now have a PhD.

The Association of Theological Schools has about 240 accredited American and Canadian schools in its membership, of which Newburgh is not one.

It sets out standards for accreditation of PhD programs that are much more rigorous than what is offered at the online school.

A PhD program should include two years of full-time coursework, plus the time necessary “to prepare for comprehensive examinations, to acquire teaching skills, and to conduct the research for and writing of a doctoral dissertation.”

Online learning normally does not qualify, as frequent interaction with faculty and other students is a critical component.

The institution must provide training in research methods and teaching methods.

Substantial library holdings and facilities are required, along with study space, tech support and reference staff.

Newburgh acknowledges on its website that its educational model is not approved by mainstream accreditation bodies.

“Our programs are not designed to meet any specific local, state, territorial, regional, or national licensing or credentialing laws.

“The main question to be asked when considering a school is ‘Is this the school that will please God?’ If it pleases God then it doesn’t matter who is displeased.

“We feel the accreditation of God is on our school because we strive to please Him in academics and ministry training.”

Trask sits on Yukon’s Teacher Qualification Board, which evaluates the validity of a teacher’s qualifications for the purpose of determining their salary level.

Trask defended his degree in a letter to the media this week.

“As I hold a doctorate degree, I am entitled to refer to myself and to be referred to by others as Dr., as is anyone else who holds a PhD.”

He signed the letter, “Dr. Albert Trask.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read