This week a friend of NDP MLA Kate White applied for a PhD program at the Newburgh Theological Seminary & College of the Bible.
The online school asked for no proof of previous post-secondary education before emailing off an acceptance letter.
“You will need 30 hours to complete the course requirements for this degree plus a dissertation,” according to the letter.
The email also explains the different ways to pay the US$2,595 tuition. A monthly payment plan is available, or you can pay upfront for a US$300 discount.
“Credit cards, debit cards, money orders, western union and personal checks are all acceptable methods of payment. These offers are available through November 17, 2014.”
Newburgh, based in Indiana, is not accredited according to standards set out by the U.S. Department of Education.
Accredited PhD programs, both in Canada and the U.S., require four to seven years of full time study and rigorous academic assessment.
The Newburgh Theological Seminary has come under scrutiny in recent weeks because Albert Trask, Yukon’s assistant deputy minister for public schools, has a PhD from that institution.
Trask signs his Education correspondence as “Dr. Albert Trask” and sits on the board that evaluates the credentials of teachers to determine their salary level.
Valerie Royle, deputy minister for education, has defended Trask and his right to call himself “Dr.”
She said that while Trask included his PhD on his job application, it had no bearing on his hiring or his pay.
Trask is qualified for the position he holds, with a master in education and decades of experience in the field.
His religious credentials are of no concern to the department, Royle said in an interview last week.
But the NDP’s education critic, Jim Tredger, said the department’s defence of the dodgy PhD calls into question the integrity of our educational qualification system.
“Why somebody who has a recognized degree would be masquerading as something else is beyond me. And he should know better. To get a recognized masters is a lot of work.
“I’ve talked to a lot of teachers who have worked very hard to get a masters or a PhD and they’re just upset that this is happening. And further to that, it’s turning the whole thing into a laughingstock, and people have worked hard to create a good education system.
“It reflects on the ability of the minister to manage the department, when it’s been raised for some time now and we haven’t gotten any real answers.”
Education Minister Elaine Taylor has so far avoided the issue, calling it a personnel matter.
“I am a bit astounded by the line of questioning coming forward from the member opposite,” responded Taylor to questions from Tredger on the issue last week.
“Surely, given the background of that particular member, I am absolutely astounded that the member opposite is implying that I, as an elected official and a member of cabinet on this side of the House, would be responsible for personnel-related issues – I would be responsible for hiring, for dismissal, for adhering to grievances – and the list goes on.”
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at