Three faculty members at the University of the District of Columbia obtained Ph.D.s from what critics call a diploma mill -- an unaccredited institution that requires relatively little work to earn a degree -- according to Fox News. The professors, in the university’s criminal justice department, received the degrees from Commonwealth Open University, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands and claims to be accredited by the Wiener School for Advanced Studies on Global Education and Distance Learning.
The university is not recognized by a recognized accrediting agency in the United States or Britain, and it is not recognized by the Department of Education to receive federal financial aid, either.
Alan Etter, vice president of university relations and public affairs at the University of D.C., wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed that the university is looking into the legitimacy of Commonwealth Open University and the professors’ relationships with it, and administrators want to understand the questions surrounding the professors' degrees before making any judgments.
“The professors in question are all productive, have good histories and are committed to student achievement,” he wrote, adding that the university considers more than academic credentials when hiring faculty.