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May 7, 2012 1:40 AM   Subscribe

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal received his doctoral degree Saturday morning.

O'Neal joins the ranks of other doctorate athletes, such as Barry Wilmore and Jesse Owens.
posted by twoleftfeet (94 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
O’Neal achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.813 while completing 54 credit hours comprised of 16 courses and six credit hours of self-directed research.

Does this mean you can get a legitimate PhD with just 60 hours of study in the USA?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:00 AM on May 7, 2012


"Credit hour" has nothing to do with time. It's just another word for Course credit or just "credit"
posted by j03 at 2:10 AM on May 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Earned, not received. Those other two guys in the FPP received honorary PhDs:

Thirty-two years later, however, the University awarded (Owens) an honorary doctorate of athletic arts "for his unparalleled skill and ability" as an athlete and for "his personification of sportsmanship ideals."

Former Golden Eagle linebacker, U.S. navy pilot and astronaut Capt. Barry Wilmore will accept an honorary doctorate at the second Tennessee Tech graduation ceremony on Saturday afternoon. Wilmore is one of two outstanding alumni who will receive the first honorary doctorates in TTU history.

O'Neal earned his:

"Everyone thinks this is honorary. But this is not honorary. I put in four and a half hard years staying up late at night, studying, reading, rewriting papers Dr. Kopp marked up," O’Neal said.
posted by three blind mice at 2:19 AM on May 7, 2012 [34 favorites]


Kudos to Shaq, that's inspiring. Though we all know his truly greatest achievement.
posted by zardoz at 2:21 AM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


No one could've predicted when Shaq made this track that he was actually just talking to his future self.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:27 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a picture of Shaq when he received his Ph.D. Shaq says:
“Everyone thinks this is honorary. But this is not honorary. I put in four and a half hard years staying up late at night, studying, reading, rewriting papers…”


Shaq is totally a Ph.D. and anyone who says otherwise can't dunk.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:36 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Shaq is totally a Ph.D. and anyone who says otherwise can't dunk.

I say he's totally a Ph.D; I still can't dunk.
posted by bicyclefish at 2:51 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of all the things I’ve done in my life, this probably is my No. 1 accomplishment."

His mother agreed.

"I’m proud because I know he earned that title," Lucille O’Neal said. "With all the money he’s got, he could have [paid for an honorary degree]. But he didn’t. And now I get to call him Dr. O’Neal."


It seems weird to be inspired by a multi-millionaire going back to school and getting a phd - something tonnes of non-multi-millionaires do every day, but I defy anyone to read that, and not think, "Awesome."
posted by smoke at 2:51 AM on May 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


It seems weird to be inspired by a multi-millionaire going back to school and getting a phd

Only a multi-millionaire can afford it these days...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:05 AM on May 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wow. I saw this headline and assumed, as many others naturally would, that this was honorary. It appears the opposite is in this case the truth. Whodathunkit, and shame on me.

What an example to all of the kids entering the NBA these days with a high school diploma (which, let's face it, are mostly honorary in their own right). The system may still be broken, but there are exceptions to the rule, and sometimes the guy you'd least expect to be the exception is just that.

I've never been a Shaq fan and I've always actively hated the Lakers, but today: Go Shaq.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:07 AM on May 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


"If you stayed on top of things, you'd understand that the traditional checks are not 100% foolproof. This last test was designed by the head of nuclear science at Caltech, a Dr. Dre. Dr. Dre, along with Dr. Irving and Professor Griffin and the rest of the Wu Tang Clan, know that it is best when you have a baseline screen situation to achieve a pulsopular cataclysmic calibration or something we like to call the Shaq Attack."

"Shaq Attack?"

"Yes, named after Dr. O'Neal of Los Angeles, formerly of Orlando."
posted by KChasm at 3:15 AM on May 7, 2012 [19 favorites]


Dose this mean he has an Erdős–Bacon number now? Has anyone calculated it?
posted by sparklejess at 3:16 AM on May 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


I really want to hate on him (for Steel if nothing else), and even knowing he probably got at least part of an easy ride: I can't.

On the other hand: Education? *pish*
posted by Mezentian at 3:25 AM on May 7, 2012


“The Duality of Humor and Seriousness in Leadership Styles.’’
posted by infini at 3:52 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dose this mean he has an Erdős–Bacon number now? Has anyone calculated it?

You can only have a finite Erdős–Bacon number if you have both finite Erdős number and finite Bacon number. You can only have finite Erdős number if you've published a collaborative paper in a scholarly journal. I don't think he's done that, yet.
posted by King Bee at 3:54 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can you back up with evidence this notion that athletes graduate high school with "honorary" diplomas?
posted by Brocktoon at 4:10 AM on May 7, 2012


Does this mean you can get a legitimate PhD with just 60 hours of study in the USA?

Yep, you've found out the great American educational fraud. All of our college courses take literally 3 hours to complete!
posted by kmz at 4:50 AM on May 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's an Ed.D., he's still a Dr., of course.

And Barry sucks about making its student's dissertations available on-line. (Or, at any rate, I couldn't find his.)
posted by oddman at 4:59 AM on May 7, 2012


Sixty credit hours = eighteen classes + at least two semesters of dissertation work (although, if Barry is like other graduate institutions, that might actually mean a token one credit per semester until the dissertation is finished).
posted by thomas j wise at 5:09 AM on May 7, 2012


I've said it before: Shaq is the model for how I hope I'd be if I ever got famous. He does what he wants and has fun doing it, and it's never that idiotic trash-a-hotel-room kind of "fun" that some famous people do.

Yeah, he can be an ass to his (generally former) teammates, but I'm a lot more okay with his being an ass to a bunch of fellow millionaires, many of whom are far worse human beings in any grand scheme you care to paint.
posted by Etrigan at 5:09 AM on May 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


"The work was very rigorous, but very enjoyable. And I’m not done. I think I’m going to try law school next. I’m thinking about it. We’ll see."

Shaq is one prospective student that I actually will recommend go to law school. Why? Because he can afford it, and it doesn't matter whether or not he gets a job. If you take the economics out of it, a JD is an awesome thing to have. Teaches you a whole ton about the way the government functions. It's just so expensive that for most people it's a bad idea. Shaq doesn't have to worry about that. And I can see him providing exceptionally valuable services to professional athletes, combining his experience as a pro with his credentials as a lawyer.
posted by valkyryn at 5:12 AM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


He wasn't a brainiac, but he tried hard.
posted by Trurl at 5:15 AM on May 7, 2012


Fuck, now I have to work on my inside pick and roll and my 3-point shot just to stay even.

Seriously, way to go Shaq!
posted by spitbull at 5:17 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


A credit "hour" is generally equivalent to one hour *per week* in class under most accreditation schemes, FYI. So a 3 credit graduate course should meet 3 hours per week, for about 12-13 weeks, meaning about 36-40 classroom hours (and for most grad seminars in serious programs, double that in reading and writing hours, but let's put that aside for now). In order to get to 60 credits over 4 years, assuming this place uses the standard 3 credit seminar format, we're talking 20 classes, so 2-3 classes per semester, so about 100-120 hours in the classroom per semester, pus handling the preparation work, which as I said amounts to at least a doubling of the classroom hours in any serious graduate program. Let's conservatively call it 100 over 8 semesters, or 800 classroom hours in total.

I am of course generalizing from the somewhat different context of my own experience both doing a PhD, training PhDs, and running a PhD program, over nearly 15 years at an R1 institution (and 3 years teaching at another before that, and 6 years of study at another before that, and 4 years of undergrad study at another before that). It's a different academic culture than what Shaq went for, a more applied program with less of a research focus. But I will bet you he spent hundreds of hours in class.
posted by spitbull at 5:26 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So impressed right now.
posted by flippant at 5:27 AM on May 7, 2012


And Barry sucks about making its student's dissertations available on-line. (Or, at any rate, I couldn't find his.)

It generally takes awhile for theses and dissertations to go online -- 6 months is a conservative guess, depending on who processes the files and what their staffing and workflow look like. ProQuest covers Barry University (but only a few -- either Barry doesn't graduate many PhDs or not all of their dissertations end up there), so it is unlikely that there will be an online version for you to read for free. You'll probably be able to get a pdf for $35-40, though late this year or early next. Or, you know, he might turn the dissertation into a book; many scholars do that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Though we all know his truly greatest achievement.

I was hoping this would be his only career 3 pointer.
posted by theodolite at 5:42 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doesn't Shaq know that a Ph.D. is a terrible career move?
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:44 AM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The title of his doctoral capstone project was “The Duality of Humor and Seriousness in Leadership Styles.’’

Quick, Erik, go tell LeBron we're trading him to the OKC Thunder and see how he reacts. It's for....research.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:55 AM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Good for him. I know I recently read a profile article about him that talked about his doctorate work; I thought it was in the New Yorker but all I'm finding there is a 2002 piece.
posted by Forktine at 5:55 AM on May 7, 2012


I didn't even know it was possible to get an Ed.D. in Shaq-fu.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:56 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shaq is one prospective student that I actually will recommend go to law school.

I've always held that high profile athletes or celebrities almost always make better politicians than just rich business-people.

1) They've experienced the limelight, they know how to manage an image, what to or not to say in public and what to do or not to do in private.

2) They're normally well-off enough to not worry about a couple hundred thousand here, or a few million there. Most business execs got to where they were by being a certain way, and they're not going to change, so they're often penny wise but pound foolish. Ex-athletes, especially big-name athletes have not only made their millions, but they've retired and if they're at this level then have taken on other business ventures, they've already been forced to change speeds or mentalities.

3) They're not in the pockets of "big business". They don't normally have an "industry" that they're going to give a leg up in the game, and they don't normally owe money and/or favors to specific individuals and feel that they have to reward/reimburse them through policy that funnels money in their direction.

Of course, these are generalizations, but for the most part they hold true. And while they're not necessarily better at getting things accomplished, they're at least better at making us feel better about government.

Se also: Bill Bradley, Sonny Bono, Al Franken, Jesse Ventura.

So in summary, yeah, I'd vote for Shaq if he got a law degree and ran for office.
posted by Blue_Villain at 6:00 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shaq is the greatest.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:11 AM on May 7, 2012


Shaquille O'Neal: 28,596 points, 13,099 rebounds, 2,732 blocks, one genuine class act.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:11 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well done Shaq. Well done.

Attention Allen Iverson, Lenny Dykstra, and Dennis Rodman... THIS is how it's done.
posted by prepmonkey at 6:13 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


And spitbull, I wouldn't worry about the outside shot. Shaq was unstoppable under the net, but from the outside, he couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with a cannon.
posted by prepmonkey at 6:14 AM on May 7, 2012


Now Shaq has to challenge Barack to a game of one on one. For the title PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:18 AM on May 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


I am trying to find some joke on "3 pointers" and 3 credit grad seminars, working on it.
posted by spitbull at 6:18 AM on May 7, 2012


Attention Allen Iverson, Lenny Dykstra, and Dennis Rodman... THIS is how it's done.

Also please note that Chomsky, Greer and Norton are definitely going to have to start bringing their gameface to the court a bit more.
posted by jaduncan at 6:23 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did he write an actual dissertation or not? I can't tell.
posted by shivohum at 6:26 AM on May 7, 2012


It generally takes awhile for theses and dissertations to go online -- 6 months is a conservative guess, depending on who processes the files and what their staffing and workflow look like.

Also, the student often has at least some say in this. For example, I put a one year embargo on mine while I finished the publications and I tweaked the settings of how and where it will be available when the embargo is up (which is this month I think). I did make mine open source (after the embargo) but didn't make it public domain, and I could have chosen to never share the full text or made it only available for subscribers to whatever thing it's indexed in or whatever.
posted by shelleycat at 6:33 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


After leaving school early in 1992 to enter the NBA Draft, O’Neal went back to Louisiana State University eight years later and earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies, fulfilling a promise to his mother.

Aww, that's sweet. Glad he got to do all this for his mother, who clearly has a good head on her shoulders and kept it even after her son became a star.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:34 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dr. Shaq was at LSU at the same time I was. We have a few friends in common. And that's all I'm going to say on a public forum. But buy me a drink some time and I'll tell you a few stories about the good doctor.
posted by ColdChef at 6:38 AM on May 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Y'all will start feeling sorry for him when he goes to TA his first class and the students keep calling him "Professor Barkley."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:39 AM on May 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


PhDs fuck yeah.

I want to read his dissertation.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:46 AM on May 7, 2012


There are many many reasons to like Shaq, I'll add 'places a high value on education' to my list.
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:55 AM on May 7, 2012


For some silly reason, I am delighted that Shaq and I got our doctorates on the same day.

Also, I bet he had to *reeeeeally* duck down so his advisor could hood him during the ceremony.
posted by teleri025 at 6:56 AM on May 7, 2012


I was hoping this would be his only career 3 pointer

Which gave him more points off of threes than off free throws.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:04 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, he didn't do a traditional dissertation:

Unfortunately, we've learned Shaq is not actually defending a traditional dissertation. Which is very disappointing for one reason: Dissertations are peer-reviewed and publicly available. ... But alas, Shaq is getting not a PhD but a Ed.D., in Leadership in Education with a specialization in Human Resource Development. That department's chair, Dr. David M. Kopp, tells us that instead of a dissertation, Shaq has been working on a "Capstone Project". "You present the project findings and any reflections that you have as a student to your committee," explains Kopp. The project is not peer-reviewed.
posted by shivohum at 7:18 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was just about to set myself a calendar reminder to check for in a few months. Ah well. Congratulations to him.
posted by cashman at 7:22 AM on May 7, 2012


Celebrity and wealth. Can't get enough. Go Shaq!
posted by larry_darrell at 7:34 AM on May 7, 2012


O’Neal’s mother, Lucille O’Neal, a few of his siblings and all of his children sat and stayed through the entire two hour commencement ceremony. O’Neal gave his parents most of the credit for driving him to further his education, pointing out how when he used to get in trouble his mother would make him come up with jobs for every letter in the alphabet.

“’A’ was a basketball player. ’B’ was basketball player. ’C’ was Cop. And ’D’ — even though I didn’t believe it — was Doctor,” O’Neal said. “… I remember my mom coming in and saying ’If you really put your mind to it you probably could be a doctor.’ Thank God for parents like mine.



wipes eyes Dammit, who's cutting onions?! /wipes eyes

This made my day. Congratulations, Dr. O'Neal!
posted by magstheaxe at 7:34 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thought this was interesting: Celebrities that went back to college

Also an interesting anecdote. So I graduate from the University of North Carolina, and one of my professors made us do some of our own research regarding the salaries of recent UNC graduates. Essentially it was to show us how much people with certain degrees earn the few years immediately after graduation.

Long story short several people came back and said they were going to switch to Geography because the average income of the last half dozen or so years of graduates was somewhere around $3 mil a year. As it turns out, the esteemed Mister Jordan had returned and gotten his degree, then turned around and made a rather large amount of money unrelated to his studies.

That was how the good professor taught us the difference between mean, median, and exactly what a standard deviation looked like. However, I would have hated to be someone who had to objectively grade a film project turned in by Steven Spielburg.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:50 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kazaam!
posted by schmod at 7:54 AM on May 7, 2012


Blue_Villain: "Thought this was interesting: Celebrities that went back to college"

I'm not sure how I feel about Brian May being on that list. He'd already completed a decent portion his Astrophysics PhD when he quit school to work on his band full-time, and completed the same thesis that he'd originally been working on about 30 years later. If nothing else, he just spent a ridiculously long amount of time (you could even call it astronomical) working on his thesis, since he'd been working on it before he and Freddie got famous..
posted by schmod at 8:00 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dissertations are peer-reviewed and publicly available.

For some value of peer-reviewed (not usually, I don't think) and publicly available (via interlibrary loan or paying ProQuest a princely sum).
posted by hoyland at 8:13 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]




I did make mine open source (after the embargo) but didn't make it public domain, and I could have chosen to never share the full text or made it only available for subscribers to whatever thing it's indexed in or whatever.

What is the theory behind doing a disertation and then not making the full text publicly available (even for a fee)?
posted by Mitheral at 8:25 AM on May 7, 2012


Dissertations are peer-reviewed

No they aren't. They're approved by the student's committee, the same as the "capstone project" that article describes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:40 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interesting dude: Shaq is also a Freemason and a possible candidate for Sheriff of Lake County.
posted by mattbucher at 9:02 AM on May 7, 2012


No they aren't. They're approved by the student's committee, the same as the "capstone project" that article describes.

Fair enough, but I think the larger point is that a "capstone project" likely does not require an original scholarly contribution or an extensive and rigorous review of prior research in the area, things which in theory a dissertation must have -- and accomplishments one associates with a doctorate, usually.
posted by shivohum at 9:04 AM on May 7, 2012


THAT'S "DOCTOR BIG ARISTOTLE" TO YOU, PUNK.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:05 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, but I think the larger point is that a "capstone project" likely does not require an original scholarly contribution or an extensive and rigorous review of prior research in the area, things which in theory a dissertation must have -- and accomplishments one associates with a doctorate, usually.

The Ed.D. is more like a professional degree than a Ph.D., making it similar to the J.D., M.D., D.Min., D.Eng., Pharm.D., D.D.S., or D.O. All of those are doctoral degrees. None of them involve a dissertation. And honestly, a dissertation, i.e., a positive and original contribution to scholarship, isn't really as important in those professional fields as it is in academia, where "professional accomplishment" and "scholarship" are one and the same.
posted by valkyryn at 9:16 AM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh for the sake of fuck-

IT'S NOT A PhD. It's an EdD. You don't write a "dissertation" for an EdD. At Barry (apparently) you do a "capstone project" but that's not a dissertation.

Good for him and everything but he did NOT get a PhD. An EdD is a degree that a lot of school principals have.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:56 AM on May 7, 2012


erm- what valkyryn said.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:57 AM on May 7, 2012


A Ph.D. connotes being trained to make conceptually new contributions to academia. An enormous component of that training is understanding what "new" means. A professional doctorate like an Ed.D. connotes being trained to make practical contributions as new or unexpected as required by the discipline.

An M.D. wants all their operations to go as by the book as possible, but they routinely improvise to correct plumbing that breaks in unexpected and weird ways on the operating table. I imagine an Ed.D. handles unforeseen practical matters of implementing new educational programs.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:01 AM on May 7, 2012


D.Eng often require a dissertation, internship, or 'practical engineering study' with significant positive and original contribution.

I respect the difference between a Ph.D. and a D.Eng. or a Ph.D. and an Ed.D., but I think focusing on the positive and original contribution part isn't accurate. It's just that the contribution may not be a 'peer-reviewed' paper.
posted by muddgirl at 10:08 AM on May 7, 2012


I frequently say that if I won the lottery or otherwise fell into immense wealth, I'd be in school forever. Sometimes students look at me like I'm crazy. Now I get to point to Shaq and note that I'm in good company (only he actually got to do it).
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:23 AM on May 7, 2012


As valkyryn and jeffburdges pointed out, EdDs are professional degrees, not (generally) academic degrees (there are a small handful of institutions where this is not the case). They are research-based, but from what I can tell from the folks I know who have them, they are more about synthesizing research into a practical, implementable project than gathering data and producing new research.

An EdD is a degree that a lot of school principals have.
Given Shaq's focus on business admin & HR, an EdD really makes more sense for him--it's largely an administrator's degree, as you point out. I know EdDs from most institutions aren't well respected in academia, but it's a big world out there...and EdDs are still granted the title "Doctor."

Good on you, Shaq. Hope some kids are still paying attention and get inspired.
posted by smirkette at 10:32 AM on May 7, 2012


I think focusing on the positive and original contribution part isn't accurate.

"Positive" here was not intended to mean "good" but more along the lines of "concrete," "discrete," or "certain".

A professional doctorate like an Ed.D. connotes being trained to make practical contributions as new or unexpected as required by the discipline.

Sure, sure. The point is that for a Ph.D., original scholarship is part and parcel of the whole bit, whereas for professional degrees, it isn't. Plenty of professionals have successful careers without contributing a whit to the progress of their disciplines other than by serving as competent members thereof. Indeed, most lawyers, teachers, and physicians are not involved in research or scholarly activities at all. By contrast, an academic that contributed nothing to their discipline would not generally be regarded as similarly successful. This is, of course, because professionals practice their disciplines in ways that academics do not.
posted by valkyryn at 10:35 AM on May 7, 2012


"Positive" here was not intended to mean "good" but more along the lines of "concrete," "discrete," or "certain".

Yeah, I know. And D.Eng, at least, generally are expected to produce 'concrete, discrete, or certain' original contributions to either engineering research, or a practical technical problem. I would assume the same is true for Ed.D.

My point is that you seem to be focusing on the 'original' part, where I think the difference lies in the 'scholarship' part. All doctorates (save, perhaps, M.D.s?) are expected to contribute something 'positive and original' to their field of study.
posted by muddgirl at 10:44 AM on May 7, 2012


An enormous component of that training is understanding what "new" means.

Those quotation marks make ALL the difference :)
posted by Chuckles at 10:50 AM on May 7, 2012


...perhaps I should include other straight professional degrees such as J.D., D.D.O., and D.O. as not really requiring original

But I think we need to separate Ed.D., D.Eng, and D.Min. None of these fields require a specific doctoral degree to practice in that field. A Ph.D. can't legally practice medicine, but a Ph.D. can generally do the same job as a D.Eng (and generally the same job as a B.S. or an M.S. with years of experience).
posted by muddgirl at 10:54 AM on May 7, 2012


My PhD thesis was read and evaluated by external and internal markers, making it every bit as peer reviewed as my publications (which are also only read by a few people before acceptance). Possibly more since I also had to sit an oral examination with some of those markers plus another scientist sitting in for the international extern, something not done for my publications. That was in NZ, it's done in a very similar manner here in Ireland. If PhD theses in the US aren't evaluated in the same way that's sad. These kinds of degrees are supposed to be held up to an international standard and that's not possible without proper peer evaluation. If the student's work is good enough for that level degree then prove it by testing it correctly, and if it's not then don't kid them that it is.

I don't have a problem with non-PhD doctoral degrees being evaluated differently as long as it's clear what was done, but yeah, the 'original' part is supposed to be pretty key to any kind of doctoral level qualification. It did say that Shaq did self-directed research, there's no reason why that can't be an original contribution to his field even if his field isn't a strictly academic one (and so the contribution would be appropriate to that).
posted by shelleycat at 11:01 AM on May 7, 2012


Add "become an NBA star" to the things grad students will now need to do in order to compete in the job market.
posted by jocelmeow at 11:08 AM on May 7, 2012


My PhD thesis was read and evaluated by external and internal markers, making it every bit as peer reviewed as my publications

Not unless it was double-blind, or really quadruple-blind -- also unknown to your committee and your committee unknown to them.

Almost everywhere in the US requires you to have at least one committee member who is "outside" in some sense -- usually from a different university, but the huge field divisions in political science mean that some outside people might be from a different field of your home department.

The point is that they're still on your committee, which is a whole different kettle of fish from being a peer reviewer.

If PhD theses in the US aren't evaluated in the same way that's sad. These kinds of degrees are supposed to be held up to an international standard and that's not possible without proper peer evaluation.

Of course it's possible. If your statement were correct, US-trained scholars would be largely unable to meet an international standard and the US would be a backwater of research, but that's obviously not the case.

Good Lord. The man earned an EdD. An EdD is a serious degree that can either be a standard scholarly research-oriented degree, or a primarily administrative/professional degree, or a clinical psychology degree. In any of these cases, it's a serious and notable accomplishment. It is a different degree from a PhD, but... man, can't we refrain from nitpicking it?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:32 AM on May 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Good Lord. The man earned an EdD. An EdD is a serious degree that can either be a standard scholarly research-oriented degree, or a primarily administrative/professional degree, or a clinical psychology degree. In any of these cases, it's a serious and notable accomplishment. It is a different degree from a PhD, but... man, can't we refrain from nitpicking it?

nthing this. I was gonna say... anyone here could get a PhD or two with their typing fingers wrapped in duct tape right?

But can you dunk?
posted by infini at 11:41 AM on May 7, 2012


Celebrities that went back to college

List omits:

*Peter "Robocop" Weller, MA from Syracuse and working on a PhD at UCLA
*Greg Graffin of Bad Religion, PhD in zoology
*Ilan Mitchell-Smith (Wyatt in Weird Science), PhD in lit and prof at CSU-LB

Doesn't count because they didn't go back to do it:

*Ken "Senor Chang" Jeong -- MD
*Dolph Lundgren -- MS in chem engineering
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:54 AM on May 7, 2012


Don't fake the funk on a nasty dissertation.
posted by furtive at 12:11 PM on May 7, 2012


It is a different degree from a PhD, but... man, can't we refrain from nitpicking it?

I don't think anyone here's gone this far yet, but it is damn weird to live in a world where people are criticizing Shaq for having a post-graduate degree they don't respect as much as other post-graduate degrees.
posted by Copronymus at 12:19 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is weird that that we are spending so much attention on something (getting an advanced degree) that isn't really all that uncommon. The only reason anyone cares about this is the reciepent's ability to play a game mostly unrelated to the degree.
posted by Mitheral at 12:59 PM on May 7, 2012


He may be a real doctor, but he was still only an honorary sheriff's deputy when he joined a SWAT team that terrorized a Virginia family during a wrong-door raid.
posted by decathecting at 1:03 PM on May 7, 2012


Not unless it was double-blind, or really quadruple-blind -- also unknown to your committee and your committee unknown to them.

Good point, it wasn't fully blind, although they knew nothing about me beforehand and I still don't know who the international one was so it is partially. But then I was asked to choose my reviewers for one of my papers so that wasn't exactly blind either - and apparently this is becoming more common in journal peer review. Also there was no 'committee', I just had supervisors directly involved in the project (I had three, that's unusual) and the examiners (who were appointed by my department when I submitted). We weren't allowed to use US based dissertations as models for our writing because the standard there is so variable, and many of them are well below the level of what I was expected to write. But we don't do course work or other stuff to pad it out, so it's all relative.

Working out equivalences between university systems and different degrees is actually quite difficult. In my experience, many people have no idea what a doctoral degree even is, let alone the nuances of the different types. It mainly becomes an issue when you move countries or subject areas, but things like the discussion here can come up too. This is another discussion which seems to at least partially revolve around differences between different types of Doctoral degrees (quite a different issue to this one).
posted by shelleycat at 1:08 PM on May 7, 2012


It is a different degree from a PhD, but... man, can't we refrain from nitpicking it?

I think people here are just sad that we won't get to read a dissertation by Shaquille O'Neal. 'Cause you have to admit, if you follow him on twitter, it would be cool to see what he's like in complete sentences!
posted by bluefly at 1:11 PM on May 7, 2012


Clearly, there was not a free-throw component to this degree.

Kidding!

I love him. Well done, Shaquille!
posted by 4ster at 1:45 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my experience in the US, a primary difference between a PhD and and EdD is the residency requirement (x numer of semesters on campus). I'm not surprised that he couldn't manage the residency requirement.
posted by idb at 1:57 PM on May 7, 2012


ColdChef: "Dr. Shaq was at LSU at the same time I was. We have a few friends in common. And that's all I'm going to say on a public forum. But buy me a drink some time and I'll tell you a few stories about the good doctor."

"OH HI I'M COLDCHEF AND I HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF SUPER-INTERESTING STORIES THAT I CAN'T TALK ABOUT SO YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT IT FOREVER."
posted by Rhaomi at 3:54 PM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I've heard tell that Dr. O'Neal is quite tall.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:14 PM on May 7, 2012


Come to think of it, Dr. J's dissertation isn't available anywhere online either.
posted by mazola at 5:00 PM on May 7, 2012


Related Posts

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I'm going to be a college professor October 26, 2010
The Real Science Gap... Jobs. June 14, 2010
The Academy Produces More PhDs than the Academy... October 29, 2009
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:01 PM on May 7, 2012


Good golly, you forget how big basketball players are until they stand next to average people.
posted by schroedinger at 2:17 AM on May 8, 2012


I think Dr. O'Neal would be one kick-ass educational lawyer if he decides to do law school and stay in the field of education.

I also think he'd make one kick ass administrator at a big athletic school counseling athletes.
posted by zizzle at 6:04 AM on May 8, 2012


I also think he'd make one kick ass administrator at a big athletic school counseling athletes.

As much as I love the guy, I don't know how useful his advice would be.
"Okay, after you make $300 million from your three-times-as-long-as-average NBA career, starred in two moves and released six albums, you should think about getting a graduate degree."
posted by Etrigan at 9:02 AM on May 8, 2012


"OH HI I'M COLDCHEF AND I HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF SUPER-INTERESTING STORIES THAT I CAN'T TALK ABOUT SO YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT IT FOREVER."

I just like free drinks.
posted by ColdChef at 8:56 AM on May 10, 2012


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