Amid a number of recent articles (previously, previously, and previously) about the state of doctoral study in the United States, the NSF has released an interactive report compiling statistical analysis of broad trends about who earns a doctorates, which fields are attracting students, influences to obtain a degree, payment for that degree, and trends after graduation. The report is also available as a .pdf, with further explanation of what these numbers generally indicate.
In 2003, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 a year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Six years later more than two hundred colleges charged that amount. What happened between 2003 and 2009 was the start of the recession. By driving down endowments and giving tax-starved states a reason to cut back their support for higher education, the recession put new pressure on colleges and universities to raise their price. When our current period of slow economic growth will end is anybody’s guess, but even when it does end, colleges and universities will certainly not be rolling back their prices. These days, it is not just the economic climate in which our colleges and universities find themselves that determines what they charge and how they operate; it is their increasing corporatization. If corporatization meant only that colleges and universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on[more inside]
The Mathematics Genealogy Project. A service of the Department of Mathematics at North Dakota State University, the project intends to "compile information about ALL the mathematicians of the world. [...] It is our goal to list all individuals who have received a doctorate in mathematics." Seven generations from one of my recent professors back to Gauss, six back to Felix Klein (of Erlangen Program and bottle fame), eight back to Jacobi, and nine back to Poisson and Fourier, then Lagrange, then Euler, then the Bernoulli brothers, then Leibniz, and then it blew up at infinity.
Roy Ten Commandments Moore (discussed here) received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity in January of 2003 from the Methodist Episcopal Church, USA (temporarily deactivated, someone, call billing!) & the National Clergy Council. The National Clergy Council has placed "Ten Commandment" plaques on the walls of politicians such as George Bush, Trent Lott, Joe Leiberman, & Rick Santorum among others. The web site of the National Clergy Council reads "There remain thousands of additional government officials yet to receive the Ten Commandments Plaques." and asks for help. Chief Justice Moore had to travel all the way to Washington DC to receive his honorary Doctorate of Divinity. It would have been far cheaper to pay $7.95 online. In case you were wondering a Doctorate in Divinity means an "understanding of the relationship between Man, His Creator, and the rest of the Cosmos." It's good nice to know that such a moral man
is was the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Caroline Myss, Ph.D., is a wildly popular best-selling self-help author, loved by Oprah and PBS stations. She has her own show on Oxygen. But in what did she earn her cherished and paraded Ph.D.? Intuition and Energy Medicine. Where did she earn it? From a non-accredited correspondence school. Who founded the department from whence she graduated? She did. She maked it up. I'm always a bit skeptical of the intelligence and merit of anyone who so prominently adorns their pop writing with academic credentials. Here, my skepticism seems vindicated. Any other gurus out there with bogus credentials?