I came to a fork in the road and nuked the crap out of the intersection

So, as the Grouchy Historian, I applied for the Doctoral Program in History at George Mason University, my local university.  Being a fairly self-confident individual, as my significant other will point out, I assumed that with 2 master's degrees, a B.S. from the Naval Academy and significant life experience, I would be a shoo-in for the old, professional white guy quotaHmmm, not so much.  I received the very lovely, impersonal form letter saying "Thanks for playing" this week. 

NOW, I will say this was a huge disappointment, but not a shock.  WHY, you ask, given the abundance of self-confidence?  Well, here's the story.  Now, to be fair, there could be other factors, but all in all, I can't help wonder about a bias toward on-line institutions.  I actually went to discuss my situation with a professor, who shall remain nameless, at GMU.  After introducing myself, and describing my background, I mentioned that I was finishing up an MA at American Military University, a major online school that is regionally and nationally accredited.  WELL, my goodness, you would think I told the man I had syphilis-- he stiffened right up (no pun intended), or should I say sniffened right up and began to look down his nose at me.  He hemmed and hawed, as my momma would say, and then generally dismissed my with a "good luck!" without adding the "you old coot from an insignificant university with no tenured professors and nationally recognized basketball team."

Now, I could have been THE Grouchy Historian and informed the little snot that I have been reading and studying military history since before he was born and have read, analyzed and dissected ALL of the books I observed on his bookshelf, most of which I also OWN-(yes I examine these things), but I held my tongue, being the great people person that I am.

However, now that I don't have to worry about diplomacy, not that anyone at GMU will ever read my blog, here is what really frosts my cookies.  Here is an email I received, from what is no doubt another young, snot nosed professor at GMU, when I asked about their PhD program and discussed my interests and background:
My research interests are war and American society, particularly the Vietnam War, but from social and cultural perspectives. The other problem I see with your application to our doctoral program is that your Master's Degree is from an online, for-profit institution that does not, in general, provide the academic rigor we would expect of a graduate program. My best guess is that our PhD Admissions Committee would refer you to our Master's program, but that is ultimately their decision to make.

Ok, let me put this as politely as I can- BITE ME LADY.  I mean seriously, does this lady study dope smoking hippies and draft dodgers from Vietnam, REALLY??  

Whatever, this disdain from this woman is nearly ridiculous.  Last time I heard GMU sure as hell wasn't LOSING money, so what does that make them?  OH, and don't most major universities now offer some of their classes on-line--what the hell does that mean?

So, being one seriously pissed off dude, I decided to do a little research.  Here's what GMU's website has to say about their accreditation:

George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. 

And here's what AMU's website says:
American Public University System is one of the few higher learning organizations that is both regionally and nationally accredited by federally recognized accrediting agencies.  Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association

SO, I put 2 + 2 together and got.

WHAT DOES REGIONAL ACCREDITATION MEAN?  [See WAC 180-78A-010] Regionally accredited institution of higher education means a community college, college, or university which is a candidate for accreditation or is accredited by one of the following regional accrediting bodies:
    •    Middle States, Association of Colleges and Schools
    •    New England Association of Schools and Colleges
    •    North Central Association of Colleges and Schools---AMU
    •    Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
    •    Southern Association of Colleges and Schools---GMU
    •    Western Association of Schools and Colleges; Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
Therefore, either GMU is the same as AMU or not?  SO, how do these little twerps get off looking down their noses at me?  Ever stood a mid-watch or watched your friends die for their country?  OYYYY, I really wanted to write a little pithy email, but have decided they aren't worth my time.

I will say that I thought AMU had an excellent program in Military Studies, which I felt was directly applicable to my job as an intelligence and military analyst, one of the reasons I applied for the program.  In addition, I had some really outstanding instructors who are NATIONALLY known and published authors in the fields of history and military science, including one of my old professors from Canoe U who is a retired Navy Captain, hardly a "diploma mill."  I worked my butt off for three years getting this degree while working full time, taking care of a family and generally contributing to society. 

To be perfectly snarky, I have not read ONE book by a GMU history professor, and since I don't care about dope smoking hippies, I probably won't, either.

Well, that's my rant.  Now I shall go my own way.  I like the way one author of a book I am reading describes himself- an "independent scholar".  Until I find a PhD program that is -oooh- dare I say "progressive" enough to recognize that the days of the brick and mortar education monopoly are over, well, I guess I will become one too......

"They may take our lives, but they'll never take our Freedom"

More on that topic later.......


I also am a graduate of APU/AMU and so far have not run into anything this bad. Funny thing, the profs at AMU/APU are usually top notch in thier field and not just some schmuck that has spent their entire career in an academic setting.
Don't let GMU get you down. I would definitely look at other schools in VA that offer Ph.D's and see how they respond.

Get in touch with some well-known military historians and ask how they recommend you go about your search.

Good luck.