A.B.D. has special meaning in the academic world. It stands for All But Dissertation and means a scholar has completed all work towards his PhD except for the final review of his primary research project. Universities advertise many professorships as open to ABDs so long as the candidate meets the other job requirements. Dissertation approval and granting of the actual degree is, of course, necessary.
I know this because I have applied for scores of academic jobs only to be declined every time. According to the American Bar Association a JD is equivalent to a PhD for teaching purposes. Most hiring committees have a different view. In reality they want a professor with a terminal degree in the exact discipline taught. I almost exclusively applied for political science positions so I understand my handicap. That, and my personal political philosophy is at odds with most American faculties: me, anarchist; them, communist.
At any rate I am not hurt in the least by this quandary. In fact, I’m kind of happy about it. I’m not alone either. There is a glut of advanced degrees out there destroying the market. There are shocking figures about PhDs taking jobs as waiters, bartenders and truckers. Others turn to alternative disciplines. My writing career is my alternative to teaching and to law.
Gary North faced a similar situation decades ago. He just wrote an enlightening and somewhat damning article on the experience.
Certification vs. competence: Which is it to be? Of course, it would be nice to have both, but Christian colleges are strapped financially, and they cannot afford both. In fact, given the nature of bureaucracies, especially academic bureaucracies, they cannot be sure of anything except certification. There are no measurements of academic competence that are easily examined, since each field is so specialized that aging faculty members are hardly able to judge the competence of their younger, more energetic colleagues. If anything, competence in the classroom is a threat to the self-esteem of those who are tenured, and who also make the decisions. But certification upgrades their departments, and therefore lends prestige to them. What those doing the hiring really want is to hire new men with superb credentials and only mediocre performance subsequent to the earning of those credentials.
When I Didn’t Get Hired, North, Dec. 22, 2015.
Still, part of me wants a PhD in political science – political philosophy, specifically. I see three avenues for achieving this goal. I could return to school and earn a degree. I wrote a short time ago of my last failed attempt to do this. I spent seven years earning the two diplomas I have now. They sit in a box somewhere. This strategy isn’t likely to succeed. Neither is the second option – being gifted an honorary doctorate. I suppose I will have to wait and see if some university values my contributions to the liberty movement or my literary achievements enough for recognition.
BBA, JD, fishing tackle, etc.
I’m leaning towards option three – claiming or manufacturing a PhD. This is a very popular trend. Americans by the thousands are buying degrees online from diploma mills. Some use these credentials for fraudulent or criminal purposes. Not me. I’m putting my fraud out there now, before the fact. Nothing to hide. And for the degree I want I think I’ve already done the required research and work.
Some college professors admit that many of the “fake” degrees are not so far off the mark anyway. Many who pass successfully through “real” schools come out as dumb as they went in.
Here is my current idea. I may look through the political theory class offerings at MIT’s free course website and see how my experience and skills stack up. I may need a little legitimate brushing up. Then I will simply grant myself a title and print up a diploma. It can keep its predecessors company in that box – if I can find it …
As a Doctor of Law I can already proclaim myself “Dr. Lovett.” I do not but I might. I just might. Let’s just say I’m a JD, PhD (ABD).
All Bear Dissertation …