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Union Institute and University PhD / Worthless credits for PhD

1 Cincinnati, OH, United States Review updated:

Union Institute and University had a valid PhD program, but it was put on probation back in 2004. Sadly, students were not given an option to withdraw and be given refunds for big student loans. I hung in there as long as I could, and kept borrowing, but because the US Department of Education had disqualified them for Federal Student Loans, I had to use Sallie Mae's Opportunity Loans. I wish I had withdrawn in 2004. Union officials met with the DOE and Ohio Board of Regents to try to get their accreditation back, but it never happened. Students who have tried to get their credits transferred to another program so they can finish with an accredited degree find they are worthless now. What is confusing is that because Union did have a good reputation at one time, many in the academic community don't know about their PhD program's problems. As far as I know, their undergraduate programs are still accredited, adding to the confusion. The essential problem with the PhD program is that there are not enough faculty and staff to administer the program. The degrees take forever to complete, drawing the student deeper and deeper into debt. They describe a new PhD program online, but as far as I know it is not yet accredited, and students who matriculated into the older program are not allowed to transfer into it. I'm now leading a group involved in a lawsuit against them. Anyone who wants more information is welcome to contact me.

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Comments

  • Al
      20th of Jun, 2010

    Please note that regional accrediting agencies do not accredit individual programs but entire institutions. As of this writing the Union Institute and University is regionally accredited. This means all of its programs are thereby "accredited." Below is the information that you will get if you go to The Union's web page. The following is a quote:

    Union Institute & University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association.

    Web address: http://www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org/
    Phone #: 1-800-621-7440

    Most recent institutional reauthorization: April 2010
    Next scheduled comprehensive review: 2016-2017

    -1 Votes
  • Wa
      21st of Jun, 2010

    The Ph.D. program is not accredited. If it was, then Union ph.d candidates could get federally insured student loans, which they cannot. Also, the credits would be transferrable, which they are not. Send me an email stating that Union students can get doctoral level federal student loans. Withdrawal of student federal loans is the only way that the federal goverment can discipline a program that has lost it's accreditation. Union Institute is only accredited to offer undergraduate degrees.

    0 Votes
  • An
      30th of Jun, 2010

    I was one of the Ph.D. Candidates who was caught in the landslide in 2004. I had completed all of my coursework and was ready to present before my committee in June 2005 when my core faculty advisors positions were both terminated. I spend many hours in 2004 resubmitting many documents on Union's tuition clock and re-wrote my entire PDE to present it before the board of regents to receive my degree. This process took an extra year to complete and Union placed me on non- status for only one term. As a result, I am paying off huge loans and do not have the professional connections one would normally have through obtaining a Ph.D., not to mention the stress created from unethical behavior presented by an institution that presented itself as an institution which supports social action and self- reflection. Learners impacted should not bear the financial burden placed upon them by Union's shortcomings as an accredited institution. I was so close to completion and fearful of losing everything that I complied with their rules and got out as quickly as I could (august 2006). I wrote to Union immediately following my completion to seek reimbursement for the past two years of the degree, citing the many hours I paid tuition on their clock and was denied. I am interested in any legal action that is being taken.

    Angela Benedetto

    +1 Votes
  • Al
      30th of Jun, 2010

    One more time. The Union has regional accreditation, which means its doctoral programs are also accredited and students can receive federal loans.

    -3 Votes
  • Ne
      1st of Jul, 2010

    What exactly happened in 2004? It seems that the Union Institute was on probation and that it re-organized is Ph.D. program after 2004 in response. Now it offers a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Stuties in Arts and Sciences, where before it had a Ph.D. in Arts and Sciences. Did the change in the program affect the timing of the your receiving a Ph.D.? Did the period of probation affect your ability to get a loan? It seems that there have been some serious issues, but it is hard to get a clear picture.

    -1 Votes
  • Pr
      2nd of Jul, 2010

    I, too, am a Union Learner caught in the 2004 down slide. I didn't even know it was happening until it was too late. I started in the same June 2003 class as the original poster to this thread. She and I were so excited about our new endeavor which we did not know would fall apart around us. I dropped in 2005 because I had to rewrite my learning agreement 3 - 4 times, and I am not a poor writer but an English instructor, published poet and now MFA student at a real college.

    Union was patently fraudulent when it kept our classes going and kept admitting students. Even after they knew that the school's doctorate programs were being reviewed and were ultimately in trouble, they still kept us going around in circles in our degree programs until we quit, or they fired our professors. By 2005, I had 27K in student loan debt.

    This is a ridiculous situation of "corporate" might against "less powerful" individuals assuming we will do nothing. However, the law says we should not have to pay for a fraudulent education. So on with the lawsuit.

    +1 Votes
  • Ne
      2nd of Jul, 2010

    I wonder if this situation is something that should be brought to the attention of an education focused publication like the Chronicle of Higher Education. Another idea might be to create a Facebook group. That would might make it easier to find other people who want to sue and to perhaps do a class action suit.

    +1 Votes
  • Gw
      21st of Jul, 2010

    I was also caught in the array of disorganzation and was without any core support well over a year. Yet, was encouraged to stay in the program. . My entire committee was fired, twice. Yet, my cohorts was promised a program that could cost as little as 25, 000 and could be completed in as little as 2 years. I support creating a facebook group. I am also in favor of a class action suit. Union, I feel, scammed learners and individuals invovled in the process, should be compensated.

    0 Votes
  • Ne
      21st of Jul, 2010

    Has anyone complained directly with the Department of Education, Ohio Board of Regents, or Higher Learning Commission? I would suggest doing so in that order, as they could put some pressure on the Union Institute.

    +1 Votes
  • Ne
      21st of Jul, 2010

    Regarding Alex's comment, the HLC is under investigation by the DoE. Not too confidence inspiring. Secondly, while programs are not individual authorized, they are authorized to offer certain degree programs.

    0 Votes
  • Al
      21st of Jul, 2010

    I do not know how many times I have to repeat this. Regional accrediting bodies accredit entire schools and not programs. It a school has a program that is not acceptable, then the accrediting body will either not accredit the school or put it on probation if the school is seeking a renewal of accreditation, with the idea that the school in question will either drop or modify the unacceptable. At this writing this is not the Union Institute's problem.

    I'll pass on the business of the HLC allegedly being investigated by the DoE. until I get more information.

    To repeat, I hope for the last time, whatever else the Union Institute's problems may be, it is regionally accredited and for that reason all of its students eligible for federal financial aid of some kind.

    -3 Votes
  • Ne
      22nd of Jul, 2010

    I don't know why you feel the need to repeat this point. I was not saying that the individual programs are accredited, but the accreditation is relative to the programmatic composition at the time of evaluation. It is worth noting, however, that the HLC specifically states the programs that the Union Institute is authoirzed to offer. It is also worth noting that the OBR allows the Union Institute to offer a single Ph.D. and that the HLC lists this as the only Ph.D. degree that the University can offer. A quick search on the internet will turn up CVs with different Ph.D. degree titles from those approved by the OBR and HLC. So, what should we say about those degree titles? Are they authorized because the Union Institute is accredited? Hardly.

    +1 Votes
  • Al
      22nd of Jul, 2010

    If at this point the above poster wishes to challenge the validity of regional accreditation he or she may do in blissful ignorance with no further comment from me. As for the rest of the person's missive, I would like to see concrete facts and a clarification of just he or she is specifically talking about.

    I'll end by noting that legitimate accrediting agencies do not accredit schools that are not authorized to operate by their state's chief regulatory body, be it a department of education or board of regents.

    -2 Votes
  • Ne
      23rd of Jul, 2010

    I am not sure what you mean by challenging the validity of a regional accreditation. I did point out in a previous e-mail that the DoE was investigating the HLC. The article is online in the Chronicle of Higher Education. My main point was that the OBR and the HLC set limits on the Ph.D. degree that can be offered by the Union Institute. The current Ph.D. offered is a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies. Two other terminal degrees are now offered as well. Previously, the Ph.D. was a Ph.D. in Arts and Sciences. If you have a Ph.D. from the Union Institute, it should be titled as either of the above (depending upon the time period). Below is the current statement by the HLC. It is a few months old, but you can view the affiliation status and stipulations on their Web site. Do you have a Ph.D. from the Union Institute? How do you title it?

    Stipulations on Affiliation Status:
    The Institute may add no new centers or degree programs beyond the Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, the
    Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology), and the Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) without the Commissions approval. The
    Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Studies is limited to the social sciences and humanities research areas.
    The Psy.D. may be offered only in Cincinnati, OH and Brattleboro, VT. Contracts with non-accredited entities
    to offer 50% or more of a degree program are limited to the three MFA programs (Visual Arts, Writing, and
    Writing for Children and Young Adults) offered in Montpelier, VT.

    0 Votes
  • Al
      24th of Jul, 2010

    Thanks for the clarification.

    0 Votes
  • Wa
      24th of Oct, 2010

    When I first wrote this complaint a few months ago, I was focused on the issue of current accreditation. However, whether or not UI & U is currently accredited has nothing to do with the closure of the Graduate College in 2004. In fact, the university is hiding behind its current accreditation to deny justice to the students who lost huge amounts of money, time and effort due to that closure. Back in 2004, I was sent an email by the President of Union Institute and University, Roger Sublett, that stated that UI&U had been censured by the United States Department of Education. All of the doctoral students received that email. The email didn't describe exactly what the details of the original complaint were that led to this censure, but it did list details of UI&U's response to the censure, which was the firing of almost all of the faculty of the Graduate College due to the limits on federal loans imposed on the university. This email promised many reforms, which were not effective in meeting the needs of the students but did suffice to placate federal officials, which finally lifted the restriction in 2007. I took a look at my balance sheet in 2008 and realized that I had already borrowed the maximum amount I could to finance my Union education. Given the massive delays that reduced from the closing of the Graduate College in 2004 and the subsequent false starts with inadequate administrative staff and faculty, I didn't think they would mind giving me some tuition credit so I could finish my degree. I had high hopes, too, that my service to them as President of the Learners Council would cause them to want help me stay in the Graduate College's doctoral program. They refused. I found an attorney, who documented my case thoroughly and requested that they reconsider. They refused again. My attorney contacted the US Dept. of Education and requested information about the 2004 censure and severe limits on financial aid that that agency imposed at that time. He was ignored. In desperation, and with little hope of success, I contacted my Congressional Representative, Ilena Ros-Lehtinen. A couple of months later, I received a copy of the letter her office sent to the US DOE I was pleased that Union's fraud finally had been taken seriously, especially by a Congressional Representative.
    Almost a month later, the DOE responded to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. David Heath, an official at the DOE, replied that while Union had limits put on federal financial aid, that the loans were not completely suspended. This assertion was not consistent with the email from President Sublett in 2004, which stated that the loans had been completely suspended. This assertion is also not consistent with my experience at the time, in which I was first Secretary of the Learner Council and then President. To my knowledge, no doctoral student at the Graduate College was receiving federally guarenteed student loans. I wrote again to Reb. Ros-Lehtinen, requesting further clarification regarding the limits on the financial aid that David Heath did allude to, and the reasons for those limits. I didn't expect anything but a polite letter stating that I had my response already and that I should be content with that. However, I received another letter dated September 24 that they had forwarded my request for clarification to the U.S. Department of Education. The closure of the Graduate College is mentioned in the Wikipedia article about UI&U, and here is the link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Institute_%26_University

    0 Votes
  • Ne
      9th of Nov, 2010

    Is it possible to sue on the basis of a breach of contract? First, they seem to have delayed your progress, which has wasted your money. They should be responsible for that. Also, they seem to have cut back on your loans because of mistakes they made. That is negligent on their part. Your lawyer might find grounds for a suit based on their not delivering what they promised and delivering below the professional standard. Can you post the e-mail your received. It would be interesting to see what reasons they cite for not being able to provide the same level of financial aid as that which led you to begin the program.

    -1 Votes
  • Er
      27th of Mar, 2011

    I graduated from Union Institute & University in 2009. I started in the program in Feb 2003 and lived through the problems of 2004 (Two 1st cores, three 2nd cores, and lots of paperwork to rework). I graduated with the degree I started with Arts and Sciences with a specialization, in my case, Cultural History. Was it difficult? Yes! Did I have to be proactive in everything I did? Yes! But the school is accredited, and the degree is academically recognized. The only time during the entire process I had problems with loans was when the school went from trimesters to semesters. I had to catch up that difference with a Sallie Mae loan.

    0 Votes
  • Wi
      8th of Apr, 2011

    I need an attorney or class action suit, to obtain my transcript from the Union Institute and University, which needs to be sent to Capella University in order to correct my Ph.D. transcript. The Union Institute and University is and was a fraudulent and misrepresented “graduate” school. All the information I am providing is also on the Internet. Union says I owe them tuition, yet we signed an agreement to provide the transcript and I am not paying for something I never received. Their students reported them to the US Dept. of Education. Part of the problem was that students were allowed to make up their own courses and the number of credits and award themselves a grade. The feds stopped paying student loans to Union students unless they could prove that they actually took courses, received credit and a grade. Then mid-states got involved the accrediting agency in Chicago and the state of Ohio. Union said they had an “equivalent APA program in clinical psychology” which they did not have. Union did not have the faculty to teach required APA clinical psychology courses so students had to go outside Union, take courses elsewhere, pay ADDITIONAL TUITION AND TRANSFER THE COURSES INTO Union. They, mid-states, ruled that Union could not offer “professional’ degrees in psychology. There are many on-line schools that offer a Ph.D. in clinical psycholiogy but Unionb’s website toslly misrepresented their non-program by mentioning APA, the National Register and other organizations 9the requirements for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology can be found at; APA.org, and National Register.org0. The head of my doctoral committee (Dr. Christine Kris, Ph.D., Licensed, Clinical Child Neuropsychologist, Cambridge, MA) left. I am on;y interested in Dr. Kris’ signed off transcripts sent to Capella. Also, another of their faculty members was fraudulent (see attached) who misrepresented himself. Union never informed us of this. Union also processed a student of mine which I told them not to, because I was withdrawing. I need my transcripts which Dr. Kris signed off on, but I not paying tuition to a fraudulent school. Union has been sued many times by many people. I am a resident of MA
    The head of my Doctoral dissertation committee at Capella was: Dr. Patricia Wolskee, Ph.D., a researcher at NIH (pain management) [protected]@gmail.com
    I have been hurt personally, professionally and economically

    0 Votes
  • Te
      20th of Nov, 2017

    @William B. Secor I am an interested bystander and I agree. I found this site while researching a potential therapist and it certainly does affect my opinion of whether to choose that practice, fair or not. I wonder how all this turmoil affects a psychotherapist. It certainly could make them more empathetic, but also bitter. And how does it affect their ability to become licensed in another state. (although Florida has very fluid laws, or at least oversight)

    0 Votes
  • Wi
      9th of Apr, 2011

    The APA does not accredit or approve on-line programs with the exception of the Fielding University in Santa Barbara CA and that is becasue Fielding sued the APA. Also, you have to attend, face to face meetings. Remember clinical psych is a professional program, you work with people and it is regulated nationally and by states. Most on-line programs offer a Ph.D. in clinical psych, why because they are the most popular programs (and most profitable) and over 50 percent of Union's students were in their non-program when I was there. The regulations for a PhD program in clinical psychology can be found at both the APA and the National Register websites. They require a real entity in psychology in other words a Dept. of Psychology with a faculty and course to support it. This Union did not have. There is also the problem of APICC approved Internships which Union did not have. Then there is the problem of state licensure, most but not all states do not recognize on-line programs unless they are APA and APICC. When I first started at Union, states were allowing Union students to sit for licensure, but that quickly changed as many Union students were not prepared, and the regulations of the APA changed. There is nothing wrong with on-line courses per-se (you can become an RN with on-line programs), but you still have to take practicums off-line. Believe nothing that Union tells you on-line unless you check it out. The problem is with APA and National Register approved Internships, sitting for the exams and state regs for licensure. Caveat emptor. By the way some states warn prospective on-line students not to apply because they will not recognize it, iy is more than just regional accreditation. Most on-line programs are for profit, money making businesses...

    +1 Votes

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