University of South Africa doctorate

  1. I am nearing the end of my doctoral studies by distance ed at the University of South Africa -- UNISA (Health Sciences). The degree is a D Litt et Phil -- Doctor of Literature and Philosophy. As far as I can tell there are very few nurses in the US with this degree. (I have located just one.)

    This is a "thesis only" program for the doctorate, and I must say, I have enjoyed the research immensely and feel like I have gotten a lot of support from my advisors. I'd love to hear with anyone else with experience at UNISA.
    Last edit by bookwormom on Nov 15, '06 : Reason: spelling
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   zenman
    I don't know anyone with that degree also. I looked at the site and can't find anything about each degree program other than very little generic info that says nothing. Do you actually take courses or just do a thesis?
  4. by   bookwormom
    You have to wander through the website a bit, but there is really quite a lot. I applied through http://www.iaci-canada.com/ which made it a lot easier as I wasn't initially corresponding and mailing any farther than Canada. Now I communicate with my advisors in South Africa via email.

    Yes, it's just a thesis (which would be a dissertation in the US). I think the "dissertation-only" model is much more common in Europe. (There is one engineering program in the US that is dissertation only, also, I think.) It has been a lot of work, but not having to drive 2 1/2 hours each way to classes has been great. Plus, I am studying something that interests me. When you apply, you have to tell them the topic you want to study for your doctoral research.

    I have read a lot of the online theses in the UNISA library and I think they are very interesting and show a high level of scholarship.
  5. by   suzanne4
    Bigger question is what do you plan to do with this degree?
  6. by   bookwormom
    I am teaching in a US program in which it will be accepted as a terminal degree. If there is any question about it, I can have it evaluated by an organization that evaluates foreign degrees. It is a legitimate degree in South Africa and is listed in the programs described in INDEN- The International Network of Doctoral Education in Nursing: Directory of International Doctoral Programs
    Last edit by bookwormom on Nov 16, '06 : Reason: added link
  7. by   jek2839
    Quote from bookwormom
    I am nearing the end of my doctoral studies by distance ed at the University of South Africa -- UNISA (Health Sciences). The degree is a D Litt et Phil -- Doctor of Literature and Philosophy. As far as I can tell there are very few nurses in the US with this degree. (I have located just one.)

    This is a "thesis only" program for the doctorate, and I must say, I have enjoyed the research immensely and feel like I have gotten a lot of support from my advisors. I'd love to hear with anyone else with experience at UNISA.


    Hi Bookwormom,

    I am in the process of applying to UNISA (via Cananda Office) for nursing and I have also heard a lot of good things about UNISA.

    I would like to PM you with questions.

    Best regards,

    jek2839, RN
  8. by   beau12
    very interesting tell me more . where are you teaching
  9. by   bookwormom
    I teach nursing in a small state college which is affiliated with a state university. I had thought about a doctorate for a long time, but was held back by the cost and the time commitment. (I have 4 kids, and for a long time, I just taught part-time.). There was no doctoral program for nurses in my state until a few years ag. When that program started, it had a summer component for nursing courses and and other coursework to be completed during the year. It would have been free for me, but any and all coursework would have involved a very long commute. I also felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of taking classes from faculty with whom I now have a colleagial relationship.

    I have been interested in Distance Ed for a very long time, and had looked into the UNISA program some time ago. I did get a written response to my first query. However, at the time, political relations between the US and South Africa were not what they are now, and I didn't get much encouragement from anyone here that I talked to.

    What spurred me on later was that the administration where I teach came out very strongly for faculty to get their doctorates. (Particularly for faculty who wanted to get tenure in the future).Then, the chairman of my dept (a biology professor) allowed as how, maybe he'd just " pick up" a PhD in Nursing, in addition to his PhD in biology. This did rub me the wrong way!

    Anyway, I found UNISA online again and the IACI contact in Canada, and contacted them. The guy in Canada was a a terrific help, especially with questions and the application. I did send in a short description of my proposed research with the application. Looking back, I think it was too brief-- just a few paragraphs-- but apparently it was okay. I sent in my transcripts, too, and although they are from the 70s and 80s, I guess they were okay, too.

    I have researched every possible avenue about the credibility of a foreign degree, and think I can make a good case for this degree. A dissertation only degree is not uncommon in some countries, although I believe the course work model is taking over, at least in Great Britain, to some degree. The institution is certainly legitimate in South Africa. I think one of the questions is: Are foreign doctorates acceptable to US nurses? I hope the answer is yes, based on the amount of sophisticated scholarship I have run into by nurses from other countries. Another question is: Is an African university assumed to have the quality of other foreign institutions? I expect there may be some bias here, but I would be glad to argue that it is unjustified.

    Anyway, I started about 3 1/2 years ago and feel like I'm on the final stretch. It hasn't all been smooth sailing; there have been huge gaps of time without any response, but this is partly a factor of a very different semester and vacation schedule in South Africa. I also find that the UNISA website and literature can be confusing, as the terminology and style are different than what I'm used to. Also the university is going through a big reorganization, and the wheels do not turn completely smoothly yet. Still, the learning has been great! A real intellectual joy.

    I haven't submitted the final thesis for evaluation, so I'm at the stage of hoping it's all I have set out to do-- and a bit jittery. (I think probably all doctoral students go through feelings like this.)

    I will post back if all goes well. I think this could be a degree option for US nurses who are committed to scholarship and learning, but who are constrained by distance, finances, etc.
  10. by   sunnyjohn
    UNISA has a good reputation in South Africa and abroad. The school is an excellent brick and mortar university in South Africa.

    It also has a good reputation among doctorate seekers in the US looking for an online alternative. Those in the know in distance/alternative education speak well of it. It is NO short cut but where else can you earn a doctorate from a good school for a very resonable price?

    Here is a good place to find other people who have done UNISA programs.
    Distance learning and get online college degree, Accredited degree for MBA, Computer science (look at the discussion boards.)
  11. by   bookwormom
    It's a good site, but I haven't found many recent posts about UNISA.
  12. by   beau12
    It took you along time to finish what school are you teaching at
  13. by   Wgbem
    Have you been to South Africa? It is a beautiful place. Sounds like a great program. Thanks for the info.
  14. by   bookwormom
    My advisor (promoter) asked me if I was going to come to graduation, but it will be in the fall when I am teaching, and the plane fare is very expensive-- more than a year of tuition. I'd love to see the country, and I'd love to meet the faculty, but it doesn't seem feasible right now.

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