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.