More and more students are ditching brick-and-mortar in the quest for a mortarboard. The advantages of online learning are enticing. Getting classes wherever and whenever a student wants, avoiding the costs of dorm living or the hassle of a commute, and connecting with professors from anywhere in the world, all rank among the benefits of pursing a degree online.
But there can be pitfalls in the dot-com classroom.
Consider the “Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice.” It’s a degree advertised on one Canadian school’s website for a tuition of $14,850 (that’s about $11,000 in US dollars). It sounds like a serious degree for a great price, but American students would be wise to study the fine print first.
It turns out, the Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice is a degree only offered by that Canadian institution. They invented it. In fact, they hold a copyright on the title “DOMP.”
Take a closer look. The “D” in that title stands for diploma, not for doctor. The “M” stands for manipulation, not for medicine. So, while it may sound very similar to a doctoral degree in osteopathic medicine, it’s not the same.
“Students who are considering that school have called the board to ask if the online degrees offered satisfy our license requirements. They don’t,” said Angie Burton, Executive Officer of the Osteopathic Medical Board of California (OMB).
At the most recent OMB meeting, discussion turned to the Canadian school, called National Academy of Osteopathy. The board addressed the misconception that a DOMP might serve the educational requirements for a license to practice osteopathic medicine in the State of California.
The issue wasn’t what students might learn pursuing that degree, but what students wouldn’t learn.
“The idea that you could learn to be a doctor of osteopathic medicine online, without physically practicing osteopathic medicine, is ridiculous,” Burton said.
While the degree does allow certain types of practice in Canada, those rules stop at the border. But online higher education knows no borders. Any school from any country offering online learning could be accessible to American students.
If you’re considering a trade or profession that requires a license from the State of California, and you’re considering an online course to learn that trade or profession, the smartest move you can make is to check with the Department of Consumer Affairs first. Make sure the degree or certificate you’ll get will satisfy the requirements for the job you want.