The United States Office of Education reports that 1,341 institutions of higher learning conferred 411,058 earned degrees during the year 1956–57. Of this number 61,955 were master’s or professional degrees, representing from five to seven years of post high school study, and 8,756 were doctorates, representing seven years or more of post high school study. The balance consisted of four-year baccalaureate degrees. Honorary degrees, granted by these institutions, amounted to less than one per cent of the total.

How many counterfeit degrees were granted by illegitimate institutions and “diploma mills” is not known. But indications point to a large number, many of them going to ministers of the Gospel. In fact, considerable traffic in worthless degrees is being promoted by schools that claim to be “evangelical and conservative.” Fortunately, most preachers are discerning men and able to spot a fake degree as quickly as they would a phony three-dollar bill. And many lay leaders are equally discerning.

Some years ago the pulpit committee of a strong denominational church in the Midwest was shocked to find that the candidate about to be recommended as pastor had accepted an honorary degree from a “diploma mill.” Although he had been virtually assured of a call, his name was immediately dropped.

Unfortunately, however, not all church boards detect the false from the genuine. In my files I have the following formal invitation: “The P—— Church of P——, invites you to attend the special conferring service on the occasion of the completion of work by the pastor, Rev. John Doe, for the degree Doctor of Theology from the P—— Theological Seminary, on the morning of May 20, 1956 at 10:45 o’clock at the P—— Church. The Doctor of Divinity degree ...

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