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Bears Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning Paperback – January 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

MARIAH BEAR lives in Oakland, California. She is the publisher of How Now Pocket Pals in San Rafael.
THOMAS NIXON is a public school teacher who has taught university courses in both traditional and distance-learning formats. He is co-author of Bears’ Guide to the Best Education Degrees by Distance Learning as well as guest author for the high school diplomas chapter in Bears’ Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning. Tom writes regularly on distance-learning and nontraditional education for print and online publications.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bear's Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 16 edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580086535
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580086530
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on May 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Arm yourself with this lastest, updated version of Bears Guide before diving into the murky world of earning a degree through distance learning, particularly advanced degrees. It's exemplary and exhaustive in its research and useful database, the authors are honorable and refreshingly straight-talking - their candor will help you read between the lines of legality some questionable institutions engage in. You'll learn who's doing non-residency or semi-resident education, who's offering what degrees or fields of study, and who's reputable.

Bears Guides have been around for years, undergoing frequent revisions, championing distance learning, and exposing the crooks of diploma mills.

I want to counteract comments made in another (2003) review that seemed to disparage the integrity of author John Bear (whose daughter, Mariah, is carrying on his work with Nichols in these books). Bear is a founder of, which I'd recommend as an adjunct resource to this book. He, and all the earlier versions of this book, have done a LOT to debunk and expose diploma mills to the general public. Other than the state of Oregon (which has a helpful website), no other entity in the U.S. has done - or is doing - as much.

Here's a quote from Wired Magazine news in March 2000:

"[Diploma mills] are growing, especially on the Internet, at astonishing rates," agrees John Bear, founder of Bear has witnessed the dark side of the distance-education boom up close. A former consultant, informant, and expert witness for the FBI's task force operation DipScam in the 1980s, he helped shut down a number of diploma mills over a 12-year period."

That quote alone should help - and hopefully my review, too. The layout of Bears Guide is reader-friendly and makes a complex subject accessible. And it's frequently updated/revised. So unlike the Peterson guide, there's barely a comparison between the two.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Sherman A. Thompson on October 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
John Bear's guide is valuable even though it isn't perfect. As they say, "It's the only real game in town." It is reasonably well written and is certainly comprehensive. It serves as a pretty good guide for those who can't stop work to attend full-time classes on a campus, or people who are financially strapped. His explanation of how schools are accredited is well worth reading and informative. If I remember correctly Harvard isn't regionally accredited because it was founded before there was such a thing as accreditation and, besides, they feel their name and reputation is enough and they don't need accreditation.
Bear's guide is timely, not only because today there is a greater need for distance learning, but also because progressive education theories in the lower schools has produced less educated freshmen students and a resulting lower standard in requirements for a "conventional" degree. The quality of distance learning at the better remote schools has come up, while the quality of learning at traditional universities has gone down.
Bottom line, distance learning at a good on-line or correspondence school can be just as good as or better than that at a traditional campus, especially those whose standards have been intentionally lowered.
There is no magic in classroom hours. Hard study motivation by and of the student is what is important. The piece of paper that says "DEGREE" at the top is both useless and meaningless if it doesn't represent hard academic study under qualified supervision and guidance. Properly done this can be accomplished through distance learning. It doesn't matter if Bear has founded several schools and is pushing them if the academic requirements are high.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Kellemen on December 14, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a resource that will provide literally thousands of addresses (snail mail, e-mail, web addresses, phone numbers) with a brief annotation about each school that offers distance learning, then this is an excellent resource. If you are wanting to learn the very basics of accreditation of online schools, this will be a starting point. If you want a detailed, technical look at online learning and about higher education accreditatiion, this is not the purpose of Bears Guide.

Reviewer: Dr. Kellemen is the author of Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction .
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By BL on March 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. It informs you all the in's and out's on obtaining a legitimate, fully recognized degree. It's perfect for people working f/t especially for those who have a family to raise. I'd say this is quite possibly the best "bible" on distance learing one can obtain. The Oregon Commsission on higher education uses it to filter degree mills and other discredible sources. One must be careful though, the author seems to have many "enemies" who tries hard to ruin the reputation of the author. But I guess that's what one gets for appearing on National TV and working for the FBI to raid all the degree mill scams. An excellent read!
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29 of 41 people found the following review helpful By H.B. on May 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
"A degree is often more useful than a good education or valuable skills in your field." (the authors, pg. 3)

"One man's degree mill is another man's alternative university." (the authors. Bears' Guide, 13th Edition. pg 306)

'People rarely check up on other people's degrees." (John Bear, Bear's Guide, 10th Ed., pg 24)

I think these quotes encapsulate John Bear's strategy and view of higher education. "alternative" is altedspeak code for "unaccredited." John Bear is correct on the second point - outright degree mills on the one end of the continuum shade into sincere but unrecognized alternative/unaccredited universities at the other. I myself would say they're all bogus - whether degree mills or "alternative/unaccredited" universities. John Bear by his own admission involved himself in his past with a string of unaccredited "universities/colleges" in states with lax or non-existent laws governing degree-granting colleges/universities.

Such unaccredited schools - according to some sources - were: MILLARD FILMORE (owner); INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES ( President, 3 years); COLUMBIA PACIFIC ( part owner); LONDON INSTITUTE OF APPLIED RESEARCH (owner); FAIRFAX UNIVERSITY ( part owner/founder); GREENWICH UNIVERSITY ( President, 1,5 years ).

It is instructive to consider the case of Fairfax University: John Bear and his wife were two of four founders, but left after the first few students enrolled in 1986. As of 1991, John Bear was calling this an "academically-sound program" in the previous version of this book. Here's what Fairfax University's current website advertising says: "Degree programs offered at Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral levels. Personal supervision by mail, telephone, etc by...highly qualified..faculty.
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