The rise of credentialism is an onerous and angry philosophy of separation forced upon the “have nots” by the “already haves.” That phony-on-the-surface and irresistible-in-the-depths separation of people by paper is an ominous cloud along the horizon of our educated humanity because this is a separation not by talent or ability or deeds but by theory and strategy and if you doubt it there is a growing diploma trail to prove my point. I have an MFA degree from Columbia University.
An MFA means “Master of Fine Arts.” An MFA differs from an MA degree in two ways. The first is the degree moves beyond theory and into the technical aspects of the art: I can not only describe how colors affect a dramatic presentation I can design and implement them as well. Second, an MFA degree, because of the technical aspect, is considered a “terminal” degree in that, like a PhD, you have reached the end of the road in your trip for knowledge and because you have touched that terminal end you are certified by the system of academe that you are worthy of being hired on a full line tenure track.
At least that’s the way it is supposed to work in theory. In the last five years there has been a sea change in academe as the basic requirements for applying for a tenure track position at a major research university have shifted. Most job announcements used to say “MFA or PhD preferred.”
Continue reading → Rise of Credentialism