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Sorry, Ms. Angelou, The Doctor Is Not In

Did you know that “Dr. Maya Angelou” was neither a physician nor the holder of a real Ph.D? Mark Oppenheimer says that the poet, who died this week, never went to college, but she held lots of honorary doctorates, and vainly insisted on being called “Dr. Maya Angelou.” [1] Excerpt:

In any event, throughout academia, it is agreed that an honorary doctorate does not entitle one to call oneself “Dr.” The media generally agrees, and a good thing, too. For if newspapers or websites referred to everyone with an honorary doctorate as “Dr. So-and-So,” thousands of greater and lesser celebrities would be immediately elevated to doctoral status. We would read about Dr. Paul Anka, Dr. Puff Daddy (as he was called when Howard University honored him), Dr. Glenn Beck, and Dr. Dennis Hastert. And don’t forget Dr. Marcel Marceau, Dr. Charles Colson, and Dr. Willard Scott.

In the grand scheme of things, the proliferation of pseudo-doctors is not a big problem. But as someone who in fact has a doctorate in religious studies, it troubles me. Not because only people like me should be calling ourselves “Dr.,” but because almost nobody, including me, really should.

I agree with this, though I don’t quite buy Oppenheimer’s egalitarian reasoning. I actually like titles, but only when they’re earned, and only when they are held lightly by the bearer. Well, I take that back: I like “Dr. Kissinger,” because it makes him sound more sinister.

I don’t like it when churches identify their leader as “Dr. John Doe, Senior Pastor”. Why does a Christian pastor advertise his Ph.D? Is it a status thing? I don’t get it. It telegraphs to me a lack of confidence, but maybe I’m misreading it.

But at least those preachers earned their degree. When people like Maya Angelou call themselves Dr., based on their honorary degrees, it’s like seeing someone with a bad toupée. It doesn’t make them look better, but rather calls attention to their vanity and insecurity.

UPDATE: Enough with the sanctimony about how one must not observe anything negative about Maya Angelou upon her passing, and how it’s not right to say that someone like her shouldn’t call herself “doctor.” I take it as given that she was an accomplished person, and a morally upstanding person. I was pleased to read  Erick Erickson beautiful appreciation of her memoir [2], which one reader posted. Here’s an excerpt:

I have learned over the years, particularly during my time at CNN, that one can have friendships with those whose life, issues, politics, or values do not align with my own. I had a friendship with Maya Angelou’s beautiful voice. I could listen to her read a grocery list and it would be an emotional event.

I never met Maya Angelou. But I admired her from afar. Some people are just worthy of praise, regardless of their positions, convictions, or titles. We should not be so counter-cultural to the present culture and politics that we as conservative are not willing to recognize that caged bird sang a melody worth humming along to even when we didn’t care for the words.

Amen to that. It made me order a copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and I will read it with my kids. That has nothing to do with whether or not someone who is not a holder of a Ph.D — or someone who is a holder of a Ph.D — should insist on being called “doctor.” I think it’s a silly, vain practice, though apparently a common one in our society. It’s worth talking about. It is not a sin against the Holy Ghost to say that Maya Angelou should not have called herself “doctor,” or that any other great soul should not do it, absent a Ph.D. Do you think that a veteran who was never officially awarded a medal, should be entitled to wear medals based on the fact that he is an exemplary person?

And by the way, for those of you who think this is some sort of right-wing racist thing, I remind you that Mark Oppenheimer, who raised the issue and brought it to my mind [1], is a liberal. In fact, he objects to the use of the honorific, even by Ph.D holders like himself, on egalitarian grounds.

If you want to debate what Oppenheimer calls “title inflation,” fine, let’s talk. But if you want to enjoy being outraged that somebody would notice this minor peccadillo in Angelou’s public persona, and use it to make a general point about a common but unfortunate practice in our culture, well, you’ve had your say in the thread this morning. Henceforth, this thread is about title inflation.

 

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136 Comments To "Sorry, Ms. Angelou, The Doctor Is Not In"

#1 Comment By The Lost Dutchman On May 30, 2014 @ 4:28 pm

Same as when you speak with a cop – it’s “officer,” not because you’re showing your respect to his associate degree in criminal justice procedure, but because at that moment, when he is in uniform and on duty, he’s an officer of the law, and the position demands proper respect.

Also because whenever you’re dealing with someone while he is deciding whether to slap a hundred-fifty-dollar fine or just a warning on you, it is advisable to be as polite as possible.

#2 Comment By GCR On May 30, 2014 @ 4:36 pm

I agree that honorary doctorates shouldn’t mean you can call yourself “Dr.,” and as an editor, I’m fine with only using the title for people with medical or veterinary degrees (per the AP Stylebook) or for people who use it as part of their public persona (i.e. the late Dr. Joyce Brothers, who was a psychologist, not a psychiatrist).

But, this whole conversation reminds me of a great scene from “The Big Bang Theory,” where Bernadette is getting her Ph.D. in microbiology and Penny remarks to Leonard, Sheldon, Amy and Raj, “Wow! So that means you’re a doctor, you’re a doctor, you’re a doctor, you’re a doctor… and Howard [Bernadette’s significant other, who only has a master’s], you know a lot of doctors!” 🙂

#3 Comment By Chris On May 30, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

“[NFR: I appreciate you, a liberal, actually addressing my real point without feeling obligated to call me out as Hitler Jr for supposedly disrespecting Maya Angelou. Seriously, thank you. — RD]”

My pleasure compadre. Frankly I couldn’t stand Maya Angelou. She always came across to me as a statue in search of a pedestal. As for myself I certainly have every right to use the title doctor and will do so. I have spent years and years in school getting a B.A. terminal M.S, then the M.A. and now the PhD and spent years and years getting many thousands of hours of clinical training in clinics and hospitals at slave wages.

But in health care, there is real concern on the part of physicians that non-physician holders of clinical doctorates will confuse the public. Psychologists with the PhD degree have used the title Dr. for decades in psychiatric and general medical settings with no problems. But I don’t walk around with a white lab coat on with a stethoscope giving physicals. God forbid anyone see me with a scalpel or needle in my hand. No one will ever mistake me for a physician given my role and appearance. The quite valid concern some physicians have is that the public will be confused by professionals who dress in medical clothing and have similar functions in clinical settings. Some hospitals have adopted a color coded ID badge where the profession is indicated by a particular color. In some states nurse practitioners, even with doctorates, are not permitted to use the title doctor in clinical settings. Of course, titles aside, every person working in a clinical setting should make their patients know their role and title to avoid confusion. Saying “Hello I am Dr. so and so I am a clinical psychologist who will be working with you” is the appropriate way for me to introduce oneself.

#4 Comment By arrScott On May 30, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

Apropos of nothing really, my one personal memory of Ms. Angelou.

I scored decent lawn tickets to the 1993 presidential inaugural from my member of Congress’ office. Close enough that our tickets were a different color than the masses out on the Mall behind us, but far enough away that we were mainly watching the event on the first big video screen set up on the West Lawn for people to see the telecast. Anyway, when it came time for Ms. Angelou to read her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” we heard her begin, “A rock, a river, a tree …” Simultaneously, we watched on the screen as the closed-captioning transcriptionist write, “Iraq, a river, a tree …”

True story.

#5 Comment By educationrealist On May 30, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

I have never really understood the fuss over Angelou. Were we supposed to believe her absurd memoirs? My son was required to read Caged Bird in high school, and he came to me saying he didn’t believe a word of it. I was prepared to remonstrate with him, but hadn’t read the book myself (happily) and perused it. Ever since, I’ve been astonished at the pretense. I don’t know whether the books are bad or good from a literary standpoint, but she is almost certainly not telling the truth.

McWhorter is the only person who comes near to mentioning this [3] (review from a decade ago or so).

#6 Comment By The Next to Last Samurai On May 30, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

Maya Too: I work with a lady from Louisiana who has lived up here in Yankeeland for 30 years, so normally her accent is subdued. And then she’ll go home to visit for a week or two, and when she gets back, well, y’all can butter my butt and call me a biscuit if she doesn’t sound like she just got up here yesterday, bless her heart. It takes her another week or two before she returns to her usual, more subdued accent.

[NFR: Code switching. I do it too, and have always done it, and don’t even notice it. — RD]

#7 Comment By economista On May 30, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

I agree that it’s silly and vain when PhD’s insist on using the honorific “Dr.” on all correspondence, or even worse, signing their names as “Dr. So-and-so, Ph.D.”. Although I suppose the latter is more honest, in a sense. (Then the late Ms. Angelou would have to include the “Hon.D.”) I only use the title when I’m signing something extremely formal; e.g., I delivered a condolence card and flowers to the memorial for Metropolitan Philip earlier this year. It brings honor to +PHILIP to have accomplished people recognize his life.

However… I also agree with the other posters that it is in poor taste for you to use Dr. Angelou as an example of this vanity so soon after her death. At least give it a few weeks out of respect!

Sincerely,
Dr. Economista, Ph.D.
😉

#8 Comment By Darth Thulhu On May 30, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

Can we just retitle this thread I Know Why the Aged Girl Blings already?

It was a silly vanity. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Not deserving of anything more than a slight roll of the eyes and a quiet “bless her heart, she loved herself that title”.

Really, it’s like the random great aunt who always dresses up in her Sunday best to go to the bank and the grocery store. It’s obviously vain, and it’s obviously harmless, and it’s obviously kinda cute. Be gracious enough to let her use the silly thing!

[NFR: Well, in truth, I don’t care what Maya Angelou called herself, and I don’t lose any sleep over honorary Ph.Ds calling themselves “doctor.” I only brought it up because her death caused Mark Oppenheimer to write a short essay about how he hates all people, PhDs and non-PhDs, using the honorific “doctor.” He wasn’t disparaging Angelou’s character, nor was I, any more than somebody might criticize my vanity for some peccadillo of my own, like my penchant for fancy glasses. Let me say here and now that if I drop dead tomorrow, you all have my permission to take note of my own vanities before my body is cold. Who cares? Not me. — RD]

#9 Comment By MikeCA On May 30, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

We in accord on this one,Erin. Civility & good manners – they cost nothing. Christine Johnson, what’s your beef with Maya Angelou? Don’t like her,fine. But why the disparaging comments on her appearance & speech? I had the privilege of meeting her once and she was a gracious & kind lady who conducted herself with great dignity- she was lovely in all senses. As for her accent,I’ve known a number of older African American ladies who speak in a similiar cadence. Not quite British but refined and distinct. For many African Americans of her age their dignity was all they had in terms of social capital growing up; their education may have been limited,as well as their access to many career opportunities but they could comport themselves as ladies & gentlemen. Maybe this is why she insisted on being addressed as Dr.,as a measure of respect. If being prideful of an honorary title is the worst flaw you have you’ve probably lived a good life. ( This was not a shot at you Rod – you questioned why it was important to her while Christine & a few others were downright nasty.)

#10 Comment By RB On May 30, 2014 @ 7:19 pm

M_Young–yes, I noticed that when I lived in Marin County, too.

My (very white) teachers in middle school had a TV showing the inauguration where she read her poem. They adored her, but, yes, there were hardly any black kids in my school. They simply couldn’t afford to live there. I’ve noted before that the SWPLs I knew and lived near in Marin tended to lionize people of other races in inverse proportion to how white their neighborhood was. I have no idea if they were guilty whiteys, or if they just thought Dr. Angelou’s writing incredibly evocative, or some combination of the two, but you’re right about Marin–lots and lots of rhetoric fer diversity, lots and lots of city hall stuff agin.

#11 Comment By Darth Thulhu On May 30, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

Rod wrote:

Let me say here and now that if I drop dead tomorrow, you all have my permission to take note of my own vanities before my body is cold. Who cares? Not me

This is a decent interpretation of the Golden Rule (“do unto others as you’d have them do unto you”) … but note that you are explicitly authorizing us to lay it heavy on you, but Dr. Angelou never did.

Unless you have a note or a public communication from her saying “let the affectation-mocking immediately commence!”, this is all very tacky and low class.

Oppenheimer may well have started it, fine. But you are dang well continuing it, and schoolyard blame deflection won’t work.

She was a dignified old woman who went through a heck of a lot, and she had her some silly quirks. Whatever. That her body was barely cold before Oppenheimer felt it was time to cram this into the 24-hour news cycle is just tacky. I expect that from Limbaugh and Hannity; I expect better, here.

There are countless other times to talk about lame title inflation. The passing of a dignified old woman isn’t one of them. This is the instrumental coarsening of our culture that you (rightly) lament, right here and right now.

For pity’s sake! Pull your car over to the side of the road, take off your hat, and let the woman respectfully pass by in peace!

#12 Comment By Caroline On May 30, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

I went to a small woman’s college in northern California in the 1950’s. It was very important there to address every teacher with a PhD as “Doctor.” When I went to U.C. Berkeley for graduate school all the PhD’s were addressed as Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. To address any of them as “Doctor” was very bad form.

#13 Comment By Mya Too On May 30, 2014 @ 7:55 pm

Dear Next to Last Samurai,

Well bless your Lady from Louisiana. May her butt be forever buttered.

Dr. Angelou left the South and chose not to return for decades. She was old enough to have attended school when recitation and elocution was a part of the curriculum. She was an actress, trained to speak with clarity so that an audience could understand her in the back row. She Live in St. Louis, San Francisco, New York, Cairo, Ghana, etc. Whatever accent she had, she earned.

Also it is quite likely considering her age that code switching was a natural part of her life and she had a public voice and a private mode of address for her near and dear. Even if that were true, it in no way makes her inauthentic. Her way of speaking is only suspect to those with narrow expectations of how a Southern Black women should sound.

I can respect the criticism of those who have READ her work and found it not to their taste. But those who are ignorant of her life and sit in judgement, offering declaration about her vanity, her phony voice, her pretentious name with no information about the details of her life strikes me as ignorant and and perhaps too wedded to their biases to educate themselves before contributing to the conversation.

Opinions are fine. Opinions based on ignorance are dangerous.

Whatever.

Mya Too

Master, Master, Doctor.(earned)

[NFR: I didn’t find her accent weird. People live all over, their accent changes. — RD]

#14 Comment By Turmarion On May 30, 2014 @ 8:06 pm

Let me say here and now that if I drop dead tomorrow, you all have my permission to take note of my own vanities before my body is cold. Who cares? Not me. — RD

We’ll all get together, get liquored up on bourbon, dress up like Sasquatches, and ridicule your glasses…. 😉

[NFR: And I will grant you my benison from on high … or down low, as the case may be. — RD]

#15 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On May 30, 2014 @ 9:55 pm

I’m fascinated by accents and phonology variations, and have something of an ear for them, so I spent a bit of time listening to Youtube clips of Ms. Angelou’s recitations.

I go to church (when I’m home) with a lot of West Indians, I’ve interacted socially with a number of West Indians, and I listen to a lot of Caribbean music. whatever Dr. Angelou’s accent is, it’s not West Indian, in the slightest. (I think it’s just an unusual American accent, in the same way as William F. Buckley had his own unusual variant of an American accent.)

There is of course no such thing as ‘the West Indian accent’, it’s really a family of related accents. I can’t tell them apart, but people from the region assure me that (say) Bahamians, Jamaicans , Barbadians, Trinidadians and Guyanese all have subtly different accents which they can reliably distinguish from each other.

#16 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On May 30, 2014 @ 10:01 pm

Erin Manning,

I don’t intend to start a debate about women’s ordination (I’m not even sure where I stand on the issue), but I confess I never really know how to address women Anglican priests. I normally refer to make Anglican / Episcopal priests as ‘Father’ (and yes, I’m aware that Anglican priests of the more Calvinist persuasion don’t like it: tough cookies). I’m never sure what the proper honorific for women priests is, though.

#17 Comment By Rombald On May 30, 2014 @ 11:45 pm

When I got my PhD, I spent about 2 months entering “Dr.” on forms, and now, 20 years later, I still sometimes get letters addressed to “Dr. …”, which I find excruciatingly embarrassing, having done everything I could to remove it.

I think people should only use “Dr.” when earned, and also when acting in an authoritative capacity in the field in which it was given. A medical doctor should be so-addressed in the surgery, but not in the pub, bank or golf club. A PhD should only be so-addressed if an academic, or scientific researcher, etc., in that field.

I also agree that getting a PhD, even in science (me!) is not that big a deal.

#18 Comment By Rombald On May 31, 2014 @ 12:21 am

I know a family of teenagers who are legally permitted to put “Honourable” before their names; it’s because they’re no more than a certain number of generations by descent from a duke. Of course, they never use it, but they’re grandfather – not the duke, but the other one, from a working-class background – always addresses them like that. People can be odd.

#19 Comment By Andrea On May 31, 2014 @ 6:05 am

I have gotten used to AP style, which uses the title Dr. only for medical doctors. It’s somewhat of an annoyance for the PR people at local universities, who include the title Ph.D after the names in all press releases, probably hoping the media will include that if not the doctor. I generally don’t, though I include the person’s job title and where he earned his doctorate if appropriate. My brother has his doctorate and I know the work that went into it. An honorary degree certainly doesn’t merit the Dr.

#20 Comment By Jay On May 31, 2014 @ 6:40 am

He wasn’t disparaging Angelou’s character, nor was I, any more than somebody might criticize my vanity for some peccadillo of my own, like my penchant for fancy glasses.

You have a penchant for fancy glasses? The ones you post in the pictures look like the ones given out by the NHS or the Army in basic. Perhaps you save them for special occasions?

#21 Comment By Blairburton On May 31, 2014 @ 7:12 am

@WorldWideProfessor: “The interesting question (to which I don’t know the answer) is how medical doctors managed to make themselves the default type of the “doctor” in the public mind. Maybe because they had been to school and barbers hadn’t?”

I believe in the UK, while medical doctors in general are addressed as “Doctor”, surgeons are addressed as Mr./Ms/Mrs.

[4]

#22 Comment By Turmarion On May 31, 2014 @ 9:27 am

Hector, FWIW, here is a [5] for Episcopal clergy of both genders, courtesy of the Diocese of New York.

#23 Comment By David J. White On May 31, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

I believe in the UK, while medical doctors in general are addressed as “Doctor”, surgeons are addressed as Mr./Ms/Mrs.

Traditionally, in the English class system, surgeons ranked lower than physicians, because surgeons worked with the their hands. (“Surgeon” comes from French “chirurgeon,” which in turn comes from Greek words means “hand” and “work.”)

#24 Comment By David J. White On May 31, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

I also agree that getting a PhD, even in science (me!) is not that big a deal.

That’s easy to say when you have one.

#25 Comment By GCR On May 31, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

Hector: I belong to an Anglican church with two female priests (and two male ones), and I call them all by their first names.
If I was writing one of them a letter, I’d say “The Rev. so and so,” regardless of gender.
I have several friends, both men and women, who are pastors in other denominations. When they were first ordained, I called them “Rev. Jessica,” “Rev. Robbie,” etc. once, then just went back to the first names.

#26 Comment By M_Young On June 1, 2014 @ 2:10 am

Tangential, but in the new America, if you even are caught on tape, in the background, criticizing certain personages, you may lose your job.

Man, if you had a regular job, Rod Dreher, you wouldn’t have it for long.

[6]

#27 Comment By Dave Dutcher On June 1, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

She was a horrible poet, though. She had a rich voice, but if you actually sift through her poems and read them you realize how much her presence, dignity and voice elevated them. On the page they are simply bad free verse.

She’s closer to Rod McKuen than anything. As for the Doctor thing, I don’t begrudge her desire to use it. It means she holds it as something to be valued rather than something to be trampled on, and there are worse vanities to have.

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 1, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

I don’t suppose priests are much different than, how do you address your congressman when she’s a woman? Of course one could say “congresswoman,” but I want a standard form of address that is gender-neutral, so I say “Representative [LASTNAME].” The question does not arise when it comes to Senators, since the title IS gender neutral. I still find “Alderperson” clumsy at best, ditto “Alderwoman.” Council member generally will do, but the symbolism and history of the alder branch as badge of office is something I would hate to lose.

#29 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 3, 2014 @ 9:32 am

” . . . he’s an officer of the law, and the position demands proper respect.”

Actually, I am not sure this is accurate. As a public servant, he gets as much respect as others. There’s no special expectation to demonstrate more respect as a law officer — that’s a title that bestows certain expectations. He is not by law entitled to respect which is what you suggest. if anything he bound by that office to curtail response even if he or she is not shown respect.

I am not advocating that officers of the law be shown disrespect, but that it is not a law. Cooperation, I would agree. But we have no small disparity as to what respect means in such interactions: color, class, gender.

Your comment is loaded with variables of demand that are unreasonable. He or she is their by choice, they do not like it they can always quit.

Demands my cooperation and even that is limited, but not anyone’s respect. Despite the fact that officers of the law can and do routinely lie and are protected by such notions as you espouse, primarily as a matter of privilege as opposed to earned. There is nothing honorary about being a police officer.

It is a specific post based on a set of skills as well as subjective evaluation. Because I worked in inner city populations, the respect card as to it’s law card gets played a lot. As a conservative, a member of the government authorized to use a weapon operating in pairs or on their own — are to be treated with caution. In the cities where I worked, caution could be perceived as respect, but it was caution – cops are to be avoided because of a long and substantiated negative dynamic. The surrogate tool of whites to keep ‘darkies’; in their ‘place.” Asians have found it very convenient to jump on that bandwagon.

Unruly blacks people are not to be tolerated.

#30 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 3, 2014 @ 9:33 am

I would reference what it means to be unruly, but i think you get the point of interpretive definitional vagueness.

#31 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 3, 2014 @ 11:07 am

I was going to straddle this fence. But after reading so many peculiar comments. I find it hard not to do. Sadly, the political game played with such degrees has made them meaningless in many respects.

(Dr.) Maya Angelou is so honored because lacking a degree she demonstrated such skill, with words that her literature has been embraced world wide in colleges in universities.

She was in demand as speaker and lecturer prior to becoming a pop icon. If people with Doctorates call upon your expertise, experience and skill to teach them and their students.

And do so in such numbers as to keep you teaching the same. I would think you might very well have earned that degree. And while an organization could award a degree based on a specific program there are people who exceed not only the volume of academic work, but the quality and content as well. And given her volume, content and quality her credentials could outrank those with more formal credentials and less quantity and certainly blister many in quality. Like many a meritocratic institutions she designed her own courses whose result has met with academic approval at premier institutions world wide.

I may shun her political ideology as I have. But I am not going make any attempt disparage her accomplishment because she beat my pants in academic scholarship because she’s was fiesty. If that how many here could stand the test.

#32 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 3, 2014 @ 11:08 am

I see no reason for Miss Angelou to bend over in death anymore than she bent over in life for Dr. Oppenheimer or anyone else.

I have no idea given her views why she didn’t embrace conservative thought.

Ohh never mind, I just read the comments list again.

#33 Comment By Mya Too On June 6, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

Heaven forfend.

Robert Siegel of All Things Considered is interviewing two WWII veterans with Ph.D.s and he is addressing them both as—wait for it—Doctor.

I guess no one told him addressing a Ph.D. as doctor is pretentious and confusing.

#34 Comment By Frank Edison On January 15, 2015 @ 3:01 pm

I agree that the holder of an honorary doctorate should limit their use of Dr. but the truth is the Medical Doctors are not real doctors. I always ask then “so what was your dissertation about”. Always does the trick. In Germany only PhD holders are doctors. After all most medical “doctors” are not teachers and the word doctor comes from the word docere. They do not hold a terminal degree. There is a terminal degree in medicine in the UK. So an MD in the UK is a real doctor but in the US only an MD, PhD would be a real doctor. In Spain physicians are called doctors informally but not in writing.

#35 Comment By Seminary Professor On May 28, 2016 @ 7:17 am

As a seminary professor, who teaches graduate courses in ministry, theology, and history, I feel the need to defend those who have earned accredited doctorates. Whether someone has earned a Ph.D., D.Min., Ed.D., DMA, etc., if it’s earned from an accredited university/seminary… it’s legitimate doctoral level study. In academic settings, there is nothing wrong with such individuals using the title “Dr.” However, I do not believe they should force people to use the title outside of the academic world.

In addition, for those criticizing holders of accredited “Doctor of Ministry” degrees, you obviously have never been through a legitimate D.Min. program. Yes, the Ph.D. is a research based doctorate and the D.Min. is professional doctorate, but this doesn’t mean the D.Min. isn’t an academic degree. The focus is simply different. The M.D. is also classified as a professional doctorate, by the way. To graduate with the D.Min. a person has to first hold the Master of Divinity degree (a 75-90 hour graduate degree) plus complete another 3-5 years of doctoral work. If someone holds the D.Min., they are an expert in a certain field of practical ministry. D.Min. holders often teach practical ministry courses in Bible Colleges and Seminaries. So, yes the Ph.D. and D.Min. are different degrees, but both, if accredited, are worthwhile academic pursuits.

#36 Comment By Carridine Poran On June 25, 2016 @ 11:29 am

If I had a Ph.d in Japanese History and I called myself ‘Doctor’ and Bob Gamere said to me, “I don’t trust anyone who calls himself ‘Doctor’ who can’t take my appendix out.” I would answer, “I can take your appendix out for you. What else do you got?”

For me, the difference between 99.9% of all physicians (whether they call themselves ‘doctor’ or not) and professors (whether they call themselves ‘doctor’ or not) and Maya Angelou (whether she called herself ‘doctor’ or not) is that I care about Maya Angelou’s opinions.