Are branch-campus degrees as good?

April 1, 2010
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Purdue University has announced that it will begin offering bachelor’s degrees in engineering technology at four additional campuses—Anderson, Kokomo, Richmond and South Bend.

The degrees will be tailored to alternative energy, automotive and other needs of employers near the satellite locations, so the educations won’t be exactly apples-and-apples with the home campus in West Lafayette.

However, Purdue says the educations will be equivalent in terms of quality. The faculty are West Lafayette faculty and must hit the same research, scholarship and service standards for tenure.

The move nevertheless raises an interesting question that sometimes simmers in the background: Will recruiters consider an engineering technology degree from a satellite location as highly as the same degree from the main campus?

Whether based on fact, stigma, insecurity, misunderstanding or something else, the point even pops up with faculty at IUPUI, the downtown Indianapolis campus shared by Purdue and Indiana University. More than one faculty member at IUPUI has asked local news media to identify them with their IU credentials and leave out any reference to IUPUI.

How do you feel about branch-campus sheepskins? Is there a stigma? If so, is it deserved?

  • common misconception
    Depending on how the programs are structured an off campus degree is definitely as valid as a main campus degree. IUPUI has several degree programs that rival, and in some cases maybe surpass those offered on main campus programs. One distinct difference is that IUPUI has many faculty who teach part time and work in their profession. This real life experience is a major asset to students who hope to learn skills that most prepare them to work in the real world. Sometimes more traditional university campuses have faculty who have never even worked in the field that they teach. One must wonder how much book knowledge can compare to real life knowledge combined with that learned from textbooks. In short it is a question more of the individual program, how it is run, and how is teaching. ... regardless of which campus it is taught at.
    • Iupui law
      This comes up all the time with iu law Indy, everyone like to call it iupui law school.... There is no pop in the building. It is indiana university school of law Indianapolis
      • Game is over anyway
        As a former prof at IUPUI and one who advocated when it was still possible ('70s) to change for a name like Indianapolis State University, the answer is all over the ballpark. BUT as long as people believe that they are recieving a degree indistinguishable from IU Bloomington or PU West Lafayette, there can be no change. Of course, employers see the campus right on the degree and the transcript. In some cases, it means that the student is better prepared than at the main campus. In others, it means that they are not as well prepared. But anybody that believes that employers and the market do not know the differences is delusional.
      • It does make a difference
        It was known for years at the West Laf campus that if you needed to take a tough class, it was better to take it at IUPUI, if offered, in the summer as generally they were no where as difficult. That's why it was very important for me to have my degree read West Lafayette rather than IUPUI - Indianapolis. Snobbish maybe but I felt better trained.
      • Work Experience vs Theory
        I do have to agree some of the faculty that also work, engr and technology, have a tremendous advantage over just the academians. I took a statics class taught by a PE who breezed through sections of the book by stating you will never use this in real life. I appreciated skipping over the "theory" and concentrating on application. I wish there were more profs like that in West Laf.
      • Attended IU and IUPUI
        Having attended both Indiana University Bloomington as well as IUPUI, I will say that I succeeded with much less effort while attending IUPUI. I attended classes in the Kelly School at both campuses, and the amount of output required was significantly higher at the Bloomington Campus. After having attended both campuses, I was actually offended that people could graduate from IUPUI with the same degree as those who attended the main campus. The education at IUPUI was definitely quality, but not as demanding as IU.
      • More questions
        I agree with the comment that IUPUI has easier classes that can be taken over the summer to pad one's GPA, but another item came up when I was in my undergrad at a top-ranked Division III school. People who could get higher than a "C" in difficult classes like Organic Chem II would petition to take this class at IU-Bloomington or IUPUI, then brag in the fall when they received an "A" for that class. What makes it worse is that the curriculum for the course consisted of items covered in Organic I at the DIII school!

        The reason I mention this is that I currently work in HR/Recruiting and can tell you that my co-workers see a 3.6 GPA from IU, Purdue, or IUPUI as much better than a 3.0 from private DIII schools. Those of us who attended private schools know better.
      • Where in Indianapolis?
        On a return flight to Indianapolis I overheard a passenger talking about his ultimate destination. The IU School of Law. A gentleman probably in his late 5o's answered it's located in Bloomington you have about another hour to travel. The women sitting across from this gentleman probably in her late 50's said I think there is one located in Indianapolis but I am not sure where it's located. Then a very young voice spoke up just as the unbuckle your seat belt sign came on and said It's at IUPUI, my father works there. The passenger on his way to the law school told the gentleman he is right. I'm going to be attending IUPUI.
        The kid was about 13 or 14. Out of the mouths of babes.
      • Don't know for sure
        I don't know what's on a Purdue degree certificate but at IU, there's no specification as to the campus location. The certificate says Indiana University.
      • It's YOU That Matters
        As a person with multiple degrees (both bachelors and masters) from IU, Purdue, and IUPUI, I will say that it is YOU the individual that makes the difference. It is not the paper it is written on. When I went to nursing school at the IUPUI campus, it was the "Bloomington Girls" that came to IUPUI for their senior year. We were at the Indy campus all four years. They were no smarter, nor less intelligent than the IUPUI students. Nursing school is very competitive. The doctoral level professors were at the IUPUI campus and there were more clinical opportunities for the students in Indianapolis. Same goes for our physician and dental friends. Their degrees read "Indiana University" just as our does, and they too do all of their work on the IUPUI Campus.

        Prior to nursing I went to "Top 10" schools (private and public) where I studied advanced sciences. IUPUI was just as exceptional as my other colleges.

        Before you judge, look at the intelligence of the individual, not some name on a piece of paper. I might recommend that when you are interviewing someone that you ask those character and intellectual defining questions to find out who you are getting. Remember, David Letterman's scholarship for another local college is for the "C Student"......and he's proud of it!

        My son went to Butler for 4 years before he studied in an "abroad program". He had an exceptional experience as well. I can tell you that we had different educations and we love to debate the facts to the end of their logical conclusion. It is in the end that we discovered we are all well matter the campus!

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      1. You are correct that Obamacare requires health insurance policies to include richer benefits and protects patients who get sick. That's what I was getting at when I wrote above, "That’s because Obamacare required insurers to take all customers, regardless of their health status, and also established a floor on how skimpy the benefits paid for by health plans could be." I think it's vital to know exactly how much the essential health benefits are costing over previous policies. Unless we know the cost of the law, we can't do a cost-benefit analysis. Taxes were raised in order to offset a 31% rise in health insurance premiums, an increase that paid for richer benefits. Are those richer benefits worth that much or not? That's the question we need to answer. This study at least gets us started on doing so.

      2. *5 employees per floor. Either way its ridiculous.

      3. Jim, thanks for always ready my stuff and providing thoughtful comments. I am sure that someone more familiar with research design and methods could take issue with Kowalski's study. I thought it was of considerable value, however, because so far we have been crediting Obamacare for all the gains in coverage and all price increases, neither of which is entirely fair. This is at least a rigorous attempt to sort things out. Maybe a quixotic attempt, but it's one of the first ones I've seen try to do it in a sophisticated way.

      4. In addition to rewriting history, the paper (or at least your summary of it) ignores that Obamacare policies now must provide "essential health benefits". Maybe Mr Wall has always been insured in a group plan but even group plans had holes you could drive a truck through, like the Colts defensive line last night. Individual plans were even worse. So, when you come up with a study that factors that in, let me know, otherwise the numbers are garbage.

      5. You guys are absolutely right: Cummins should build a massive 80-story high rise, and give each employee 5 floors. Or, I suppose they could always rent out the top floors if they wanted, since downtown office space is bursting at the seams (