How to find university offering credible PhD

graduate, degrees
Depending on the discipline, pay a special attention to accreditation whether it is global, national, or regional. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

When two people meet for the first time, they subconsciously scan who is more dominant in terms of strength, attractiveness, and competency. Then our subconscious brain gives an opinion to our conscious selves about our social standing compared to the other individual. Then we adjust our behaviour accordingly.

We become humble when meeting with a Member of Parliament, become proud when we see someone driving a cheaper car, or happy when we feel more attractive than another person.

People exist in a social labyrinth based on hierarchies. If traveling in parts of West Africa, one notices the abundant use of “chief” titles. Here in East Africa, we love to merge the term “Dr” into our names.

Adding titles makes one feel socially superior and gives increased emotions of self-esteem.

In the pursuit of titles, whether in a search for knowledge or a thirst for acclaim, many Kenyans unwittingly turn to questionable foreign institutions.


Purported predatory universities choose names that try to mimic old sounding British towns such as Ashford or Stratton, name themselves after western geographies such as “art institute of” whatever city, province, or state, or call themselves after a discipline such as ITT Tech.

Many bachelor’s and master’s seekers get duped by these programmes at for-profit foreign universities. Kenyan learners must realise that the vast majority of credible international universities are non-profit. The for-profit universities, institutes, and colleges offer distance degrees for high costs and with low potential post-completion salary returns.

Then with PhD programmes, a Kenyan prospective student searching the web gets flooded with hundreds of options for distance or partial residency doctoral programmes. Some for-profit or non-accredited foreign doctoral programmes even open offices here in Kenya to funnel gullible students to the programmes.

Top 500 institutions

First, ideally, your PhD university should be among the top 500 institutions in the world as rated by the Times Higher Education or US News and Word Report rankings.

But if it is not, then at least investigate if it features anywhere in the rankings at all.

The University of Nairobi, as an example, appears in the 801 to 1,000 universities in the world for the Times but does not rank in the top 1,000 for US News. Even though the University of Nairobi does not feature in the top 1,000 for US News, it still does feature on the list as an acceptable institution.

Second, never take an international business doctorate unless it is accredited by one or all of the following: AACSB, AMBA, or Equis.

These are the most famous and credible business school accreditations depending on where in the world the programme is situated. Do not read the institution’s website to see if it is accredited, but rather go to the accreditation’s website directly and search for the particular university, college, or institute.

Many learners get fooled by collegiate websites claiming to be accredited by agencies that carry no credibility.

Most European and East Asian nations pose strict measures on which organisations can and cannot call themselves a university. However, the United States takes a more liberal approach with few restrictions.

Inasmuch, many Kenyans seeking doctorates get fooled by subpar American institutions. If your desired university is located in America and does not hold AACSB, AMBA, or Equis accreditation, then at minimum make sure it is accredited by one of the following regional agencies that accredit whole institutions:

Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Higher Learning Commission, New England Commission of Higher Education, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Regional accreditation

If an American university does not minimally hold regional accreditation, then under no circumstances should you get your PhD from the entity no matter how cheaply they offer you a programme.

Imagine, for instance, a university located in California that fails to achieve regional accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges that accredits institutions in California. Instead, such institutions claim accreditation by low-end accrediting agencies.

Yet, many learners in Kenya take programmes, often specifically in California, without the appropriate accreditation and, therefore, lose hundreds of thousands of shillings unknowingly on their low-quality PhD.

Please do not get fooled by aggressive marketing tactics of predatory doctoral programmes.

In Kenya, several institutions offer good quality doctorates including the University of Nairobi, USIU-A, and Strathmore that will build your linkages with industry and enhance your research skills. But if you still want an international PhD, then choose from the top universities on the continent. South Africa holds three excellent universities in the top 500 rankings in the world at very affordable prices that can be completed by flying back and forth while keeping your job in Kenya: University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, University of Witwatersrand’s Wits Business School, and University of Stellenbosch Business School.

Each has Kenyan students enrolled and one can complete the PhD with tuition fee costs that fall typically well under Sh1 million.

In summary, before you enroll in business doctoral programmes, remember these three steps: beware of predatory aggressive marketing, check the rankings, and investigate the accreditation.