It seems as though every television preacher has a “Dr.” fixed to their names. What did these great giants of theology do to earn their Doctorate degrees? Typically nothing. Those who DID earn a degree usually did so from a fake school. In fact, most of them came from just 3 schools. Here is the run-down.
Update (9/21/2015): To clarify notes about accreditation. An institution is not deemed unworthy for simply not being accredited. However, the ones listed in this article are clearly known diploma mills. They sell degrees or have little to no standards for obtaining one.
They provide PhD level degrees to students with no prior education and will do so in 1/4 of the time it would for anyone else actually doing school work. None of them require any doctoral research or a dissertation. You also won’t find a list of their professors or single piece of academic work that came from the institution, its faculty (if they have faculty) or its graduates.
I highly encourage everyone to investigate any of these institutions if the data below seems too sensational.
UPDATE: Due to high demand I have created a canonical list of pastors and teachers with fake educations. It is almost 100 people already. You can read the list and add to it at this link. However, the listing is not quite as in-depth due to limited time for research.
“Dr.” Joyce Meyer
Joyce Meyer has a few good things to say, but that does not mean she gets a pass. Any time you fake an education and then try to convince people that you have credentials it’s going to point it out. Sorry Joyce, you’re on the chopping block.
- “Earned PhD in Theology,” from Life Christian University. (Source)
- LCU is an unaccredited school, by choice. (Source)
- Notable Alumni (Benny Hynn, Ken and Gloria Copeland, and some lesser known preachers).
- To be very clear, not being accredited does not mean your school is “bad.” However, LCU is widely known as a diploma mill. Meaning they have no standards for education.
- They also give PhD level degrees to people with NO prior education.
- Honorary doctorate in divinity from Oral Roberts University. (Source)
- Honorary doctorate in sacred theology from Grand Canyon University. (Source)
- It should be noted that somehow Joyce Meyer was able to “earn” a PhD having no undergraduate or graduate degrees to her name. Not only is this unfathomable but the education she did do is straight up deceitful! Why would any legitimate preacher need to fake doctorate? Obviously to fool people into thinking they are actually educated.
Kenny Kenny Kenny…. Where do we begin?
The shear duration of your career is impressive. Almost as impressive as your ability to go this long in ministry without reporting any of your financials to any organization besides the IRS. Not even to congress when they requested it. Defying congress! That Sir is impressive.
- “Earned” PhD in Theology, from Life Christian University. (Source)
- Same rules applied for Copeland at LCU. Got money? Here’s your degree!
- “Enrolled” at Oral Roberts University, but no degree earned.
- Honorary DD. from Southwestern. (Source)
- Southwestern is accredited but it’s irrelevant since he did not earn a degree. (Source)
- Also note, that just like Joyce, he was given both an “earned” doctorate and an honorary doctorate without having ever completed any prior college degree.
“Dr.” Benny Hinn
Let the bodies hit the floor!
Benny, you get paid to push people over; that takes balls. In fact, of all the wolves in sheep’s clothing, you’re the only one who chooses to wear white wool suites almost exclusively….. coincidence? Ironically, of all the televangelists on this list you were probably the one least needing a fake degree. No one ever cares if a faith healer is educated, just if he is “anointed”. I guess you’re just an over-achiever over-deceiver!
- “Earned” PhD in Theology, from Life Christian University(LCU). (Source)
- This is the same fake school that Joyce and Copeland went to.
- Honorary Doctorate from Oral Roberts University. (Source)
- Starting to see the pattern yet? Fake degrees from LCU and honorary degrees from ORU.
Kent Hovind: this guy is obviously a professional scam artist. If you can’t have credentials just fake them, and when someone catches you just make excuses about why “traditional” educational institutions are bad. He also taught us that if you don’t want to pay taxes then just don’t pay them. Oops, that second scam will get you in trouble with the IRS. Sadly, we won’t be hearing from Dr. Dino until he gets released from prison for tax fraud (update: he was released on July 8th, 2015). A bit of advice; if your organization does not have 501(c)(3) status from the IRS then you have to pay taxes like everyone else.
- “Earned” M.A & PhD. in Christian Education from Patriot Bible University. (Source)
- PBU is another single building unaccredited diploma mill. It’s even less reputable than LCU. (Source)
- B.A. in “Religious Education” from Midwestern Baptist College. (Source)
- Midwestern Baptist College is NOT the same as the Theological Seminary, with the same name, and is completely 100% unaccredited. (Source)
- Had Dr. Dino applied to a real doctoral school they would have made him redo his undergraduate work AND they would have required him him to complete an accredited masters program, as well as have a grasp on Hebrew and Greek.
A quick note on Patriot Bible: They will actually do correspondence courses but have zero standards. A copy of Dr. Kent Hovind’s dissertation can be located via google if you would like to see the quality of work required to obtain a degree. You can also download it HERE in PDF if you so desire. It would hardly pass for high school quality work. It’s not even a thesis style essay much less a dissertation. Not a single citation exists in the whole thing and he can’t decide if he wants to call it a book or a thesis because both are used in the text. Most often he refers to it as a book and even details it’s chapters. It is clear that this “thesis” is just the unpolished ramblings of a man who want’s a fake PhD.
It pains us to put Jakes on this list. I personally really like you T D. You’re a straight talker. You provide hope and courage to so many with your bold style. Sadly, your credentials are straight made up. At least you call yourself a Bishop and not a Doctor. Of course, neither one of the titles are accurate but one of them is just offensive to all PhD holders.
- B.A., M.A., & D.Min. from Friends International Christian University(FICU). (Source)
- FICU is not only unaccredited but somehow Jakes did 12 years worth of higher education in less then 5 years there. (Source)
- Once again, I cannot state this enough, accreditation is not everything. However, this is another well known diploma mill. You don’t get 12 years of education in 5 unless it’s a garbage institution.
- As far as I have been able to find, no honorary doctorate has been awarded to Jakes yet…..yet! Someone get Oral Roberts on the phone, they missed someone!
Good night Irene! Creflo Dollar is not even trying to be sneaky. Creflo, you put “Dr.” on everything and your name is Dollar. If this isn’t a case for naming your kids prophetically, then I don’t know what is!
- Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oral Roberts University. (Source)
- According to the source above he also earned a B.A, an M.A., and a Doctorate, but his website failed to say where they were earned from. I am assuming that means he does not want anyone to know or that it’s a flat lie.
- Other sources claim that he did in fact receive and undergraduate degree in Educational Therapy from West Georgia College, now University of West Georgia. (Source)
- The University of West Georgia seems to currently be accredited by two agencies. (Source)
- However, that does not mean that it was accredited before the name change and even if it were, Creflo’s degree had nothing to do with Christian Theology or even a related field.
Perry is really one of the only humble men on the list that decided to stop putting Dr. on his name, even though early on I witnessed him using the prefix. Perry Stone has not published his educational credentials very often. He is also one of the only big time prosperity preachers that does not have a fake or honorary doctorate degree. He might have been the only smart on this list by quitting the fake degree track after just a 4-year degree. He was the only one to realize that no-one cares if televangelists have credentials.
For now Perry is in the safe zone but if he starts using Dr. again he might need to be placed on the naughty list.
- “Earned” unknown B.A. from Covenant Life University. (Source)
- CLU is officially independent and unaccredited. (Source)
- He attended classes on and off at Lee University but never acquired a degree. (Source same as first above)
- As far as I can find, he has no honorary doctorate degee.
Good old Jack almost did not make the list. His most current information from his ministry website no longer lists him as Dr. Jack Van Impe. But lets not get too excited yet. He has, in the past, added the prefix to his name and quite often. He known for having large sections of the Bible memorized but no one told ol Jack that memorization is not the same as education.
- “Earned” PhD from Pacific International University in an unknown field. (Source)
- The school had no class rooms and only did correspondence courses from a single building by unknown professors.
- They had no educational requirements for incoming students and no degree requirements and no accreditation.
- According to a few sources, Jack received an B.A. from Detroit Bible Institute, which then turned in to William Tyndale College, and more recently is no longer an active school. They closed their doors in 2005. (Source)
- Detroit Bible Institute also graduated the current dean of the Divinity School at Liberty University. Liberty is the school founded by Jerry Falwell (another fraud). These guys run in tight circles folks!
- To the school’s credit they were an accredited institution in 1960, after bought by Tyndale.
- However, Van Impe and the gang all graduated in the early 50’s. In fact, they were some of the first students. Van Impe started taking classes in the 3rd or 4th year of existence. (Source)
Dr. Mike might the worst of the worst. This guy actually sells a “free” product called Miracle Manna. No, I am not kidding. It’s one of the most dubious Televangelist scams of all time. To his credit he did at least attempt an education at a real school. Sadly, he only last 3 semesters. “Wait, you mean I actually have do work and learn stuff? NOPE!” Mike, you don’t get the participation award unless you finish.
- 3 semesters at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (accredited).
- Honorary Doctorate degree from International Seminary. (Source)
- International Seminary in NOT accredited but their website tries very hard to convince students that “many” of their credits will still transfer to other schools that ARE accredited. (Source)
If Rod Parsley was somehow related to Creflo Dollar I would not be surprised. I have never seen two people who could tie literally every sermon into “give me all your money.” If he can’t get you to donate to his ministry he will try to get you to give to his “school.” The irony is painful. Parsley has enough money to pay the tuition of every student that steps into the doors of his school yet he wants the poor people in Columbus Ohio to pay it for him.
- Earned B.A. in Ministry from Circleville Bible College, now called Ohio Christian University, which is an actual school (Source).
- This means that up till now he is the most educated person on this list. Good work Ohio.
- Even though it is a real school today, it did not receive ANY accreditation until 2006 when it was changed to Ohio Christian University. Rod graduated long before that. But at least he tried and finished a degree, even if it’s not recognized by an accreditation.
- Honorary Doctorate from Indiana Christian University and Liberty University. (Source)
- Indiana university was associated with Lester Sumrall and had zero accreditation until 2008. I am not sure that matters, though. He still holds a fake PhD.
- Liberty University is an actual accredited university and they are currently the largest Christian university in the world! Regardless, its still an honorary PhD.
John Hagee is the undisputed champion of education among the televangelists. Although it’s a rather low bar……. if any bar at all.
Here is the problem. Johnny, the degrees that you DO have are not related to anything Christian or biblical. A degree in education does not qualify you to teach the Bible anymore than an engineering degree would qualify someone to be a medical professional.
- Earned M.A. in Education Administration from the University of North Texas. (Source)
- Not only is this a real accredited school but he actually completed the entire degree!!
- Earned B.S. in Education and History from Trinity University.
- Once again a real degree from a real school. Dang this guy is good.
- Earned “Diploma” of theology from Assemblies of God University; then called Southern Bible Institute (operating in conjunction with the Richey Evangelistic Temple).
- This school (according to people closer to the situation than I) was a Bible Institute that was accredited by a Bible college agency of some kind but not regionally.
- It appears as though Hagee likely transfered away from this school rather than completing his diploma. Based on the fact that he has a B.S., I am assuming he transfered, not merely dropped out.
- Honorary (Here we go again) Doctorate from Oral Roberts and another from some little unknown Hebrew school named Netanya Academic College.
The education record of John Hagee is slightly difficult because he has dates listed for his degrees and no dates for his Bible training in SBI. The Way Back Machine contains a snapshot of his education Bio from his personal website in 2002. The following quote is from his own website in 2002.
Dr. Hagee attended Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas on a football scholarship and was on the Academic Dean’s List. He graduated with a B.S. in 1964. He also attended North Texas State University where he received his Masters Degree in 1966. In 1989 he received his Honorary Doctorate from Oral Roberts University. His theological training came at Southwestern Bible Institute near Dallas where he was President of his class and a member of the College Concert Choir.
It seems as though he probably did not graduate or it was something other than a diploma that he earned. It’s also no clear when in his educational career that he attended this school.
Tim Lahaye will always be known as the Left Behind guy. Sadly, the only thing that got left behind was his education. He is also one of the ministers on this list who have mysteriously “earned” a PhD without doing any graduate work and virtually no undergraduate work. Not fishy at all……
- “Earned” Doctor of Ministry from Western Baptist Theological Seminary, now called Western Seminary. (Source)
- To be clear, Western Seminary as we now know it is a real accredited school. However, that happened long after Lahaye graduated and the school was bought out.
- Also note that even if the school was well recognized a D.Min does not qualify him as a prophecy expert. Most D.Min programs focus on pastoral ministry only. In seminary its what we call the “easy doctor degree.” They serve only two purposes. 1) To become a better minister while furthering your education and 2) to get a cheap and easy “Dr.” affixed to your title and an accompanying pay bump.
- In addition, it should be noted that no master’s degree was ever earned or recognized for Lahaye. How he earned a doctoral degree without a master’s degree is a mystery. It’s literally the most basic requirement of entering a doctoral program.
- “Earned” B.A. in unknown subject from Bob Jones, in 1950. (Source)
- Honorary Doctorate from Liberty University. (Source)
- The only thing surprising about the honorary degree is that it’s not from Bob Jones. They hand those out like water in the desert, to anyone famous that they can.
“Dr.” Kenny Russell
Kenny Russell runs a profitable Hebrew Roots program. Somehow he has managed to get the attention of some big players in the Hebrew Roots organization, such as Michael Rood and has even spoken at credible churches like The Vineyard. However, the ONLY public information that exists about his education comes from his own company’s facebook page where he listed his education as MUCH less than his title asserts. Below is the education listed by “Dr.” Russell.
- “Studied” at Tabernacle Bible College and Seminary (Source)
- TBCS is accredited by two non-profit agencies that are widely known as diploma mill accrediting agencies. For a full list of these fake agencies see the list below.
- You can tell they are fake even if you don’t see the list because 3/4 of the accreditation page on their website is an apology about why they are not accredited by a real agency. (Source)
- They claim that SOME credits MIGHT transfer to real schools “Based on information provided by alumni and the institution, many colleges and universities have accepted transferred credits and degrees from Tabernacle Bible College and Seminary.”
Here is the thing Kenny, if you have your education listed on your facebook and it’s nowhere near a doctorate degree, then how can you go around claiming to be a doctor? Isn’t that a sin? Isn’t that deceiving people?
Denis Otero has an interesting record. He’s been to a handful of actual institutions and actually completed some form of coursework. Yet all of these institutions were diploma mills and unaccredited. The funny thing is they have names remarkably similar to actual universities that ARE credible. Trying to deceive much?
Otero’s education is actually listed in abundant locations. He even claims to be the decedent of the Levitical Jews and is studying DNA at his current job as a professor… at the same fake college that he graduated from. A full bio and listing of his edication can be found on his ministry’s website, “Torah Unleashed“.
- PhD candidate in Doctor of Religious Studies, Trinity Southwest University and is currently as PH.D candidate (Source)
- TSU us is another non-accredited school yet is tries to sound accredited. They are accredited only as a provider of continuing educational units (CEU). They are NOT accredited for actual degrees. They list later on that “TSU has chosen to remain non-aligned with respect to accreditation.”(Source)
- Doctor of Ministry, Southwest University, Alb. NM
- Interestingly, TSU and SW are the same school. The website lists them deceptively. The only schools in Albaquerque are TSU and a visual arts school. So it’s gotta be TSU.
- Masters in Divinity, Trinity Theological Seminary Indiana/University of Liverpool ENG
- TTS is actually better known as “Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary” and they are a distance learning school.
- First let’s clear up that TTS is NOT a school based out of Liverpool England. That is a confusing note from Denis’ bio. TTS is a diploma mill based out of Newburg, Indiana and once had some distance learning classes in Liverpool. (Source)
- It applied for multiple accredidations and they were all denied. They still remain unaccredited by any recognized institution.
- Bachelors in Theology from the University of Albuquerque, Alb. NM
- No reference is made as to what the degree was in but the U of A has been closed for a very long time. (Source)
- It was a Catholic university that closed in 1986 and somehow this training provided Denis with the background to become a “priest” which he also claims to be.
- Though, it seems strange since his facebook claims that he was ordained a Catholic Priest by the Episcopal church. That is not fishy at all. (Source)
- “Diploma” in Biblical Studies from Hal Lindsay’s Light and Powerhouse Training Center in Southern California
- It’s by Hal Lindsay…. I won’t go into details about his defunct institution since it’s not a real school or a real degree but just a diploma listed.
“Dr.” John MacArthur
As noted by Link Hudson (in the comments) one very well known reformed pastor has been putting Dr. on the seminary website he founded. I also discovered a number of youtube videos he put up bearing the title “Dr.”. (Video 1, Video 2) I am saddened by this turn of events because I thought Johhny M had some integrity. While he may have two actual real earned degrees, he does NOT have an earned doctorate degree. But why in the world would a well known pastor need to use the Dr. in his name if he has his own seminary? The truth is that he does so to appear more educated than he is. That is why the title is primarily used on his education websites and videos.
- Honorary Doctorate degrees from Talbot School of Theology and Grace Graduate School. (Source(s): Seminary Website, Degree 1, Degree 2)
- Talbot is a fine school but John certainly did not earn a doctorate degree from there.
- Grace is also a fine school with a real accreditation, but his degree from there was not earned.
- Earned Masters of Divinity, from Talbot Theological Seminary (Source)
- Talbot is indeed a legitimate school and we applaud him for getting a real degree from a real school.
- Earned BA in (unknown), from Azusa Pacific University (Source)
- While Azusa is also a real school, I could not figure out what he actually got his undergraduate degree from.
List of FAKE Accrediting institutions
- American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE)
- American Association for Higher Education and Accreditation (AAHEA)
- Accreditation Council for Distance Education (ACTDE)
- Accreditation Council for Online Academia (ACOHE)
- Accreditation Panel for Online Colleges and Universities (APTEC)
- Accrediting Commission International (ACI)
- American Accrediting Association of Theological Institutions
- American Council of Private Colleges and Universities
- American Association of Drugless Practitioners (ADP)
- Association of Accredited Bible Schools
- Association of Distance Learning Programs (ADLP)
- Association of Private Colleges and Universities
- Association for Online Academic Accreditation
- Association for Online Excellence
- Association for Online Academic Excellence
- Board of Online Universities Accreditation (BOUA)
- Central American Council of Accreditation (CACA)
- Council for Distance Education
- Council of Online Higher Education
- Central States Consortium of Colleges & Schools
- Distance and Online Universities Accreditation Council (DOUAC)
- Distance Learning International Accreditation Association (DEIAA)
- Distance Learning Quality Assurance Agency (DLQAA)
- European Accreditation Board of Higher Education (EABHE)
- Global Accreditation Bureau (GAB)
- Global Accredited Council for Business Association (GACBA)
- Global Accreditation Council for Business Education (GACBE)
- Global Accreditation Commission for Distance Education (GACDE)
- Global Accreditation Council for Online Academia
- International Commission for Higher Education
- International Accreditation Agency for Online Universities (IAAOU)
- International Accreditation Association for Online Education (IAAFOE)
- International Accreditation Commission (IAC)
- International Association Council of Engineering Professionals (IACEP)
- International Accreditation Commission for Online Universities (IACOU) (Kingston)
- International Accreditation Commission for Online Educational Institutions (IACOEI)
- International Accreditation Organization (IAO)
- International Council on Education (ICE)
- International Education Ministry Accreditation Association
- International Higher Learning Commission
- International Online Education Accrediting Board (IOEAB)
- North American Distance Learning Association (NADLA)
- National Academic Higher Education Agency (NACHE)
- National Academy of Higher Education
- National Accreditation and Certification Board (NACB)
- National Board of Education (NBOE)
- National College Accreditation Council (NCAC)
- National Commission of Accredited Schools (NCAS)
- National Distance Learning Accreditation Council (NDLAC)
- New Millennium Accrediting Partnership for Educators Worldwide
- Organization for Online Learning Accreditation (OKOLA)
- Transworld Accrediting Commission Intl. (TAC)
- United Christian College Accreditation Association (UCCAA) (Divine Heart)
- United Nations Council
- United States Distance Education & Training Council of Nevada (NOTE: A similarly titled agency, the Distance Education & Training Council (DETC), of Washington, D.C., is a VALID and RECOGNIZED online learning accreditation agency.)
- Universal Accreditation Council (UAC)
- Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation (UCOEA)
- World Association for Online Education (WAOE)**
- World Association of Universities and Colleges (WAUC)
- World Online Education Accrediting Commission (WOEAC)
- World-Wide Accreditation Commission of Christian Educational Institutions (WWAC)
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Any mistakes can be reported to me through the comments