Metaphysics or meta-fraud?
February 4, 2007 1:44 AM   Subscribe

Mrs Expat has in recent years become interested in New Age, metaphysics etc. She is considering applying to the University Of Metaphysical Sciences to earn a Bachelor's or beyond degree in metaphysics or related subjects.

Leaving aside the question of belief, does the Hive Mind have any experience with this particular institution? Are they on the level or a "diploma" mill? The reason Mrs. E is interested in this particular institution is the possibility for distance learning due to linguistic barriers in our current country.

Any fact-based information would be a great help. Also any alternate sources for learning more on these types of subject, especially things like Reiki, would be huge!

As ever, thanks.
posted by Expat to Education (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As someone who has pretty regular contact with many faith traditions, I would urge you to be very wary of any distance learning institution offering doctorate of divinity diplomas.
They are also not accredited by any educational organization and Dr. Christina Breese, the founder of UMS is quite sketchy of where she got her D.D. and Ph.D. and I suspect they were "awarded" to her at one point or another. In the FAQ they state plainly that the degrees they award are not those that can be used in relation with a medical practice and that a doctoral grad would be unable to get a job with a secular college or university; meaning they can survive because they are registered as a religious non-profit.
Have you checked the FAQ?
It is not a scam per se, but there are many churches that do this same type of thing and I suggest you look into other options. Perhaps something along the lines of seminary, holistic studies or a theological college in your area.

A distance school that is accredited and probably has many of the things Mrs. Expat is looking for is the California Institute of Integral Studies.

If your wife is just looking for a theological background in metaphysics and not a job out of this, I would really consider you go to the source: The American Academy of Religion! There are many theologians studying new religious movements. Here are some from my rolodex that probably would not mind an e-mail looking for a place to start:

Douglas E. Cowan (Renison College, University of Waterloo)
William M. Ashcraft (Truman State University)
J. Gordon Melton (Institute for the Study of American Religion)
Rebecca Moore (San Diego State University)
Sarah Pike (California State University, Chico)
Benjamin Zeller (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
posted by parmanparman at 2:50 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

Mrs Expat would better be served by studying basic psycology , formal logic, philosophy and rethoric. Even on her own just following the courses of old public university, before the privatization-at-all-costs traversty started churning private universities as if knowledge could ever be a private good.

A degree in metaphysics and New Age have , as far as I know, little to no market resell value..while technically (from a lawyer point of view) it may not be a scam, it is a likely to be a scheme to collect a lot of money and sell the "idea" you know have a degree and are somehow "cultured"'s like selling "prestigeous" shoes.
posted by elpapacito at 3:27 AM on February 4, 2007

As others have said, this school's degrees would have zero meaning in the real world. They are not accredited by anyone with any meaning. I have to agree with others that someone with an interest in the metaphysical would be better off going for a degree from a 'real' school in philosophy, religion, logic and so on.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:20 AM on February 4, 2007

FYI, this is their statement on accreditation:
UMS Accreditors
The AADP and the AAMA are the most prominent and related organizations at this time in the United States for accrediting a metaphysical institution. These are the only agencies in existence at this time that are "a grouping of our peers." UMS is accredited by the AADP, American Association of Drugless Practitioners ( and the AAMA, American Association Of Medical Alternatives ( Please feel free to visit their sites and check our school listing with them. Students and graduates of UMS are eligible to apply for membership within these and other organizations upon attainment of the degree that makes them eligible for acceptance by the respective agency.
In other words, "we aren't accredited, so we'll pretend we are."
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:27 AM on February 4, 2007

please don't call it metaphysics. Metaphysics is a word taken from Aristotle's work that refers to the study of the persistent form of being. If you want to study metaphysics, that is philosophy, theology and perhaps some theoretical physics.

if you want to study Reiki, that is something different. what does she hope to do once she has finished? perhaps she should consider what plan of study she wants to undertake based on that.
posted by mdn at 6:04 AM on February 4, 2007 [3 favorites]

Four comments to the therapy suggestion, for a question that doesn't even touch the subject. I think that's a record.

The Open University in the UK offers many very interesting distance courses. Some people in my boarding school were taking courses with them and were, I believe, very happy with them.

For lighter learning, UC Berkeley puts a lot of courses online. You watch them at your own pace, and you don't graduate. The Physics for Future Presidents course that was linked from MeFi is fantastic.

If she wants to be able to think more clearly, formally about the origins of the universe, life, and spirituality, Dawkins might actually not be a bad idea. He gives a very readable introduction to all kind of beliefs people have. Of course, he then smashes them to pieces, but that will give her even more to make her mind up.
posted by stereo at 6:09 AM on February 4, 2007

The sort of thing Mrs E. is interested in may be broadly divided into that which is studied academically and that which is not.

From the academic side, as others have pointed out, courses in religion, philosophy and psychology cover some of the areas of this course, and she could also look into anthropology. Without embarking on a full 3 year degree programme, she could consider directing her own learning in these areas by reading scholarly writings/essays and course text books (examples: Magic, Science and Religion by Bronislaw Malinowski, Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung). A good place to start would be looking at recommended reading from real universities' courses on the net, or maybe some sending emails to the right places.

From the non-academic side (things like meditation, hypnosis, astrology, dreamwork and so forth), consider that the alleged 'degree course' covers an awful lot of ground, and claims to do it in only six to eight weeks. Leaving aside the merit of these areas of study, this would give her at best a shallow overview of the ideas in question. I would suggest she would do better to do her own research after spending some time finding books from reasonable sources (though assessing sources is another battle). There are probably some good books out there on some of these subjects, particularly the ancient eastern arts like meditation and yoga. If there is useful knowledge to be had in these areas, chances are it takes significantly more than 6 weeks to get it, and takes significantly more critical thinking than relying on single sources. I would also recommend balancing this with study of the philosophy of science.
posted by MetaMonkey at 6:12 AM on February 4, 2007

Take it to MetaTalk, kids.

Believing in something ridiculous doesn't mean you're crazy, it means you're human. It seems to be a defining feature of our species that we can talk ourselves into all sorts of bizarre things.
posted by matildaben at 9:40 AM on February 4, 2007

I was also going to recommend the California Institute of Integral Studies. I know a number of students there, and attended their open house, and I'm guessing that if they have an online program in what she wants, it's probably pretty close to what she's looking for.

Except... looking at their site, it looks like they may only have grad programs, not undergrad. Still, it may be worth emailing or calling them and seeing if they have suggestions; they are pretty well regarded and well connected in San Francisco (that is, their graduates seem to have paying jobs like private therapy practices, and it seems that 90% of the yoga community here is somehow affiliated with them), so I think they're likely to have a solid base of knowledge for you.
posted by occhiblu at 10:28 AM on February 4, 2007

Also, from what I understand about Reiki (which is based on a single workshop I did, so I may be totally wrong), you can't really learn it long-distance; it requires hands-on work from master practitioners to teach you. Again, I may be wrong on that -- and I know that people say you can perform it long distance, so maybe various teachers have extended that to teaching it long-distance -- but that's at least something she should be double-checking.
posted by occhiblu at 10:31 AM on February 4, 2007

[few comments removed - metatalk or email are your snarking options]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:48 AM on February 4, 2007

I am involved with University Of Metaphysical Sciences and it is one of the best schools of it's kind. I have attended University Of Metaphysical Sciences and I have also worked at it. You people really have got it all wrong as to what this school is all about.

It is in no way a diploma mill because I have had to work quite hard to get my degrees from there! They give out about 70 meditations that you have to do and give reports on, and you can check out what they're like at this link. We have to also read an entire shelf full of material and take exams on it all. This isn't a super easy school, it is a good challenge and opens you up to a lot of new ideas.

It sounds like you are adverse to it without really knowing anything about it, so it isn't fair to make assessments about something you don't know anything about. You might want to research your facts a little more. Religious schools like UMS can't be accredited by the 9 regional boards that accredit secular schools because UMS doesn't teach english, math, science, etc. For those kinds of accreditation, that is what is required, and you can read about UMS's accreditation right here at this link. The accreditation that UMS has is one that is specifically for religious schools, and that is what accrediting really is all about--comparing a school to it's peers. UMS is very up front about the fact that it isn't a secular school and that it's degrees are all about the new emerging religion that metaphysics has become.

Of course, if you want to work in a government position, the military, be a psychologist, work in the secular market, then UMS is not for you. Religious degrees are not secular degrees, and a metaphysical degree is only going to be applicable to the metaphysical market. Careers in metaphysics at this time are for the most part created by you yourself, read about them here at this link.

I personally think that Christine Breese is a kind a compassionate person and she is very loving to people at her retreats. She has incredible integrity and refuses to get rich on the school, only makes a small living even though she could be really rich, I really admire that in her. She really cares about poor people, and in fact finds a way to give the teachings free to people in prisons and third world countries. If you want to meet her and get a feel for who she is, visit YouTube and watch her videos.

Rather than listening to a bunch of people who don't know anything about it and are giving it a bad rap because they might have something against UMS, you really should just check out University Of Metaphysical Sciences for yourself at and see for yourself how you feel about it. If you want to visit the forum at UMS and see what people say about it who attend there, check out their free discussion forum and get a more honest report about UMS than you are finding here. That is going to be your best bet on whether or not it is a good school. Check out their testimonials page at

Well, I'm a little biased because this school has been really special to me, and if you go check out the website, you will see how awesome it is and how special it is to other people. It is setting a new standard in the world for what a metaphysical university should look like, and it is the best of its kind, hands down.

posted by dancingdaisy at 6:42 AM on August 30, 2007

Mrs Expat,

What is the basis of your study, and belief sysytem? As so far I have read alot of information by biased knucklebrains whom seem to think that they are the supreme elect to making your decisions for you, in relation to what you want to learn.

Many courses including those from the univer-setis or otherwise are exactly one mans opinion based on their experience and knowledge.

Man, being covetous and driven by ego would have you assume one school of teaching is better than the other. ie. The same as martial arts schools teach, their art is the best.

Any organisation, affiliates with others as to provide a stronger system for a belief-net. This does not mean that one belief is better than the other.

The reason the Metaphysical BA, or other degrees, whether they be theologically based, on theoretical sciences or philosophies, people say are not worth anything in the 'real world' as suggested amicably is untrue and biased. So are proceeded to be suggested as being a scam.

The 'mort' the seal in the university was brought into existance to create 'organisations of people to a certain standard of teaching' Different schools, different, teachers.

For any theological practitioner or philosopher to even suggest that their meritation is more important in the 'real world'
Does not understand the nature of philosophy.

Isn't that the real nature of metaphysics, rhetorical conversation and basic philosophy.

As shakepeare said "To be or not to be that is the question"

or "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

This is the case with your course,

Have a delve into what you wish to educate yourself with.

Oh by the way I have a theology degree, bestowed by the church, a Doctorate of Metaphysics bestowed by the Church, and a PHD in Philosophy bestowed on myself by the Church.

What is real?

Being an advocate of Science,

I would suggest you utilise what works for you,
Many academics are simply that, un-brightened candles in a dimly lit world trying to make sense of life like the rest of us.

Any theology drop out knows that with the advent of dualism,
the church still is the bearer of the unseen?

And the University brought in their own version of certification,

any fool can pass a test... It is what a man does with his writ which is important.

Which any further fool would tell you that the study of science in dualism terms is the study of the seen. The church the unseen., eg. Sub-atomics, Quantum Mechanics, would therefore be the owner of the Metaphysical Sciences.

For any philosopher would ask this question "What is Real in this unreal world, Does God exist? What is God and who am I"

You see all qualifications used to be implemented by the church,especially, doctorates, etc etc. With the estabishment of dualism the University tries to deem that the spiritual is there realm of expertise. Which simply put is a load of garbage.

All theologies, as philosophies, are simply, ideas, belief systems.

A Rhetorical Conversation. Such things are mainly hobbies and done for the enjoyment of the individual, and to edify their belief system. Any man of theology, of metaphysical science, which yes it is a Science., Such systems such as hypnotism are slowly emerging as scientific fields these days, previous to human conception many believed hypnotism to be magic,

If I where you I would look at what fields, of metaphysics, you would be looking into, or theologies, philosophys, as each school will teach something totally different.

Thus why there are so many different religious beliefs out there. All belief systems are simply that.

Good Luck in your search,
posted by meta283 at 11:51 PM on September 23, 2007

Eg. meditation, and affirmation, prayer - spiritual


CBT therapy, and autosuggestion,
known as A Socail Science -University


One opinion - similar result
posted by meta283 at 12:14 AM on September 24, 2007

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