Updated May 2023
Welcome to Blue Marble, a True Virtual University
Blue Marble University© was created to offer a select portfolio of unique, exciting, innovative, post-graduate degree programs that you will not only enjoy, but which will help advance your career, and are affordable as well!
We started out in Thailand around 2005 with some volunteers, mostly retired US and Thai professionals, who wanted to create something new… A computer based educational experience that could be really cheap, when divested of all the legacy trappings of higher education, building costs and the like, which were weighing down education for working adults at that time. Professional doctorate degrees that spoke to careers, not just education for education sake, nor for the sole benefit of educators.
And we also wanted to correct that statistic that only 60% of graduate students who entered a PhD graduate school actually graduated with their degree. Those of you in the 40% group that did not obtain your PhD degree due to some snafu at your dissertation stage know what I mean.
In creating Blue Marble University, I took great inspiration from Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University, and particularly this advice: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other peoples’ thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” I took that to heart, and started Blue Marble University with a blank sheet of paper and thought about what I would do to create the very best virtual university. Perhaps you readers might find some inspiration from that speech as well:
As a scientist and attorney, I have devoted myself to the success of this new educational model. My experiences in Thailand, where I now live most of the time, were instrumental in helping me evaluate the American system of higher education against various foreign models. In 2010, I observed that in Thailand and many other countries, a student interested in medicine or dentistry enters a 6 year professional program right out of high school. There is no wasted time taking a typical 4 year general studies Bachelors program prior to medical or dental school. In the Philippines, a US citizen could enter into a top rated medical program in english, graduate, and become a licensed physician in the USA, all for $3,500 USD per year. Wow, compare that to the cost of undergraduate or professional education in the USA! Or how about the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, considered the most respected technology institute in Europe (and the place where Albert Einstein attended). A US citizen could then attend for about $1600 USD per year for undergraduate and $3500 USD per year for doctoral programs, all taught in English of course.
Many Doctoral programs are many times not relevant to anything. As an example, I trained for 3 years in the PhD degree program of the Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University. At that time (and no doubt presently as well) most of my companion graduate students needed 6 years minimum to complete the program, the dissertation work itself consuming 2-4 or more years. And what do you get out of that? You have done research in a very narrow area that is likely to have no use whatsoever upon graduation. In my case, I was trained in bacteria and bacterial virus models. But when I left Hopkins and was hired as a Research Chemist by the National Cancer Institute, I worked entirely on mouse models. I had never seen a laboratory mouse before. And I never used any one piece of equipment that I was trained on at Hopkins. The point being, everyone is trained on the job, and that is true whether you end up in an academic, research, or corporate environment. Therefore all that is needed, particularly with respect to an advanced degree, is general cross-disciplinary training rather than rigorous training in a narrow field.
And I was not alone in my thinking as shown by this excerpt from “A time for change in the PhD system”, by Deborah Braconnier, at Physorg.com:
“According to Mark Taylor, the system for PhDs needs to be reformed or shut down. Universities are promoting their PhD programs in order to have the graduate students in the laboratories and as teaching assistants. This works as a benefit to the universities, but in the end provides no benefit to the graduate. The PhD programs have become too specialized in subfields and many find they are unable to talk to colleagues in the same general department because their knowledge is too specialized. Taylor believes that in order for doctoral programs to keep up with the 21st century, they need to eliminate these specializations and move towards more cross-disciplinary knowledge.”
My goals for Blue Marble University were first to be affordable (and I mean CHEAP); second to offer exciting new programs without the constraints of worn out pedagogy; and third, offer the programs totally online via a virtual university, so that students may attend to other experiences such as travel, internships, employment, hobbies or other interests. It’s a big world out there when you haven’t seen any of it.
So, we started out in 2005 with our first offering, our flagship 3 year online Ph.D. degree in Stem Cell Biology, administered by the Panama College Cell Science. The College was folded into Blue Marble University around 2010 and remains a separate school within the University. About 5 years later, we began developing the Blue Marble University 3 year online doctoral programs in about 12 academic fields which culminated in our most recent and very popular executive style Doctor of Medicine program.
Two of Our Unique Programs
And along the way, we fixed the Dissertation problems experienced in other institutions by giving people who had already completed doctoral programs, except for dissertation, a way forward to complete their Ph.D.’s. At Blue Marble University we make sure all all dissertations are completed within a set time…AND…published as well. We see to it!
Finally, I would have to say that none of this would have happened but for my chance meeting and association with Kelli Miller, PhD of Canton, Georgia (USA).
Kelli received a Masters of Education degree in Adult Education and Administration from Jones International University, the only accredited virtual university in the USA (and the only one that will ever be accredited…but that is another story). And she obtained her Doctor of Philosophy degree specializing in the Challenges of Non-traditional Adult Learners from Capella University. Kelli really understands the virtual university learning environment and how online students need to be mentored. Dr. Miller is a talented, innovative educator, that has provided enthusiastic support for the Blue Marble model throughout the development stages.
Please review our exciting new programs and the cutting edge degrees that we offer. And come join us as we explore new pathways toward fulfilling, useful, and affordable education.
Walter P. Drake, JD, PhD
(Thailand circa 2005)
Dr. Drake’s background is in biomedical science and law. He is developing Blue Marble University to be a highly regarded virtual university offering new and unique programs internationally at a modest cost, with delivery of the educational content solely online. He serves as Director of Blue Marble University. Click HERE for the CV: 2023 CV Walter P Drake
Update May 2023
Is University on a Smartphone the Future of Blue Marble University?
A lot has been accomplished in our 15+ years of development. Blue Marble University doctoral programs are well respected and many fine students as well as professionals have taken our programs. We even finally got ourselves accredited: https://bluemarbleuniversity.com/academics/accreditation/
In actuality, we have never thought much about any importance of accreditation. Many accredited institutions have failed. Many “accredited” programs are junk. Many employers and even some States in the U.S. are dropping the requirement for a Bachelor’s degree and looking more to the quality of the job applicant, their experience, and what they can do.
An example worth sharing is that of a popular magazine in Thailand. The owner was once asked how he selected new journalism candidates and other employees, what educational degrees were required. He responded that he had no faith in any degree, but rather preferred to interview each job applicant to determine if they could bring some talent to the company or likely help the company succeed. That was what was important to him…not paper.
And in fact even today, any Employer is considered a competent authority to recognize education and qualifications for those seeking employment, and is never bound by preconceived notions about this or that degree being a requirement. It solely comes down to whether it is believed a job applicant can bring something positive to the company.
What I see is a future of true education without borders. And “without borders” means to offer educational programs that do not exist in this or that country or state with various restrictions and requirements. I see educational programs existing solely on the internet and accessible only via a smartphone. After all, a typical smartphone can take photos of assignments and convert them to PDF files; can provide internet access to research materials, papers, and books; can allow for the dictation of exam answers and conversion to text for submission as pdf files; has the ability to add a blue tooth or WiFi keyboard; in short, a smartphone can do anything a laptop or desktop computer can do.
One of the best discussions for how this might work can be found in the excellent paper “Mobile Learning Practice in Higher Education in Nepal” downloadable here: Mobile Learning-Nepal
It is an excellent article summarizing the many advantages of “mobile learning”, noting that the crafting of education over smartphones has the full support of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Blue Marble University already serves students on five continents (all but South America and Antarctica). Almost all students from India and African countries that complete our 3 year online M.D. program are able to add clinical training in their home countries and become licensed physicians, attesting to the value of online education.
And I really believe that employers no longer care or concern themselves with whether your education is “accredited” or not. Accreditation has long ago lost its gloss. Many bachelor degrees are now 2-year programs even though accreditation requires they be 4 years.
It is now all about what do you know…not what paper you have.
For licensed professions, particularly in health care, one will need to attend an institution that is either accredited, or if not accredited, approved by that licensing body. For example, in Idaho, for a Naturopathic Doctor license, one need not be a graduate of an “accredited ND school” if their credentials are deemed “equivalent” to a US college or university.
Of course, without any “jurisdiction” and only a website Domain, there will likely be no accreditation which is typically jurisdiction based. We are not worried. We know our product. We will let the market decide whether our smartphone scholarly offerings have merit. Whether our graduates bring worthwhile practical knowledge to the table.
I and my colleagues are already busy crafting what Blue Marble University will likely become- the first virtual university deployed solely over smartphones.