American universities are rejecting job applications from academics with online degrees - even if the institutions offer those degrees themselves. Good enough for luring in student tuition, it seems, but not good enough for hiring as faculty. For several years, the number of vacancy descriptions that state "no online degrees" has been increasing. The first "no online degree" declarations were posted for international academic positions and this was to be expected because many other countries had serious problems with diploma mills - those fake institutions that offer degrees for money. It was possible to identify the diploma mills because, in spite of brochures with campus scenes, they operated out of a storefronts or mailboxes. You filled out a few forms and paid your money for a bachelor's degree; pay more money and you got a masters or a PhD. Today, with previously legitimate universities offering online courses and degrees, it is becoming difficult to separate the diploma mills from the bona fide programmes. That is why the value of the online degree is being questioned by more and more employers. Some online degree courses consist of little more than asking the student to read a book and take a test. But we need architects who can build solid buildings and surgical nurses who can do nursing, which is why some employers are placing restrictions on the amount of online work that can be applied toward nursing degrees. The inability of some online graduates to perform has led to the "no online degrees" job advertisements. The watering down of the value of American degrees has become obvious in recent approvals of online masters degrees for what had previously been undergraduate teaching coursework in Kansas. Even more appalling was an advertisement I received offering a masters degree based on just one book! I can see a degree for the study of Shakespeare from many perspectives or an analysis of World War II from many authors. But this was one trivial book split into 10 three-credit courses for a whole masters degree, with credit offered through an obscure little college. In 2005, a forum in the Chronicle of Higher Education asked professors about the value of online degrees. Many of the responses from academics were caustic: * "I know of no online degrees that are not considered complete jokes." * "I would never consider hiring anyone with an online degree." * "Online degrees are a joke. I wish they would get rid of this concept altogether." * "Degrees mean something and providing el cheapo, fifth-rate pseudo-academic 'alternatives' largely to make money for the school and help the recipient make more money himself is not a legitimate academic enterprise." So if most university professors are opposed to online degrees, what has happened in the last four years as online degrees have spread? Most public universities are now enrolment driven. Anything that bolsters student credit hour production grows the university. Some higher administrators are mimicking Wall Street in cheapening their institutions - the education equivalent to toxic bank loans. The first online courses were pitched to site-bound students to offer anytime-anywhere education; yet the majority of students taking these courses were in the university dormitories! Higher tuition for online courses that are more expensive to offer solved some of that problem. But in offering online learning for a few genuinely site-bound students, universities are also promoting indolence in many others who could and should be face-to-face with the best academic minds on campus. If real degrees are to continue to mean anything, this charade has to stop.