This is the follow-up blog entry to “So, you want to get another degree?” I have received quite a number of inquiries with regards to choosing a school. I’ve also seen some questions from some of my friends in the industry who have never finished their bachelor’s degrees and are having difficulty getting managerial positions because of this.

(For those who do not live in the Philippines, our culture is a little obsessive when it comes to higher education. Even when some people aren’t really suited for university life, many parents force their children to enter it because majority of the big companies here refuse to promote those who are without bachelor degrees, regardless of experience.)

I’m hoping that this little blog entry could help my readers in getting started.


Is this really what you want?

First, I would like to point first-time readers to my previous blog entry about graduate school. I would like to make sure that this is really what you want to pursue because there are other options, such as taking short courses or associate degrees.

For those of you who have decided that yes, you want to go back to the life of a university student, then I hope the short list I prepared below could help you.


Source: ttp://


General tips.

  • Whenever a former student asks me which school s/he should go to, I always suggest that s/he try a different environment. One of the benefits of graduate school is that you can expand your connections. If you stayed in the same school, how are you going to expand your connections? 
  • Experiencing a different school’s culture can be an eye-opening experience and will help you become more flexible, more understanding of people and processes in general.
  • Leave your pride and arrogance at home. You could have 20 years experience in the industry but if you prefer to do things your way all the time and refuse to learn other methods, then you shouldn’t be going to school at all. (I have an ego the size of Jupiter, but whenever I’m in UP, I am diminished to a preschooler. I cringe when a former professor of mine insists that I call her by her first name.) Besides, it’s exhausting to try to be right all the time.
  • The more education you get, the more you will realize that “YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON SNOW.” Knowledge is unknowable. Instead of lording it over everyone who is not chasing the same dream as you, understand where they are coming from. There are many sources of knowledge, school and work experiences are just two of them.
  • Allow yourself to feel stupid. Again, it’s exhausting to be right all the time because it’s impossible. When you feel stupid, let this be a gateway to better understanding.

All right, now that we’re done with the few general tips, here are the list of higher education institutions that I’ve checked out.


The list of schools.

University of the Philippines, Diliman

This is probably one university that I did not have to ask people about because I spent 4 years as a PhD student here while working full-time. You’ll probably hear horror stories about this school as the average length of time a PhD student spends here is around 7-10 years. In fact, I was discouraged by my bosses based on many horror stories they have heard. I had two reasons for choosing UP, however. The first was that my employers paid my tuition and I didn’t want to be forever beholden to my employers for a long time. I knew I could afford UP even if the time ever came for me to give up my day job (which thankfully did not happen). The second is that I know UP’s culture, having obtained my BA degree from the University of the Philippines, Manila. My thought during that time was that if I were to embark on the most difficult point of my educational journey, I would much rather spend it in an environment that I’m already familiar with. Anyway, here are the pros and cons:

Source: Piled Higher and Deeper by Dr. Jorge Cham

Source: Piled Higher and Deeper by Dr. Jorge Cham


  • Of all the schools I’ll mention here, UP is probably the least expensive.
  • Total academic freedom that I’ve never seen practiced in private schools. Many private schools do practice a certain degree of academic freedom, but not in the scale and magnitude that UP did.
  • The unstructured way of learning made me feel like I’m sitting in one of those ancient Greek classes held by Plato or Aristotle.
  • Classes outside of the classroom were awesome!! For some reason, I noticed that our discussions were at their most intellectually stimulating when we’re not stuck in a room with whitewashed walls. Classes at the Sunken Garden are the best experiences, in my opinion.
  • Terror professors that actually have hefty credentials to back them up. (Actually, even the nicer profs had kick-ass CVs.)  There were a few classes that nearly killed me (literally and figuratively), but surviving them brought with me some lifelong lessons that made me appreciate my terror professors to this day. You have to earn their respect, by the way, and that’s what actually makes me feel good about passing their subjects. (My most memorable one told us on the first day of classes that she had 8 students the previous semester and only 1 of them passed while everyone else got a 5.0. The passing grade for PhD students is 1.75. Getting a 5.0 is a death warrant. She was always berating me throughout the term and I can’t blame her because she was such a deep qualitative thinker that I could not fathom the depth of her thoughts. I miraculously got a final grade of 1.5 even though I totally failed midterms with the 3.5 she gave me.)


  • A few terror professors, as other students would call them. They’re not for everyone. If you’re not used to the “grin and bear” method of learning, then this environment is not for you. I just happened to really enjoy listening to the so-called “terror profs” even when the sounds of their voices make me want to pee in my pants.
  • You will chase after panel members who are extremely busy because they’re constantly publishing. That means you’ll have to be a master planner when it comes to your thesis (and maybe even your day job) because the school will not be looking for your panel members. You have to find them. In my experience, that included running back and forth across a huge campus for days. (This was why I would always lose 5 pounds whenever I visited UP. Hm. Come to think of it, I shouldn’t put this in the “cons” section.)
  • Records can be such a pain. Sometimes, the Office of the University Registrar and your own college would have mismatching records. This affected both my enrollment (I had to prove so many times that I had already submitted my birth certificate) and my graduation (my parents were barred from witnessing my university graduation due to some miscommunication somewhere). I couldn’t count the number of times I had to file a leave just to fix my records, even after I’ve finished the degree. Again, this included running back and forth across a huge campus and losing considerable weight even after feasting on a Big Mac meal.
  • Do note that I’m very biased that even my “cons” are very trivial compared to my “pros”. I cannot help that. Heh.

I think it’s the reverse for me…


Asia Pacific College

Another school that I did not need to ask about, because I obtained both my BS and Master’s degrees from APC. The tricky part here is that both those degrees are no longer being offered and they’ve come up with 3 replacements: Master in Management, Master in Information Technology and Master in Information Systems. I can’t exactly speak for the quality of content now because these three are totally new disciplines.


  • Many of the faculty members are industry practitioners. Discussions are livened up because of the flurry of exchanges about best practices.
  • Having industry practitioners for teachers also ensures that your information is up-to-date.
  • Students would generally have the same industry background.
  • Compared to the record problems I’ve had with UP, APC’s record problems are very minor. Being a small school is part of the reason why they can also process your records quickly.
  • Wide range of scholarships available. They are also easier to obtain compared to UP’s scholarships, surprisingly…


  • Not a few students complain about terror teachers…though I’ve heard their classroom scenarios and these “terror teachers” don’t even come close to what I’ve experienced in UP. It’s like this meme comparing JK Rowling and George RR Martin:


  • I did have a traumatic last term in APC, but I suppose it’s a case-to-case scenario. Let’s just say that one of the teachers and I had a culture clash. But I think this is normal for any school. We’re human and imperfect and we can’t expect to understand everybody.
  • Compared to UP, it’s expensive. (But compared to other schools, I think it’s reasonable.)


For the rest of the schools I’m listing, I can’t exactly do a more comprehensive write-up because I’ve never tried them. What I’ll be writing is based on feedback from people I’ve asked. Feel free to discuss further in the comments section, if you wish to add something to this blog entry.


Ateneo de Manila University, Graduate School of Business

Most entrepreneurs I know are enrolled in Ateneo’s Standard MBA program that’s based in Makati. Many of them also happen to be the smartest, sassiest people I’ve come across. I’ve also heard about their Master in Entrepreneurship program (my former company’s CEO, Niel Dagondon of Anino Games, is currently enrolled) and it seems like it fits the lifestyles of most business owners in the Philippines: no exams, mentorship learning, adaptable learning environment. If their website’s description fits their practice perfectly, I would recommend this to my brother (also a business owner) who just wants to get a master’s degree so that he could pay it forward by teaching higher ed in the future.


De La Salle University, Manila

I have many former students who are currently enrolled in De La Salle’s graduate programs and from their Facebook posts, they seem to be a very happy bunch of graduate students. There was a particular program that actually caught my eye when I finished my master’s degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Education, major in Educational Leadership and Management (Executive Program). I was set to apply for it, but changed my mind when I saw the tuition fee. Hehe. The reason why it caught my eye was that I was an Assistant Director (Associate Dean) of an academic institution at that time and this course seemed to be the perfect road to take for academic administrators. Being an academic admin is not easy because you are required to not only work like a project manager for your department (handling both students and faculty members alike), you also still have to do research, publish, produce a substantial body of work (art or science) on top of those admin duties. The program is designed in such a way that face-to-face meetings are minimal, sort of like a mix of online and offline learning. Here’s a breakdown of a term, based on their website:

Face – to – face, live in session 24 hours
E-Learning / On-line Learning 12 hours
Independent Study 6 hours


Total of 42 hours

DLSU also offers programs for Communications, Marketing and Business and some of the courses offered can be taken in Makati and Ortigas.



Oh and yeah, prepare for this kind of life…whatever school you choose.


University of the Philippines, Open University

Many colleagues of mine, who never finished their bachelor’s degrees, would often turn to their website in the hopes of finishing college via distance education. One of my mentors, Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, is UPOU’s current chancellor and I believe in her vision for the school’s development. I’ve received mixed reactions about UPOU, though. On one hand, there were faculty members that were very good at teaching through online means while there were others who were horrible at it. I think this is more of a human thing than a technological problem. Others have also expressed doubts whether their classmates were truly the ones who wrote their papers.

For people belonging to my industry, though, the Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Studies seem very promising. A part of me actually wishes that I had taken this up instead of obtaining two bachelor degrees. Other colleagues in the academe are also taking up either Master of Development Communication or the Master of Information Systems, both of which would be very handy for industry practitioners who are also higher education teachers.


The Philippine Women’s University

I first heard of their Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) when one of the faculty members working under me had been questioned by the HR for not having obtained a bachelor’s degree. At that time, I kind of felt a certain sense of injustice that someone with close to 20 years experience (in the animation industry) was being forbidden to teach. Then again, I was working at a university that offers bachelor’s degrees and it only made sense that a teacher should have accomplished a higher level of education than his/her students. The good thing about the degree programs under ETEEAP is that they will credit your years of experience and turn them into academic units. This was a win-win situation for me because honestly, how many industry practitioners can actually teach what they know? Many who are good at their jobs will not always be good at explaining their craft.

PWU’s ETEEAP program is fully recognized by the Commission on Higher Education. These are their offerings:

  • Bachelor of Arts major in Communication Arts
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management


Well, so far these are the schools that I’ve gathered information about. Again, if you think I’m missing something, please feel free to drop me a comment.

Thank you very much for patiently reading this!