As far as PhDs are concerned Martial Artist who claim to have PhDs specifically in Martial Arts I agree have over inflated egos, however as some in the case of Master Jerry Beasley of AIKIA/World Martial art Masters he has a PHD "in teaching" and is accredited at Radford University(an American accredited University) where he teaches Martial Arts history etc. as a class course.
He does have a PHD but not in Martial arts. Master Unin of the IBMA, same thing..he is a PHD "teacher". There are a few Great Masters who have PhDs its usually in teaching not in a specific subject.
A friend of mine from another local school came over to my dojo to spar tonight with a couple of his students getting ready to compete. He is a 5th dan in TangSoDo..got all his 1St - 4TH dan grades but his 5th in person. I told him about some of this correspondence. This is what he said and he put it quite well. Ranks usually above 3rd dan are considered "honorary ranks" most are not given as a "result of a test" but based on "time in grade" or "personal accomplishments" in the Martial Arts. Take the older frail 8th or 9th dan who cannot perform a test. Some of us who beat ourselves up in our 20s cannot do it either...hell I should be in a wheel chair...laughs (Basically higher dan grades are a stripe on the black belt or honorary marks of ones "time in that grade") And the initial black belt to be respectable should be earned the old fashioned way from many years of hard training in a school (not from a video correspondence course). However above an initial black belt higher ranks are based upon "time in grade", as in training, competing and teaching. And because A LOT of higher dan grades leave their nest as in move away from their home organization, a lot get their higher dan grades through correspondence with a possible video exam as only "part of the equation" of the evaluation to respectable organizations.