Again, thanks for chiming in here, "systematic," and offering your insight. It is at least somewhat unique from what the other experienced ESL people have offered on this thread.
I'm not blaming anybody for CELTA's brand awareness. I understand the circumstances. I get what you're saying about organizations calling themselves "universities" and all that. We have those here in the States -- some consider "The University of Phoenix" or "Capella University" (headquartered in Minnesota I add) as somewhat or outright scam schools. Be assured, I want nothing to do with such organizations. And aside from the US Military, I don't know of any company here in the States that recognizes these online "universities" in the same league as brick-and-mortar unis. And that is putting it mildly.
Here are some more of my concerns regarding the CELTA and how they are partially alleviated by Hamline:
1) I have read online of reports that students in CELTA programs get treated differently because they look differently. Or because they have certain dispositions. In other words, just because somebody is beautiful or is especially outgoing, they get preferential treatment.
2) I've read quite varying reports of exactly how "standardized" CELTA schools truly are. After all, isn't the point of Cambridge getting involved so that these "schools" maintain appropriate standards and benchmarks to equip their graduates with a certain level of aptitude? In other words, if Cambridge never invented the CELTA, would these schools maintain these "standards?" It was put to me by one person this say (paraphrasing): "some schools need guidelines for their programs and need the external validation for their programs to be of quality and to be recognized as legitimate." The implication is that SOME schools that offer TEFL certifications do not need Cambridge's seal of approval.
3) What is the track record of the particular school that is offering the CELTA? What do I really know about this school? Take IH Budapest as an example, since it is the one where I hold a place as a potential CELTA student. I don't know anything about IH Budapest. Is there some accreditation body within Hungary that goes into this school and examines its teaching methods, interviews its faculty members, and judges it for credibility? Is there a reputable body in the EU that does this? What do we know about this organization? This is merely an example. The same applies to every CELTA-approved "school."
In order to be accredited by the body that does so for Hamline, they have to undergo scrutiny from MN state regulators and maintain guidelines outlined by The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Look them up. Not just anybody can walk into a K-12 school in the States and teach. Teachers must be licensed by the state's board of education. Hamline's School of Education produces graduates every year that teach in Minnesota and other states. This is the SAME SCHOOL that is teaching this TEFL cert course!
What I am trying to say is that anybody who wants to know anything about the legitimacy of Hamline need only take a look at the organizations that accredit Hamline and see what they demand of Hamline. Having worked in higher education at one of the largest public research institutions in the world (the same place I'm getting my master's from), I can assure you that every department that gets examined must go through a rigorous process proving they pass certain guidelines from independent, external auditors. Hamline goes through the same process. And Hamline has as good of a reputation as any school in Minnesota, except for probably Carleton College, Macalester College, and possibly St. Olaf (all these schools are in the same athletic conference as my B.A. alma mater).
What am I trying to say?
If you want to know something about Hamline, it's pretty darn easy to check if they are legit.
This TEFL cert course is taught by people with a minimum of a master's in education and with professors who hold PhDs.
Do all CELTA courses have faculty members with master's degrees and PhDs? Master's maybe/probably, but I HIGHLY doubt that any PhD is spending his or her time teaching a CELTA course in some tiny language school.
So what is this about? Is it about the brand the CELTA has achieved? My application is going to be "placed on the corner of the desk" while CELTA grads are approved "without question?" If so, that's sad. I suppose it's too much work for a recruiter or DoS to take the time to Google Hamline and inquire "where is Hamline and is this place legit?" If they bothered to do that, I suspect they would take me ahead of somebody doing the CELTA!
The course is 120 hours. Going over the schedule I see that we are supposed to meet 9:00-3:00 M-F for four weeks. I would be teaching as part of the program with feedback from my instructors and peers. I would be required to do lesson planning beyond the 120 hours.
Forgive me, but it is awfully hard for me to dismiss a program (Hamline's TEFL Certificate) as part of an institution that's been around for a long time, has high standards for who they let in, prepares students to be licensed and to teach here in the US (how many foreign language schools require state-mandated licensure?), prepares students to practice law and other disciplines at the graduate level, and above all, offers me a comfort level that I am going to be treated with dignity and respect, have the resources I need to be successful, and quite simply, know their program is legit.
Or I can get on a plane and cross my fingers that whatever CELTA school I go to has modern resources, has faculty that are at least as good as those at Hamline, treats me fairly, and ultimately, actually prepares me to teach.
I am grateful for the responses here as they are helping me form a lot of thoughts about this process.