Apologetics Index

Applied Scholastics

Applied Scholastics at a glance

  • What: Applied Scholastics promotes the use of study techniques created by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. Hubbard called his theories on learning and education ‘Study Technology’ — also referred to as ‘Study Tech.’ In a policy letter Hubbard stated that “Study Tech is our primary bridge to Society.”[1] Scientology refers to Applied Scholastics as one of its “social betterment” programs. Critics view the organization as one of many Scientology front groups.
  • Founded: Founded in 1972 as a non-profit corporation.
  • Headquarters: Spanish Lake, Missouri.
  • Mission: Applied Scholastics’ declared mission is: “to promote and develop programs of effective education for educators, business trainers, tutors, parents, children and people in all walks of life who need improved study skills to enhance their scholastic, business and personal activities.”
  • Theory: Hubbard taught that there are three barriers to learning: 1) lack of a physical presence of a subject (mass), 2) trying to learn on “too steep a gradient.” i.e.: proceeding through course material before fully understanding the fundamentals, 3) misunderstood words
  • Controversy: There are three major criticisms of Applied Scholastics. In no particular order: 1) The Church of Scientology and Applied Scholastics describe Hubbard’s Study Tech as ‘tremendously effective.’ However, no studies on the approach have appeared in educational journals or other third-party publications, and the approach has found little acceptance among educators and scholars of education. 2) L. Ron Hubbard was known as a fantasist, and his theories have been widely discredited as pseudoscience and quackery. 3) Critics view the marketing of Study Tech through such front groups as Applied Scholastics as an attempt to help legitimize (and/or recruit for) the Church of Scientology.

Applied Scholastics: Growth

A science fiction writer, Hubbard created Scientology in the early 1950s. He taught that a person is a spiritual being called a Thetan, whose mind has a “reactive” or subconscious side that stores mental images and is not under a person’s control. Through spiritual counseling called “auditing, ” he taught, a person can solve personal problems by locating these images and addressing them.

According to Scientology literature, Hubbard began researching the barriers to learning when he noticed some Scientologists struggling with their courses.

Hubbard released his “study technology” in 1964, touting it as a way not only to help Scientologists, but also to solve the world’s struggles with education.

In 1972, Scientologists founded the nonprofit Applied Scholastics to advance Hubbard’s “study technology” outside Scientology. Nothing in its literature notes any ties to Scientology. Nor should it, they say; his study curriculum is secular and, therefore, appropriate for public schools.

It’s used in hundreds of after-school tutoring programs, but perceived ties to Scientology have slowed its expansion into the core curricula of public education. School districts in San Antonio, the St. Louis area and Nevada backed off the program after parents or educators voiced concerns.

– Article continues after this advertisement –

In 2001, Applied Scholastics bought and renovated a former retirement home of the sisters of Notre Dame outside St. Louis. The building, on nearly 100 acres, became Applied Scholastics’ headquarters.

Watching from afar was Clearwater’s most prominent Scientology parishioner, Bennetta Slaughter. Time and again, the savvy coalition builder and respected community volunteer persuaded members of Clearwater’s civic establishment to be accepting of volunteering Scientologists.

To Slaughter, Applied Scholastics’ purchase of the St. Louis property signaled a commitment to serious expansion. She became chief executive in 2001 and in the years since, Applied Scholastics recorded dramatic growth. […]

L. Ron Hubbard’s study skills program is advanced worldwide by Applied Scholastics, a nonprofit organization that Scientologists created in 1972. It has racked up impressive growth since former Clearwater businesswoman Bennetta Slaughter became chief executive six years ago.

– Hubbard’s study tech now is licensed for use in 738 private schools, community centers and after-school or tutoring programs, more than twice the participation levels from when Slaughter took over (many other programs use its ideas). Florida has 24 such programs, 23 of them in Clearwater, the church’s worldwide spiritual headquarters. The other is in Miami.

– Applied Scholastics has significantly increased its training of private and public school educators. It reports training 45, 000 since 2001 at its headquarters outside St. Louis, compared with 50, 000 trained in the three previous decades.

– Applied Scholastics has licensed 112 private schools to use study tech. Another 3, 500 schools use study tech in some way, Slaughter said.

– Globally, Applied Scholastics has made its biggest strides in Africa, where it claims to have taught thousands of educators who are exposing study tech to hundreds of thousands in Nigeria, South Africa and other nations. Slaughter said 2.6-million worldwide were taught study tech last year.
– Source: Robert Farley, Scientology makes it in classroom door, St. Petersburg Times, May 20, 2007

Investigative Report on Applied Scholastics

On Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, Montreal TV network TVA broadcast a hidden-camera investigation into Scientology — the result of 4 months of research. The exposé was broadcast in a program called JE (Journalisme d’enquête = “Investigative Journalism”), which is dicated to exposings scams and injustices.

Scientology’s front groups were addressed as well, including Applied Scholastics:

Applied Scholastics receives U.S. Federal Funds

With Uncle Sam’s help, underprivileged kids across the country are being exposed to the ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Scores of public school districts are using a tutoring program with close ties to Scientology, according to tax documents filed by Applied Scholastics International, a nonprofit that promotes Hubbard’s teaching methods. The group has government approval to provide federally funded after-school tutoring in 12 states, including California, Texas and Florida.

On its most recent IRS records, Applied Scholastics reported that 248 public schools purchased its services in 2010. The group claims to have provided tutoring to more than 1,600 students.
Applied Scholastics gained a toehold in public education a decade ago through the No Child Left Behind law, one provision of which requires failing schools to offer tutoring to low-income students. Federal funds are used to pay tutors who meet criteria set by each state.
– Source: Federally Funded Tutoring Program Has Ties to Scientology, Newscore, April 9, 2012


  • Applied Scholastics and the Church of Scientology In-depth article published at a website critical of Study Tech.
  • Applied Scientology In Public Schools? “Why Hubbard’s works are inherently religious, and why their inclusion in public schools is inappropriate.” By Craig Branch. Published by Watchman Fellowship.

    Representatives of Scientology are attempting to deny any religious content and insist the mission of Applied Scholastics is “purely secular,” (Education Week, September 17, 1997, p. 1). … However, Scientology’s literature (Scripture) constantly and clearly teaches that Hubbard “technology” is their “applied religious philosophy.” According to internal material and Scientology defectors, “Scientology has worked hard to shore up its religious profile for the public, the courts, and the IRS” (Ibid.). 

    Now when it suits them, they want to be able to assume a secular profile again through Applied Scholastics and ABLE. But there is too much inviolate “scripture” which teaches that Scientology’s aim is to “clear the planet” to spread Scientology into every sector of society, “to bring the government and hostile philosophies or societies into a state of complete compliance with the goals of Scientology… Scientology is the only game on earth where everybody wins” (HCO Policy Letter, August 15, 1960, emphasis added; see also “Opinion Leaders,” HCO Policy Letter, May 11, 1971; and “Special Zone Plan,” HCO Bulletin of 23 June AD 10). They can’t have it both ways. 

  • Can L. Ron Hubbard’s “study technology” make kids smarter? by Sara Catania, LA Weekly
  • Scientology’s Study Technology: The Hidden Message in L. Ron Hubbard’s “Study Tech” by David S. Touretzky. In-depth article published at StudyTech.org — a website critical of Study Tech


Encyclopedia / Profiles


See Also


  • Applied Scholastics (Official site)
  • StudyTech.org A website critical of Study Tech.

    The purpose of this website is to help explain the conflicts inherent within Scientology’s efforts to forge relationships with education communities. We also want to equip parents, educators, and media with the tools to not only spot these front groups when they creep into town, but to question politicians, school boards, and pricipals who might knowingly or unknowingly support such intellectual fraud.

    This site will soon grow to explain in detail the myriad of Scientology front groups whose aim is recruiting your children. Groups like ABLE, HELP, and Applied Scholastics attempt to distance themselves from Scientology in order to claim secular status. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    In the meantime, we’ve compiled a slew of articles from various sources and incorporated CMU Professor (and studytech.org domain holder) Dave Touretzky’s definitive essay on Study Tech.


  1. Hubbard, Ethics and Study Tech, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letters of 4 April 1972

Article details

Category: Applied Scholastics
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First published (or major update) on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.
Last updated on April 10, 2012.

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