I don't think that competence can be put down to simply having a degree. Quite a large number of the people who have made their mark on the profession are college dropouts. On the other hand quite a number of people with an academic qualification have contributed to the field as well. People who are good at what they do tend to have a passion about being good at it. They do what it takes to be good. This might mean going to college or simply reading things up themselves. Whatever the means - the end is reached not because of the means but because of the motive. People who want to excel, and have the capability to do so will do what it takes to get there.