Thursday, May 22, 2008

Online Degree Programs - Identify The Legitimate Among The Scams

Online distance learning is becoming more and more popular for good reasons. It makes degrees accessible to many students who could not attend a traditional college. But not all degrees will be equally valued. That is why you need to do some careful research.

You have decided to advance your career by pursuing an online degree program. You will be investing a lot of resources in your endeavor so you want to be certain that potential employers will recognize and value your diploma. So how do you identify a legitimate internet college and avoid the scams?

While there are many fine prestigious distance learning institutions, the field is also rife with fraudulent programs and degree mills. Some schools just want to "process" a lot of students and hand out fake degrees. They basically sell their diplomas. You need to be smart and aware to avoid the degree scams.

Red Flags

If the school is lax or uninterested in your previous education or academic record or if you are guaranteed a degree in a specified period of time or for a stated price you are dealing with a fraudulent organization. Avoid any degree program that does not require coursework in exchange for a degree. If they offer a diploma based entirely on life experience it is likely a degree mill. Also be wary of schools that are operated overseas. Be certain the school's contact information includes a phone number and a physical address and not simply an email address.


The most crucial factor in selecting an online college is their accreditation status. Some degree mills may claim to be accredited but it is important to know if they are accredited by a recognized agency. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the agency that oversees legitimate accrediting in the U. S.

Resources for checking the legitimacy of Distance Learning Accreditation:

-- U.S. Department of Education:

-- Council for Higher Education Accreditation
List of recognized accrediting organizations:

Properly accredited colleges and universities will have the .edu designation. The recognized accrediting organizations have strict standards set by educational experts. Degrees and credits earned at these institutions will generally be accepted by other schools.

After you have found some programs that appeal to you and verified their accreditation status, compare their offerings and their reputations. Contact prospective employers and ask if they are familiar with the programs and get their opinions. Ask what online degree programs they would recommend.

Terrance C. Douglas writes for Visit the website for more information about online degree programs and avoiding diploma mills.

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