Thursday, August 07, 2008

How to Identify a Diploma Mill

A diploma mill is an organization that offers education certifications, diplomas or degrees which require little or no academic study. The degrees offered by diploma mills are "fake" degrees which are not recognized in the job market. You may not just having trouble to utilize the degree in helping in your career, it may caught you into a law sue case if employers encounter you are holding a "fake" degree to apply for their job vacancy and if they take a legal action against you.

It's not worth to risk your future by getting a degree from diploma mill. You must avoid these diploma mills with your best effort, but sometimes it's hard to differential between legitimate education institution and diploma mill. Below are a few tips to help you identify if an education organization is potentially a diploma mill.

1. Be Highly Alert On the Accreditation Information

Nowadays, not only legitimate schools claim accreditation, diploma mills also promote their education programs with accreditation attached. So, by just knowing that the school of your selected education program is accredited may not enough to ensure you are getting a legitimate degree. You should be more details to find out which accrediting agency that perform the accrediting process on the school. Then, compare the accrediting agency information with the accreditation database that can be found at the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), make sure that you find the accrediting agency listed in CHEA database. Be more careful about the accrediting agency name, bogus accrediting agency that accredits diploma mills may register with very similar name to a legitimate accrediting agency.

2. The School Address Uses P.O. Box

Although online universities that offer their degree programs 100% online, the online universities must have the physical address where their offices are located. If you see the universities only publish their address as P.O. Box address, then it should trigger a red flag to you.

3. Unrealistically Short Program Time

You can obtain a degree at diploma mills in a short amount of time, under a month or even in a few days from the time of enrollment. While at legitimate online colleges and universities, can award degrees in less time than traditional classroom-based schools, an unrealistically short program time for a degree is fraudulent.

4. You Can Obtain A Degree Solely Based On Life Experience

Although legitimate online universities may award some credit for well-documented "life experience", you will not be able to earn a degree solely based on "life experience"; but at diploma mill, you can easily get a degree just with your "life experience". This sign should clearly trigger a red flag, avoid it totally.

5. Diploma Mills Charge Tuition Fee on a Per-Degree Basis

Legitimate online colleges and universities normally charge their tuition fee on a per-semester, per-quarter, per-course or per-credit basis, which is different from what most diploma mills charge in per-degree basis. This is a sure sign of a degree mill.


It is not worth to risk your future by getting a degree from diploma mill. Although sometime it's hard to identify a diploma mill, but if you review a school and their degree program more carefully and be aware about the diploma mill's signs, you should be able to avoid it.

Amelia Turner writes articles on education related topics. Visit for more information about online degree programs offered by accredited online universities and colleges.

1 comment:

Robin said...

thank you - this was very helpful