Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Diploma Mills

Diploma Mill - An institution of higher education operating without supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or because of the lack of proper standards worthless. - Webster's Third New International Dictionary

When doing your research to find a legitimate college that offers a degree online, you may have come across ads or websites for “schools” that claim you can get a college degree for several hundred dollars with little or no work.

What you have stumbled across is an ad from a “diploma mill,” not a school, but an unrecognized and often illegally run operation that will sell you a fake piece of paper, rather than offering you a true education.

It’s a scam and the “degree” is worthless paper if the school says you can complete a “bachelor’s degree” in a few months or even weeks instead of the four years it normally takes, or if the cost is several hundred dollars or even a couple of thousand rather than the many thousands it would normally cost at a real school.

A few red flags to look for in diploma mills are the time and money involved in obtaining a “diploma” or “degree” from these so-called schools.
  • They tend to charge a flat fee based on whether you get an Associates, Bachelor's, or PhD. Legitimate institutions charge tuition based on credit hours. Diploma mills may also offer to upgrade your grade point average, or GPA, for a fee.
  • Another red flag to a diploma mill is that they may offer to give substantial weight to your “life experiences,” even giving you your entire degree’s worth of credit on life experiences alone. A real institution of higher learning may give credits for past work or life experience, but it will be a small portion of your total credits, maybe up to 25% of your degree credits at the most - and they will all require you to test for them.
  • Another red flag is that the name of the “school” sounds very similar to a well-known, highly regarded institution of higher learning. They do this on purpose to confuse the unsuspecting.
  • Also, they may have a long list of “accrediting agencies” that you - or anybody else for that matter - have never heard of. It doesn’t matter how many agencies accredit the school if the agencies aren’t recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Many of these “agencies” are bogus, made up by the diploma mills themselves to fool consumers - they will probably also provide a link to the agency's website, also made up by the same scammers that developed the "school." The names of these fake agencies are often very wordy in an effort to make them sound offical, but if the Education Department doesn’t recognize the agency, then it won’t matter one bit to your prospective employers once you get your “degree.” To find out if the accrediting agencies are recognized by the Education Department, or to look up a college or other institution of higher learning by name, go to If they are not on this Education Department’s list, then take that as fair warning the “school” is probably a diploma mill.
Checking out a diploma mill website
After taking a look at the website of one diploma mill that claims to be a university, I find it’s laughable that to upgrade your degree to a PhD, you only have to pay another hundred or so dollars than for a bachelors degree.

It says directly on their website, “You DO NOT need to study, attend classes or give exams.” It's a school but there's no studying? Why would a student think they have to give exams? Sounds like the web designer of this site must have a fake degree, since they don’t know any better.

Another funny thing, they are currently giving a 10% discount as a Halloween special for any degree program. Ever heard of a real school that does that? Do thorough research on any online school you’re considering. It’s your education we’re talking about.

U.S.Department of Education
Federal Trade Commission
Online Degree Programs
University Now or Community College First?


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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

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