Consumer Alert: Top 10 Signs Online Diploma Mills & Degree

by Vicky Phillips, CEO,, LLC


No such creature. Not online. Not anywhere. Accreditation is the highest mark of academic quality. Without accreditation a bogus online university can begin awarding degrees overnight. More than thirty bogus universities currently sell online degrees in the United States alone.

There is no reason to attend an unaccredited university online. Plenty of prestigious accredited universities are eager for your application. In 1989, when began tracking accredited distance degrees, less than 50 were open to the public. That number now exceeds 750.

Why attend Bogus U. when Stanford, California State University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Maryland, among others, offer online degrees?

Before you enroll in a distance degree program, take the time to Get Educated ô about distance learning degree mills.

Whatís a Degree Mill?

Degree mills are bogus universities that sell college diplomas Ė the piece of paper itself rather than the educational experience.

A college degree is the second most expensive purchase people will make in their lifetime Ė second only to their home mortgage. Without a degree many career doors remain closed. For these reasons, the sale of bogus degrees has become big business.

Top 10 Red Flags Ė Online Diploma Mills

Your chosen university is not accredited.

Your chosen university is accredited Ö but NOT by an agency recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation,
The majority of Internet degree mills are "accredited." Problem is they are accredited by bogus agencies that they themselves have created. These bogus accrediting agencies often have prestigious sounding names. Contact CHEA for the names of valid accreditors in the USA.

Admission criteria consist entirely of possession of valid Visa or MasterCard. Previous academic record, grade point average, and test scores are deemed irrelevant.

You are offered a college degree based on a "review" of your faxed resume.
Credit for career experience is a valid option at many universities that deal with adult learners. But the process of evaluating career experience for college credit is complex. No valid distance learning university in the USA will award a graduate degree (Masterís or Doctorate) based solely on a review of career experience. Undergraduate programs are more flexible. Accredited undergraduate programs typically limit credit for experience to a maximum of 10 courses or 30 semester credits. (One year of a four-year degree.) One notable exception is Thomas Edison State College of New Jersey. This publicly-funded distance learning university makes it possible for adult learners, in theory, to earn Associate or Bachelor degrees entirely through career portfolios, military and corporate training, and challenge exams.

You are promised a diploma within 30 days of application regardless of your status upon entry.
Degree mills are in the business of selling paper. Ergo, theyíll get that piece of paper to you as quickly as possible.

You are promised a degree in exchange for a lump sum Ė typically $2,000 for an undergraduate degree, $3,000 for a graduate degree.
Universities do not commonly charge flat fees. They typically charge per credit or per course tuition and fees.

Your prospective online university has multiple complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB records consumer complaints about online degree mills. Visit the BBB online at

Your online "admission counselor" assures you that online universities canít be accredited by CHEA recognized agencies.

This is a lie.

The schoolís Web site either lists no faculty or lists faculty who have attended schools accredited by bogus agencies.

The university offers online degrees almost exclusively to United States citizens but is conveniently located in a foreign country, quite often a tiny nation that lacks any system of academic accreditation.
Donít be fooled by online degree and diploma mills. Many maintain impressive web sites. All of them advertise heavily online. Look beyond flashy graphics for the name of the schoolís accreditation agency. Take the time to verify accreditation by an agency that is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.


© 2004, LLC. All rights reserved. For more tips on how to find your best buy in accredited online degrees consult GetEducated.comís 100% FREE downloadable PDF college guidebook series, GetEducated.comís Best Distance Learning Graduate Schools and GetEducated.comís Best Distance Learning Undergraduate Schools,

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