The use of diploma mills to obtain fraudulent degrees is a widespread and growing problem. Along with using Verification Services to confirm academic credentials, you should read the following information to learn how you can determine if an educational institution is actually a diploma mill.
> What is a degree or diploma mill?
A degree or diploma mill is an entity that sells fraudulent educational credentials, such as diplomas and/or transcripts, without requiring any or an appropriate amount of the work typically required for such academic achievement.
> Why are diploma mills problematic?
Diploma mills are a form of academic fraud. Academic fraud devalues college degrees by making them available for purchase without academic work and robs honest graduates of jobs. Organizations that unknowingly hire employees with fraudulent degrees can face serious consequences from lost revenue to public embarrassment and even lawsuits. Furthermore, academic fraud can damage the hard-earned reputations of legitimate institutions.
> How can I tell whether an institution is a diploma mill?
Carefully research schools you are interested in. Check their accreditation with the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation . Be suspicious of schools that:
- Offer degrees that can be earned in an unusually short time (e.g., a bachelor’s degree in a few months)
- List accreditations not recognized by reputable organizations
- Place an unusually strong emphasis on earning credit for life or real-world experience
- Charge tuition on a per degree basis as opposed to by credit hour, course, or semester
- Offer discounts for enrolling in multiple programs
- Require little or no admission criteria (such as academic record) other than a valid credit card
- Use names deceptively similar to legitimate, and often prestigious, educational institutions
- Use box numbers or suite addresses instead of physical addresses
> Does the Clearinghouse work with diploma mills?
No. The Clearinghouse only works with Title IV accredited institutions.
> What is a Title IV accredited institution?
“Title IV” refers to a section of the U.S. Higher Education Act of 1965, which outlines the eligibility requirements for participation in federal student financial aid programs.
A Title IV institution has been accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recognizes select accrediting agencies as reliable authorities based on the quality of education or training offered by the institutions or programs they accredit.
You can search ED’s database of Title IV accredited institutions to view a school’s list of accreditations and their school code, as assigned by the department.
> Where can I find more information on diploma mills?
For more information on diploma mills, please visit the following pages:
- U.S. Department of Education
- Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies
- College Navigator
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation