Online Education; Associates Degrees Online

Watch Out for Diploma Mills

Diploma mills are unaccredited, usually online, "colleges" or "universities" which offer fraudulent and/or virtually worthless degrees in exchange for payment alone or for payment and very minimal work (often a resume or single "research" paper). These diploma mills often claim accreditation from fraudulent "accrediting agencies" which exist only to mislead prospective students and employers. In fact, some of the bogus accrediting agencies are owned and operated by the same people who own and run the degree mills.

For a good source of information about diploma mills, you might want to visit

According to the website of The Oregon Student Assistance Commission Office of Degree Authorization <>, another site worth visiting, "Idaho, Hawaii, Montana, Alabama, Wyoming, Mississippi and California have either no meaningful standards, excessive loopholes or poor enforcement owing to local policy or insufficient staff", so be especially sure to check out institutions based in those states.

To determine whether or not a college or university is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, visit <> or <>.

A partial list of unaccredited colleges may be found at <>. Of course, all unaccredited colleges are not degree mills. But, for most people, the best bet is to avoid them. Remember, there are hundreds of fully accredited colleges offering online degrees and certificate programs. So, why bother with unaccredited institutions?

John and Mariah Bear, acknowledged experts in both legitimate online degree programs and on diploma mills and degree mills, have assisted the FBI in closing down a number of degree mills and putting some pretty deserving scam artists behind bars. They write, "We must warn you, as emphatically as we can, that it is very risky to buy a fake degree or to claim to have a degree that you have not earned. It is like putting a time bomb in your resumé. It could go off at any time, with dire consequences."

Unfortunately, even if you find an institution listed in a responsible publication ("USA Today" is a good example), it may be unaccredited and may even meet the definition of a degree mill. Similarly, most of the major search engines accept advertisements from and/or index unaccredited "colleges" and "universities", including degree mills which will verify that a "student" (using the word very loosely) "earned" a degree and provide transcripts, although they require no meaningful academic work. 

If you use the resources available to you to carefully check out the colleges and universities you are considering, and utilize websites like this one which list only fully accredited online degree programs, you will not be a victim of the unscrupulous folks who offer fraudulent degrees. If you choose to obtain a fraudulent credential from a degree mail, you will almost certainly suffer the consequences.


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