Diploma mills (or degree mills) are substandard or fraudulent “colleges” that offer potential students degrees with little or no serious work. Some are simple frauds, such as a mailbox to which people send money in exchange for paper that claims to be a college degree. Others require some nominal work from the student but do not require college-level course work that is normally required for a degree.
Questions to Ask to Determine if a Degree Provider Is a “Mill”
When considering a degree provider, an answer of “yes” to one or more of the following questions may be an indicator of a diploma mill.
- Can degrees be purchased?
- Is there a claim of accreditation when there is no evidence of this status?
- Is there a claim of accreditation from a questionable accrediting organization?
- Does the operation lack state or federal licensure or authority to operate?
- Is little if any attendance required of students, either online or in class?
- Are few assignments required for students to earn credits?
- Is a very short period of time required to earn a degree?
- Are degrees available based solely on experiences or résumé review?
- Are there few requirements for graduation?
- Does the operation fail to provide any information about a campus or business location or physical address and rely only on a post office box?
- Does the operation fail to provide a list of its faculty and their qualifications?
- Does the operation have a name similar to other well-known colleges and universities?
- Does the operation make claims in its publications for which there is no evidence?
To verify accreditation information for an educational organization, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education accreditation website at www.ed.gov/accreditation.
For more information about diploma or degree mills, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s diploma mills and accreditation information webpage at www.ed.gov/students/prep/college/diplomamills or email firstname.lastname@example.org.