The ABCs of Education Verification

(Last Updated On: August 24, 2021)

Education Verification


Pop Quiz!

What is one of the most commonly lied about items on candidates’ resumes?

A. Criminal record history
B. Professional certifications
C. Education information
D. Current employment status

If you answered “C”, you are correct!! In fact, you may be surprised to know that a Career Builder survey showed that out of 2,200 hiring managers polled, 33% have caught candidates embellishing or outright lying about degrees. What makes this statistic even more shocking is that these are just the folks who got caught. In a recent survey of candidates who admitted to lying on their applications, a whopping 79.28% stated that their deception was never caught. In fact, only about 34% of employers are actually taking the time to verify degrees.

Ready to learn a little more about education verification? Here are a few more questions to test your knowledge:

Why is it so important to verify an applicant’s education?

For many positions, having an authentic degree from a legitimate institution is a must. In many cases, it may even be a legal requirement. If you hire a person who does not actually hold the credentials claimed, your organization’s reputation can be severely damaged and you may even face legal fees from negligent hiring.

What does an education verification provide?

Typically an education verification will provide:
• The degree/ diploma/ certificate earned by the candidate
• Dates of attendance
• Date degree was earned
• Major and or minors (if applicable)
• Information on whether or not the institution is accredited from a nationally recognized accrediting body
• Transcripts can also be added if needed

How are education verifications completed?

Education verifications can be completed by reaching out directly to the school or through integrations with third parties such as the National Student Clearinghouse.

When do organizations typically conduct education verifications?

Typically education verification are done:
• Pre-hire
• After a current employee has completed a degree (post hire)
• Prior to a promotion

What kind of lies are applicants telling?

Deceptions from applicants can run the gamut from stretching the truth, to outright falsification. Some commonly seen misinformation includes:

• Claiming a high school diploma when a GED was obtained
• Claiming a higher level degree, i.e. claiming a Bachelor’s degree when an Associate’s was obtained
• Claiming a degree even though the applicant fell a few credits short
• Inflating GPA
• Claiming to have graduated from a more prestigious school
• Trying to pass a degree from a diploma mill as a legitimate degree

Has there been an increase in applicants claiming false degrees?

Yes, there does appear to be an increase in claiming false degrees as applicants try to keep up with screening technology. Applicants have admitted exaggerating their skills to try to “outsmart” some applicant tracking systems according to a recent study by TribePad. Tech savvy applicants understand that these technology tools are looking for certain key words and may feel inclined to provide false information in order to make it through this initial screening process.

I require employees to provide me with a copy of their degree/ diploma, isn’t that enough?

Although this is a common practice, it is one that should definitely be avoided. If an applicant is dishonest, they can easily doctor a degree. These fake degree copies can be very challenging to differentiate from legitimate degrees, even for the most trained professionals. The only way to truly be confident that your employee has received the degree he/she claimed is to contact the school and follow the proper methods to verify the degree.

What about international degrees, is it even possible to verify those?

Yes! A qualified background screening provider is able to offer education verifications across the globe. We are able to follow the required steps to provide official verification in most instances.


My applicant has claimed a degree from an online university that I have never heard of, should I be worried about that?

Probably not. There certainly has been an upward trend of students who appreciate the convenience of online learning and many of these institutions are perfectly legitimate. Students are provided with a rigorous course load and are able to complete their degrees from the comfort of their home.

Unfortunately, there are also many exceptions. Often referred to as “diploma mills”, these schools will issue degrees for a fee. After they are paid, they will provide a degree certificate or diploma. Additionally, they will often have personnel who will answer the phone and “verify” the claimed degree if a potential employer calls. It is reported that one well known diploma mill, Almeda University, has over 4,000 folks on Linkedin who are listing that school as their alma mater. Even more frightening is that some of these people hold prestigious job titles including public safety workers, lawyers, engineers, educators, federal government employees, and, yes, even medical doctors.

How can an employer avoid being scammed by a diploma mill?

Employers can take certain precautionary steps, or partner with a background screening provider that follows due diligence in making sure that an applicant is not claiming a degree from a diploma mill. Some way to avoid being tricked by a diploma mill include:

• Making sure that the school is accredited
• Making sure that the school is accredited by a proper accrediting agency. Beware of terms such as “licensed” or “approved”
• Check the school’s website and look for any degrees being offered for a lump sum
• Check the school’s website and look for a faculty directory. If there are no faculty listed, that may be a warning sign
• If the school offers a degree for “life experience”, that could be a red flag as well.

At this time of year many of us are dropping kids off at school. We appreciate the work involved in obtaining a real degree and we understand the sacrifices made to earn those credentials. As employers, we also understand that our customers/clients rely on us to do our due diligence in screening potential employees to make sure that they hold the skills necessary to do their job.

Looking for some help in completing your education verifications? Let’s talk!

To learn more about how Justifacts’ can help with your background screening process feel free to request information or give us a call at 800-356-6885 to speak to our sales team.

It is important to note that Justifacts is providing this information as a service to our clients. None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor is Justifacts engaged to provide legal advice. We go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful. We recommend you consult your attorney or legal department if you want assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.