When you perform a web search for “diploma mill”, “degree mill”, or “life experience degree”, a number of results will catch your eye. Some of the websites, such as www.speedydegrees.com, www.affordabledegrees.com, and www.backalleypress.com, simply require a payment for receipt of a false diploma or degree. Other websites are for “schools” that offer programs of dubious legitimacy. For example, the State University of Sheffield, which sounds legitimate, offers high school diplomas, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees; all online, and all in just seven days!? Doesn’t that sound too good to be true? That’s because it is.
Life Experience Degrees
Many online institutions offer life experience degrees; no education is necessary. Just upload your resume, and you will receive a degree based on your industry experience! While there are legitimate online universities and high schools, websites/schools that require you to take an evaluation and then issue a diploma are indeed fraudulent. There are no legitimate online programs for earning a GED.
Justifacts has verified over 240,000 education verifications
With over 30 years of industry experience, Justifacts verification specialists have the necessary experience to recognize these falsified diplomas/degrees.
Some tell-tale signs that a candidate has obtained his/her degree from a diploma mill include:
- The degree is based solely on experience or resume review.
- The degree is available for purchase.
- The program does not provide any specific address or location information and only relies on a post office box.
- The tuition costs are much higher or lower than the average charges from a legitimate institution.
- The institution’s/agency’s website includes numerous typographical and grammatical errors.
- The program does not list the names of faculty members or their qualifications.
Many education departments also create pages on their websites that inform visitors of the dangers of diploma mills and online programs. Our favorites are Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, High Education-Maine Department of Education, Pennsylvania Department of Higher Education, and Oregon Student Assistance Office of Degree Authorization. I also recently discovered the State of Wisconsin Educational Improvement Board (here). This website includes lists of questions to help consumers determine whether a school is a diploma/degree mill or whether it is endorsed by an accreditation mill (a term I only recently encountered). As the site states, “identifying degree, diploma and accreditation mills is not easy. A number of the features of degree and diploma mills are similar to familiar higher education institutions. A number of the features of accreditation mills are similar to well-known accrediting organizations.”
Some other useful websites are those operated by the United States Department of Education and by recognized accrediting agencies. Some of our favorites are the United States Office of Post Secondary Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The Department of Education’s website has a list of recognized accreditation agencies and information about how to contact them. Each school, even if unaccredited, has an accreditation page on its website. For more information regarding accreditation in the United States, please visit www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred.
Confirming a candidate’s educational history is an important part of making an informed hiring decision. Justifacts goes beyond simply verifying your candidate’s stated degree, thereby providing you with a complete picture of your prospective new hire and giving you the tools that you need in order to make the most well-informed hiring decision for your organization. For more information on our education verification services, please visit our Education Verification page.
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