Online Extra: Spotting diploma mills

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation in Washington has issued a fact sheet of warning signs that an organization might be a diploma mill.

The fact sheet says that if yes is the answer to most of the following questions, it's 'highly suggestive' the organization is a diploma mill.

  • Can degrees be purchased?

  • Does the organization claim accreditation when there is no evidence of this status?

  • Does it claim 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?

  • Are few assignments required?

  • Is a very short period of time required to earn a degree?

  • Are degrees available based solely on experience or resume review?

  • Does the operation charge very high fees, compared with other education institutions?

  • Alternatively, is the fee so low that it does not appear to be related to the cost of providing legitimate education?

  • Does the operation fail to provide information about a campus or business location or address and relies, for example, on a post office box?

  • Does it fail to provide a list of its faculty and their qualifications?

  • Does it have a name similar to well-known colleges and universities?

  • Does it make claims in its publications for which there is no evidence?

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