Diploma mills (or online degree mills) often claim accreditation by a fake accrediting agency to attract more students to their online degree programs and online courses and make them seem more legitimate.
Watch out for the following features, as they should be viewed as red flags when considering whether or not to enroll in an educational institution:
- Online degrees that can be earned in less time than at average accredited colleges and universities. (Getting a Bachelor’s degree in a few months surely sounds good. But if it sounds too good to be truth, you know it IS.)
- A list of accrediting agencies that sounds a little too impressive. These distant learning institutions are trying too hard to look officially recognized and approved, so they imply this approval by mentioning state registration or licensing. Licensure and accreditation is not the same thing!
- Tuition and fees are paid on a per-degree basis, while accredited schools charge by credit hours, course, or semester. Watch out for discounts for enrolling in multiple online degree programs.
- Little or no interaction with professors should trigger your attention at once.
- Names that are similar to well known reputable and prestigious universities. Or addresses that are box numbers or suites. That campus may very well be someone’s mail drop box.
- Diploma mills require little, if any, academic work in order to earn a degree. One or two research papers can’t possibly make you earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
- An ".edu" extension means nothing regarding a school's quality or legitimacy. Some fake online degree sites are able to obtain “.edu” extensions.
- Getting an academic degree requires no visits to the school or other face-to-face meetings with its personnel.