A diploma mill, also known as a degree mill, is a phony university that sells college diplomas and transcripts—the actual pieces of paper—rather than the educational experience. Diploma mills are scam colleges that literally crank out fake diplomas to anyone who pays the requested "tuition."
Diploma mills often promise a fast college degree based on "life experience."
The majority of Internet degree mills are "accredited." The problem is that they are accredited by bogus agencies that they themselves have created.
These bogus accrediting agencies—also known as accreditation mills—typically have prestigious sounding names. They often claim to be “worldwide” or “international” agencies and therefore superior to any single agency operating in the United States. Check the Diploma Mill Police's list of suspicious schools for scam reports and details on the real accreditation status of any online college.
Previous academic record, grade point average and test scores are deemed irrelevant. Telemarketers and spam emails promise "you cannot be turned down" for a degree.
Most degree mills offer what are known as experience degrees. Credit for career experience is a valid option at many universities that deal with adult learners. But the process of evaluating work experience for college credit is complex. No valid distance learning university in the U.S. will award a graduate degree (master's or doctorate) based solely on a review of work, life or career experience.
Degree mills are in the business of selling paper—fake diplomas and transcripts. Ergo, they’ll get that piece of paper to you as quickly as possible.
Universities do not commonly charge flat fees. They typically charge per credit or per course tuition and fees.
For trustworthy factual accreditation reports, visit Get Educated’s Diploma Mill Police.
This is a lie.
Alternatively, there has been a rise in the number of scams where the “university” claims to be located in the U.S., yet specializes in “evaluating” and “awarding” degrees based on an “international assessment process” specially designed to help immigrants wishing to enter the U.S.
Once you have researched an online college for degree mills and evaluated its accreditation report with help from the Get Educated Diploma Mill Police database, you can make an informed decision.
For more information on how to make sure your college is legitimate, view the Get Educated video "How To Spot Fake Online College Scams."
Vicky Phillips was cited in 2009 by US News & World Report as "for 20 years the leading consumer advocate for online college students." In 1989 she designed America's first online counseling center for distance learners on AOL. In 1998 she authored the first print guide to online graduate degrees, Best Distance Learning Graduate Schools put out by the Princeton Review. In 2001 she authored Never Too Late to Learn the Adult Student's Guide to College.