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Diploma Mills in the United States: Top 10 States

Top States for Diploma Mills and Fake Degrees in the US


Here’s a list most states in the USA hope they’d never make: the top 10 states in the United States where lax laws have encouraged scam artists to operate degree mills or diploma mills.

Degree mill” is a term used to describe phony colleges that crank out fake degrees and transcripts at a dizzying pace.

Sadly, the United States may lead the world in diploma mills, degree mills and fake online colleges, according to a report by Verifile Limited, a United Kingdom firm.


Here is a list of the top 10 locations by state for diploma mills in the United States. According to Verifile, these states may be home to the highest number of fake universities—unaccredited institutions of higher education—and unrecognized accrediting agencies: 
  1. California (134)
  2. Hawaii (94)
  3. Washington (87)
  4. Florida (57)
  5. Texas (53)
  6. New York (44)
  7. Louisiana (39)
  8. (tie) Illinois (29)
  9. (tie) Nevada (29)
  10. Arizona (28)
California ranks #1 among degree mill states because the state has long allowed unaccredited colleges to legally operate and award degrees.
Historically there has been much confusion in California between a “state approved” school and an “accredited” school.

Many degree mills located their headquarters in California after obtaining state “approval” to operate as a business under California law. Consumers are easily confused by the term “approved,” which is not the same as “accredited.”

Overall, diploma mills, fake colleges and other bogus institutions claiming to operate in the United States totaled 810, per Verifile in a 2010 report.
Outside of the United States, the United Kingdom had the second highest number of online degree diploma mills. At least 271 institutions offer fake diplomas in the U.K., Verifile reports—significantly more than the UK’s 158 legitimate universities and colleges.
For reports and reviews on suspicious colleges in the USA, consult the Diploma Mill Police’s list of probable diploma mills—schools and colleges that operate with suspicious accreditation.
Consumers who encounter problems with suspected degree mills are encouraged to report school scams to the Diploma Mill Police. Bloggers and educators can join the fight against degree mills by becoming a Diploma Mill Deputy affiliate and linking their blog or social media pages to the free consumer protection service. 

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