Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
Unregulated institutions granting degrees with few or no academic requirements are referred to as diploma mills or diploma farms, with some offering online diplomas. Diploma mills are more interested in taking money than providing quality education, often requiring little, if any, academic work to earn a degree. Degrees from diploma mills are often awarded on experience or a level of academic work that is far below what an accredited secondary or postsecondary institution requires. Therefore, a degree obtained through a diploma mill may have little to no value in the workforce, military, university setting, or when applying for the DREAM Act.
Diploma mills may claim to be accredited by a fake accreditation agency to attract students and appear legitimate. The fake accreditation agency may offer its accreditation for a fee, without an in-depth review of the school’s programs.
When looking for schools that offer online degrees, BBB encourages consumers to watch for the following red flags to help identify potential diploma mills:
•Cost of attendance is per degree rather than per credit hour.
•The school guarantees a diploma within a few days, weeks, or months.
•The school offers “deals” for students who sign up to receive more than one degree at a time, such as one low price for a high school diploma, Bachelor’s, and/or Master’s degree.
•Addresses for administration buildings are post office boxes, suite numbers, or not listed.
In addition, BBB encourages consumers to check the licensing and accreditation requirements for online schools by contacting the Arizona Board of Education at 602.542.5393, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education at 602.542.5709, or visiting the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited post-secondary schools at http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation.