Educational Consumer Tips

Diploma Mills

Author: Better Business Bureau

The convenience of earning an online degree has become increasingly popular, but diploma mills advertise degrees under false pretenses and can potentially swindle consumers into counterfeit credentials. According to the FTC, diploma mills market degrees and certifications on the basis of “life experience” (  In most cases, the seller does not require the “student” to earn credits through performed coursework.

While researching programs, the BBB suggests that prospective students be aware of the following red flags:

• Very little or no coursework required to receive a degree
• Institutions offering degrees out of sequence. Degrees earned should follow a traditional progression (i.e. Master’s degrees cannot be earned without earning a Bachelor’s degree first).
• PO Box addresses for administration and registrar buildings
• Flat fees or prices advertised on a per degree basis. Accredited institutions tend to charge per credit earned.

Not all online degree programs are degree mills. The BBB encourages you to fully research institutions that interest you to avoid bogus merits. The U.S. Department of Education has a searchable database of accredited post-secondary schools. Prior to choosing an online degree program, ensure the college or university is accredited from one of the six regional accreditation boards at: Consumers researching schools based or operating in California can view a directory of schools approved by the Bureau of Private Post Secondary Education at: