Delving into Diploma Mills – Infographic

Here’s a great infographic we made about diploma mills and fake online degrees. There are many universities offering legitimate distance learning degrees, but diploma mills are still a big problem. There are certain things you can look for to help identify and avoid them. This infographic includes a brief history of degree mills, characteristics of diploma mills, and some interesting higher education statistics.


Delving into Diploma Mills


Delving into Diploma Mills

According to the U.S. Department of Education, diploma mills (a.k.a. “degree mills”) are defined as “schools that are more interested in taking your money than providing you with a quality education.”

The rise of diploma mills are at an all-time high, given the recent upsurge of university courses made available online. Disguised as credible institutions that promise minimal work and maximum efficiency, diploma mill schemes are responsible for innumerable, worldwide financial losses. In order to understand the strategies utilized by these fraudulent rings, we present an overview of diploma mill data and figures, beginning with its origins.

A Brief History

The emergence of diploma mills stem as far back as the 19th century!

In Philadelphia, 1880, famed con artist Dr. John Buchanan commits suicide to avoid imprisonment for illegal manufacturing of fake medical diplomas.

In 1900, Chicago officials at the Metropolitan Medical College are arrested for mail fraud. The institution sold bogus medical/law licensing degrees, priced between $200-$300!

In Florida, circa 1971, two colleges were exploited for selling doctorate degrees in various fields of medicine, biology and nuclear engineering.

In Brooklyn, 1998, a high school principal created a virtual diploma mill that offered fake grades, no-work classes and modified Regents exam results!

In 2003, North Carolina, diploma-mill ‘doctor’ Laurence Perry is found guilty of killing an eight-year-old diabetic child, after administering a lethal dose of insulin.

In order to combat the onset of online diploma mill schemes, the U.S. Department of Education launched an online database in 2005 to include the names, addresses and enrollment of all schools with recognized accreditation.

Warning Signs of Diploma Mill Schemes

1.) Lacks Accreditation

Diploma mills often insert ‘official’ jargon to convey a credible image. Steer clear of words like, “authenticated,” “verifiable,” “licensed” or “internationally-approved,” as these are roundabout monikers used to establish instant credibility.

Furthermore, diploma mills are NOT recognized by legitimate institutional accreditors, but some go as far as creating their own fake accrediting agencies in order to appear more legitimate! If you are unsure of the authentication of a particular institution, check with the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), or the U.S. Department of Education.

2.) Admission by Credit Card

Most diploma mill schemes do NOT take into account previous academic records, grade point averages or test scores. Instead, they offer hassle-free gimmicks that guarantee a degree, regardless of previous academic standings.

Furthermore, diploma mills will often base their admissions criteria solely on possession of a valid credit card. NEVER provide personal financial information to any ‘institution’ that requires bank details to ensure placement.

3.) Little Coursework/Interaction

Generally, diploma mills are noted for their lack of curriculum and instructor-student interaction. If you are met with an insubstantial student course load, and/or are unable to make contact with provided faculty members or staff, you have likely fallen prey to one of the many strategies employed by conning diploma mills.

4.) Super Accelerated Degrees

A strong indicator of diploma mill schemes are “instant degree” guarantees. Diploma mills often dangle the prospect of quickly-earned degrees that are awarded within 30 days of application,

regardless of entry status. There is no such thing as a valid degree that is offered within the scope of one month, no matter how “accelerated” a program aims to be.

5.) Pushy Sales Tactics

Diploma mills often employ aggressive sales tactics, and advertise through various outlets, such as spam, pop-ups and cold-calling. A legitimate institution attracts the interest of prospective students based on their curriculum and credentials, not cold-calling methods.

The aforementioned data are extractions from the infographic, which aims to expose the fraudulent techniques employed by diploma mills. We understand the long term importance of obtaining higher education, so long as it is achieved through an accredited organization! For further educational advice and information, visit to find the appropriate (and accredited) university that satisfies your scholastic needs!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *