existence of unaccredited, substandard, and fraudulent postsecondary education
providers is a global phenomenon, as is the existence of unrecognized and/or
fraudulent accreditors. It is
imperative that students interested in quality postsecondary education focus on
institutions that are accredited by recognized national competent authorities,
such as recognized accrediting agencies.
Unaccredited institutions and institutions claimed recognition by bogus
accrediting agencies should be avoided.
The credits and degrees awarded by unaccredited and bogus providers are
unlikely to be recognized by legitimately accredited institutions, official
professional licensing authorities, recognition authorities or reputable
recognized U.S. institutions of higher education and postsecondary career and
technical schools, go to Institutions and Programs.
following resources can help you to avoid substandard and unaccredited
institutions, unrecognized accrediting bodies, and academic frauds that have
been or are being investigated and prosecuted.
FEDERAL INFORMATION RESOURCES
Diploma Mills and Accreditation is the U.S. Department
of Education’s overview and guide to how to recognize fraudulent institutions
and accrediting bodies.
Scholarship Scams is the U.S. Federal Trade
Commission’s guide to avoiding fake offers of student financial
GAO Reports on Diploma Mills provides links to reports
on diploma mills issued by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO), the
investigation and auditing agency of the U.S. Congress that has examined how the
diploma mill problem affects both U.S. citizens and the federal
STATE INFORMATION RESOURCES
Because state governments actually oversee the organization and structure of
U.S. higher education, the state agencies that publish information about diploma
mills and accreditation mills are very important. Several states agencies now have the
legal power to publish “negative lists” of unapproved, unaccredited, or illegal
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Guide to Unaccredited
Degree-Granting Institutions provides links to information on
Hawaii’s actions to combat diploma mills, including lists of providers that have
recently been prosecuted.
Maine Department of Education Degree Mills and Accreditation Mills
Page provides information on Maine laws and procedures and a list of
unaccredited institutions known to operate in Maine.
Michigan List of Unaccredited Institutions and Unrecognized
Accrediting Bodies is the official Michigan list of illegal providers
and accreditors known to operate in that state.
Minnesota Office of Higher Education Tips for Validating a
School’s Claims provides links to information resources on
state-approved institutions, fraud complaints, and related
New Jersey Statutes & Regulations Regarding Academic
Degrees provides information and links to New Jersey regulations
prohibiting the use of qualifications earned from institutions not accredited by
a recognized accrediting agency.
Oregon Office of Degree Authorization (ODA) provides
extensive and authoritative information on diploma ills and other unaccredited
institutions, state policies on regulating unaccredited institutions, as well as
links to other authorities and an extensive list of diploma mills and other
unaccredited and unrecognized providers. The Oregon ODA is considered
authoritative by many other states and is frequently referred to by
international authorities as well.
ODA Accreditation Page provides information and a list
of accrediting agencies known to be unrecognized and/or
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board List of Illegal
Institutions and Degrees provides a directory of unrecognized and
fraudulent institutions know to operate in Texas.
Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board Degree
Authorization Page provides information on how institutions and
programs are approved, how to avoid diploma mills, and links to state
directories and authorities.
Wisconsin Education Approval Board Resources Page
provides extensive information on recognized institutions, fraudulent academic
credentials, diploma mills, and the
legal process for approving a postsecondary education
INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION RESOURCES
Both UNESCO and the Council of Europe (COE) have suffered due to diploma
mill and accreditation mill websites claiming that these international
organizations recognize institutions or accrediting bodies. International organizations have no
authority to do this, and mere affiliation with such an organization does not in
any way confer educational status or recognition. Neither UNESCO nor the Council of Europe
accredit or recognize institutions of higher education, nor do they recognize or
approve accrediting agencies.
Council of Europe (COE) Disclaimer
addition, several countries have published official warnings and/or lists of
unrecognized providers operating in their territory. These include:
Australian Government Fake Degrees and Unaccredited Providers
University Grants Commission (UGC) Fake University
Netherlands Center for Information on Diploma Mills
Avoiding Bogus Degrees (UK)
OTHER INFORMATION RESOURCES
Degree Mills Page provides information and resources on diploma
(degree) mills from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation
Mills Presentation is a useful guide to resources as well as what to
look for in diploma mill websites and advertising, by Ann M. Koenig and various
U.S. experts on academic fraud.
Presented at the EAIE annual conference in Basel, Switzerland,
Dr. John Bear’s Guide on Degree.Net is a detailed
introduction to distance learning and the problem of distance learning fraud by
one of the leading private authorities on academic fraud and distance
Buying a PhD from a University that Doesn’t Exist is a
detailed analysis of the fakery involved in sample online diploma mill claims by
Dr. George Gollin, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor of
Federal Recognition and
State Approval and Licensure
Other Quality Assurance