Article - Accreditation and Quality Assurance Diploma Mills and Fraud: SoSoomoStrava.info

The 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 employers.


For recognized U.S. institutions of higher education and postsecondary career and technical schools, go to .


The 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.





 is the U.S. Department of Education’s overview and guide to how to recognize fraudulent institutions and accrediting bodies.


 is the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s guide to avoiding fake offers of student financial assistance.


 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 government.





NOTE: 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 providers.


 provides links to information on Hawaii’s actions to combat diploma mills, including lists of providers that have recently been prosecuted.


 provides information on Maine laws and procedures and a list of unaccredited institutions known to operate in Maine.


 is the official Michigan list of illegal providers and accreditors known to operate in that state.


 provides links to information resources on state-approved institutions, fraud complaints, and related matters.


 provides information and links to New Jersey regulations prohibiting the use of qualifications earned from institutions not accredited by a recognized accrediting agency.


 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.


 provides information and a list of accrediting agencies known to be unrecognized and/or fraudulent.


 provides a directory of unrecognized and fraudulent institutions know to operate in Texas.


 provides information on how institutions and programs are approved, how to avoid diploma mills, and links to state directories and authorities.


 provides extensive information on recognized institutions, fraudulent academic credentials,  diploma mills, and the legal process for approving a postsecondary education provider.





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.



In addition, several countries have published official warnings and/or lists of unrecognized providers operating in their territory.  These include:






 provides information and resources on diploma (degree) mills from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).


 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, 2006.


 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 education.


 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 physics.




See also:       


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