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Home > Diploma "Mills" and Accreditation "Mills"
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Scam artists are an unfortunate fact of life. Those who will directly exchange dollars for worthless diplomas take advantage of students who want a quality education, but sometimes have trouble separating the phonies and fakes from the truly valuable institutions operating with integrity. We will ignore, for now, the non-student who simply wants a false "union card" to open doors without the learning and the hard work that goes into a legitimate, earned degree.
In the quest for higher education and training, prospective students in the United States sometimes encounter "degree mills"-- dubious operations that offer certification and/or degrees that are considered bogus. They may also encounter "accreditation mills"-- dubious organizations that provide accreditation, quality assurance or institutional certifications that are considered bogus.
Degree mills and accreditation mills mislead and harm. In the presence of degree mills and accreditation mills, students may spend a good deal of money and effort and receive neither an education, nor a useable credential.
In the U.S., accredited educational institutions may not acknowledge degrees and certificates from non-accredited institutions. That means some students may find themselves unable to transfer or go to graduate school.
Employers may not acknowledge degrees and certificates from degree mills when considering job candidates. And in addition, many organizations will not offer tuition assistance or reimbursement to employees who have taken continuing education courses offered by mills.
"Accreditation" from an provided by an accreditation mill can mislead students and the public about the quality of an institution.
“Mills” are an international problem. U.S. degree mills and accreditation mills that have become items for export cast doubt on the reliability of legitimate degrees and accreditation. Students from outside the U.S. can be vulnerable because they have limited information and experience by which to judge whether or not a U.S. operation is a "mill."
Governments outside the U.S. seeking to learn about accredited status of U.S. operations can be vulnerable as well. Unsuspecting students and governments of other countries may know only that the provider is "American" and not be aware that is a mill.
There is no single definition of "mill” in higher education. While a few states have laws or regulations regarding these operations, most do not. Some agencies of the federal government may scrutinize degree mills or accreditation mills, but this has been quite limited to date.
In general, diploma mills would not pass the initial screening of accrediting organizations (review for eligibility, candidacy, or initial accreditation) and thus fall outside the purview of these bodies. Similarly, accreditation mills would struggle with the pre-screening for recognition and thus escape this scrutiny as well. *
* In the United States, an accrediting organization may seek a review for quality (or "recognition" review) from the federal government through the U.S. Department of Education or privately, through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. "Recognized" accreditors are those organizations that have successfully undergone an external review for their quality based on the standards of these entities.
Next: Identifying a "mill"
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