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How to Buy a Degree

Updated on March 3, 2011

Diploma - Buy a Degree

Or - How To Recognize and Avoid Diploma Mills!

Ok, let's get serious here - how many people clicked on this link hoping to find a simple path to buy a degree or diploma to help them get the upper hand on other candidates in this tough job market?  I won’t speculate, but I can help – and hopefully prevent you from going down this path.   So let’s do the reverse of what you expected and arrive at the same place, shall we?  After all, explaining the steps to avoid diploma mills will surely help you find them as well. 

It's up to you to make the right decision.

Shall we get started?

Diploma and degree mills prey on the desperate as much as the cheater.   In a down economy, prospective employers look for degreed candidates, regardless of applicability to the position.  In the rush to stand out, you might consider buying a degree to get a leg up on your competition.  This is a big mistake, and in some states, it might even constitute a crime. There’s nothing quite like losing your money and possibly your freedom as well.  Beware.

Let’s take a look at some of the major signs that you’re dealing with one of these unsavory beasts:

1.    Crap curriculum.  Everyone has heard of the infamous “basket weaving” degree (or has that been renamed “sports science”, hmmmm…).  Well let’s take that a step further and offer a degree in poker (believe it), or perhaps metaphysical science?  Maybe ghost hunting is more to your liking?   I am not kidding – junk like this is really out there.   No matter that the degree is probably not even real; you’re getting nothing that’s remotely marketable in the first place.

2.    The name fake out.  How about a degree from the prestigious Northeastern Michigan University?   Or, maybe Arizona Southern College?  They sound good (neither of those two is real by the way) because they are maddeningly similar to real university names.  Naming schemes such as these do have a legitimate marketing purpose, and not all of them are diploma mills, but names such as these should send up a warning flag.  Keep in mind, the use of the words “university” and “college”, in reference to education isn’t regulated in the United States.

3.    What? No building?  Does this one really need any explanation?  A website and a P.O. box do not a college make.

4.    Wow!  I can get a get a degree for just being me!  Swell.  Welcome to the so-called “life experience degree”.  It works this way; you buy a degree by paying a big fee and the “school” sends you a “diploma” that’s in line with your work and life experience.  Isn’t that great!  No work and all the spoils of success.  Heck, you probably deserved the degree anyway, since you have led such an exemplary life.  Please.  Get a grip and save your money – you’ll feel much better about yourself the next morning.

In my humble opinion, 100% of all life experience degrees are diploma mill scams.  The good thing (for you), is that they are easy to recognize as they are heavily marketed – often featured front and center on the web page.  I would avoid any site that claims to offer this type of diploma, even if the other offerings seem legitimate.

5.    Accreditation.  Big word, big problems.  Legitimate schools, online or otherwise have what is called accreditation.  There are different types of accreditation, some relating to the institute itself, other relating to a specific program or profession.   In order for the degree to be worth its salt, the course of study should be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.  Should be pretty easy to research, right?  Not so fast.  The stealthy diploma mills figured out you were on to them, so now you have to contend with (drumroll….) “accreditation mills” as well.  In similar fashion to their low life counterparts, accreditation mills provide the fake accreditation credentials necessary to get you to buy a degree, thinking it’s legitimate.  Accreditation mills pull the same nonsense as the diploma mills – especially in the area of naming.  The existence of these outfits makes your job a little more difficult, but not insurmountable.

Research is critical; you can never do enough of it!

6.    A degree is offered which can be obtained via Fed Ex overnight delivery with the issue date of your choosing.  Of course if your goal was to buy a degree, this is the Promised Land.

7.    Hey Teach, I got a question!  The question is, is there anyone there to actually answer, and if so, is that person even qualified to answer.  Some diploma mills maintain a thin veneer of legitimacy by employing “professors” who may answer e-mails or provide some sort of assistance with the “curriculum”.    These professors may hold degrees from other diploma mills, or degrees that are unrelated to the subject.  Nice.

8.    Hey I got an “F”.  You may have gotten a “F”, but you’re still getting your diploma.  There may be some ‘work’, but it won’t matter, since your degree is based on your ability to pay.  Oh, and your “professor” will write a letter of recommendation to boot.  What a deal.

9.    Short timer degrees.  While not as egregious as #6, nobody earns a bachelors degree in six months.  Use your common sense.

10.  Buy Now – BOGO special!  Most everyone (at least heavy viewers of college sports) has seen what a legitimate university advertising campaign looks like.  These campaigns tend to translate into online banners and other ads as well.  Have you ever seen a legitimate college advertise ‘special prices’ if you enroll before a deadline?  Or, how about buy an education degree, get a business degree absolutely free (just pay separate shipping and handling….)!  No legitimate university does this crap.  Some go so far as to advertise phony “scholarships” and “grants” to entice the mark into thinking they’re getting a super special deal.

11.  .com school?  Legitimate colleges and universities use the .edu domain suffix.  The .edu domain is fairly tightly controlled, but some diploma mills have fallen through the cracks, so there is still cause to research.  Be especially wary of any outfit using the .ac top level domain name – it doesn’t stand for “academic”.

Sadly, the above list is not all inclusive, and there are many more subtle clues (particularly in the area of foreign jurisdiction) that should factor into your research.   Needless to say, most of these outfits are lumped into the category of “online education”.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many reputable online colleges and universities, but the internet is a hotbed for diploma mill activity because of its far reach, and number of potential “students”. 

Legitimate online schools will have active online classes with a live professor, taking questions, assigning work and administering tests.   Classes will last weeks, not days, and you will earn traditional credit hours toward your degree, which may take a few years to complete (although some online education programs from popular universities offer more hours for non-traditional students which allow you to complete the degree program in a shorter timeframe).  In short the difference will be obvious!

By using common sense and research, you’ll be able to weed out the diploma mills in no time, and have a lot of fun doing it.  The outrageous nonsense promoted on these sites is always good for a chuckle or two.

However, if your goal is still to buy a degree, you now have all the information you need to seek out the appropriate institutions that will be glad to exchange your paper (money) for their paper (fake degree).  Just know ahead of time that you were ripped off, and passing off your store bought diploma could cause you a lot more problems than it solves.



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    • profile image

      ace 5 years ago

      Life is unfair...

    • marilnelanoon233 profile image

      marilnelanoon233 6 years ago

      Wow this was a great way to catch people off guard! Prospective students definitely have to be vigilant when it comes to any school.

    • ecamper23 profile image

      ecamper23 6 years ago

      Thanks for the informative article. It's important for people to spot the real schools from those just looking out get a buck.