Diploma mills prey on students looking to achieve a better future. Learn how to avoid these and other education scams.

What Is a Diploma Mill?

A diploma mill is a company that claims to be a high school, technical school, college, university, or other educational institution and grants illegitimate diplomas and degrees for a fee. They promise short programs with little coursework. 

As they are not legitimate schools, the credential, diploma or degree earned at a diploma mill is worthless. There is also a risk that the organization may close before you even get the chance to finish the program. 

Considerations Before Pursuing Non-Traditional Education Programs

Before pursuing an education program, make sure it is legitimate and that you understand the details of the program you are pursuing. 

Here are some warning signs: 

  • Pushy advertising and aggressive recruiting. 
  • Low retention and graduation rates. 
  • Promises of limited coursework and little to no interaction. Legitimate institutions require studying, exams and interaction with classmates and instructors.
  • Flat-fee pricing for an entire degree. Legitimate institutions charge by credit, course or semester. 
  • Unrealistically short timeline to earn a degree. Legitimate institutions may offer accelerated degree programs – even online — however, they still take time.