Have you received an interesting ad or offer for a quick and easy mail-order, online or other degree program? Are you looking into graduate programs at universities that offer a large amount of college credit for life-experience (experiential learning)? Watch out!
Though many distance education programs are quite legitimate, there are others whose programs are questionable if not completely bogus. Since degrees issued by bogus institutions, or "diploma mills," have no value in the workplace or in academia, it's important that you do some research ahead of time and discover which type of entity you're dealing with.
How can you tell which virtual education providers are legitimate and which aren't? That can be a challenge. To gain a better understanding of what constitutes a "diploma mill," I suggest you read:
- Diploma Mills and Accreditation (an article by the U.S. Department of Education)
- Avoid Fake-Degree Burns by Researching Academic Credentials (an article by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission)
- Diploma Mills: Degrees of Deception (a consumer alert posted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission)
If, after researching the school you are interested in, you still have questions or doubts about the legitimacy of that school or program and the school operates in the United States, contact the higher education coordinating board/agency for the state in which the school is operating; the Better Business Bureau for that state, or the state's attorney general.