When searching for an online university, college or program to help you earn your degree on your own time, make sure it’s real first. Better Business Bureau reminds those searching for the right education program that a fast online degree isn’t always the best. Advertisements for online college degrees often reel viewers with alluring headlines such as, “Your diploma is just a click away!” or, “Earn the degree you’ve always wanted, fast!” or, “Attend classes on your own time!” These programs that sound too good to be true are, in fact, usually too good to be true.

These online “schools” are sometimes called diploma mills – businesses that will give you a paper stating you earned a degree instead of an actual education. Fast, easy, and 100% fake.

Although you’ll have that diploma, there’s a good chance it’s useless. For example, if the program isn’t an accredited online school, it won’t be seen as a real degree. The “tuition” required to earn that diploma would be money down the drain. In many cases, using those diplomas as a valid form of a degree can be found illegal. Students should determine whether or not their online school is accredited before they enroll by verifying with a legitimate, qualified, outside source that the school meets the required standards.

BBB offers tips on how to differentiate between an accredited online school and a diploma mill:

  • Make sure it’s accredited. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education recognizes accrediting agencies which accredit postsecondary institutions and programs. Visit these websites and search for your school to find its Accreditation Information. If you can’t find your school on either of these websites, it may not be an accredited school. Anyone creating a fake business can also create a fake accreditation, which often happens with scams.
  • Don’t be fooled by your temptation. Diploma mills will state that you can fill out a form, upload your resume, and enter your credit card information to receive your diploma. Although those seemingly “quick and easy” programs are the ones you’ll want to gravitate towards, those catchy slogans should serve as a red flag.
  • Beware of a program that requires a lot of money upfront. Most colleges will bill you based on the number of credits or courses you take each semester. A diploma mill will probably ask for a flat fee to sign up.
  • Look for evidence of student services. Colleges will always have student resources. These include a page for the library, a list of classes, a staff directory, advising, and more. You should be suspicious if there aren’t any resources for students to show substantial coursework and interaction with professors.

For more information 

Visit BBB school HQ for more school tips and resources. Report a scam to BBB.