Online Degree Tip of the Day: Avoid Online College Scams


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

There are many reasons to consider earning a university degree online. Our tip of the day is to make sure to avoid online college scams.



Are you thinking of earning a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree (PhD) online? Perhaps you are looking for a certificate course of some sort. Whether you are trying to earn a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree (PhD) or perhaps an online certificate, you will want to be sure of the reputation that your online institution has.

Our tip of the day? 
Steer clear of online college scams!

Be incredibly wary of “diploma mills”! These are online institutions that appear to be legitimate but, in fact, award illegitimate degrees to college students on the internet. 

What steps can you take as a prospective online college student to make sure that an online bachelor’s degree, online master’s degree, online doctoral degree (online PhD), or online certificate program is legitimate? 

First, make sure that the online degree program is accredited by an organization formally recognized by either one of the two organizations:
  1. the U.S. Department of Education
  2. the Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Where can you find this information? This information is normally listed on an online school or online program’s website. It affects how an online degree—whether it is an online bachelor’s degree, online master’s degree, online doctoral degree (online PhD), or online certificate—is perceived by potential employers as well as other colleges.

Second, make sure to look out for any red flags on the online program’s website. Anything that seems way too good to be true—earning a full online bachelor’s degree, online master’s degree, or online doctoral degree (PhD) in an incredibly short time period, for instance, or at an extremely low cost—is a definite warning sign. 

The opposite, however, is also true. If an online program seems abnormally expensive, conduct further research.

Let’s quickly review these red flags again.
  • There is no proof of accreditation from either the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation
  • The online program promises full online degrees in too short of a time period
  • The online college charges too little
  • The online college charges way too much
What are other red flags?
  • The online program does not list a campus or business address online
  • The online college or online program’s website contains several grammatical or spelling errors
  • The online college or online program lacks a “.edu” URL
  • The online school fails to post information about student support services

What exactly is online college accreditation? 

Online college accreditation is a process that an outside authority conducts to ensure a school or degree program—either on-campus, online, or a combination of both—meets certain standards of quality and rigor.

Accreditation is a voluntary process that comes with several benefits and validates a program to potential employers and other institutions. 

When choosing your online degree program, make sure that it has accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the nonprofit Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Why? These two organizations monitor programs and schools continuously to renew their accreditation every few years.

Remember, you should always confirm that an online degree program is accredited at the institutional level, which applies to the entire online university, and the programmatic or specialized level for your specific degrees, departments, or schools. Please note that not every program will have specialized accreditation. 

In order to avoid scams, you can verify the online school or online program’s accreditation. Accreditation is complex which means that asking some kind of college adviser might be a good move.





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