Definition of a diploma mill

“Diploma Mill” refers to a business posing as an educational institution, which sells bogus qualifications without any requirements for (serious) study, research or examination. Diploma mills operate online without any recognition by national competent authorities or lawful accreditation, even though they may possess a license to operate as a business. They remain a serious concern to credential evaluators and recruiters.

Definition of an accreditation mill

“Accreditation mill” refers to a non-recognised, usually non-existent accreditation organization that claims to provide accreditation without having any authorisation to do so. In many cases accreditation mills are closely associated with diploma mills.

Diploma mill characteristics

Some of the most common characteristics of diploma mills are:

  • credits and qualifications are offered based solely on life experience;
  • there is a strong emphasis on fees and payment options. You may, for instance, find credit card logos on the website;
  • courses may be very short in duration, in some cases, it may be possible to obtain a bachelor degree in 5 days;
  • a long list of „national”, „international” or „worldwide” accreditation agencies and affiliated bodies is mentioned on the website, most of which are not legitimate either;
  • no visiting address is provided, only an office suite, or a P.O. Box number. Contact details may differ from the claimed location of the institution;
  • qualifications offered have unlikely titles;
  • the name of the diploma mill is similar to well known reputable universities;
  • little or no interaction with professors is required.

Diploma mills often claim to be accredited by bogus accreditation agencies and in many cases the diploma and accreditation mills are owned by the same people. It is important to be aware of the accreditation procedures and quality assurance measurements. For more information on accreditation and accreditation mills, please refer to “Accreditation and Quality Assurance (status of the institution)” on page 21.