Here's a great article that caught my attention. I hope all you fake diploma lovers like it. If you need a diploma company to do special work for you, please give us a call. Yes, we actually answer the phone.
Michael Chesbro asked:
The prevalence of fraudulent, substandard, and illegal diplomas and degrees is an ever-increasing problem in the United States.
United States Congress has found that the safety of the American public
is particularly endangered by the sale of fraudulent degrees, and that
the preeminence of the United States in science and engineering, as
well as the prestige and reputation of American universities, is
threatened by the trafficking of fraudulent degrees, diplomas, and
certifications. (109th Congress, 2006)
Religious and theological
degrees and other degrees from religiously affiliated institutions are
some of the most commonly issued fraudulent, substandard and illegal
credentials. The reason for the prevalence of fraudulent religious and
theological degrees is the fact that anyone can incorporate a “church”
by registering as a non-profit organization within a state. This
“church” can then claim that its bylaws grant it the authority to
issues certifications and degrees. Unfortunately many innocent people
seeking a religious education fall victim to these “churches” issuing
“degrees” that aren’t worth the paper the phony diploma is printed on.
organizations issuing fraudulent and substandard religious degrees
often claim that their action is protected by the First Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution and guarantees of religious freedom. Simply put
this is not the case. Religiously affiliated institutions are not
exempt from state oversight under the First Amendment, nor do they gain
the privilege of issuing fraudulent, substandard, and illegal degrees
under protection of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
example of this, the Texas Attorney General has issued an opinion
(JC-0200) that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not exempt
religiously-affiliated institutions from the requirements under the
Texas Education Code (Chapter 61, Subchapter G). The statute does not
regulate any religious practice. Institutions that have a religious
affiliation are free to exercise their religious beliefs. The law is
written to regulate very narrowly those activities that are academic
only, such as representations that the instruction is college level or
that the student can receive a degree, and not to impinge on any
religious practice or belief. In addition, institutions that do not
wish to meet the academic standards of a higher educational institution
are free to teach and prepare students for ministry positions as long
as they do not assert that the level of their education is collegiate,
either by offering degrees or calling the institution a college,
university, or seminary. (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board,
Unaccredited, religiously affiliated institutions are free
to teach their religious doctrine as they see fit, but they may not
legally represent themselves as colleges, universities, or seminaries;
nor may they issues degrees or titles associated with degrees.
RELIGIOUS VS. ACADEMIC DEGREES
commonly heard claim from institutions issuing fraudulent, substandard
or illegal religious degrees is that there is a difference between a
religious and an academic degree, and that the rules that govern
academic degrees simply don’t apply to the issuance of a religious or
We have already seen that in the opinion of
the Texas Attorney General religiously-affiliated institutions are NOT
exempt from meeting the requirements of the Texas Education Code, but
what about legitimate religious schools and theological seminaries, how
do they view their own degrees?
Of the 251 religiously based
colleges, universities and theological seminaries currently recognized
by the ‘Association of Theological Schools in the United States and
Canada’ and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
all maintain an academic curriculum and structure and (based on a study
of their web-sites and publications) consider their degrees to be an
The on-line encyclopedia ‘Wikipedia’ is a
continually reviewed updated and reference source which can be edited
by anyone. Wikipedia articles offer insight into the general public
perception of a topic. When we look at the Wikipedia entries for Doctor
of Theology and Doctor of Divinity we see that they are both defined as
• “Doctor of Theology (in Latin Theologiae
Doctor, abbreviated Th.D.) is a terminal academic degree in theology.”
• “Doctor of
Divinity (D.D., Divinitatis Doctor in Latin) is an advanced academic
degree in divinity.” – (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_of_Divinity)
every legitimate theological seminary and college or university
offering a theological program considers an academic curriculum and
structure essential to their degrees, and the public impression of
religiously based degrees is that they are in fact academic degrees.
should be extremely wary of any entity that issues degrees with no
academic curriculum or structure, claiming that its religious nature
somehow exempts it from any academic standard or requirements. Such an
entity is almost certainly issuing fraudulent and illegal degrees, or
at best is issuing a substandard degree that confers no qualification
or legitimate credential whatsoever, and may in fact be illegal to use
in many states.
One should be particularly
aware of degree scams that offer you credit for your life experience
and current spiritual work, giving you an immediate doctorate degree in
divinity, theology, or ministry all for a few hundred dollars and
perhaps requiring a short paper of no more than a couple thousand words.
warning sign that an institution is issuing fraudulent, substandard, or
illegal degrees is if they make it a point to explain why their degrees
are “bonafide legitimate doctorate degrees.” While a truly legitimate
college or university will normally identify its accreditation it is
highly unlikely that it will have to stress why its degrees are
“bonafide and legitimate”. Only an institution issuing fraudulent
degrees needs to attempt to convince you of their legitimacy.
is important to confirm the physical address of any school before you
enroll. A legitimate college, university, or seminary will have a
physical business address, even if it is set up to provide only on-line
study. Any institution using a mail drop address is almost certainly
issuing fraudulent and illegal degrees. You should be able to visit the
institution that will grant your degree. If the offices of the college,
university, or seminary are a back room or basement in somebody’s home,
the degree is almost guaranteed to be substandard, and is most likely
being illegally issued.
As we continued to look into the issue
of addresses, we discovered that it is a violation of Federal law to
use the Postal Service in conjunction with a business and request to be
addressed by, any fictitious, false, or assumed title.
for the purpose of conducting, promoting, or carrying on by means of
the Postal Service, any scheme or device… or any other unlawful
business, uses or assumes, or requests to be addressed by, any
fictitious, false, or assumed title, name, or address or name other
than his own proper name, or takes or receives from any post office or
authorized depository of mail matter, any letter, postal card, package,
or other mail matter addressed to any such fictitious, false, or
assumed title, name, or address, or name other than his own proper
name, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five
years, or both.” (18 U.S.C. 1342)
Beware of any institution that
offers a ‘one-time only tuition cost to you:’ ‘each doctorate degree is
only $$$, get a second degree at half-price, $$$’, or any similar
come-on where you simply purchase your degree for a flat fee.
to the Federal Trade Commission (2005) “Most diploma mills charge a
flat fee, require little course work, if any, and award a degree based
solely on work or life experience.”
The Texas Higher Education
Coordinating Board (2007) cautioned that one of the warning signs that
an institution may be offering fraudulent or substandard degree is
charging “tuition and fees by the degree and not by the course. Whether
charging $299 or $29,000, this is a sign of fraud. Legitimate colleges
charge tuition by the credit hour (semester, quarter, or trimester) or
by the course. Not all fraudulent or substandard institutions charge by
the degree; some charge by the credit hour in order to appear
legitimate. However, legitimate institutions do not charge by the
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
advises: when considering a degree provider, an answer of “yes” to one
or more of the following questions may be an indicator of a diploma
• Can degrees be purchased?
• Is there a claim of accreditation when there is no evidence of this status?
• Is there a claim of accreditation from a questionable accrediting organization?
• Does the operation lack state or federal licensure or authority to operate?
• Is little if any attendance required of students, either online or in class?
• Are few assignments required for students to earn credits?
• Is a very short period of time required to earn a degree?
• Are degrees available based solely on experiences or résumé review?
• Are there few requirements for graduation?
Does the operation fail to provide any information about a campus or
business location or physical address and rely only on a post office
• Does the operation fail to provide a list of its faculty and their qualifications?
• Does the operation have a name similar to other well-known colleges and universities?
• Does the operation make claims in its publications for which there is no evidence?
it is not possible to list every institution engaged in a degree scam
or issuing fraudulent, substandard, or illegal degrees; the state of
Michigan maintains a list of schools that have been found to be most
egregious in their issuance of fraudulent degrees.
The list can be found on-line at:
from any entity on this list will not be accepted by the Michigan
Department of Civil Service as satisfying any educational requirements
or job specifications. Even if you don’t live or work in Michigan, any
institution on the Michigan list is highly questionable, and would most
likely be found fraudulent, substandard, or illegal if investigated by
any other state.
The state of Maine maintains a similar list
state of Oregon is a leader in the fight against fraudulent,
substandard and illegally issued degrees. Oregon maintains a list of
entities issuing invalid degrees on-line at:
addition to checking the Michigan, Maine and Oregon lists of
unaccredited institutions, one should also check the Council for Higher
Education Accreditation (CHEA) – Database of Institutions and Programs
Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations,
on-line at: http://www.chea.org/search/default.asp and the U.S.
Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary
Institutions and Programs (USDE) on-line at:
The CHEA and USDE databases list institutions that are recognized as having met certain standards in their education programs.
being listed in the CHEA or USDE database doesn’t guarantee that a
degree will be suited to any specific purpose, an institution that
issues degrees and is not listed in either one these databases is at
best highly questionable.
STATE HIGHER EDUCATION BOARDS
contact the higher education board in the state where the
“degree-granting institution” is located and get the board’s opinion of
the institution in question. Every state has some type of governing
body for higher education. When considering enrolling in any college,
university, or seminary, where there may be a question about its
legitimacy, it pays to contact the governing body for higher education
in the state in which the institution is located and ask whether that
institution is recognized by the state and whether the degrees they
issue are legitimate.
At the time this article was written the
U.S. Department of Education maintained a list of State Higher
Education Agencies on-line at:
states are beginning to recognize the problem of fraudulent,
substandard, and illegally issued degrees and are passing laws to
combat this crime.
Currently it is illegal in North Dakota, New
Jersey, Texas, Nevada, Washington and Maine to use unaccredited
degrees. It is illegal in Indiana to use an unaccredited doctorate.
Other states are considering laws to protect their citizens from
diploma mills and substandard degrees.
In Washington State,
issuing a false academic credential is a class C felony; and knowingly
using a false academic credential is a gross misdemeanor. (RCW
Florida Statute 817.567 — Making False Claims of
Academic Degree or Title.– provides that no person in the state may
claim, either orally or in writing, to possess an academic degree, as
defined in s. 1005.02, or the title associated with said degree, unless
the person has, in fact, been awarded said degree from an institution
that is: (a) Accredited by a regional or professional accrediting
agency recognized by the United States Department of Education or the
Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation… [or run by a
state or by the Federal government, or for schools outside the U.S. has
been validated by an accrediting agency approved by the United States
Department of Education as equivalent to the baccalaureate or
post-baccalaureate degree conferred by a regionally accredited college
or university in the United States...]
(2) No person
awarded a doctorate degree from an institution not listed in subsection
(1) shall claim in the state, either orally or in writing, the title
“Dr.” before the person’s name or any mark, appellation, or series of
letters, numbers, or words, such as, but not limited to, “Ph.D.,”
“Ed.D.,” “D.N.,” or “D.Th.,” which signifies, purports, or is generally
taken to signify satisfactory completion of the requirements of a
doctorate degree, after the person’s name.
LIFE EXPERIENCE & QUALIFICATIONS
to Roger H. Schmedlen (2006), writing in the Michigan Lawyers Weekly,
“Some unsophisticated would-be experts may truly believe it is possible
for them to obtain a legitimate degree without attending classes or
performing any study activity–simply by using credit from lifelong
career experience. . . . It isn’t!”
The Texas Higher Education
Coordinating Board warns that another of the warning signs of fraud is
an institution that “offers to grant a degree or generous amounts of
credit for life experience. Claims that one can receive a complete
degree for one’s life experience are a sure sign of fraud. Calculating
credit awarded by years of service in a particular job or function is
also a sign of fraud. Legitimate colleges that award credit for life
experience require extensive evidence that the experience is the
equivalent of coursework taught at a college. The average legitimate
award by that means will be approximately 12 to 18 semester credit
hours (about one semester). Many students who are assessed receive no
While one should understand that no legitimate
accreditor enforces any particular theological understanding, doctrine,
or theology; it is just as important to understand that states have a
responsibility to ensure that the public is not put at risk by
fraudulently issued degrees and credentials. Ask yourself whether you
would trust a medical doctor who received an immediate medical degree
based on life experience. Would you trust a psychiatrist whose degree
was based on a 4 to 8 page paper? No? Well, if you will not trust your
physical and mental health to a person with a fraudulent or substandard
degree, why would you trust someone with this type of degree to guide
you in your spiritual and religious well-being?
John Bear (2007)
offers an emphatic warning concerning fraudulent degrees: “We must warn
you, as emphatically as we can, that it is very risky to buy a fake
degree or to claim to have a degree that you have not earned. It is
like putting a time bomb in your resume. It could go off at any time,
with dire consequences. The people who sell fake degrees will probably
never suffer at all, but the people who buy them often suffer mightily.
And — particularly if their “degree” is health-related — their clients
may be seriously harmed.”
We consider a religious degree to be
health-related in any case where the degree-holder is involved in
offering counseling or spiritual guidance. One’s spiritual health is
just as important as one’s physical, mental and emotional health.
substandard, and illegal degrees endanger the safety of the American
public. Persons who use a fraudulent, substandard, or illegal degree
and provide health-related services, to include counseling, providing
life-skills and religious guidance or therapy, put the physical,
mental, emotional and spiritual health of their clients at serious risk.
a fraudulent, substandard, or illegally issued degree is likely to have
dire consequences for the person who uses it, both in employment and
licensing issues and in matters of trust and integrity. It is in fact
illegal in several states to use an unaccredited, fraudulent,
substandard or illegally issued degree.
A serious question
should arise in regard to any individual’s integrity and competence,
who claims a fraudulent, substandard, or illegally issued degree
regardless of any other credentials or experience that person may
109th Congress – Diploma Integrity Protection Act of 2006 – H.R. 6006 http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc109/h6008_ih.xml
Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada
Bear, John, Quackwatch, Degree Mills,on-line at: http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/dm0.html (May 2007)
Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
Trade Commission, “Facts for Business Guide on Avoiding Fake Degree”,
February 1, 2005 on-line at:
Regents for Higher Education –
Religious Freedom Restoration Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000bb (1993)
Roger H. CPP, CFE, CII, MIPI – Michigan Lawyers Weekly, “Doctor Who?
Avoiding Fraudulent Opinion Experts”, April 24, 2006 Edition; on-line
Higher Education Coordinating Board, Frequently Asked Questions, May