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Avoiding Diploma Mills

by Joe Aguilar

It is true that some schools are "diploma mills"--unaccredited institutions that sell phony degrees or certificates. You should always make sure that your school is approved by a real accrediting agency. Most American schools are certified by one of six regional accreditation boards, which are:

  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC)
  • Middle States Association (MSA)
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS)

Want to earn your degree via the Internet? Distance learning programs typically have their own set of accrediting agencies, like the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). However, the majority of them are also regionally accredited. If you do not know whether your distance education program has valid accreditation, visit the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website, which lists both legitimate and fake accrediting agencies. You may also ask the online school directly for proof of official accreditation.

Avoiding Diploma
Sources:
Peterson's, "Accreditation"
U.S. Department of Education, "College Accreditation in the United States"

About the Author

Joe Aguilar is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. He has an MFA in creative writing from Oregon State University.

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