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Diploma mill is term for an institution that
operates primarily to make money
issues degrees without regard to whether or not students receive an education.
Diploma mills often
require no study, tests, or papers
have no buildings or physical campus
have no classes or professors
advertise fraudulent degrees
have deceptive ads (showing stately buildings, for example)
have an official-looking seal on their web sites
have an .edu suffix on their Internet addresses
boast of accreditation but don't say which organizations have accredited them
advertise they're "licensed by the state"
offer degrees based on "portfolio assessments" rather than course work
send mass e-mailings
sell forged diplomas from legitimate schools
issue diplomas from nonexistent schools with names extremely similar to the names of reputable schools
prey on foreign students
pose a threat to legitimate institutions of higher learning by making all degrees suspect
cause employers to waste time and money verifying degrees
cost students many thousands of dollars each year
waste students' time and energy
can result in being fired or demoted at work or even criminal charge
A commercial web site has a page which provides more information about diploma mills and how to recognize and avoid them.