Online degrees: Watch out for diploma mills

So many schools are offering online college courses these days, it’s hard to know which ones are legit. Sloan Consortium reports that in 2005, 3.2 million college students too online courses. Naturally, students like online courses for the convenience and flexibility in the time commitment.

Buyer beware, however. Diploma mills abound! A diploma mill offers a degree with little to no coursework, and the “degree” usually costs from $50 to $5,000. For that, you get a diploma and a transcript from a non-accredited college. Because it is not accredited, many employers and almost all graduate schools will not recognize the degree.

Students should carefully evaluate the online programs they are interested in. Find out if they are accredited with one or more of the accreditation organization. The U.S. Department of Education also maintains a list of accredited schools.

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