With So Many Diploma Mills Around, How Can I Judge The Quality Of An Online Education Program?

With so many non-traditional students deciding to pursue a degree, many online schools have developed in order to meet those needs. However, it has become increasingly difficult for students to determine which schools will provide accredited and quality education and which will simply give them a diploma in exchange for a certain amount of money. Normally, a little research will provide potential students with relevant information about the school’s reputation, accreditation, and student support which will save time and money in the long run.


In order for a degree to have value, it must come from a college or university that has received accreditation from a regional or national academic agency. A school with appropriate accreditation is guaranteed to provide appropriate academic standards in all of their programs and degrees. Regionally accredited institutions are considered to have the most worth as they can be easily evaluated and monitored for quality. However, some nationally accredited schools can also provide a quality education.The Sloan Consortium is an organization dedicated to providing information concerning accredited colleges and universities and has many resources discussing the different types of accreditation.

Legitimate Universities

Many major universities have developed their own online programs, and for the most part these programs can be trusted. Schools with websites ending in “edu” are often trustworthy as legitimate online programs. These schools tend to supply their accreditation information, approximate tuition costs, degree plans, and other valid information such as financial aid and contact numbers for potential students. If the university does not seem familiar, it is important to research the school to verify its credentials. A basic online search will generally provide important information about that school in anything seems problematic.

Another way to gauge an online school’s validity is by asking other universities or professionals if the credits obtained at that particular school can be transferred or used as proof of appropriate training. It might also be of some use to ask the school about their own policies concerning transfer credit. Diploma mills are designed to make as much money as possible per student, and transferring in too many credits undermines that effort.

Student Support

Finally, it is important to determine the level of available support from instructors and advisers when trying to determine if the school is legitimate or simply a diploma mill. Again, diploma mills are concerned with making money, and one of the ways they can do that is by providing little assistance to the students. These schools tend to not provide academic planning tools either, so students are left to fend for themselves unless they want to brave hour long waits on a help line.

Reputable schools normally have a developed support system that includes academic and financial counselors that are available by email and telephone, and these schools are often willing to speak with potential students before they ever fill out an application.

Choosing the Right School

It can be difficult to discern if an online school is a legitimate option or not, but a little research will help with the determination. Looking for regional accreditation and student support are two big factors in determining if the school will provide a valuable education. However, do not be afraid to read about what other students have to say about the school.