Fast Online College Degree: Degree Mill or Legitimate Program?


You’re thinking about going back to school and getting a Bachelor’s Degree, and you don’t want to spend years doing it. You’ve been online and looked at the possibilities; some look way too good to be true. But you’ve also seen accelerated programs offered by good, reputable schools. Before you sign up for a fast online college degree, there are some things you need to know.

What is a degree mill?

A degree mill is a company that offers a fast online college degree with no coursework involved. You literally buy the degree. You can also purchase added options, such as honor graduation, transcripts and employer verification.

How can they give you a college degree?

They give you extensive credit for “life experience.” This is tricky because many legitimate institutions also give credit for life experience. The difference is that a degree mill will grant all your credits based on life experience. You may be able to get a fast online college degree from a reputable institution, but it will require some coursework.

I have a lot of life experience, and I know as much as my co-workers who have degrees. What’s the problem?

For starters, a lot of employers don’t accept degrees from these companies. In some states, such as Oregon, it’s illegal to use an unearned degree to get a job. Most people consider it unethical. There is a Senate investigation going on into government employees who listed unearned degrees on their résumés and applications, including Laura Callahan, former deputy chief information officer for the Homeland Security Department, who is on paid administrative leave pending the results of that investigation.

Okay, it’s probably not a good idea to buy a degree. How do I know if a fast online college degree program is legitimate?

1. Evaluate the program. What are their graduation requirements? How much credit will they give you for prior learning, and what things do they consider as prior learning? Few legitimate programs will give you more than two years’ credit for prior learning, which may include life experience. 2. Evaluate the school. Google it and see what comes up. Look at their overall reputation. How well do their graduates do? Do the graduates get admitted to graduate schools? The State of Oregon has a good database of “substandard” schools, and you can check it out at www.osac.state.or.us/oda/unaccredited. 3. Evaluate the faculty. What’s the student/faculty ratio? How many of the faculties have PhD’s? How many have Master’s? What have faculty members published? 4. Check out the school’s accreditation. You want a school that is accredited by a legitimate state approved accrediting board. The Board of Online Universities Accreditation (BOUA) and the Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation (UCOEA) are not accepted accreditation organizations. You can go to the Council for Higher Education website to check the accreditation of a college at www.chea.org/institutions.

You can get a fast online college degree that is legitimate and acceptable. Avoid the temptation of getting something for nothing but bucks, and evaluate the programs carefully, and you will find a program that’s perfect for you.


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