Diploma Mills:

Diploma Mills Are Easily Created and Some Have Issued Bogus Degrees to Federal Employees at Government Expense

GAO-04-1096T: Published: Sep 23, 2004. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 2004.

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Robert J. Cramer


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

This testimony discusses work done by GAO's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) related to degrees from "diploma mills." For purposes of this overview, we defined "diploma mills" as nontraditional, unaccredited, postsecondary schools that offer degrees for a relatively low flat fee, promote the award of academic credits based on life experience, and do not require any classroom instruction. Over the past 3 years, OSI has purchased degrees from a diploma mill through the Internet, created a diploma mill in the form of a fictitious foreign school, investigated whether the federal government has paid for degrees from diploma mills for federal employees, and determined whether high-level federal employees at certain agencies have degrees from diploma mills. This testimony summarizes our investigative findings.

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