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NMC Warns Residents about Degree Mills (October 1, 2009)

The Northern Marianas College is advising CNMI residents to become more vigilant as they explore their options for higher education. More particularly, residents are warned to watch out for institutions that qualify as what the U.S. Department of Education calls “degree mills.”

According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, degree mills are usually universities or schools that offer questionable online degrees at a low cost with little or no work needed. The work assigned by such mills is usually unrelated to the degree being pursued.

These mills may also advertise that a person’s life experience is sufficient for that person to be awarded a degree. These degrees are usually offered through overly-attractive deals, which is why many individuals fall for these traps. These mills also usually claim to be accredited by false accrediting bodies and agencies.

The U.S. Department of Education website at has a list of all the accrediting agencies it recognizes.

“We want to ensure that our students who transfer to four-year universities are aware of and avoid these programs that offer degrees that hold no value,” said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “We also aim to inform employers of measures that can be taken to distinguish whether or not credentials submitted by prospective employees were awarded by degree mills.”

Already, in the mainland, several high ranking education and government officials have been asked to resign because their credentials were obtained from degree mills.

For example, Laura Callahan, a senior director at the United States Department of Homeland Security at the time, was reportedly asked to step down from her post in 2004 after the revelation that her credentials were received from a degree mill operating out of a motel room in Wyoming.

Degree mill websites usually emphasize the abnormal speed at which a prospective student may earn his or her degree (for example, 30 days) and usually charge tuition on a per-degree basis, instead of the traditional per-credit hour system. These colleges or universities also do not require prospective students to submit documents of academic history, such as transcripts and previous degrees earned.

Other signals that indicate that one is dealing with a degree mill include websites with domain registrations that limit access to visitors and degree programs that are not accepted for licensing or entry into graduate or professional programs in the degree mill’s alleged home country.

“We would also like to advise the public to research schools that offer online degrees and the accrediting agency backing those schools, as these often hold names similar to prestigious schools and accrediting bodies,” added Fernandez.

For more information on how to distinguish and avoid degree mills, log on to or

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If you wish to report an issue related to the accessibility of any content on NMC’s website, including a complaint about the accessibility of a document, form, or statement, you may do so by contacting the NMC’s IT Department by email at [email protected]. In your email please include the following information:

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