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Diploma Mills: Using a Fake Degree is a Crime in Texas

Posted on October 30, 2013 by Mintzer Law

Schools offering degrees without establishing standards as to the amount of work a student must do or without establishing minimum standards that a student must meet to achieve the degree frequently are referred to as diploma mills. Fraudulently issuing a diploma or using a fictitious degree obtained from a degree mill drains state budgets as licensing agencies are forced to devote time and energy to screen out fake or fraudulently obtained degrees.

Degree mills cost employers money as unqualified employees are hired and promoted based on substandard degrees. A person employed in the health care or education fields may endanger members of the public if their hiring was based on a degree they didn’t really earn.

Diploma Mill Legislation in Texas

Texas lawmakers carefully worded the laws pertaining to what other states refer to as diploma mills. By referring to institutions that offer bogus or fabricated degrees, the legislature addressed institutions intending to defraud people. The wording of the laws also targets schools or businesses whose operations are so lax or substandard as to accomplish the same result but without the intent to defraud.

Degrees offered by such institutions are worthless because students do not have to attend classes, or the work required of students is so minimal as to make it impossible that a student would achieve any type of proficiency in the area in which the degree is issued. “Universities” that confer diplomas based on shoddy criteria for achievement break the law, and an individual who attempts to use phony diplomas to secure employment, obtain a raise or get a license to practice their profession is acting illegally as well. According to Chapter 32 of the Texas Penal Code, this type of fraudulent behavior may be prosecuted as a Class B misdemeanor.

Recognizing a Diploma Mill Operation

A degree mill typically possesses several of the following attributes:

  • Spam or unsolicited emails from the school or institution
  • Lack of a physical address or location on the institution’s website
  • Administrative operations in a state or country other than the main campus of the school
  • Tuition is quoted for the degree instead of for each course
  • Promotes discounts for paying tuition in advance
  • Absence of admissions standards or standards that appear to be too low
  • Faculty members and their credentials are not listed or available

Accreditation is a process in which an institution invites an independent accrediting association to determine if the institution meets or exceeds the minimum standards for educational quality recognized by higher education professionals in the United States. Texas undertakes a certification process to establish that schools within the state have established legal authority to operate while seeking accreditation from the necessary associations.

Call Rand Mintzer, Attorney at Law at 713-862-8880 if you were recently accused of using or possessing a counterfeit degree.