Religious Diploma Cons: Fraudulent, Substandard & Unlawful Levels

The prevalence of fraudulent, substandard, and illegal diplomas and degrees is an ever-expanding trouble in the United States.

The United States Congress has located that the protection of the American general public is especially endangered by the sale of fraudulent degrees, and that the preeminence of the United States in science and engineering, as properly as the prestige and popularity of American universities, is threatened by the trafficking of fraudulent degrees, diplomas, and certifications. (109th Congress, 2006)

Religious and theological degrees and other degrees from religiously affiliated institutions are some of the most usually issued fraudulent, substandard and illegal qualifications. The rationale for the prevalence of fraudulent spiritual and theological degrees is the fact that any one can integrate a “church” by registering as a non-income firm inside of a condition. This “church” can then assert that its bylaws grant it the authority to difficulties certifications and degrees. However a lot of innocent people seeking a spiritual education fall target to these “church buildings” issuing “degrees” that are not well worth the paper the phony diploma is printed on.

These organizations issuing fraudulent and substandard spiritual degrees generally assert that their motion is shielded by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and assures of spiritual freedom. Only put this is not the situation. Religiously affiliated institutions are not exempt from condition oversight underneath the First Amendment, nor do they gain the privilege of issuing fraudulent, substandard, and illegal degrees underneath protection of the Religious Independence Restoration Act.

As an example of this, the Texas Lawyer General has issued an belief (JC-0200) that the Religious Independence Restoration Act does not exempt religiously-affiliated institutions from the necessities underneath the Texas Education Code (Chapter sixty one, Subchapter G). The statute does not regulate any spiritual observe. Establishments that have a spiritual affiliation are free of charge to work out their spiritual beliefs. The legislation is prepared to regulate really narrowly these actions that are educational only, this sort of as representations that the instruction is college or university amount or that the scholar can receive a degree, and not to impinge on any spiritual observe or perception. In addition, institutions that do not would like to fulfill the educational specifications of a larger academic institution are free of charge to teach and prepare learners for ministry positions as lengthy as they do not assert that the amount of their education is collegiate, possibly by supplying degrees or calling the institution a college or university, university, or seminary. (Texas Greater Education Coordinating Board, 2007)

Unaccredited, religiously affiliated institutions are free of charge to teach their spiritual doctrine as they see match, but they may not lawfully represent themselves as colleges, universities, or seminaries nor may they difficulties degrees or titles related with degrees.

Religious VS. Educational Levels

A usually listened to assert from institutions issuing fraudulent, substandard or illegal spiritual degrees is that there is a difference among a spiritual and an educational degree, and that the regulations that govern educational degrees simply just really don’t implement to the issuance of a spiritual or theological degree.

We have currently observed that in the belief of the Texas Lawyer General religiously-affiliated institutions are NOT exempt from assembly the necessities of the Texas Education Code, but what about reputable spiritual colleges and theological seminaries, how do they watch their own degrees?

Of the 251 religiously centered colleges, universities and theological seminaries at present acknowledged by the ‘Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada’ and by the Council for Greater Education Accreditation (CHEA) all manage an educational curriculum and construction and (centered on a examine of their world wide web-web pages and publications) look at their degrees to be an “educational degrees.”

The on-line encyclopedia ‘Wikipedia’ is a frequently reviewed updated and reference source which can be edited by any one. Wikipedia content articles provide insight into the typical general public perception of a topic. When we search at the Wikipedia entries for Medical doctor of Theology and Medical doctor of Divinity we see that they are both of those defined as “educational degrees:

• “Medical doctor of Theology (in Latin Theologiae Medical doctor, abbreviated Th.D.) is a terminal educational degree in theology.” – ( doctor_of_Theology)
• “Medical doctor of Divinity (D.D., Divinitatis Medical doctor in Latin) is an advanced educational degree in divinity.” – ( doctor_of_Divinity)

Evidently each individual reputable theological seminary and college or university or university supplying a theological application considers an educational curriculum and construction critical to their degrees, and the general public impact of religiously centered degrees is that they are in fact educational degrees.

A single really should be incredibly cautious of any entity that difficulties degrees with no educational curriculum or construction, boasting that its spiritual mother nature somehow exempts it from any educational regular or necessities. These kinds of an entity is nearly surely issuing fraudulent and illegal degrees, or at very best is issuing a substandard degree that confers no qualification or reputable credential in anyway, and may in fact be illegal to use in a lot of states.


A single really should be especially mindful of degree frauds that provide you credit rating for your life knowledge and current religious operate, supplying you an fast doctorate degree in divinity, theology, or ministry all for a handful of hundred pounds and possibly demanding a shorter paper of no a lot more than a few thousand words and phrases.

One more warning indicator that an institution is issuing fraudulent, substandard, or illegal degrees is if they make it a issue to reveal why their degrees are “bonafide reputable doctorate degrees.” When a genuinely reputable college or university or university will typically detect its accreditation it is highly not likely that it will have to stress why its degrees are “bonafide and reputable”. Only an institution issuing fraudulent degrees desires to endeavor to convince you of their legitimacy.

It is important to ensure the actual physical address of any school ahead of you enroll. A reputable college or university, university, or seminary will have a actual physical small business address, even if it is established up to provide only on-line examine. Any institution working with a mail drop address is nearly surely issuing fraudulent and illegal degrees. You really should be ready to visit the institution that will grant your degree. If the offices of the college or university, university, or seminary are a again home or basement in somebody’s residence, the degree is nearly confirmed to be substandard, and is most very likely remaining illegally issued.

As we ongoing to search into the challenge of addresses, we discovered that it is a violation of Federal legislation to use the Postal Company in conjunction with a small business and request to be dealt with by, any fictitious, untrue, or assumed title.

“Whoever, for the purpose of conducting, endorsing, or carrying on by suggests of the Postal Company, any scheme or device… or any other unlawful small business, employs or assumes, or requests to be dealt with by, any fictitious, untrue, or assumed title, identify, or address or identify other than his own proper identify, or usually takes or gets from any article place of work or approved depository of mail make any difference, any letter, postal card, package deal, or other mail make any difference dealt with to any this sort of fictitious, untrue, or assumed title, identify, or address, or identify other than his own proper identify, shall be fined underneath this title or imprisoned not a lot more than 5 yrs, or both of those.” (eighteen U.S.C. 1342)

Beware of any institution that offers a ‘one-time only tuition price tag to you:’ ‘each doctorate degree is only $$$, get a 2nd degree at half-value, $$$’, or any very similar arrive-on where by you simply just obtain your degree for a flat charge.

In accordance to the Federal Trade Commission (2005) “Most diploma mills demand a flat charge, demand little study course operate, if any, and award a degree centered only on operate or life knowledge.”

The Texas Greater Education Coordinating Board (2007) cautioned that a person of the warning signals that an institution may be supplying fraudulent or substandard degree is charging “tuition and fees by the degree and not by the study course. Whether charging $299 or $29,000, this is a indicator of fraud. Legit colleges demand tuition by the credit rating hour (semester, quarter, or trimester) or by the study course. Not all fraudulent or substandard institutions demand by the degree some demand by the credit rating hour in buy to appear reputable. Nonetheless, reputable institutions do not demand by the degree.”

The Oklahoma State Regents for Greater Education advises: when taking into consideration a degree supplier, an solution of “indeed” to a person or a lot more of the next issues may be an indicator of a diploma mill.

• Can degrees be purchased?
• Is there a assert of accreditation when there is no proof of this status?
• Is there a assert of accreditation from a questionable accrediting firm?
• Does the procedure lack condition or federal licensure or authority to run?
• Is little if any attendance demanded of learners, possibly on the net or in course?
• Are handful of assignments demanded for learners to receive credits?
• Is a really shorter period of time of time demanded to receive a degree?
• Are degrees out there centered only on ordeals or résumé assessment?
• Are there handful of necessities for graduation?
• Does the procedure are unsuccessful to provide any details about a campus or small business site or actual physical address and count only on a article place of work box?
• Does the procedure are unsuccessful to provide a checklist of its college and their skills?
• Does the procedure have a identify very similar to other properly-known colleges and universities?
• Does the procedure make statements in its publications for which there is no proof?

When it is not achievable to checklist each individual institution engaged in a degree fraud or issuing fraudulent, substandard, or illegal degrees the condition of Michigan maintains a checklist of colleges that have been located to be most egregious in their issuance of fraudulent degrees.

The checklist can be located on-line at:

Levels from any entity on this checklist will not be recognized by the Michigan Office of Civil Company as fulfilling any academic necessities or occupation specs. Even if you really don’t live or operate in Michigan, any institution on the Michigan checklist is highly questionable, and would most very likely be located fraudulent, substandard, or illegal if investigated by any other condition.

The condition of Maine maintains a very similar checklist on-line at:

The condition of Oregon is a leader in the battle towards fraudulent, substandard and illegally issued degrees. Oregon maintains a checklist of entities issuing invalid degrees on-line at:

In addition to examining the Michigan, Maine and Oregon lists of unaccredited institutions, a person really should also examine the Council for Greater Education Accreditation (CHEA) – Database of Establishments and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Companies, on-line at: for/default.asp and the U.S. Office of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Establishments and Programs (USDE) on-line at:

The CHEA and USDE databases checklist institutions that are acknowledged as owning satisfied certain specifications in their education applications.

When remaining stated in the CHEA or USDE database would not ensure that a degree will be suited to any unique purpose, an institution that difficulties degrees and is not stated in possibly a person these databases is at very best highly questionable.


Next, get hold of the larger education board in the condition where by the “degree-granting institution” is located and get the board’s belief of the institution in dilemma. Every single condition has some form of governing human body for larger education. When taking into consideration enrolling in any college or university, university, or seminary, where by there may be a dilemma about its legitimacy, it pays to get hold of the governing human body for larger education in the condition in which the institution is located and ask whether or not that institution is acknowledged by the condition and whether or not the degrees they challenge are reputable.

At the time this article was prepared the U.S. Office of Education preserved a checklist of State Greater Education Organizations on-line at:


Several states are beginning to identify the trouble of fraudulent, substandard, and illegally issued degrees and are passing regulations to battle this crime.

At present it is illegal in North Dakota, New Jersey, Texas, Nevada, Washington and Maine to use unaccredited degrees. It is illegal in Indiana to use an unaccredited doctorate. Other states are taking into consideration regulations to shield their citizens from diploma mills and substandard degrees.

In Washington State, issuing a untrue educational credential is a course C felony and knowingly working with a untrue educational credential is a gross misdemeanor. (RCW 9A.60.070)

Florida Statute 817.567 — Building Fake Statements of Educational Diploma or Title.– gives that no person in the condition may assert, possibly orally or in producing, to possess an educational degree, as defined in s. 1005.02, or the title related with reported degree, except if the person has, in fact, been awarded reported degree from an institution that is: (a) Accredited by a regional or qualified accrediting company acknowledged by the United States Office of Education or the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation… [or operate by a condition or by the Federal government, or for colleges outside the house the U.S. has been validated by an accrediting company approved by the United States Office of Education as equivalent to the baccalaureate or article-baccalaureate degree conferred by a regionally accredited college or university or university in the United States…]


(two) No person awarded a doctorate degree from an institution not stated in subsection (one) shall assert in the condition, possibly orally or in producing, the title “Dr.” ahead of the person’s identify or any mark, appellation, or collection of letters, figures, or words and phrases, this sort of as, but not limited to, “Ph.D.,” “Ed.D.,” “D.N.,” or “D.Th.,” which signifies, purports, or is usually taken to signify satisfactory completion of the necessities of a doctorate degree, soon after the person’s identify.

Existence Encounter & Qualifications

In accordance to Roger H. Schmedlen (2006), producing in the Michigan Legal professionals Weekly, “Some unsophisticated would-be authorities may genuinely feel it is achievable for them to attain a reputable degree without having attending classes or executing any examine exercise–simply just by working with credit rating from lifelong profession knowledge. . . . It is just not!”

The Texas Greater Education Coordinating Board warns that another of the warning signals of fraud is an institution that “offers to grant a degree or generous amounts of credit rating for life knowledge. Statements that a person can receive a entire degree for one’s life knowledge are a confident indicator of fraud. Calculating credit rating awarded by yrs of services in a unique occupation or purpose is also a indicator of fraud. Legit colleges that award credit rating for life knowledge demand in depth proof that the knowledge is the equivalent of coursework taught at a college or university. The average reputable award by that suggests will be about twelve to eighteen semester credit rating hrs (about a person semester). Lots of learners who are assessed receive no college or university credit rating.”

When a person really should understand that no reputable accreditor enforces any unique theological comprehension, doctrine, or theology it is just as important to understand that states have a responsibility to guarantee that the general public is not put at risk by fraudulently issued degrees and qualifications. Inquire yourself whether or not you would rely on a health care health practitioner who gained an fast health care degree centered on life knowledge. Would you rely on a psychiatrist whose degree was centered on a four to eight site paper? No? Properly, if you will not rely on your actual physical and mental well being to a person with a fraudulent or substandard degree, why would you rely on an individual with this form of degree to information you in your religious and spiritual properly-remaining?

John Bear (2007) offers an emphatic warning regarding fraudulent degrees: “We ought to warn you, as emphatically as we can, that it is really dangerous to purchase a phony degree or to assert to have a degree that you have not attained. It is like putting a time bomb in your resume. It could go off at any time, with dire outcomes. The people who provide phony degrees will almost certainly hardly ever put up with at all, but the people who purchase them generally put up with mightily. And — especially if their “degree” is well being-connected — their clients may be severely harmed.”
We look at a spiritual degree to be well being-connected in any situation where by the degree-holder is involved in supplying counseling or religious advice. One’s religious well being is just as important as one’s actual physical, mental and emotional well being.


Fraudulent, substandard, and illegal degrees endanger the protection of the American general public. Persons who use a fraudulent, substandard, or illegal degree and provide well being-connected companies, to contain counseling, delivering life-abilities and spiritual advice or treatment, put the actual physical, mental, emotional and religious well being of their clients at critical risk.

Applying a fraudulent, substandard, or illegally issued degree is very likely to have dire outcomes for the person who employs it, both of those in employment and licensing difficulties and in matters of rely on and integrity. It is in fact illegal in numerous states to use an unaccredited, fraudulent, substandard or illegally issued degree.

A critical dilemma really should occur in regard to any individual’s integrity and competence, who statements a fraudulent, substandard, or illegally issued degree irrespective of any other qualifications or knowledge that person may possess.


109th Congress – Diploma Integrity Safety Act of 2006 – H.R. 6006

Affiliation of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada

Bear, John, Quackwatch, Diploma Mills,on-line at: (May possibly 2007)

Council for Greater Education Accreditation (CHEA)

Federal Trade Commission, “Info for Business Manual on Staying away from Fake Diploma”, February one, 2005 on-line at:

Oklahoma State Regents for Greater Education – or university-stdnts/educational/diploma-mills.shtml

Religious Independence Restoration Act (forty two U.S.C. § 2000bb (1993)

Schmedlen, Roger H. CPP, CFE, CII, MIPI – Michigan Legal professionals Weekly, “Medical doctor Who? Staying away from Fraudulent View Professionals”, April 24, 2006 Edition on-line at:

Texas Greater Education Coordinating Board, Commonly Requested Thoughts, May possibly 2007