Purchasing Degrees Online: Are they for real or can anybody buy one?

Whenever something is worth having, someone else will make a copy of it and try to pass it off as the real thing. This applies to masterpieces of art, counterfeit money, copycat software (not to mention pirated software), jewelry, priceless antiques, and yes, even to education. Phony degrees have been around for as long as there have been employers who offered raises on the basis of obtaining that extra piece of paper. Years ago one of my own college professors told about a friend who was trying to decide between earning a doctoral degree via correspondence (a program that at that time involved some leisurely readings and a couple of papers, but had no real tests or proof of the acquisition of additional knowledge) or actually taking a sabbatical to earn a Ph.D. at a university. The professor’s question to him was, “What is the purpose of getting the degree. If you just need a raise in pay, do the correspondence. If you really want to become an authority, get the real degree.”

Of course, in those days, the internet hadn't even been born, and degrees by correspondence were regarded as second class or poor imitations of real college study. All that has changed, and now legitimate degrees can be earned via correspondence—most of which is done over the internet. Online universities have blossomed like weeds, forcing the time honored ivy league schools to offer their own programs via the internet or risk continuing drops in enrollment. After all, the best university in the world will soon exist only in the history books if it has no students. Nevertheless, the more genuine programs there are available, the more copycats will also be available. You simply have to know that there is a big difference between “purchasing” your degree online and “earning” your degree online.

The colleges and universities advertised on our sites are real schools offering real degrees. Many of them also have physical campuses where a person can sit in traditional classes if preferred. Others specialize in online education and have developed their programs into highly effective mechanisms for enabling a person to acquire a college education.

Even with our most sincere diligence, however, it is admittedly difficult to identify the poorer quality programs with absolute certainty. It is thus no surprise, that, along with the increase of online programs, many career fields also require some kind of third party, certification exam. Some of these exams, such as the State Nursing Board exams for nurses, the Bar exam for lawyers, the National Teaching Exam for teachers, and so forth, are well-known expectations for launching those careers. In recent years, numerous other certification exams have been developed. While many are optional ways to receive additional endorsements, others are required. Furthermore, passing a post graduation certification exam gives you the endorsement of an organization comprised of your peers in the field and proves that you are educated in the current developments of the discipline.

So, how can you be sure that your online degree is of the same quality as that earned on a traditional campus? First, don’t be too eager to complete the degree in a matter of months if you know it’s a degree that would usually require at least four years of study. Even leaving out vacations, semester breaks, and allowing for the ability to take your courses at a higher pace, something that is usually done in four years or more can only be condensed about so much.  Secondly, if a post graduate licensing exam will be required, find out what the passing rate is for students of a given program. Finally, if graduating from the program is the end of the story, ask for a description of the major related coursework, including major assignments and testing procedures. With a little care, you can have a quality degree. Remember, a quick, bare minimum requirements degree may help you with the raise you seek, but if you really want to practice in the discipline, you will be taking catch-up courses for the rest of your life in order to avoid revealing how much material you were able to avoid learning.

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