A list of diploma mills is a monitored list of unaccredited colleges or universities that are known to grant degrees for a fee. Many consumer protection agencies and state accreditation agencies keep lists of such schools, also called "degree mills."
Degree mills come in various guises. Some are approved businesses, meaning they have a license to legally operate without being accredited by any state or federal agency. Others are blatantly fraudulent, offering to sell a buyer a college degree for a stated fee, sometimes in as little as a week. Because a degree from a diploma mill is not a legitimate credential, listing the degree on a resume can prevent a person from being hired.
In the age of the Internet, fraudulent degree mills have proliferated, posing a threat to the unwary and a temptation to the dishonest. Although the FBI investigated and brought charges against many degree mills in the 1980s and 1990s, online mills are more difficult to police. While any company that offers to sell a degree quickly and without the need for coursework is obviously a scam, schools that award degrees after a course of study but are not officially accredited are often completely legal. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation keeps a database of fully accredited institutions worldwide that they encourage students to consult before making a financial commitment to a course of study.