Make Sure Your Online School Is Legit

Bogus programs cast a wide web of deceit

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Online schools are convenient options for working adults, the disabled, those serving in the military, or others who for whatever reason need the flexibility that online schools offer. But not every online school is legitimate. In the New York Times, a recent article discusses the workings of a global diploma mill—an organization that sells educational credentials, from a high school diploma to a doctoral degree. Such credentials are fraudulent, potentially dangerous, and essentially worthless.

[Related: How Schools Can Lower Suspension Rates and Raise Graduation Rates]

Nichole Dobo, who writes the Blended Learning newsletter for The Hechinger Report, urges those considering enrolling in an online course or degree program to first check if the institution is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. To check the accreditation status of any institute of higher education, go to For a list of the best online undergraduate programs, go to U.S. News and World Report.

Considering an online high school program for yourself or a loved one? Dobo advises checking to see if the program is recognized by your state’s Department of Education; however, U.S. News and World Report asserts that there are few legitimate online options for completing a high school diploma. One, the National External Diploma Program, is available in the District of Columbia and the following states: Washington, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

A free, reputable online option is Khan Academy; however, it does not issue diplomas or degrees.

Have you enrolled in an online degree program? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below. Depending on the range of experiences, we may do a longer piece on online learning.

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