Taking Notes: Eye On Education – Fake Degrees

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for Taking Notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org


The Gwinnett County Public School board in Lawrenceville, Georgia is looking at demanding re-payment of pay raises received by several teachers, following the discovery that these teachers obtained fake degrees from an online university in Liberia. Five teachers received yearly raises based on these advanced degrees, ranging from $2500 (Master’s degree) to $4000 (Doctorate). The degrees were “earned” from St. Regis University at a cost of $995 U.S. for a Master’s and $1500 U.S. for a Doctorate.

St. Regis University claims to be nationally accredited and recognized by the Liberian government, and offers a wide range of online degrees. They state on their website that “you can quickly earn a Nationally Accredited Bachelor, Master or Doctorate Degree” through what they call their “unique Accelerated Degree Program” based on an assessment of your knowledge and life experience. A free analysis will determine whether you qualify for a degree, and this can be “fast tracked” for an extra $99.

In the U.S., a body called the Professional Standards Commission certifies teachers and then assesses pay based on level of education achieved. The degree earned at St. Regis is considered a foreign degree and must follow an evaluation process from a credential agency that determines grade equivalency to a U.S. degree. The Gwinnett County School commission has laid blame on the Professional Standards Commission for choosing the “wrong credential agency.”

Such diploma mills continue to harm the credibility of open universities such as Athabasca University, feeding the notion that online learning is less than valid and damaging the concept of earned credits for prior learning assessment.

One reporter investigated St. Regis and earned a Master’s degree by email in 24 hours. That these false doctorate degrees purchased on the basis of “life experience” could then be approved by a U.S. accrediting process, sheds doubt on the integrity of the whole educational system.

A university degree is quickly becoming the minimum job requirement, and pressure to earn advanced degrees is increasing. With the prohibitive cost an individual faces to obtain these degrees by actually attending university, we may well see a surge in this type of fraudulent degree-purchasing activity.

St. Regis University:

Gwinnett Daily Online: Teachers buy degrees, hike pay:

Lawrenceville Colleges and Universities