Diploma mills trick students into buying expensive distance courses or degree certificates based on fraudulent tests. When the bluff is revealed, the degree is worthless. They are found both in Sweden and abroad.

Diploma mills move around and change names. Many state that they are accredited (approved) by organisations that they have made up themselves. They often present themselves as modern, flexible universities that offer online education. Many only exist on the internet and can only be contacted via e-mail.

How to recognise a diploma mill

There is reason to be cautious if the university:

  • Is accredited by a non-recognised organisation or plays down the importance of accreditation.
  • Has lists of recognised accreditation organisations, see p. 39-40 of Bluffuniversitet och falska examensbevis, a report from the former National Agency for Higher Education.
  • Has a name that is similar to that of a real university in the US or the UK. For example, Oxford International University should not be confused with the real University of Oxford. The university could also be called something including "American" and/or "International", such as "American World University".
  • Has an address in an area/country with weak education legislation, e.g. the US states of Hawaii, Louisiana and Wyoming, or smaller islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Often changes address and moves from state to state or country to country.
  • Has a false or misleading address.
  • Has no physical address and can only be contacted by e-mail or fax.
  • Has minimal admission requirements.
  • Emphasises on its website that it is not a diploma mill.
  • States the cost of grade documentation instead of tuition fees.
  • Uses work experience as the only basis for the degree.
  • Has minimal degree requirements and you receive a degree more quickly than normal (sometimes within a few days).
  • Has pictures of the degree certificates on the website.
  • Has credit card logos on the website.

Read the report about diploma mills - Bluffuniversitet och falska examensbevis - in Swedish (pdf)

CSN – a guarantee

CSN (the Swedish Board of Student Finance) only approves studies at genuine universities. If you have received student funding from CSN for studies at a foreign university you can be certain that it is not a diploma mill.

Approved universities around the world

We have information about studying in 60 countries with links to that country’s information for foreign students and links to universities in those countries that are recognised by the state.

Still unsure?

If you are still unsure, you can get in touch with the Swedish Council for Higher Education by calling +46 (0)10 470 0300 or sending an email to studiefragor@uhr.se.

You can also contact CSN:

To CSN's contact information

It is a good idea to send links or e-mails from the university you are considering.

Page last updated 2017-09-28