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How to Avoid MBA Diploma Mills

Many institutions offer online MBA degrees these days, and it’s hard for consumers to tell the difference between the real deal, offered by reputable schools, and diploma mills that ask for little more than a check before shipping out a (fraudulent) degree. But it’s certainly possible to get a real education in business and earn a bona fide MBA degree online, writes John Hendel on Poets & Quants, a website devoted to graduate business school education.

The word “online” itself shouldn’t be cause for alarm. Business school directors from both the top-rated University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler), which recently launched an online degree program, and Southeast Missouri State University agree that an online program can be just as good as a traditional one. The most important factor, they told Hendel, is the rigor of the curriculum. Fortune 500 managers, too, largely consider online degrees from reputable institutions to be as good as traditional ones, Hendel reports.

For those concerned about diploma mills, here are a few things to look out for:

  1. Price. Is it too good to be true? Then it probably is.
  2. Accreditation. Schools are accredited by private bodies, so you also have to make sure that the accreditor is reputable. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools, or AASCB, is a good one.
  3. Degree requirements. If the school is telling you that your life experience adds up to a master’s degree, you’re not buying an education, you’re buying a piece of paper.
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