Poking at diploma mills: Kennedy-Western University


I enjoy poking around diploma mills. Especially the ones that spam my inbox. Like Kennedy-Western University, which describes itself like so:

Since 1984 Kennedy-Western University (KWU) has provided distance and online degree programs to over 30,000 students. KWU is one of the largest non-accredited online universities in the United States. ...

Ah, the magic word: "non-accredited". Translation: "Bogus".

But hey, being non-accredited can't be all bad, right? After all, KWU seems to be proud of the fact that it isn't accredited.

Read on:

Three of four of its faculty of 140 credentialed professors - who are simultaneously employed by major traditional universities throughout the country - hold Ph.D. degrees from accredited universities.

Oops, they're undermining their own statement. Isn't it kind of suspicious that they are bragging that their faculty is so good, they got their degrees from real universities (unlike this one)?

My personal favorite diploma mill is Harrington University. It's fun kicking off a Google search to see how many people put a degree from that institution on their résumé.

If you scroll down a bit on this Swedish web page, you'll find a picture of the building that houses so-called Brentwick University. The photo caption reads,

Brentwick University claims to be on 196 High Street in northern London. This is what it looks like. On the second floor, over the dry cleaner's, lies Cordon Bell Accomodation Agency, a firm which serves as a maildrop and forwards mail on behalf of a series of camera-shy companies, among them "Brentwick University".

It's a somewhat regular scandal in the United States that somebody well-known will be exposed to have been claiming a degree that was obtained by dubious means.

Comments (41)
  1. DrexelGrad says:

    The linked article from WorldNetDaily.com refers to LaSalle University as a "well-known diploma mill". As someone living in Philadelphia where LaSalle is located I find this surprising. LaSalle has been around for 140 years and as far as I’m aware the school’s reputation is very good. I personally know a couple of people with degrees from LaSalle and they certainly worked to earn them. I wonder if there’s another LaSalle University out there somewhere that this article is referring to and that is, indeed, a degree mill or perhaps the article’s author just didn’t do their homework. Anyone know?

  2. DrexelGrad says:

    Well I guess I should have done some googling first. Turns out there is another LaSalle University located in Louisiana which is a diploma mill. (http://www.chirowatch.com/Chiro-fake-diplomas/). I wonder what the folks at the real LaSalle think about having their name being associated with such a place.

  3. Todd Pederzani says:

    DrexelGrad, the WorldNetDaily article itself describes both LaSalle Universities, so googling isn’t technically necessary.

  4. DrexelGrad says:

    You’re right it is. Color me red, guess I should have kept reading.

  5. Andy Johnson says:

    I don’t believe ‘credentialed’ a real word. These people can’t even spell :)

  6. Marc says:

    Credentialed: Having documents verifying one’s abilities and qualifications.

    Furthermore, you forgot an ‘is’ right after ”credentialed”

    :-)

  7. Mat Hall says:

    Credentialed (which I would have thought needs two Ls in it, but what do I know) may have a definition (although Google can only find one such definition on the web), but it looks and sounds like a hideous neologism. (And being able to produce a definition is in no way a sign of a word’s validity. For example "spoffle" ((n) the foam cover used on microphones) isn’t a real word , although I can define it and it sounds plausible (and could probably even be grokked from context).

    Remember, verbing weirds language (and stupids you)…

  8. Ray Trent says:

    You shouldn’t rely on Google for your definitions. It doesn’t search any actual dictionaries. Use dictionary.com instead (and look up "credential", the base noun, rather than the participle… dictionaries rarely have separate entries for parts of speech):

    " Usage Note: The use of the participle credentialed to refer to certified teachers and other professionals is well established (She became credentialed through a graduate program at a local college), but its more general use to mean “possessing professional or expert credentials” is still widely considered jargon. The sentence The board heard testimony from a number of credentialed witnesses was unacceptable to 85 percent of the Usage Panel.

    Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition"

  9. Anon says:

    Stanford is not accredited either, heck lots of private universities don’t bother getting accredited because they know they are good.

  10. squidbot says:

    " Stanford is not accredited either" Good thing you stayed anonymous. That’s idiotic. Schools MUST be accredited to be eligible for things like government financial aid. Stanford is in fact not just nationally accredited, but regionally as well (which is better in some respects.)

    Here’s one accreditation, you can find more yourself by googling:

    http://www.chea.org/institutions/action.cfm?CheaID=3418

  11. Daniel Jin says:

    Stanford is not accredited either

    sounds like one of those lies diploma mills tell their "graduates". don’t worry, we are like stanford … they are good … :)

  12. Cooney says:

    When one of these guys gets exposed as having fake degrees after years and years, you have to wonder: are they really qualified, or does the position actually require a degree in the first place?

  13. Merle says:

    I believe that in the US, "credentialed" has been becoming the standard spelling for the last few decades. In the UK it’s generally "credentialled".

    I blame spell check programs from the days of limited disk space. ;-)

    ("labeled" vs "labelled" is a pet peeve of mine; the latter looks much better to me, but Word insists that only the former is right. Sigh.)

  14. Wayne Steele says:

    FWIW, the foam cover used on a microphone is called a "condom".

  15. John C. Kirk says:

    As a related story, a cat with a PhD:

    http://users.snip.net/~drsteve/Articles/Dr_Zoe.htm

  16. Colin Samples says:

    Actually, this is quite a big problem … according to the GAO, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, there are a surprising number of high-level federal employees with degrees from diploma mills, including workers at the Department of homeland Security and the National Nuclear Security Agency. Some degrees were even paid for with taxpayer funds…

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04771t.pdf

  17. Anon says:

    Sorry I meant to say the Computer Science program at Stanford is not Accredited, look at:

    http://www.abet.org/

    Check "Computing" search for California and nope no Stanford.

  18. slide says:

    My personal favorite spam for correspondence degrees had the subject line "Do you need a diplooma?" No, but obviously the spammer does, most likely of the grade school sort.

  19. Michael Silk says:

    I believe spammers mis-spell words to avoid detection by word-counting spam prevention programs. Such programs count the number of "bad" words and will then rate the email to see if it reached some threshold, at which point it is deleted, or whatever.

  20. There are quite a few good private schools that are non-accredited. Bob Jones University in Greenville SC has never and will never seek funding from the state and as such are non-accredited. Even if you don’t like some of the stuff they teach, they are one of the best schools in the south-east for Art, Comp-Sci and Film.

    No I am not a BJU student.

  21. Anonymous Coward says:

    A while back I responded to Kennedy-Western University (I got their junk snail mail) to get more information about them. There was some substance to their programs (at least, for a graduate computer science degree). Not the scammiest degree program.

  22. Mike Edwards (no relation*) says:

    From the ‘exposed’ link: Gray: "I don’t need to put Ph.D. by my name. I’m the most famous author in the world."

    My immedaite thought was: "never heard of you". Reading on, turns out I’ve heard of his book. But ‘most famous author in the world’? More famous than Charles Dickens, John Grisham, Tom Clancy? No. There are many authors more famous than Mr Gray.

    * to the previous poster. Obviously I do have some relations.

  23. Roy A BSEE from Kennedy Western says:

    I challenge any one of you numb nuts to an online debate in the Electrical Engineering Field. It can be Switchgear, Nuclear Instrumentation, Physics, Process Control. You name it, I will take you down with knowledge.

    To make it interesting I will bet any one of you $500 dollars that I will destroy you in the contest.

    I earned my AAS in Electro Mechanical Engineering at a "traditional college" and I pulled a hell of a GPA.

    I worked hard nearly 15 years after receiving my Associates Degree to earn my BSEE. I use my knowledge every day.

    I have worked for the following companies.

    Lockheed Martin / Martin Marietta Nuclear

    Nabisco

    Lafarge North America…They paid for the degree.

  24. Raymond Chen says:

    I never said that people with degrees from Kennedy-Western University were stupid. Just that the university itself is bogus.

  25. Andy says:

    My favourite case of an un-accredited university was when Microsoft attempted to bill its education programs in Canada as "Microsoft University". Here in Canada, it takes an act of Parliament to call an educational entity a "university". Even a large organization like Microsoft, with a real education program, wasn’t allowed.

  26. Larry says:

    So is Kennedy-Western bogus or not???

  27. m.c. bronson says:

    as a former engineer at ford, i’ve met some truly incompetent ‘engineers’ who got their degrees from university of michigan’s engineering school. i’m still not sure how they graduated as they were perfectly incompetent (and no, they didn’t last in their jobs).

    in terms of your personal knowledge and skillsets, it does not matter where you got your education, as much as it does whether you know how to use it and did your homework.

    anyone who has a public library nearby can get the books to study and do the homework, find someone who does the work to discuss the contents of those books and do ‘engineering’.

    it’s not the label on your sheepskin stapled to your fanny, but what YOU put into acquiring it.

  28. peter says:

    Does anyone know of an accredited Phd program in Psych. and or Industrial and Organ. Psych. that can be completed in less than five years? I’m already familiar with Walden and Capella. Thansk.

  29. Peter Perez says:

    Mr. M.C. Bronson, while I agree that it is what you know that matters, it is a fact of life that a degree is necessary; almost a right of passage, especially in our economy, day and age. The demands of the workplace make an MBA, for example, the Cadillac of degrees.

    The workplace environment, as you mention, will weed out and determine who can cut the mustard. I can be the most knowledgeable person in the world about medicine, but I must have degree to practice it.

    The Diane Reems, Larry Kings, H. Wayne Hiezenga’s, and Chuck Yeager’s (super personalities in their own right, with little if any fromal education when they started)of the world are the exception.

  30. Chris says:

    Andy — you mean Act of the Legislature. Parliament has nothing to do with education; it’s entirely provincial.

  31. Craig says:

    If KWU is providing a quality curriculum and shows academic integrity by by being monitored by the board of education in the state of Wyoming(Which I might add, takes a very tough stand against degree mills)and is able to help a mid-career professional earn a degree that will advance their career, what could possibly be wrong in that?

    Quality curriculum that is flexible to the students time schedule.

    Academic integrity/high standards.

    Convenience of online delivered with the Blackboard software program.

    "Blackboard is used by over 20,000 educational institutions AND has cost Kennedy-Western University almost a million dollars to provide. Does this sound like a degree mill or education that is keeping up with the demands of the busy professional AND the 21st century?

  32. Craig says:

    to: mc bronson

    Did you know that General Motors, GE, Honeywell, AT&T, Northrup Gruman, as well as 400 plus companies across the U.S., support Kennedy-Western with tuition reimbursement programs? They, apparently, believe in the credibility and integrity of the university.

    KWU, after fully researching them, is found to be an upright educational institution.

    I have done my due diligence where KWU is concerned. Why hasn’t the author of this website done the same?

  33. Raymond Chen says:

    Gosh, Craig, your messages sound an awful lot like advertisements. Too bad the GAO disagrees with your assessment. http://www.wired.com/wireless/story/0,2278,63436-,00.html

  34. Whocares says:

    Kennedy-Western is licensed in Wyoming which has a reputation for being a diploma mill state. If you want to know about K-W type kennedy western diploma mill in a search engine and read the many articles about it.

    K-W gives a liberal amount of experience credit without verifying or assessing knowledge.

    Everyone roughly takes the same amount of courses usually 4-7 courses + a paper for a degree.

    Everyone chooses which courses they want to take regardless if he or she is deficient in other core areas in a discipline.

    There are no standard requirements such as 120 hours for a BS or BA, and no objective standards for determining the number of courses a student takes. If you sell yourself right you may take 4 courses, if not you may take 7 or 8.

    The senate held hearings on diploma mills, and K-W was the focus of investigations. If you do a search you can find the video of those hearings that gives a very clear picture of K-W. It is not university IMO, it is a fraud.

  35. Whocares says:

    Let me add that you cannot transfer credits to other universities, or use a K-W degree to continue upward at another university.

    The courses are not really courses because there is no coursework, no assignments, and no lectures. It is just one open book exam when the student is ready. This is not how a university operates!

    It is illegal to use a K-W degree in Oregon, New Jersey, and North Dakota.

    K-W will not accept students in California where the "university" is actually located, though it is licensed in the diploma mill state of WY.

    K-W has agreements with the attorney generals of CA and Oregon not to accept students from these states.

    K-W has moved its license to grant degrees from California, to Hawaii, to Idaho, and finally landed in Wyoming. Now Wyoming is considering changing the laws:

    http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2004/11/20/news/wyoming/6f93244723f8188587256f51000f23cf.txt

    So, K-W may be looking for another state.

  36. Craig says:

    To Raymond Chen,

    The issue with the GAO sis too complex to discuss in text. Many do not agree with their findings.

    The bottom line is that a quality curriculum can be offered and and a credible degree can be earned in a format that accomodates the busy working professional.

    I just am presenting facts, Raymond. You make what you want out of it.

  37. Craig says:

    To Who cares

    Your comments have a negative twist on some of the facts as do some of the articles and websites you got your information.

    I do suggest that any student research this university and see if it is right for you. Apparently, it,s not for everyone.

    Another fact is that they have graduated over 12,000 students and they have used their degrees to advance or enhance their careers.

  38. Roy says:

    To Raymond Chen:

    You appear to deal in misinformation. Because your last name (if it is your real last name) does not automatically instill knowledge within you. I find you to be bogus and in general a coward, I called you out and you backed down. What are you a teacher? One of those protected by unions. One of those afraid to take a test themselves.

    Let us look at what the government does for us.

    First of all the U.S. government attempts to get children into the military with promises of college money. I fell for that, I joined and then was moved from being a helicopter pilot to a Military Intelligence specialist. They lied to many of us and "persuaded" us to change our fields of study before we were out of basic training.

    Next they cut the educational funds. There went my chances at a "traditional" education.

    I have an IQ of over 160 but I have had to fight every step of the way.

    The government does nothing for the middle income. We are punished for making it to middle income. However the poor that sit on their asses and don’t even listen in the classes or even disrupt classes.

    My daughter could not get into a State School so we are paying $17,000 per year for a private school. Why could she not get into a state school, she was not the right color, the state schools will accept a person of color or any other non-whiter with lesser scores just for the sake of being "Politically Correct".

    Anything the Government touches is screwed up, and that goes double for the Department of Education which gives grace to the "Accrediation Bodies".

    As a MI (Military Intelligence) Specialist, I was forced to read Soviet Life, I found that the Soviets had only one aspect better than the US, EDUCATION.

    I am sick of the United Negro College Fund ads.

    I agree that "A mind is a terrible thing to waste", but it has nothing to do with color. And if a black guy gets into school because of color, that to is wrong.

    Just as a note, the private college Devry started out as non-accrediated. So have many others.

    Kennedy Western explored and developed the distance learning programs. Now all of the "Accrediated" schools are attempting to start online schools. This is where the problem is now comming from. The US government sponsored schools now want a piece of the pie.

    The traditional schools have ignored the adult student in the past making obtaing a degree after normal school hours, either impossible or nearly impossible. At most traditional schools they did not offer and still do not offer evening technical classes, only business.

    I have taken the GRE exams and fall within the top 95-99% in all subject areas, but because my

    BS is non-traditional I can not gain admission into a traditional Masters Program. This is the same test that they use for admitting folks with undergraduate degrees (traditional) into a Masters Program and the score normally required is arround 70%.

    The governing bodies are made up to keep us down. I was displeased at every traditional school that I have attended with the knowledge that I obtained. When I would ask questions, normally they were over the Profs head and he / she would say "we don’t cover that in this class"

    With all the cheating in colleges/universities why does a traditional degree count any more than a non-traditional.

    As a final note before I leave this forum forever.

    It has been stated that 6-10 classes are required to obtain a degree from KWU.

    Let me explain:

    All Engineering Schools have open book tests!

    Most books are used for 2 symesters in engineering by traditional schools, I tested over the entire book not just the first half or the picked out parts by the PROF. When I asked the traditional question what do you want me to know from the book the answer was ALL OF IT, THE WHOLE BOOK IS IMPORTANT.

    I know of Engineers that have the Phd from KWU

    that have taught at the University of Ill. and other colleges. We are authors of books and develope products.

    You are being prejudice against what you have not experienced. You claim the degree is bogus, I CLAIM THAT YOU ARE AN INDIVIDUAL THAT IS ATTEMPTING TO MAKE MONEY FROM THIS ISSUE. YOU ARE NOT AN INTELLIGENT MEMBER OF SOCIETY.

    YOU PROBABLY LIVE IN A SMALL SHACK IN A LARGE TOWN.

    Why should the US government accept KWU, the school is not dictated to provide useless coursework and again they would look down on all of us if we have not attended an IVY league school. Does that make them smarter than us? I don’t think so, but we no longer vote for the George Washingtons or Lincolns, we only see on our ballot those from the Ivy league schools. To them you are BOGUS!

  39. Whocares says:

    Man, Roy, you are a real victim aren’t you. The government made you go in the military, took away your promised college money, and cut your education funds. Then, because you are not a minority and you are of the middle income level you cannot send your daughter to the state school, so you have to send her to the expensive private school. Wow, you have really been screwed.

    I also hate to hear that you did not learn anything at traditonal schools because you were so much smarter than your professors. It must cause you a lot of trouble being so much smarter than professors. It is nice to hear that Kennedy-Western, being such an innovator in distance education, was able to increase your knowledge. I wonder why Devry, and these others schools would even seek to become accredited. You would think that they would have continued to follow K-W’s lead and remain unaccredited.

    Although K-W has lead the way with distance education courses, one has to wonder why the accredited programs would not follow the pioneer K-W, and not require assignments in their distance courses, and only require one open book exam. Also Roy (last name Cohen?) could you tell us about the other engineering schools that only have one open book exam, and only require 4-10 courses?

    I sure hope things get better for ya, maybe the Kennedy Western university degree will change your fortune.

  40. Whocares says:

    Craig said:

    "Your comments have a negative twist on some of the facts as do some of the articles and websites you got your information.

    I do suggest that any student research this university and see if it is right for you. Apparently, it,s not for everyone."

    Whocares says:

    So Craig what specifically do you dispute in the above? If I have obtained misinformation, could you set the record straight and let me know what is wrong with information I have?

    Apparently, it is only right for those that do not want to meet real degree level requirements, and want to bypass the standards associated with accredited institutions.

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