is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the
development and application of distance learning for education and
training. USDLA reserves the right to review and/or revoke membership
applications and members acceptances at all levels and at any time as
well as request more information regarding a specific individual,
school, company or organization if necessary in order to ensure that
they are meeting and maintaining the Association's recognized standards
for professional practice and excellence.
If for any reason
an application for membership is declined after review by USDLA, a 50%
fee of any money paid will be deducted as a processing fee and the
remainder of the membership payment will be refunded. If it comes to
USDLA’s attention that a current member is not adhering to the
recognized standards for professional practice and excellence, the
membership can be terminated and the remainder of the membership payment
will be forfeited. All new applicants for membership and existing
members of USDLA are subject to periodic review by the USDLA Central
Office, the Advisory Board, and/or the Board of Directors to meet the
intent of this policy.
If the applicant wants to appeal the
decision it may provide three references (i.e., public official or a
company with which you have done business, two recent graduates and a
Possible criteria for why a K-12
School or Higher Education Institution may be denied USDLA membership
include, but are not limited to:
- It lacks licensure, certification or accreditation by a nationally or internationally reputable educational agency.
- It misrepresents its educational licensure, certification or accreditation and refers to itself as "fully accredited".
asserts its academic legitimacy on claims of affiliation with respected
organizations that are not engaged in school licensure, certification
- Promotional materials use words denoting a
legal status such as "licensed", "state authorized", or "state-approved"
to suggest an equivalence to accreditation or advertise other
indicators of authenticity that are not relevant to academic
- It has no teaching facilities — the address is a postal box or mail forwarding service or suite numbers.
has little or no interaction with professors. Comments and corrections
to coursework are given, but do not affect getting the degree.
Professors serve only to write compliments to the "student" that can be
given as references.
- The name of institution is deceptively similar to well known reputable universities.
- Degrees can be obtained within a few days, weeks or months from the time of enrollment, and back-dating is possible.
there are no faculty members or they hold advanced degrees from a
diploma mill or hold degrees unrelated to the subject they teach.
- Academic credit is offered for "life experience," and this is featured heavily in the selling points of the institution.
- Tuition and fees are charged on a per-degree basis rather than on a per-term or per-course basis.
students are encouraged to "enroll now" before tuition or fees are
increased, or they qualify for a "fellowship", "scholarship" or "grant"
or they're offered deals to sign up for multiple degrees at the same
- The institution has no library, personnel, publication or research. There is very little that is tangible.
- Doctoral theses and dissertations are not available from a national repository or even the institution's own library.
literature contains grammatical and spelling errors, words in Latin,
extravagant or pretentious language, and sample diplomas. The school's
website looks amateurish or unprofessionally made.
- The school is advertised using unsolicited electronic mail or other questionable methods.
school is situated in another country or legal jurisdiction, where
running diploma mills is legal, standards are lax or prosecution is
unlikely. Despite being situated in such a diploma mill-friendly
country, the school has no students from that country, and is run
entirely by non-native staff.
It is expected that all United
States Distance Learning Association non-profit members, for-profit
members and sponsors will adhere to USDLA’s and their industry standards
for professional practice and excellence.