Disclaimer: USDLA 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 teacher/trainer/faculty member).
Possible criteria for why a K-12 School or Higher Education
Institution may be denied USDLA membership include, but are not limited
- 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".
- It asserts its academic legitimacy on claims of affiliation
with respected organizations that are not engaged in school
licensure, certification or accreditation.
- 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 credentials.
- It has no teaching facilities — the address is a postal box or mail forwarding service or suite numbers.
- It 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.
- Either 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.
- Prospective 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 time.
- 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.
- Promotional literature contains grammatical and spelling
errors, words in Latin, extravagant or pretentious language, and
sample diplomas. The school's website looks amateurish or
- The school is advertised using unsolicited electronic mail or other questionable methods.
- The 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