Degrees R Us

Is it possible to receive a Harvard diploma in four days rather than four years? For even the most diligent
By Brandon C. Presser

Is it possible to receive a Harvard diploma in four days rather than four years? For even the most diligent Harvard student, this would seem an impossible feat. But obtaining a college diploma has never been easier for those willing to dish out the dough in degree-dealing cyber-scams.

While there are many Web-based companies actively engaged in faux-diploma transactions, each of them legitimizes their dealings in a very different manner—while charging exorbitant prices for their spurious certificates., for example, explains in a legal disclaimer that their diplomas are “solely for self-esteem purposes.” The price scheme is tiered according to the level of the degree, with a Ph.D twice as expensive as a bachelor’s degree. And for a limited time only, bogus transcripts and student identification cards are also available at the one-stop shop. Meanwhile, will provide the customer with a “replacement” diploma if you have torn or misplaced the original.

But though each company justifies its dealings in a different way, most of them are careful to steer clear of the H-bomb. Even online, it seems that acquiring the Harvard lambskin is a difficult task. Harvard diplomas can be purchased at for a mere $39.95, but it seems unlikely that a PDF file could make for a convincing replica.

Marilyn Danz, staff member at the Harvard Registrar’s Office, says that the most difficult aspect of the Harvard diploma to reproduce would be the raised embossed seal. “You could spot a fake a mile away,” she says. Danz points out that the diploma also requires the signature of five school officials, which would be yet another challenge for the imposter Harvard graduate.

Discovering sources for a viable forgery is practically impossible without perusing ads for calligraphers. Some local calligraphers promise to produce anything that the customer desires. But while substantially lower than actual Harvard tuition, the prices of these forgeries still range from $1,500 to $5,000.

The online fake diploma industry is not just confined to forging college diplomas—at least one company will actually confer a degree itself.

Visitors to automatically qualify for a college degree if they have been “working in the same field for three years.” Interested customers need only contact “student services” to determine eligibility. An operator at “student services” said that “each applicant for a degree is brought to a committee of two Ph.D. holders” who decide if a candidate is “competent enough in their field to receive a degree—because some people are very competent in their field but for some reason or another did not attend college.”

According to the operator, the company awards degrees to approximately 60 percent of applicants, which adds up to around eight or nine degrees a month. A current promotion on the website also offers a college transcript at reduced cost with every degree purchase. “Student services” explained that attendance at “seminars,” “workshops” or even military training can be sculpted into a transcript-ready curriculum.

As proudly states: “It is a time honored University practice to award diplomas to individuals who, although not enrolled in the University, have done something to cause the University to acknowledge and to honor them. There are no laws, nor rules, that dictate who is and who is not awarded a diploma.”

For The Moment