Some non-academic organizations in United States use "university" as part of their name without official accreditation, and I've been struggling to figure out to what extent the university title is protected in the U.S. I'm particularly interested in California law.

In New York State, EDN § 224 prohibits non-accredited organizations from referring to themselves as a "university," but I haven't been able to find similar federal or California regulation.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is better suited for Law SE. May 3, 2018 at 14:44
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    @user3209815 that's not a valid close reason. If it is on-topic here, it stays, even if it wouls be more on-topic elsewhere. Some animals are more equal than other animals, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. May 3, 2018 at 14:55
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    According to wikipedia there are no national level protections in the USA, and California "permits anyone to claim to operate a college and issue degrees with essentially no oversight". Given that they're so lax in that respect, I'd speculate that they're unlikely to have protections for those terms.
    – Anyon
    May 3, 2018 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


Unlike some other countries, there is no strong federal regulation that controls the titles like "University" and "College". A few states have state level regulations, but federally there isn't any.

By the looking at the number of degree factories in California, I doubt that state of California has strong control over the title as well.

Some people became professors in regular four year colleges outside of the states with PhD's from these colleges without attending the class once or even visiting the campus - well, there isn't any campus to visit anyway.

  • I am sorry to say this, but any university that lets someone become a professor based on a false degree, deserves said applicant.
    – Bas Jansen
    May 9, 2018 at 12:01
  • Yes, it is really pathetic. Even in the states, it is a real problem. There should be stronger regulations. It really sickens me.
    – Kay
    May 9, 2018 at 19:13

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