I'm thinking of starting doctoral studies at York University (USA). I found this on the York University website information about accreditation:


After finishing this doctorate at York University in the USA, could I work as a lecturer at the University or at others in the USA?

What is the general difference in the Universities accredited by the United States Secretary of Education, and those which are not?

  • 21
    Their "catalogue" is a one-page PDF listing degrees offered, including one in "Esthetics and Glory Science." Don't run. Fly away—and quickly.
    – aeismail
    May 21, 2015 at 15:36
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    Yet another sign: (almost?) all real US universities use a .edu domain, rather than .us. May 21, 2015 at 19:10
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    Perhaps you should consider to study at the proper York University (outside of USA), which is fully accredited.
    – cnst
    May 21, 2015 at 21:29
  • If the law doesn't provide a way for the real York University to prevent this USA impostor from using its name, then the law needs to be changed. May 22, 2015 at 19:06
  • For the second part of the question, the United States Secretary of Education does not accredit universities, but instead recognizes accrediting agencies which accredit universities. The difference between universities accredited by recognized accrediting agencies and those not, is that Uncle Sam will never pay money to an unaccredited school. You can not use federal financial aid or any veterans education benefits to attend York University.
    – emory
    May 22, 2015 at 19:38

4 Answers 4


Accreditation is supposed to enforce standards of quality in higher education institutions. If an institution does not have accreditation, then it is extremely suspect, and any degree you obtain from it is likely to be completely worthless. This is from the Wikipedia page on unaccredited institutions:

All fraudulent diploma mills are also unaccredited schools, although they may claim accreditation from an unrecognized agency. Accreditation from such organizations, known derisively as accreditation mills, is unrecognized by any government or reputable private entity, and any courses taken or degrees received from such a school are generally considered invalid.

As you noted, the "university" claims to be accredited by the "International Accreditation Organization". This has the hallmarks of an accreditation mill as described in above.

I would be extremely wary of this particular institution, and it is unlikely that any other academic institution would hire you on the basis of a degree from it.

  • York University is accredited by the IAO's (among others). Is this thing is worth?
    – Aurelio
    May 21, 2015 at 13:59
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    @MarekWolny IAO is the only body they claim to be accredited by, and it is itself not recognised by any other body. That is, its accreditation seems to be worthless.
    – MJeffryes
    May 21, 2015 at 14:11
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    @MarekWolny I highly recommend you do not waste any time or money on this institution. Please look elsewhere!
    – MJeffryes
    May 21, 2015 at 14:15
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    The first hit on a search for "iao accreditation" was a list of fake college degree accreditation agencies. May 21, 2015 at 14:15
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    Even if it were a legitimate accrediting body, the certificate says it's for "organizational management, business management, and business performance." I'd be wary of anyone presenting an accreditation certificate that doesn't mention anything about their education.
    – cpast
    May 21, 2015 at 21:48

So, I had a few minutes' fun looking up on how much of a scam this "university" is. It is nothing more than a diploma mill. I hope these few tips may serve as useful warning signs for other dodgy institutions. From the university's website:

Duration of the Program

The normal duration of the PhD program for full-time students is 6 semesters (24 months). Course work of 18 semester hours may normally be completed in three semesters (12 months). The dissertation may be completed in the remaining 3 semesters (12 months).

No PhD program is that short.

Additionally, any "university" whose website does not have a list of its departments and academic staff should be treated with great suspicion. I can find no information anywhere about its research departments or staff.

This is what the address of the place looks like on Google Street View (401 Kamakee Street #312, Honolulu, used to be the home of the "Apeautique medical spa"):

enter image description here

This is a diploma mill. Any institution capable of awarding a bona fide PhD degree must have a proper campus with sufficiently qualified and reputable academic staff (especially when they claim to award PhDs in civil engineering).


The university you link to is pretty obviously a diploma mill, and you should run as far and as fast as you can in the other direction. Do not give them any money, and do not believe anything they say.

Let me just say generally that an online Ph.D. program is a pretty dubious endeavor in any circumstance, even if the school is accredited. The chances that you can really get the deep immersion in the subject matter you need without meeting personally with faculty and fellow students are quite low. You should be very skeptical that one will really open doors for you.


Recently, the New York Times did an expose on Axact's large scale diploma mill operation (link). It looks like IAO (the accrediting agency) has connections with this company

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