Some universities do not publish the list of persons who obtained a degree from their institution. In order to verify whether an individual obtained a degree there, one needs to call them, for instance.


Contact the Registrar's Office of the appropriate school to request degree certification or enrollment verification.

Why do some universities not publish the list of persons who obtained a degree from their institution? Among other advantages, this would allow to check claim of degrees more easily.

  • 4
    Is the degree obtained and enrollment status considered private personal data of a person? It might require permission of the student to publish this data in some jurisdictions.
    – clueless
    Aug 28, 2016 at 17:37
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    "this would allow to check claim of degrees more easily": would it? How could the casual reader of the list check for homonymy, without access to further information? Moreover, someone might not be willing to publicly disclose that they graduated from a certain university, and probably law consider this as rightful. Aug 28, 2016 at 17:41
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    In the US, a university publishing such a list would have to also create a way for students to opt out. (Per FERPA, students must be able to opt out of disclosure of directory information.)
    – ff524
    Aug 28, 2016 at 18:47
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    @ff524 Don't they face the same issue when creating the directory to look up when people call the registrar? Aug 28, 2016 at 19:11
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    @FranckDernoncourt: To answer your last question, yes they do.
    – Anonymous
    Aug 28, 2016 at 20:56

3 Answers 3


Scumbags like me could include that information when I calculate a mortgage or credit card interest rate.

That's not a huge deal except I could implicitly include race in those calculations, because, for example, most people who go to a historically black college are black. And it'd be easy to hide behind a mathematical model by saying, "that's the model that reduces the sum of squared errors, not me breaking the law."

So universities shouldn't make that data easy for anyone to access.

(Disclosure: I wouldn't do this but I could easily see someone else doing it.)

  • 4
    Age for job applications presents similar issues. Supposing I were job hunting now, and did not want to disclose my age. No amount of hair dye could compensate for a bachelor's degree in 1970. Aug 28, 2016 at 21:20
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    That's why my high school graduation doesn't go on my LinkedIn. The fact that it took me a long time to make it through college had no bearing on my competence, but it sure makes me look stupid
    – user60356
    Aug 28, 2016 at 22:17
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    While that would be an unfortunate consequence of publishing such information, I don't think that, on its own, it's a reason not to. Sep 2, 2016 at 9:18
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    Agree with @DavidRicherby. Maybe we should also stop selling forks, as scumbags like you could use them to hurt people. ;) Sep 2, 2016 at 10:04
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    Under the theory of disparate impact, you'd still be breaking the law when you did this. Anyway, there's so much other public data that correlates with race, etc, that I don't think this can be a major motivation for not publishing lists of graduates. Sep 2, 2016 at 12:50

Because a list of names is almost useless for verification. I'm very probably the only David Richerby in the world, but there were two Andrew Smiths in my cohort of about 150 at university; there are about 290,000 Wei Zhangs in China, and another 280,000 Wei Wangs; or try to figure out how many different Xi Chens are presented as one person in the DBLP computer science bibliography. I've never changed my name, but a large proportion of people in the west do (most of them are called "married women"). I would never change my name to agree with the name on some university's degree list, but some people would (even though it would be fraud).

And, if you give more identifying information than names, there are huge privacy issues.


This would generate a false sense of security and potentially violate students' privacy and would be controlled by data protection (so they would need to opt in).

The way you verify whether someone has obtained a degree from an institution is to look at a hard copy of their certificate and/or transcript or verified electronic equivalent.

If you have questions then you ask the university's registrar.

A list of names on a website is just a list of names. What if a student's name changed because they got married? Or what if I changed my name so I suddenly got a degree from Oxford? Also, I'd be pretty unhappy if my name was up on a website somewhere saying I got a 3rd from some second rate institution.

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