Let's say someone is named John Smith applied for a job claiming that he was graduated from University X. How would an employer confirm that the applicant is John Smith, who also has the degree from University X? Wouldn't it be incredibly common for someone else to have the same name from the same department?

  • 2
    The employer likely delegates the problem to the university, by telling the applicant to arrange for an official sealed transcript copy, trusting that the university only makes those available to the real graduate. What are the chances that two John Smiths are applying to the same company at the same time, and one is fraudulently claiming to be from University X at the same time that the one who actually attended and is applying to the same company orders his real transcript?
    – Ben Voigt
    Jan 8 '17 at 22:36
  • I don't know any John Smith... :)
    – BioGeo
    Jan 8 '17 at 22:51
  • @BioGeo I have only met one John Smith, but I have actually met more then 3 people with exact same first and last name. 2 With the same first middle and last and one person with the same birthday first middle and last name. Names are a generational thing which I believe alters this also the birthday paradox.
    – William
    Oct 7 '17 at 6:42

Most of the time, employers trust that potential applicants have the degrees that they claim they have. When applicants apply for jobs, they are frequently asked to attest to the fact that everything they are submitting is truthful. There can be enormous legal and reputational consequences to lying.

If it emerges later, for any reason, that an employee lies about a degree, they run a very strong risk of being fired and having their reputation and credibility destroyed. In some case, fraud can lead to criminal changes. Because the consequences can be enormous, most people will not lie about something like the conferral of a degree.

In situations where employees needs to verify a degree, there are many options. Employers might request a copy of a diploma or a transcript from applicants (I was asked to do this by an Academic HR department at my current university to finalize my appointment). In some cases (e.g., when applying to graduate schools) it's routine for the degreeholder to request signed and sealed copies of academic transcripts that are sent directly from the registrars to potential schools or employers. Some universities and fields have automated systems that employers can use to verify that an applicant has the degree they claim.

Although it's possible that a university or department might have multiple students with the same name, you won't have two students with exactly the same experience. Two identically-named students will not likely have started in the same department at the same and ended at the same time (information that would normally be on a CV). Registrars will often have systems in place to ensure that they only individual students can grant access to their transcripts (e.g., by requiring less public information like a password, birthday or, government-issued ID number) which acts as another form of evidence.

If an employer was incredibly skeptical, they could just ask an applicant basic things about their experience in school. Who did they take classes with? Which professor did they have the best relationship with? Then send an email or call and see if things check out.


Many universities have a degree verification service. For example:

Confirmation of University of Toronto Degree

The simplest way to eliminate the possibility of an incorrect match is to search using the student number. However, in this case the date of birth can be used as well. The surname, year of graduation, and degree are also required. Note it does cost money to check (20 CAD in this case).

There are also checking services which apply to groups of universities. Such as:

UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck


Every University has a degree verification phone number that employers can call and it only takes about 5 minutes. Just type the name of the university, degree verification into Google and the number will come up.

I just put the degree verification on my resume beside each degree. This way the hiring person can see that it is legit and they can call to verify.

  • 4
    Every university in the world??! Could you provide a reference?!
    – user111388
    Feb 10 '20 at 20:15
  • Such a service would run afoul of data privacy laws in many countries.
    – Maeher
    Feb 11 '20 at 9:16

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