Do Education Background Checks Detect Fake Degrees?

Back to blog
Posted by: David Garcia October 27, 2021

Whether your candidate graduated from an Ivy League school or the local community college, conducting an education verification is important for building a knowledgeable and trustworthy team. When hiring for a position that requires a degree, you’ll need an approach to verify education to be sure the candidate has truthfully presented themselves.

David Garcia, CEO of ScoutLogic, echoes the importance of education verification. “When hiring for jobs that require a degree, you want to make sure your candidate is truthful about their education,” he explains. “And by truthful, I mean the candidate actually received the specific degree stated on their resume, from an accredited institution, and not a fake degree from one of the diploma mills.”

Here is some useful information on education verification so you can understand what it is, why it is crucial, and how it can help you make an informed hiring decision:

What is an Education Background Check?

An education background check confirms the job applicant’s educational institutions, including high school, vocation school, college, or university. It also gives the years attended, whether they graduated or not, and specific degrees earned. It’s important to note that education verification does not verify licenses. You’ll need to confirm those with a professional license verification.

How Do Employers Verify Degrees?

Employers can contact educational institutions themselves or use a third-party education verification service to request transcript information. This process can be tedious since some schools only release transcripts to the student. As a result, The National Student Clearinghouse is an essential resource that your third-party service can use during the hiring process to verify enrollment and graduation.

Why is Degree Verification Important?

First, you want to make sure your candidate is qualified to do the job. If you have taken the time to specify a degree needed, you obviously want to make sure they have the education and skills required to perform well in the position. Sometimes you are confirming a job applicant has a bachelor’s degree, but other times, you need education verification that the candidate has a specific degree or even a master’s degree to be sure they have the appropriate background in the field.

Secondly, you want an employee that possesses honesty and integrity. They may think it is a small thing to twist the truth on a resumé, but it speaks to their character. Some people feel justified in changing their major or degree to match their work experience. For example, a history major might feel it looks better to have a marketing degree to support their career in sales. While they may be truthful about the institution they attended, they may not be about the specific degree obtained.

Another reason you want to confirm the degree is the unfortunate popularity of diploma mills. These are companies you can pay for a diploma without actually earning it. They tout “life experience” in exchange for a degree. Diploma mills are not legitimate and not recognized by the Council on Higher Education or the U.S. Department of Education. The Federal Trade Commission has information about fake degrees and signs of a scam.

These diploma mills can be hard to detect since they provide all the necessary paperwork, transcripts, and references, and many people even have them listed on their LinkedIn profiles. There have been instances of high-level executives who have lied about earning MBAs and other degrees and were forced to step down when discovered. That is not only an embarrassment for them but also for the company that hired them. An education background check would alert you to this type of fraud before you get too deep into the hiring process.


Before hiring any employee, conduct the proper education verification to make sure they are representing themselves honestly. You are hiring a team member that embodies your company values. First impressions are everything. Garcia emphasizes, “If an employee will lie on their very first interaction with your company, how can you trust that they will be honest in their subsequent dealings?”

A background company like ScoutLogic can help with this. They will take a deeper dive into your company’s needs to make an employment screening package that best serves you. You will receive updates in real-time throughout the background screening process.

There is a lot to consider when running education background checks. Let us help with our employment screening solutions.

Latest blog posts
September 22, 2023
What to Do if a Candidate Disputes Their Background Check
Receiving notice that a failed background check cost a candidate a promising new job is tough to handle. Sometimes, candidates can see challenging information coming down the...
September 20, 2023
10 Background Check Best Practices
From work history to skill assessment, there are a lot of boxes to be checked in the hiring process to feel confident that you've found the right person to fill a vacant job...
September 18, 2023
Debunking 10 Background Check Myths
Whether you're doing them for your business or you're an employee who's being subjected to one, you've likely heard of background checks. The problem is that there is a lot of...
September 07, 2023
Should You Screen Job Candidates' Social Media?
There are few topics in the hiring world quite as contentious right now as whether or not companies should be screening the social media of job candidates. Some see it as a...
September 05, 2023
What Is a Diploma Mill?
Education is the latest sector of the economy to fall prey to widespread scams. Schemes, scams, and cynical manipulation have infiltrated education in a big way in the form of diploma...
Looking for a better background check company? Start by preparing with this free guide.

Download this free guide to go into the searching process prepared. This guide includes actionable steps to:

  • Gather your requirements
  • Determine vendors
  • Check references
  • Determine success metrics
get a free e-book

Get a free e-book