Texas Law on the Use of Substandard Degrees

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by sanantone, Jul 28, 2021.

  1. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Sec. 32.52. FRAUDULENT, SUBSTANDARD, OR FICTITIOUS DEGREE. (a) In this section, "fraudulent or substandard degree" has the meaning assigned by Section 61.302, Education Code.

    (b) A person commits an offense if the person:

    (1) uses or claims to hold a postsecondary degree that the person knows:

    (A) is a fraudulent or substandard degree;

    (B) is fictitious or has otherwise not been granted to the person; or

    (C) has been revoked; and

    (2) uses or claims to hold that degree:

    (A) in a written or oral advertisement or other promotion of a business; or

    (B) with the intent to:

    (i) obtain employment;

    (ii) obtain a license or certificate to practice a trade, profession, or occupation;

    (iii) obtain a promotion, a compensation or other benefit, or an increase in compensation or other benefit, in employment or in the practice of a trade, profession, or occupation;

    (iv) obtain admission to an educational program in this state; or

    (v) gain a position in government with authority over another person, regardless of whether the actor receives compensation for the position.

    (c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.


    (11) "Fraudulent or substandard degree" means:

    (A) a degree conferred by a private postsecondary educational institution or other person that, at the time the degree was conferred, was operating in this state in violation of this subchapter;

    (B) if the degree is not approved through the review process described by Section 61.3021, a degree conferred by a private educational institution or other person that, at the time the degree was conferred, was not eligible to receive a certificate of authority under this subchapter and was operating in another state:

    (i) in violation of a law regulating the conferral of degrees in that state or in the state in which the degree recipient was residing; or

    (ii) without accreditation by a recognized accrediting agency; or

    (C) if conferred by a private educational institution or other person not described by Paragraph (A) or (B), including a private educational institution or other person that, at the time the degree was conferred, was not eligible to receive a certificate of authority under this subchapter and was operating outside the United States, a degree that the board, through the review process described by Section 61.3021, determines is not the equivalent of an accredited or authorized degree as described by that section.

    Futuredegree likes this.
  2. not4profit

    not4profit Active Member

    As a former fraud investigator I can say this would be very challenging to prosecute. In 99% of situations the person would list a degree and it would be on the shoulders of the organization to determine whether the degree meets the organization's standards. In my experience, in most cases, the person using the degree would say they have no knowledge of the accreditations and paint themselves as the victim of the school. So investigators would have to collect quite a bit of evidence leaving no doubt that the person knew better. In most cases that evidence won't exist and this kind of charge will probably die on the vine. That is just my experience.
    sideman, MiracleWhipz and sanantone like this.
  3. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    What happens if someone continues to use the degree? I came across an old case involving school district employees who advertised that they had PhDs from Canbourne University. Even though legal issues were brought to their attention, they continued to list the degrees years later. One of the employees became a superintendent and insisted that he was not listing the degree for monetary reasons.
  4. not4profit

    not4profit Active Member

    Yeah those are the kinds of fact patterns that make cases unattractive to some prosecutors. They would probably want evidence that the person actually was hired/promoted as a result of the degree and that they knew it was not legit. The bigger issue that kills so many other fraud cases is whether the organization worded the rules correctly. For instance, did they say only certain degrees with certain accreditations can be listed on the resume? Further, did the school make it clear that the repercussions would go beyond simply not getting credit for the degree? I could see a defense being a person saying "I do have this degree from this school. That is your issue to decide if I deserve full credit for the degree, but I am not defrauding anyone by saying I have a degree from a school that I do in fact have a degree from."

    So many of my CJ students think prosecutors are overly aggressive and that their 'desire to win' results in unfair prosecutions. The truth is that a vast majority of legit wrongdoing never get prosecuted because cases are not wrapped up with a pretty bow or they are not a big enough deal to meet prosecutorial thresholds. I think this is an example of that.
  5. Courcelles

    Courcelles Active Member

    If I’m reading this right, state approval is enough to be fine under this law? 11.B.i? So the law only covers the absolute frauds, either the worst degree mills or people who just lie on their resume?
  6. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Unless there is a law that protects a certain class of schools, THECB has broad discretion to deem any school as "substandard." Before THECB recognized DETC (now DEAC), they made it illegal to use California Coast University degrees in Texas even though the school was accredited by DETC and licensed to operate in California. Their reasoning was that the level of work California Coast University required made it substandard.

    THECB has also made it illegal to use many foreign degrees from schools that do not have degree-granting authority in their home countries.
  7. Vicki

    Vicki Well-Known Member

    Either way, it doesn’t matter to me. I have no plans to ever live/work/study in Texas.
  8. not4profit

    not4profit Active Member

    Good! We didn't have any plans on you coming here either! Lol.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    You can only do the second one there anyway.
    Thorne likes this.
  10. Thorne

    Thorne Active Member

    Ain't that the truth...
  11. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    It would be a rather tricky proposition for a state to approve an institution to award degrees and then prosecute anyone who used said degree, wouldn't you say?

    Most states with legislation or even just regulations on degree usage have this caveat. New York, for Civil Service purposes, requires RA (they really and truly don't check because no one actually knows what that means, it appears) or a degree from a state approved school. Naturally, they will also accept degrees accredited by the BoR but those are very few. The handful of state approved but unaccredited degree institutions appear to all be vocational degree programs.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    There have been diploma mill operators prosecuted for running operations that were legal in their states.

    Users of diplomas from mills seldom get prosecuted, however.
  13. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Nothing is constant, there can come a wave when things may get tougher and persecutions or penalties of substandard degree holders increase.
    One never knows.
  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I've been in this field since 1978. So far, no.

    The future isn't just some sort of random crap shoot, you know. "What's past is prologue." --William Shakespeare, The Tempest

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