A "degree mill" issues diplomas from unaccredited institutions which may be legal in some states but are generally illegitimate, while a "diploma mill" issues counterfeit diplomas bearing the names of real universities.
Depending on the institution, students may be required to purchase textbooks, take tests, and submit homework, but degrees are commonly conferred after little or no study.
Diploma mills are frequently named to sound confusingly similar to those of prestigious accredited academic institutions.
Despite the fact that trademark law is intended to prevent this situation, diploma mills continue to employ various methods to avoid legal recourse.
Some diploma mills use an top-level domain name, which resembles genuine second-level academic domain names like but is in fact the cc TLD for Ascension Island.
To prevent misuse of their names in this way, some legitimate academic institutions have registered domains.