novelty degree
n. A fake degree from an existing university or college; a degree from a non-existent university or college.
All the Web sites claim to provide "novelty" degrees for entertainment purposes only, in an effort to protect themselves from lawsuits and criminal charges, said Pierre-Yves Boucher, secretary of the University of Ottawa.
—Kim Honey, “Skip the studying, just buy the degree,” The Globe and Mail (Canada), January 12, 2002
On the site, customers can buy, for $ 50 apiece, diplomas from any colleges they want — including the University of Nebraska, whose "diploma" graces the Web site's main page. The Web site's order form requires customers to sign a statement saying that they will not misrepresent their "novelty" degrees as being the real thing.
—Lisa Guernsey, “Company Shuts Down On-Line Operation Selling Fake Diplomas and Transcripts,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 22, 1998
1990 (earliest)
FBI Special Agent Otho A. Ezell Jr. said in a sworn statement that he first noticed an ad for customized degrees and transcripts in the Globe, a tabloid newspaper, last September. He sent a letter requesting information to the Tampa post office box listed. He received a price list and specifications for ordering just about any kind of "novelty" degree, except law and medicine. "Hamilton High School" or "Stanton University" degrees were advertised for $ 79.50 or two for $ 99, while customized degrees from other schools cost more, up to $ 270 for a doctorate. Specialized college seals cost an extra $ 25.
—Bruce Vielmetti, “FBI agents raid business accused of faking degrees,” St. Petersburg Times, June 08, 1990
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