2013 ORS § 348.609¹
Representation of possession of academic degree
  • complaints
  • civil penalties
  • rules
  • fees

(1) A person may not claim or represent that the person possesses any academic degree unless the degree has been awarded to or conferred upon the person by a school that:

(a) Has accreditation recognized by the United States Department of Education or the foreign equivalent of such accreditation;

(b) Has been approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to offer and confer degrees in Oregon;

(c) Is described in ORS 348.597 (Applicability of ORS 348.594 to 348.615); or

(d) Is located in the United States and has been found by the commission to meet standards of academic quality comparable to those of an institution located in the United States that has accreditation, recognized by the United States Department of Education, to offer degrees of the type and level claimed by the person.

(2)(a) A person who has been awarded a degree from a school other than a school described in subsection (1) of this section may claim or represent that the person possesses an academic degree if:

(A) The person has been awarded a degree from a school that has the legal authority to issue degrees in the jurisdiction where the degree is issued; and

(B) The claim or representation is accompanied by a disclaimer that states: (Name of school) does not have accreditation recognized by the United States Department of Education and has not been approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

(b) A disclaimer allowed under this subsection shall be made in any resume, letterhead, business card, announcement or advertisement in which the person is claiming or representing to have an academic degree from a school that does not meet the requirements of subsection (1) of this section.

(c) A person may not use a disclaimer described in this subsection for a degree received from a diploma mill.

(d) This subsection does not alter any requirement for obtaining a license, admission into a school, teaching or employment or for other areas in which a degree from an accredited school is required.

(3) The commission shall adopt, by rule, standards and procedures for responding to complaints about degree claims and for validation of degree claims. Failure of a person to provide documentation of a claimed degree shall be prima facie evidence that the claim of such person to such degree is a violation of this section.

(4) The commission, by rule, may impose a fee on any school or person requesting validation of degree claims. The amount of the fee shall be established to recover designated expenses incurred by the commission in carrying out the administration of ORS 348.594 (Definitions for ORS 348.594 to 348.615) to 348.615 (Appeal procedure). Any fees collected under this subsection shall be deposited in the Degree Authorization Account established under ORS 348.601 (Degree Authorization Account).

(5)(a) The commission may cause a civil suit to be instituted in the circuit court for legal or equitable remedies, including injunctive relief, to ensure compliance with this section. The commission may recover attorney fees and court costs for any such action.

(b) The commission shall adopt a schedule of civil penalties for violations of this section. A civil penalty shall not exceed $1,000 per violation.

(c) In addition to any action or penalty provided by law, any person who violates this section shall incur a civil penalty in an amount prescribed by the schedule adopted by the commission. Any civil penalty imposed under this subsection shall be imposed in the manner provided in ORS 183.745 (Civil penalty procedures). All penalties recovered under this subsection shall be paid into the State Treasury and credited to the General Fund.

(6) The provisions of this section do not apply to a person who is a graduate of a veterinary college, or a veterinary department of a university or college, of good standing and repute, as determined by the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board. [1997 c.652 §12; 2001 c.454 §1; 2003 c.674 §3; 2005 c.196 §4; 2005 c.546 §10a; 2009 c.173 §1; 2011 c.637 §186]