novelty degree
n. A fake degree from an existing university or college; a degree from a non-existent university or college.

Example Citation:
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

Earliest Citation:
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 8, 1990

Related Words: