Is The University Of Phoenix A Good School? Is It Respected By Employers?

The University of Phoenix is a school that nearly everyone has heard of.  It’s easy to see when when you think about how much the school advertises.  Not only that, but the University of Phoenix is actually one of the largest universities in the United States, by student population.  The school has many different campuses in major cities all across the nation and also offers a wide assortment of degree programs online.  Combined, the school has a total student population of nearly 500,000.

If you are thinking about joining the many students who are already enrolled in degree programs through the school, you may be wondering whether the University of Phoenix is a good school.  This is understandable since you definitely want to make sure the degree you earn and the school you graduate from will help to either launch a new career or advance your current career.  So, is the University of Phoenix a good school?  To answer that question it’s necessary to take a look at the school’s history, its structure, and its accreditation.

What’s The Story Behind This School?

The University of Phoenix was established in 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the name).  The school was founded by a man named John Sperling who wanted to create a school for working adults.  Sperling felt that working adults were currently under-served by the current higher education model and wanted to change the status quo.  The new model of higher education proved to be extremely successful.  In 1989, with the Internet still in its infancy, the school started its first online program.

How Is It Structured?  Is It Different From Other Schools?

Most colleges and universities in the United States are non-profit.  This means they don’t have a group of owners who are interested in making a profit from the venture.  The University of Phoenix is  different, however, and is considered a for-profit school.  The University of Phoenix can be thought of as a corporation.  In fact, it is owned by the Apollo Group, Inc., a publicly traded company.  The Apollo Group’s stock symbol on the stock exchange is APOL.

The University of Phoenix is not the only for-profit school.  You’re probably already familiar with many for-profit schools because they advertise so heavily.  A few examples include Kaplan University, DeVry University, Strayer University, and others.  Most for-profit schools are adequate for gaining employment but they are not considered prestigious by any means since they usually have open enrollment.  And if you are considering earning a college degree from a for-profit school to become a university professor, you can pretty much forget about it.  Universities typically shun graduates of for-profit schools and prefer to fill their ranks with graduates of high ranking non-profit schools.

What Does The School’s Accreditation Look Like?

The gold standard of collegiate accreditation in the United States is known as regional accreditation.  This is probably different than what most people imagine when it comes to accreditation.  Most people probably imagine one large organization that oversees all colleges and universities in the United States.  It’s just not so.  The fact is, it’s just too big of a job for one single organization.  The job has been broken down into six different entities that are each responsible for making sure schools that are located within a specific geographical boundary meet minimum standards.

The University of Phoenix holds regional accreditation.  This means the school has the same level of accreditation as any major state university in the United States.  However, there is a second type of accreditation you should be aware of that’s known as specialized or program accreditation.  This type of accreditation is when an organization that specializes in a specific type of study accredits certain programs or schools within a university.  For example  psychology programs can be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).  Nursing programs are often accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).  Law programs are typically accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

The University of Phoenix does hold some specialized accreditation.  It’s nursing program holds CCNE accreditation.  The school’s master’s degrees in education are accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).  In addition, the school’s master’s degrees in counseling are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).  The school’s business department is accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).  It’s worth pointing out, however, that ACBSP accreditation is not considered to be the gold standard of business school accreditation.  Such business schools with the highest level of business accreditation are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).  ACBSP accreditation is still a valid form of business school accreditation, and is definitely better than no accreditation at all.

Controversies and Criticism

The University of Phoenix has definitely had its share of criticism.  The school has earned a reputation for being a very difficult place to work at.  The employee turnover rate is very high and there have been many employee lawsuits against the school for a variety of discrimination issues.

Another thing to consider with the University of Phoenix and for-profit schools in general is the fact that they exist to generate a profit for their owners.  As such, these schools are notoriously expensive.  For example, the school charges $550 per credit hour in addition to a $90 electronic materials fee (whatever that is) for upper division online courses.  For a typical three credit course this comes to $1,740.  If you transfer in the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn the remaining 60 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree, your tab with the University of Phoenix will come to approximately $34,800.

What’s The Bottom Line On This School?

So, what’s the bottom line?  Is the University of Phoenix a good school?

As with most things in life, it depends on who you ask.  The guys from the Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix will undoubtedly claim it’s the best school on the planet.  After taking a look at the school though it’s easy to conclude that it’s not the next Harvard.  Degrees awarded by the school are properly accredited and can be used to obtain employment or a promotion, however, they have limited use in academia.

To summarize, the University of Phoenix is acceptable but not stellar.  It’s degrees do have utility but the school itself is not ranked very high.  And since most state colleges and universities now offer a wide variety of online programs, you can probably find a more affordable school without looking too hard.