Is American Public University Legit?

Is American Public University legit? Yes, American Public University (APU) is 100% legit. APU is, however, an online-only for-profit school, which is the reason for most of the negative comments it receives. People generally dislike for-profit schools and will recommend going to a traditional school with a good reputation such as your local community college instead of APU. But unlike some of the comments, the American Public University isn’t at all a bad decision. Moreover, this school is regionally accredited.

A lot of negative reviews you will find about APU focus on problems with online learning in general. Now, that isn’t a great way to evaluate a particular school. So, this review is made in such a way you can make the judgment yourself.

Is American Public University Legit?

The American Public University is legit. This school is what you might call a practical choice for getting a college degree. They also you a decent financial aid package, but it’s not one of those prestigious, big-name universities. It’s more about ticking the box of having a college degree.

A lot of the students are in the military or are attending with thanks to tuition grants from their employers. The school operates online, so there’s no traditional campus life or local community feel. When you mention you are studying at APU, most people probably won’t recognize it.

The school has a decent reputation, but you must check that the program you are enrolled in is accredited. If it’s not, you might want to consider switching schools. American Public and American Military Universities gained popularity after the University of Phoenix faced some issues with the Department of Defense. Though the University of Phoenix is no longer in trouble, you still want to approach them with caution. As for how hard the courses are, it really depends on what you are studying, so there is no specific answer to that.

What is American Public University?

The American Public University System (APUS) is an online college with two parts: (1) the American Military University and (2) the American Public University. This school is mostly online learning, and it’s a private, for-profit university.

The American Public University is popular and has a lot of students – more than 110,000 people who have finished their studies come from all over the world each year. Half of its students are from the military, but it also has students who aren’t in the military and from other countries.

APU (which is different from Azusa Pacific University) started with the American Military University in 1991. It was created to offer online courses for people in the military. Traditionally, the focus was on aspects such as fighting terrorism and understanding military intelligence.


American Public University is legit and has many important aspects that make it a worthwhile choice for you, especially if you are the busy type looking to study at your own pace.

APUS is Regionally Accredited

Yes, the American Public University System (APUS) is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), since 2012. Before now, it was accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, a national accreditation body, but switched to the HLC in 2012.

At some point, APU’s accreditation was in jeopardy due to allegations of deceptive recruiting practices. However, a settlement with the state of Massachusetts resolved these issues, so APU retained its accreditation.

Many Other Accreditations to Their Name

APU also has multiple specific accreditations for its operations and various degree programs. It’s accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which qualifies the university to participate in federal educational entitlement programs, including the GI Bill, corporate education assistance, and federal student aid programs. Other notable accreditations include:

  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Accreditation for Health Information Management (HIM)
  • International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC)

The American Public University also has professional recognition and affiliation with several organizations, including:

  1. Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)
  2. American Sport Education Program (ASEP) for the BS degree
  3. National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)
  4. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) for the MS degree
  5. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
  6. National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education

It is an Online and Flexible University

Classes at APUS are online and flexible, allowing students to complete degrees faster and at their own pace. The online platform is user-friendly, offering recorded classes for easy access. You can complete your coursework early without being penalized. Online classes begin monthly and run for 8 or 16 weeks – so you can easily plan your schedule.

Transferable Credits

Traditionally, the more credits you have to transfer, the faster you can complete your degree at the American Public University. Accredited universities often have a requirement known as ‘Residency’ that governs how many credits can be transferred toward a degree at the student’s ‘home’ university. According to APU, the transfer credit limits are as follows:

  • 45 academic credits toward an associate degree (up to 30 non-traditional credits)
  • 90 academic credits toward a bachelor’s degree (up to 60 non-traditional credits)
  • Master’s degrees and certificates vary by program (non-traditional cannot exceed 25% of program requirements)

Non-traditional Credits

Non-traditional transfer credits are those earned based on assessment, competency testing (CLEP or ACE exams), prior learning experience, military occupations, or industry training courses.

Undergraduate Transfer Students (associate or bachelor’s)

If you attended a college or university, but have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree, you are considered an undergraduate transfer student. Thus, you are required to submit a transfer credit evaluation request.

You can also transfer out American Public University credits. However, while courses from APUS can be transferred to other schools due to their accreditation status, APUS cannot guarantee that all credits will be accepted by the receiving institution. Each school has its own policy on accepting transfer credits.

Affordable Tuition

The American Public University tuition rate is $325 per credit hour for undergraduates and $425 per credit hour for master’s-level programs. Also, there are a variety of tuition grants and financial aid options. For example, $250 per credit hour with a military grant for eligible students. The American Public University is easily one of the regionally accredited online colleges with low tuition.

100% Military Friendly

APUS is particularly geared towards military students, providing easy access to classes worldwide, which is a big plus for those in the military. This school is made up of 12% civilians and 88% military (Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve and veterans).


While the American Public University is legit, there are some factors that will make you think twice before applying for admission to this school.

APU is For Profit and Publicly Traded

APU is a relatively new online university, having started in the 1990s. It operates as a for-profit institution and is “publicly traded”, which is a bit different from the traditional, more established universities. These days, for-profit universities like APU are still working on gaining wider acceptance. This is partly because the idea of making a profit from education doesn’t always sit well with everyone. However, many well-known not-for-profit universities also offer online programs now.

Low Graduation Rate

According to the College Scorecard from the U.S. Department of Education, the American Public University System (APUS) has a graduation rate of 18%. This Scorecard also shows that people who graduate from APUS make, on average, $58,699 a year. When you see that the graduation rate is quite low, it kind of hints that APUS might not be the best place to get a 4-year undergraduate degree that is valuable to employers.

Low Loan Repayment Percentage

Now, the situation with student loans for APUS graduates is a bit worrying. About 27% of them are just putting off paying their student loans (that’s called forbearance), 21% aren’t really getting anywhere with their loan payments, and 19% have just stopped paying their loans two years after leaving APUS.

This shows that the graduates might not be making enough money to cover their living expenses and also pay back their student loans and any other financial help they received.

Poor Students Experience

So, there have been some remarks on the general experience of students. Below are some collected for this article:

  1. The university’s administration often seems ineffective in supporting students.
  2. There’s not much oversight in how some online classes are managed, especially in reviewing student work.
  3. Faculty members are often not available quickly enough for students.
  4. Instructors don’t always actively teach; they tend to focus more on guiding discussions than on teaching.

Is a Degree from American Public University Respected?

While it’s true that this online college isn’t on the same level as top-tier universities like Harvard, and it operates as a for-profit institution, it’s often seen as one of the better options for online education. Many of its graduates have successfully found jobs in their field of study. However, the college’s reputation took a hit following a class action lawsuit.

Consider where you’re getting your information from. Opinions from those who didn’t attend the school or didn’t complete their program might not be the most reliable. Often, people who drop out or fail to graduate might unfairly criticize the institution. To get a balanced view, try to speak with graduates who have completed their courses successfully.

Now, for government jobs, particularly at the GS or GG levels, having a degree, regardless of where it’s from, is often enough. I know several people who started their degrees at this college while working in government roles, completed their education online, and subsequently received promotions.

Conclusion—Is American Public University Legit?

Yes, American Public University is a legit and recognized university. It meets the official standards required for colleges, which means its degrees are valid. If you graduate from APUS, you can go on to do a master’s degree at another university, and most employers will accept your qualifications.

APUS is especially useful for people who are working, in the military, or who didn’t follow the usual path to college. It will help you secure better jobs or change your career. However, it might not be the ideal choice for younger students straight out of high school who need more guidance and motivation.

Read alsoIs Open Study College Legit?

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