Is Thomas Edison State University legit? Thomas Edison State University is legit and has been the go-to college hacking destination for years. It’s basically been the gold standard for the institution. While they did not invent college hacking, they seem to have perfected it with transfer policies that let students graduate so quickly and cheaply. Thomas Edison is actually where you want to hack your degree. They can be a phenomenal option. However, compared to 10 years ago, some of their policies have gotten stricter.
They require more unhackable credits in the general education area. They now require that at least 30 credits be done through their school, whereas they used to have no such requirement. Also, tons of other online colleges are eager to attract students like you, and so they’ve provided some fierce competition.
Is Thomas Edison State University legit?
Yes, Thomas Edison State University is legit, especially when compared to other online learning platforms such as Drexler Online or Penn State World Campus. Now, while some degree programs might ask for your SAT scores, that might not be the case for everyone. Some people can get in through military experience and previous college credits, so they won’t ask for any test scores.
At Thomas Edison State University, they prioritize productivity. This means that the workload can be quite hefty, and you’ll need to stay sharp and focused to keep up. The advisors are there to help you, but they also have high expectations. They’ll encourage you to be proactive in finding answers and staying ahead of your coursework, as there won’t be much time for someone to hold your hand and guide you through the material.
What does a typical week look like for a single course? You’ll be introduced to new material on Monday, participate in a 300-word group discussion on Tuesday or Wednesday, take a quiz on Friday, and then wrap up the week with a 1,500 to 2,000-word essay due on Sunday. Also, there will be breaks for midterms and finals. As for exams, they are scheduled through ProctorU, which has its own rules and procedures.
Is Thomas Edison Credit Transfer Friendly?
Thomas Edison is kind of a complicated one to fully understand. They don’t really accept nationally accredited credits, so if you are coming from a for-profit, don’t expect too many of your credits to apply. But in general, they do seem to accept most regionally accredited credits, and they are very CLEP friendly. They accept CLEP, DSST, Study.com, Sophia, StraighterLine, and tons of others.
But unless their school website tells you what they accept, you should not count on anything you see anywhere else on the internet because their policies on these tend to change, and sometimes weirdly have expiration dates set to them. So you want to run whatever course you are hoping to do with Sophia or StraighterLine, you want to run that by your advisor first.
I recommend communicating via email, that way you have it in writing. TSU also has its own version of CLEP exams that they call the Thomas Edison Credit by Examination Program or TCEP. They have a lot of different ones to choose from, and they’re generally reasonably priced, usually going to average about 200 per exam. This is a really great way to earn some upper-level credits at Thomas Edison. Also, Thomas Edison requires that you earn at least 30 credits through Thomas Edison. A lot of schools have that requirement. It’s very standard. But Thomas Edison will let you count TCEPs towards that 30-credit requirement.
So say you take like six classes at Thomas Edison for 18 credits, you could then take these much cheaper 12 credits worth of TCEPs to round out that 30-credit requirement, making them super transfer-friendly and super hackable.
Back in the day, Thomas Edison realized that people were coming to our school, taking one class, and graduating, and we were making like 1500 bucks per student. So, they need to find a way to make a little bit more money to survive as an institution. This is a great compromise between them making money and us still being able to hack a pretty decent degree at Thomas Edison.
Thomas Edison State University Cost
Thomas Edison’s cost is sometimes a little bit problematic. If you are a New Jersey resident, you’ll get it much, much cheaper. But most people who go to Thomas Edison are not New Jersey residents, and thus they pay a premium. We are talking about $572 per credit hour as of 2023. You can check the TESU per credit undergraduate tuition.
The average cost of a college credit in higher education online right now is closer to like 400. So this is a big difference. But you can buy in bulk. Basically, if you take 9 credits or more at a time, you are not going to be charged more than about 400-800 dollars. So if you can somehow in a 12-week term take five TSU courses online, you’re looking at about $320 per credit, which is all of a sudden much, much more reasonable.
Of course, you might hate your life for those 12 weeks. Apart from that, as I mentioned, TCEPs cost about 200 per test, which is kind of expensive for a standardized test these days in this field. They charge you about 300 to assess whether you’re ready for graduation. But then you get to the truly problematic thing. The biggest problem with TESU is that they want to make some money off of you. Thus, they require that you take at least 16 credits of TESU courses as courses. So times 535 per credit hour, you’re looking at somewhere north of eight thousand dollars. Which, as far as higher education and college and everything else goes, that is pretty decent.
But let’s say that you really wanted to save some money, and so you’re like, I’m going to take all my courses in one, you know, batch. I’m going to do one 12-week term so I can just pay that 4,800. That means you’re taking 16 credit hours in that one term to be able to do it. That is a lot. But for Thomas Edison, you don’t want to take that many courses. You could do a bunch of TCEPs instead of the courses if you pay us 3,300 for the credit hour residency waiver fee. So, they just make the rule that people have to take 16 credits or don’t.
You could just pay us a bunch of extra money and go a little bit faster. It just feels a little bit icky. Even still, all told, while there are all these fees and extra things going on, Thomas Edison State University is still one of the cheapest, least expensive colleges you could imagine going to. If you can knock out 16 credits in one 12-week term, you’re looking at like 6,500 bucks on tuition and all like Thomas Edison-related costs.
If you, you know, go a little bit higher and you know, do 16 credits through Thomas Edison and pay the per-credit tuition, that’s like maxing out around like 8,500. So that’s still amazing compared to most schools. Thomas Edison, despite their residency waiver fee, is still a strong A for cost.
Thomas Edison State University Degree Programs
Under degree choices, we are looking at two things:
- Options for degrees that you could choose
- The flexibility of those degrees themselves
Thomas Edison has a ton of bachelor’s degrees to choose from. They have over 40. You might as well just Google some of them because they don’t necessarily list them all in one place. Below are some of the courses:
- Liberal Arts degrees
- Nursing degrees
- Construction degrees
- Nuclear Technology degrees, etc.
Chances are really good that if there’s something you want to major in, you will find it at Thomas Edison State University.
Is Thomas Edison State University Flexibility
As for flexibility, there are a ton of Thomas Edison degrees that are very, very hackable. Not all of them are, but enough are that there are some really good choices. So, I went through the English degree. It has changed since then, but for general education, there are lots of ways to hack these credits. The area of study does, yes, have some required courses. Some of them correlate well with CLEP exams.
You also have Humanities electives here, and you have a 30-credit free elective section. Thomas Edison degrees don’t generally go higher than 30 credits of free electives. That’s usually their highest. But everything else is flexible enough that this is still very hackable. The History degree is even more hackable, with a ton of history and humanities electives in the major area.
They have a Business degree that is very hackable with a similar general education to everything else we’ve seen. Then a lot of courses are going to correlate to Study.com, to StraighterLine, to their own TSAPs. You know, choosing Accounting options. Also, they have only 15 credits of free electives here, so it’s not as hackable as the other two. But still, a prime candidate.
If you are looking to go hackable, they have a BA in Liberal Studies. Here, you can put a lot of whatever you want. Like 42 credits of liberal studies courses, and then still that 30 credits of free electives down here. So they have hackable degrees.
I can find no fault as far as the flexibility of their degrees, other than just that they generally will have slightly more hackable majors, but fewer free elective options. So for all of this, for the number of degrees you have to choose from and the hackability of many of those degrees, you’re looking at a pretty strong A for degree choice.
Pros of Thomas Edison State University
There are a lot of pros and cons here. So let’s just start marching through this list.
TSU has a 100% acceptance rate
So you’re not going to be rejected, though you do need to be at least 21 to get in without having to go through their waiver process, which I did at 18 when I applied.
They are regionally accredited
So this degree is just as good as any other degree out there.
20 to 1 faculty ratio
They have a 20 to 1 faculty ratio, which is honestly really solid. For a lot of the for-profit diploma mills, you’re looking at 30 to 1 or 50 to one. This is very comparable to a residential program. Something that I’m really impressed by is that 46% of their students graduate. When you consider that most online colleges’ graduation rates hover somewhere in the 30, that makes this honestly impressive.
Higher earning potential
TESU and surveys that they do of their students after graduation show that their students tend to make 7,000 more per year than the median college graduate after a similar amount of time. So I don’t know how much stock to put in that number, but at least it’s not lower, right?
Cons of Thomas Edison State University
Finally, according to TSU’s own website, they claim that 95% of their graduates rate Thomas Edison as good to excellent. So people who graduate and have a good time there seem to have had a good time there. So now let’s talk negatives.
And we’re going to go ahead and look at some ratings from across the internet to see what students think of Thomas Edison. Like 95% of graduates think Thomas Edison is great. But what about the people who don’t graduate or who don’t enjoy their experience? GradReports.com has user ratings of 3.4 out of 5. Niche.com has a 4.1. And OnlineDegreeReviews has a 3.3 out of 5. So those are overall not like super scores.
At the same time, I tend to take online complaints with a grain of salt. It’s typically the malcontents who go and complain about things online.
Professors are hard to reach
Several complaints were consistently showing up throughout. It seems to me that probably Thomas Edison’s greatest weakness is customer service. A lot of people complained that it didn’t feel like the professors were very involved in the course, that the professors were hard to reach, or that they took forever to get grading feedback.
Some people had similar customer service issues with admissions or with advising. From my perspective, I’ve called admissions a lot and generally don’t get super helpful answers from them. I usually have to call advising instead to get actual answers to questions about degree plans. I guess that while a lot of schools online have started moving towards this trend of requiring their professors to grade within 5 days, to respond to emails within 36 hours, it might be that Thomas Edison is still a little bit more old school.
Professors just do it how they want
Now, that might not be accurate, but that seems to be what the ratings online are showing. And of course, a lot of the positive responses from people were about how much like challenging they they felt the courses were. They enjoyed them a lot. They were really appreciative that Thomas Edison had such flexible degrees.
Difficulty transferring from Sophia and StraighterLine
You need to talk to your advisor first before you can do that with any kind of level of confidence. Now, you can make some pretty educated guesses that might have you, you know, picking the right course to fit the right requirement. But it’s best to talk to an advisor with them. You can’t really get advice from an advisor until you’re enrolled as a student, which is kind of inconvenient.
Thomas Edison’s courses are 12 weeks long
This is nice if you’re trying to pack a bunch of courses in at once and knock them out and try to get that discounted tuition rate. But 12 weeks is kind of long for a college course to be going on online. Most industry standard right now is eight weeks. If you want to go faster, you have to take more courses at once.
So, is Thomas Edison State University legit? Yes, TESU is 100% legit. Now, let’s go ahead and average out our scores. We have got an A for transfer friendliness, an A for cost, an A for degree choices, and a B for student experiences and outcomes. That averages out to a 3.75 GPA, which is a solid A-. So Thomas Edison State University is still a great option for college hacking. It’s still a great option for adults who are looking to go back to school and get their degree. But it’s not quite as good as it used to be.