Is University of Phoenix legit? Yes, the University of Phoenix (UoP) is 100% legit. If you are considering continuing your degree online with the University of Phoenix, you need to know a few things to help you make a good decision.
You have probably seen the ads, and the scandals, and have dreamed of graduating from the University of Phoenix. But is this for-profit institution from the deserts of Arizona the right school for you? Legit? Yes, they are but questionable in other aspects.
The University of Phoenix is different from your typical 4-year college. It’s for people who might not be able to go to traditional in-person college classes. This could be because they have jobs, families, or other commitments.
What is the University of Phoenix?
The University of Phoenix was founded in 1976 and grew to a mind-blowing enrollment of 476,000 students by 2010. But in the past two decades, they have been dogged by scandals, lawsuits, and a lot of people saying that what is going on there is not legit.
Interestingly, now they only have 84,000 students. So, what gives? Is the University of Phoenix right for you?
Is University of Phoenix Legit?
Yes, the University of Phoenix is a legit school. It might not be the same as other universities because of the way it gives people access to education and resources, but it is regionally accredited.
For some people, UoP is a scam school, not because of accreditation, of course. This opinion is mainly due to UoP being for-profit. Some even describe the school as a diploma mill with zero credibility.
There are many legit universities that offer online degrees for half the cost of Phoenix. You want a college that is non-profit and regionally accredited. Phoenix is regionally accredited but DeVry, ITT Tech, Full Sail, etc., are nationally accredited—not good options.
However, if you want a cheap degree online, just go to Western Governors. Many other state schools you could consider are ASU, Penn State, Stony Brook, Florida State, Florida International, Florida, Colorado State, West Florida, Auburn, SNHU, Kennesaw State, Oregon State, UNC Greensboro, Washington State, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic, and Fort Hays State.
Pros and Cons of the University of Phoenix
Now, I will show you why some previous students like the University of Phoenix and why some advise you to run away from it. First, let’s begin with the pros, as well as the selling point of this university.
Phoenix is only somewhat transfer-friendly now. Like most schools, they only require that you complete 25% of the degree with them. Second, they accept all five of the big alternative credits like CLEP, Sophia, StraighterLine, Study.com, and DSST. These are fast and inexpensive ways of earning college credit.
The problem is that while they accept a lot of these credit alternatives, they don’t really accept them as the kinds of credits you need. For example, if you were trying to transfer credits into a business degree at the University of Phoenix, some of which would normally be an upper-level course or specifically a business course of any kind, are only listed as interdisciplinary electives.
That’s basically the University of Phoenix’s way of saying, “We will accept these business courses, but we’re not going to let them apply to your major.”
You are only going to be able to transfer stuff into your general education or your free electives. Now, you might be able to transfer in credits from another school, but it’s going to be very difficult to earn some of the credits you need non-traditionally.
So they actually have equivalency lists for where some of your community college credits might go depending on what school you’re from.
The University of Phoenix does provide a few other ways that you can get college credit pretty quickly, such as through work-life experience and military credit opportunities.
University of Phoenix is Regionally Accredited
The University of Phoenix is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which is one of the current gold standards of accreditation of schools in 19 states.
The University of Phoenix is one of the for-profits that is regionally accredited. So, this degree is legit, and apart from the reputation of the school itself, there’s no reason that this major should not get you into the Master’s degree that you want.
It is Available Online
If you are a busy type, the University of Phoenix brings you experiences of nontraditional students who learn online. The University of Phoenix has been offering online learning programs since 1989. While some people may question the validity of online learning, it can be just as academically rigorous as traditional learning.
When the pandemic hit, the University of Phoenix was already well-prepared for online learning, which helped them retain students during that difficult time. They were so experienced with online learning that they created the Alliance for Virtual Learning, which provided a Virtual Teaching Academy to help K-12 educators prepare for online teaching.
Some jobs may look down on it or refuse to hire you because it is an online degree. However, depending on your field, you can find something.
One Class at a Time
Students can only take one class at a time at the University of Phoenix. Their classes take about 5 weeks, which means you’ll graduate if you stay steady in about 200 weeks or just under 4 years.
Most online colleges have terms that are 8 weeks long, in which you typically take two courses at a time, which would have you graduating in 160 weeks. This means that the University of Phoenix’s system helps you stay focused but it also kind of slows you down.
This University is for All
Sometimes, attending a traditional four-year university in person just isn’t possible for everyone. Life has a way of throwing curveballs, and if you’re a working parent, a member of the military, or someone looking to switch careers, you might need a different way to pursue education without turning your life upside down.
That’s where the University of Phoenix comes in. It was created with nontraditional students in mind, and while it might not be the conventional route, it offers the flexibility that can help change lives through learning.
A lot of people who graduate from the University of Phoenix are the first in their families to go to college. But they also often fall into one of these categories:
- Veterans planning the next step in their careers.
- GED holders who want to continue their education.
- Parents who’ve been out of the workforce and want to jump back in.
- Middle-aged professionals aiming for an advanced degree.
The University of Phoenix is a welcoming place for nontraditional students who might feel overlooked at other universities. It recognizes that this is a reality for some people and actively works to support nontraditional learners. For instance, the University collaborates with military service members and their spouses to help them reach their higher education goals.
University of Phoenix does not really have free elective sections!
While I was researching their degrees, I used their chat feature to reach an advisor who confirmed this. What happens is when you are taking your major and you finish your general education and it’s time to do your free electives at the University of Phoenix, they want you to pick from a very specific list of courses that can then fit into your free electives. This makes it harder for you to hack those credits and harder for you to transfer those credits in.
Higher Cost Per Credit
The University of Phoenix charges slightly below the average per credit at $398. However, if you look at their web page long enough and search hard enough, you’ll notice that they are vocal about how they only have one fee per course.
You will have to look a lot harder to try to figure out just how much that fee is. I checked with an advisor and they confirmed that it is $170 per class, taking the expense from $48,000 in tuition to $55,000 total. This is above average expensive.
Fewer Majors and No Flexibility
When we assess degree options at a school, we’re looking for variety and flexibility. For variety, the University of Phoenix has 35 majors to choose from. That’s surprisingly small for such a big school, but they do cover all the bases.
We have business and accounting, marketing, computer science, criminal justice, education, health management, and many good ones to choose from. Their selection is decent but still not quite as good as some of the other big online schools out there.
As for flexibility, Phoenix isn’t so great. Earlier, I mentioned that they don’t really seem to have free electives. They have 40 courses per degree, but they only list about 26 of them. So, what exactly are they trying to hide? If they are trying to hide something, it could be that they do not really have free electives that you can just transfer in and fill up how you want.
In the end, while their flexibility is awful, they still have a decent-sized general education area. The University of Phoenix also has a slightly above-average degree selection. They actually have a lot of really good degrees to choose from.
Not the Best Student Experience
First, the University of Phoenix accepts 100% of students, no problem getting in. Secondly, they only graduate 27% of those students, which is good for a for-profit school but still about 6% lower than the big-box non-profit online colleges.
The University of Phoenix is For-profit
Generally, this does not condemn a school but is a major red flag. University of Phoenix, in particular, has been host to a ton of scandals.
They Have Been Hit with Scandals
In 2007, The New York Times reported the school’s educational quality had eroded. In 2000, the federal government fined the University $6 million for including study group meetings as instructional hours. In 2003, a lawsuit because they violated The Higher Education Act due to illegal practices regarding recruiting. In 2010, the University of Phoenix came under government scrutiny after its campuses were found to have engaged in deceptive enrollment practices and fraudulent solicitation of FAFSA funds.
A former senior vice president noted that at critical junctures, co-founder John Sperling chose growth over academic integrity. The other co-owner wrote about the school’s degeneration from a provider of working adult continuing education programs to a money-making machine whose sole criterion for admission was eligibility for federally funded student loans. Here, we have a bunch of money they had to pay because of misleading advertisements.
Bad Complaints from Students
I did a lot of digging into customer review sites to see what clients and students were saying about the University of Phoenix. The biggest complaints were:
- Bad customer service in the call centers. Students felt like they were being rushed through and that nobody actually knew how to solve their problems.
- People felt pressured to sign up for and pay for classes right away, which is maybe a little bit more common in online colleges in general than should be the case.
- People said they had very little interaction with professors, and that the overall educational experience wasn’t that great. Of course, for some people, it worked out very well. This contradicts the University of Phoenix’s claims that an impressive “85 percent of students” recommend their instructors.
- Some people didn’t like the 5-week-long terms because they felt like they were being rushed through course material that they were really excited to learn about.
- A review read, “I was just told by a recruiter I should take the name of the school off my resume. I wouldn’t waste your time or money.”
Well, it seems that of all the schools I’ve reviewed, the University of Phoenix has not been the best. I’m not saying that it’s going to keep you from getting a job if you know how to market yourself if you have got really good other skills or a great resume with great work experience. However, it could potentially make it harder.
Ultimately, despite all of these reasons, the University of Phoenix is legit, and you will at least be able to graduate with a degree. But if graduating very quickly and inexpensively and hitting your personal career goals are your priorities, the University of Phoenix is probably not an option for you. Some previous students say it seems to be designed to get money out of you and then forget about you. Compared to other colleges, some reviews have referred to the University of Phoenix as a trap.