Friday, April 9, 2010


The University of Phoenix (UPX) is a private for-profit institution of higher learning. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apollo Group Inc. which is publicly traded on NASDAQ (APOL) a S&P 500 corporation based in Phoenix, Arizona.

As the university with the largest student body in North America, it has a current enrollment of 420,700 undergraduate students and 78,000 graduate students,or 224,880 full-time equivalent students.

The university has more than 200 campuses worldwide and confers degrees in over 100 degree programs at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.
University of Phoenix has an open enrollment admission policy, which only requires proof of a high-school diploma, GED, or its equivalent.[ school also provides associate's or bachelor's degree applicants opportunity for advanced placement through its Prior Learning Assessment, which, aside from previous coursework, college credit can come from experiential learning essays, corporate training, and certificates or Licenses


In the early 1970s, at San José State University in California, John Sperling and several associates conducted field-based research in adult education. The focus of the research was to explore teaching/learning systems for the delivery of educational programs and services to working adult students who wished to complete or further their education in ways that took into consideration both their experience and current professional responsibilities. At that time, colleges and universities were organized primarily around serving the needs of the 18- to 22-year-old undergraduate student—given that the large majority of those enrolled were residential students of traditional college age, just out of high school. “According to Sperling, working adult students were often invisible on traditional campuses and treated as second-class citizens.” John Sperling once stated that the University of Phoenix was, "a corporation, not a social entity. Coming here is not a rite of passage. We are not trying to develop . . . [students'] value systems or go in for that 'expand their minds'."

The first class consisted of only eight students. Sperling founded the university in 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1980, the school expanded to San Jose, California. By 1989, the university was among the first providing an online program for students.

University of Phoenix is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apollo Group Inc., is publicly traded on NASDAQ: APOL, and is a S&P 500 corporation based in Phoenix, Arizona. The school was the top recipient of student financial aid funds for the 2008 fiscal year, receiving nearly $2.48 billion for students enrolled. In 2006, due largely to the efforts attributed to the Apollo group, the 50-percent rule (requiring colleges and universities to conduct at least half of its instruction in person in order to receive federal aid or collect federal student loans) was modified. It no longer classifies students receiving instruction through telecommunications methods as correspondence students. As such, these students now qualify for federal student aid. The Department of Education requires that this method must include a significant amount of interactivity to prevent correspondence programs from skirting the rule by using minor e-mails or just posting course materials such as syllabi on its Web sites.

In May 2008, the school announced the formation of the University of Phoenix National Research Center. It is designed to study which teaching methods work best for nontraditional students. The development of the research center is under advisement by a board composed of a former dean of education at the University of Virginia; a consultant on learning; and a former official with the College Board, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, is a municipal sports arena, best known as the home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals and the site of the NCAA's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The University paid $154.5 million for 20-year naming rights for advertising purposes, although does not itself participate in intercollegiate sports. Instead of heavy spending on a sports program to increase name recognition, it simply linked its name to sports by buying the naming rights of a football stadium.

The University of Phoenix abbreviates its name as UOPX

Campuses and online services

The university has campuses and learning centers in 40 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and the Netherlands. While the school specializes in online programs, the campuses offer additional programs and services. Online students are also able to utilize tutoring/social centers, which can also be used for social and student learning interactions. The first center opened in 2007 in Plano, Tex. Students have access to class-specific online resources, which include an electronic library, textbooks, and other ancillary material required for a course. The university says that the electronic textbooks include search features and hyperlinks to glossary terms that make the books easier to use when working on research papers and other documents.

Through its online portal, or eCampus, University of Phoenix students also have access to software required for coursework. Available, for example, are virtual companies created by the university to provide students with assignments, which Adam Honea, UOPX's dean and provost, claims are more realistic than those available with case studies.

In 2009, the University of Phoenix was ranked #28 in the world for online degree programs by OEDb

Academic profile

The university offers several different programs of study, all administered through four colleges—the John Sperling School of Business and Technology, the Artemis School (administering art, education, and health fields), the School of Advanced Studies (overseeing doctoral programs), and Axia College (managing associate's degrees). In addition to its traditional education programs, the school offers continuing education courses for teachers and practitioners, professional development courses for companies, and specialized courses of study for military personnel.

Students spend 20 to 24 hours with an instructor during each course, compared with about 40 hours at a traditional university. The university also requires students to teach one another by working on projects for four or five hours per week in what it calls learning teams, wherein students engage classmates in course-material discussions. Some academicians and former students feel the abbreviated courses and the use of learning teams results in an inferior education. The course schedule may be more convenient for professionals who can log on anytime.


2010 US News ranked the school as Unranked.

2009 Online Education Database ranked the school 28 out of 44 for best accredited Online Universities.


The University of Phoenix was regionally accredited in 1978 by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) as a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). It also has accreditation for a variety of its specialty degree programs, including the following:

Nursing Accreditation—The B.S. in Nursing and the M.S. in Nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The CCNE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Business Accreditation—All business programs from the Associate to the Doctoral levels have specialty accreditation through the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Only the ACBSP and AACSB are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) for accreditation of business schools. Some companies (including the Intel Corporation, which eliminated tuition reimbursement for employees attending non-AACSB accredited schools) and academics have concerns that UOPX's business program is not accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). John J. Fernandes, the AACSB's president, said the University of Phoenix has never applied for membership because he feels it knows its chances of accreditation through AACSB due to UOPX's come-and-go faculty. Only 42 percent of business schools in the United States possess external specialty accreditation. There are three principal accrediting agencies for business programs: AACSB, which is recognized by the CHEA and is a research and excellence in instruction oriented accreditation; ACBSP, which is also recognized by CHEA and is a more business-oriented accreditation; and IABSP. These three accreditations represent the majority of specialty business accreditation. A perception survey shows greater prestige associated with AACSB accreditation, which accredits less than 25% of all business schools in the United States, especially in academia, although research shows clear benefits from typical schools from each of the three accreditation standards. A May 2000 benchmarking study commissioned by the AACSB and the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) in Houston, Texas, identified the University of Phoenix, along with Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Ohio University’s MBA Without Boundaries Program, UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management, and Wake Forest University as engaging in exemplary practices with regard to their Technology Mediated Learning (TML) programs. The programs were evaluated on the dimensions of organizational practices, learning practices, teaching practices, and approaches to assessment of TML outcomes.

Teacher Education Accreditation—The M.A. in Education degree program is pre-accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) for a period of five years, from December 20, 2007, to December 20, 2012.The TEAC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the CHEA.

Counseling Accreditation—The M.S. in Counseling degree program in Community Counseling and the M.S. in Counseling degree program in Mental Health Counseling are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The CACREP is recognized by the CHEA.


The 2008 UPX Academic Report shows a diverse student and faculty makeup. According to demographic information in the report, on average, the student/faculty population is more diverse than the national average for higher education institutions. African-Americans make up more than 15% of the university's 22,000 faculty members, with about 6% as Latino. The national average in recent years showed about 5% as African-American with about 3% as Latino. The student population is approximately 25% African-American and almost 13% Latino. This is as compared to national statistics from recent years, showing 12% African-American populations and 10% Latino populations nationally.The university graduates a larger number of underrepresented students with Master's degrees in business, health care, and education than any other U.S. School. It is also ranked as the highest in graduating African American and Native American students with Master's degrees for all other disciplines. The underlying data for these conclusions was provided by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the 2005–2006 academic year. The University of Phoenix was recently named one of the nation's top 20 institutions of higher education favorable to military personnel according to the December 2008 issue of Military Advanced Education. Nearly 29,000 active-duty military, their spouses, and veterans were enrolled in University of Phoenix degree programs at that time with more than 7,200 military members or veterans graduated from the University during that year.

Students and graduation rates

The average age of a University of Phoenix student is between 33 (undergraduate) and 36 (graduate), and most students have work-related commitments. The University states that nearly two-thirds of its students are women and that plurality of students attending the school study business (undergraduate students representing 29.9% and graduate students 12.9%), followed closely by those enrolled in Axia College for Associate's degrees (28.1%).

When calculated by the federal standard used by the Department of Education, UOPX's overall graduation rate is 16%, which, when compared to the national average of 55%, is among the nation's lowest. The federal standard measures graduation rates as the percentage of first-time undergraduates who obtain a degree within six years. The number is significantly lower at its Southern California campus (6%) and its online programs (4%). University of Phoenix acknowledges the 16% graduation rate but takes exception to the Federal standard used to calculate the rate, noting that the rate is based upon criteria that includes only 7% of UOPX's student population.The institution publishes its own nonstandard graduation rate of 59% to account for its large population of non-traditional students.


The University states that its faculty consists of approximately 1,500 core faculty and 20,000 associate faculty members and that all have Master's or Doctorate degrees. UOPX's reliance on part-time faculty—95 percent of Phoenix instructors teach part time, compared to an average of 47 percent nationwide—has been criticized by regulators and academic critics. UOPX's instructors describe themselves as delivering course material, since most of the classes are centrally crafted and standardized across teachers in order to ensure consistency and reduce costs for the school. Additionally, faculty members do not get tenure.According to a University of Phoenix officer, pre-screened instructional candidates participate in a training program in the discipline in which they teach, which he states has the effect of weeding out 40%–50% of the less committed or capable applicants.


Alumni of UOPX include U.S. Navy Admiral Kirkland H. Donald, current White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters '94, four-time NBA Championship-winner Shaquille O’Neal '05, and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie.


The University of Phoenix has been the subject of legal and regulatory controversies as a result of its student recruitment practices and accelerated academic schedule. There has also been concern expressed by former students, employees, and academics that in its quest for higher profits, the university has compromised academic quality.
“ Its reputation is fraying as prominent educators, students and some of its own former administrators say the relentless pressure for higher profits, at a university that gets more federal student financial aid than any other, has eroded academic quality. ”

The student-led learning teams that abbreviate class schedules and substitute for direct instruction time, the use of part-time faculty, high-pressure sales techniques, coupled with minimal acceptance standards to degree programs and low graduation rates as measured by Department of Education standards are some of the sources of this perception.

There is concern that its quality of education is too basic is echoed by its collegiate peers.
“ '[Its] business degree is an M.B.A. Lite,' said Henry M. Levin, a professor of higher education at Teachers College at Columbia University. “I’ve looked at [its] course materials. It’s a very low level of instruction.” ”

An instructor at the university explained that he could only cover a fraction of the syllabus because he said that the university required him to cram too much information into too few sessions.

Legal and regulatory actions

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education provided a preliminary report to the university that cited untimely return of unearned Title IV funds for more than 10 percent of sampled students. The report also expressed a concern that some students enroll and begin attending classes before completely understanding the implications of enrollment, including their eligibility for student financial aid. As a result, in January 2010, its parent company, Apollo Group Inc., was required to post a letter of credit for $125 million by January 30 of the same year.

A 2003 federal whistle-blower/false-claims lawsuit filed by two former UOPX admission counselors alleged that the university improperly obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid by paying its admission counselors solely based on the number of students they enrolled in violation of the Higher Education Act.The school counters that the lawsuit is a legal manipulation by two former university employees over a matter previously resolved with the U.S. Department of Education, however the Department does not share that view. UOPX's position was rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its 2006 published opinion, which reversed the Eastern California U.S. District Court's 2004 decision dismissing the lawsuit. The lawsuit was set for trial on March 9, 2010. In December 2009, Apollo agreed to settle the dispute by paying the United States $67.5 million, without acknowledging any wrongdoing. In addition, Apollo will pay the plaintiff's attorneys $11 million.

In 2004, as a result of the filing of the false-claims lawsuit, the Department of Education performed a program review and alleged that UOPX had violated Higher Education Act provisions that prohibit distributing financial incentives to admission representatives, had pressured its recruiters to enroll students, and had concealed the practices from the Department.[69] UOPX disputed the findings but paid a record $9.8 million dollar fine as part of a settlement where it admitted no wrongdoing and was not required to return any financial aid funds. UOPX's President states that though recruiters are paid a commission based on the number of students enrolled, their compensation is not based solely on that criteria, which makes the practice legal.

In January 2008, the university’s parent company, Apollo Group Inc., was found guilty of misleading stockholders when it withheld the results of the 2004 Program Review cited above. A jury awarded $280 million to shareholders. However, U.S. District Judge James Teilborg overturned the verdict in August 2008, ruling that though UOPX misled the market, investors failed to prove that they were damaged by UOPX's actions. The plaintiffs have appealed the judges decision.

In 2000, government auditors found UOPX did not meet conditions for including study-group meetings as instructional hours, thus its courses fell short of the minimum time required for federal aid programs. The university paid a $6 million fine as part of a settlement wherein it admitted no wrongdoing. However, in 2002, the Department of Education relaxed requirements covering instructional hours.

The U.S. Department of Education ordered the university to pay $650,000 for failing to promptly refund loans and grants for students who withdrew.

In December 2008, three former University of Phoenix students filed a class-action complaint against UOPX, alleging that when the students withdrew, UOPX returned their entire loan money to the lender and then sought repayment from them. The alleged motivation was to "artificially deflate the cohort default rates", which impact a school's eligibility to receive Title IV funding. Apollo asserts that the students claim is that Apollo "improperly returned the entire amount of the students' federal loan funds to the lender." On January 21, 2009, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice to refiling. That suit was refiled in the Central District of California and is currently pending (Case No. 2:09cv00904-Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank).

The university has had various labor and discrimination issues. It paid $3.5 million to settle alleged violation of overtime compensation provision with the Department of Labor.In November 2008 it agreed to pay $1.89 million to settle allegations by the EEOC for alleged religious discrimination favoring Mormon enrollment counselors.[87] In settling these matters, University of Phoenix did not admit any liability or wrongdoing.


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