Is the University of Phoenix acceptable?
July 17, 2009 11:20 AM   Subscribe

How credible is the University of Phoenix online?

I am currently a reporting analyst for a health care company. I worked my way up to this position over the years, but I currently don't hold a BS degree. I feel like I'm at a point that I cannot move farther up without getting my Bachelor's degree in business/finance. The only way I can work and go to school would be to get my degree online.

I've looked at University of Phoenix but I'm wondering what employers think of a degree from them. I live in the LA area and the University of La Verne also offers online degrees. Is it better to have a degree from a college everyone knows but might not accept or from a college no one has heard of?
posted by HenryGale to Education (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
La Verne is accredited by the WASC, which apparently has some big names. I'd say it's an acceptable choice; if I were hiring anyone, I would never consider a UoP degree worth something.
posted by gensubuser at 11:35 AM on July 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the websites! I'll take a look at them. Yeah, I was worried about UoP. I don't want to waste my time and money if employers would frown upon a degree from them.
posted by HenryGale at 11:38 AM on July 17, 2009

You should probably talk to people at your workplace and in your industry for a definitive answer. I myself, and many well-credentialed and/or well-educated people I know, consider U. of Phoenix an abuse of the word "university" and a hair's breadth away from simply being a diploma mill – so I would not view a degree from them as worth anything in hiring (in fact, if I'm being honest, it might worsen my impression of a candidate). But they wouldn't make money if everyone thought this, and evidently there are some contexts where any bachelor's degree from anyplace will do. But I'd encourage you to think about what you want to learn as you pursue further education, rather than just thinking about the credential itself. Are there skills and ideas that would enrich your working life, further career tracks that you'd like to pursue, books you've always wanted to read? As you look at your options – which should include all your local community colleges and public institutions, as there are many many many distance-learning and part-time offerings – you should think about what you want to get out of the process, not just about the end result of having a B.S. line on your résumé.
posted by RogerB at 11:46 AM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

"university of phoenix" --> Check out the first 3 results.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:48 AM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not at all credible. Do not waste your money.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:50 AM on July 17, 2009

My boss' wife works in HR, and he told me that she says that they don't take applicants with degrees from University of Phoenix very seriously, as that school does not have a reputation for having very high acedemic standards...
posted by Hanuman1960 at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2009

HenryGale: "Thanks for the websites! I'll take a look at them. Yeah, I was worried about UoP. I don't want to waste my time and money if employers would frown upon a degree from them."

My sister in law has a degree from them and is the lead accountant for a major private university. So in terms of prestige, no, it doesn't compare to a major brick and mortar school, but employers will not look down on you for having a degree from them.

Side note:

My coworkers wife, used to be the accountant for Mayor Hickenlooper in Denver when he owned a bunch of companies before he won the mayoral position. She graduated from UoP also.
posted by Gravitus at 12:04 PM on July 17, 2009

University of Texas TeleCampus has an extensive MBA program. Fair disclosure: I work for 'em.

I worked at a Federal Reserve Bank branch, and someone got a Master's degree from UPhoenix. There were many congratulations and public announcements of his achievement. Of course, the entire office could have been holding its collective tongue, and the hubbub is no reflection upon his future job prospects.
posted by spamguy at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2009

If you have to ask if a college is taken seriously, then you shouldn't consider enrolling there.

You live in the LA area? There are a whole bunch of CSU schools around. Talk to them about how flexible they can be, and whether or not they can offer you an online degree.
posted by twblalock at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

The online/for-profit University question has been chewed on a lot here - a couple of likely tag combos here and here.

I worked (as an assistant to a Dean) at an online graduate school for several years and feel like online education in general gets an undeservedly bad rap in AskMe. UoP I can't speak directly to, as I know little about it, and of course it doesn't matter if a reputation is undeserved if it is widespread - so I think the advice to seek out people in your industry who would have hiring authority for opinions is very good.

I mainly wanted to say though that you should really investigate more options. Online education has been growing substantially over the last decade; it is presenting genuine competition to traditional schools now which means many schools are creating programs designed to be accessible to the working individual, and as well there are more distance-only universities operating now. I suspect there are many options you haven't discovered yet.

Research programs first from the perspective of what they would offer you educationally and then from the perspective of accessibility. Even if you spend some time researching programs that end up not being accessible to you, you will learn a great deal about what you want out of an education.
posted by nanojath at 1:42 PM on July 17, 2009

I took a couple of classes at the UofP, and I found them to be more work (with tighter schedules) than the local state university that I also attended.

They're a bit pricey, and seem to have a stigma attached, but other than that I'd say the actual educational experience is similar to any state college.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:16 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the U of P is probably getting a worse rap than it deserves--but the perception is widespread and I would be reluctant to invest my time and money there.

Your best online option, credibility wise, is always an online degree from a traditional brick-and-mortar school. You transcript probably won't even mention the online part.
posted by LarryC at 3:21 PM on July 17, 2009

You've phrased the question as a "yes"/"no", but the real question isn't whether there's some global truth of value to the degree. It's what the probability of opinions is. I think UofP is nearly a degree mill, and certainly offers you no "prestige".

But as stated in your question, you don't so much care about what you or I think of the program, so much as your company. Well, why not ask your company's Human Resources department what schools they mainly recruit from, and their opinion of distance education and UofP?
posted by pwnguin at 4:23 PM on July 17, 2009

These days so many more "regular" colleges offer online courses as part of their regular course offerings. When you've completed all of your requirements you get a regular degree and don't even have to mention that you did it entirely online.

I got a masters last year from a large state university and over half of my classes were online. I could have taken them all online if I'd wanted, but I was fortunate enough to get a grad assistantship on campus. The workload was similar in both types of courses, and all used Blackboard, course management software, so even in the online ones we had class discussions and gave presentations of our work to classmates.

Go to the most prestigious/competitive college you can afford and get into. You'll have better options for grad school should you decide to do that later on.
posted by mareli at 5:06 PM on July 17, 2009

1) UofP advertises like crazy.
2) Reputable universities don't do this.
3) A part of your tuition would be paying for more advertising. Other schools would put that money to better use.

This of course doesn't say anything specifically about the quality of the education, but it's a good sign that they don't consider an educated you to be the highest priority.
posted by Ookseer at 6:22 PM on July 17, 2009

Check out California Virtual Campus, it has a list of schools in California that have online courses and in some cases online degrees, though I think they're mostly associate's degrees.

It seems like the website is down at the moment but you can check Google cache to take a look around if you'd like:
posted by NeoLeo at 12:18 AM on July 18, 2009

I did an online class via a local community college (SMCC in Maine) and it was pretty well done. And cheap as hell too. I've heard the University of Phoenix is really expensive but have no practical experience. All I know is that the class I took was insanely cheap and good quality.
posted by sully75 at 5:59 AM on July 18, 2009

I agree, UOP is a lot more expensive than it should be. But they are legitimately regionally accredited by the North Central Association. If you feel you are a self starter, you might try going to BA in 4 weeks route through Excelsior College, Charter Oak State College, or Thomas Edison State College. This route involves taking CLEP exams (similar to GRE-level exams) and studying for them, and independent study courses from places like LSU and the U of A. It gets you a degree from a school very few people have heard of, from a state that is far away from where you live, so it does give off the smell of "online degree". Distance learning experts have also cited Aspen University as the cheapest legitimate degree for business available, but it is DETC accredited - a legitimate US Department of Education accreditor but not regional accreditation. But for filling a box on the resume, it works well.

For other online programs from legitimate schools that other people have heard of that don't have stigma (Western Kentucky University and UT-Dallas come to mind), go to the DegreeInfo forum and search through there.
posted by calwatch at 4:32 PM on July 18, 2009

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