TMCnet Feature
March 08, 2022

University of Phoenix Offers Respected Education and Degree Programs

University of Phoenix changed the model for higher education, innovating on the traditional college format where classes are held at specific times and accessible only to a limited few. Founder John Sperling, who had a military background and came from a working class family, was driven by a desire to learn and grow. But he didn’t feel comfortable in a traditional college setting even after earning a PhD and becoming a faculty member.



Sperling designed University of Phoenix as a place that welcomed students of all ages and backgrounds and that could meet the needs of working adults who were focused on getting a degree for practical reasons. He aimed to reach the adult and nontraditional students who wanted a college degree in order to unlock new career opportunities, to reach their full potential and to build a better life for themselves and their families.

In 1989, University of Phoenix began offering its first virtual classes, a natural fit to make its programs more accessible. The University has been a trailblazer since it opened in 1976, accepting all students as long as they had a high school diploma or GED and providing a pathway to higher education for immigrants, communities of color, military members, and working adults who often felt forgotten by the traditional college system.

University of Phoenix’s flexible online classes allowed students to pursue degree programs on their own time with flexibility . The new model connected with an underserved population eager to improve their education and their lives. There are now over one million University of Phoenix alumni full of stories just like Sperling’s. “Some people think their world is too small: that there's nothing they can do to improve their lives,” said University of Phoenix 2015 MBA graduate Monica Magee. “They are wrong. If you are willing to work hard, you will find opportunities."

Changing the university model made advanced degree programs available to thousands of nontraditional students who might not have otherwise had the opportunity. But it has also made University of Phoenix a target for those skeptical of a new approach. The idea that a degree can be legitimate, but also accessible to all goes against the standard notion of college as an exclusive, competitive place meant only for people of certain ages, backgrounds and life experiences.

The Proof Is in the Alumni

Among those over one million University of Phoenix alumni are countless stories of resilient adults who worked hard to complete degree programs while raising children, taking care of family members and working full-time jobs. These are students who were self-motivated enough to stay on course during difficult circumstances and to remain focused on gaining degrees and job skills that would lead them to new opportunities.

They include Trina Celeste Limpert, CEO of RizeNext and cofounder of the nonprofit Tech-Moms.org, a working mom of eight who earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Phoenix. During her degree program, Limpert discovered her passion for technology and for making tech careers more accessible to women and people from underrepresented backgrounds. She has overcome numerous hardships, including cancer, and has continued to focus on her career and improving access. “I look at the DEI initiatives that are out there, and they create horrible experiences that nobody wants to go through again,” Limpert said. “How do we approach these things to make sure that our executives are having a good experience? How do we do this so everyone comes forward saying, ‘I want to do more of this. I want to get involved more.’ That’s the shift I’m seeking within the organizations I work with.”

University of Phoenix alumni also include doctoral alumnus Ron Lewis who struggled in high school, taking six years to finish, and took courses off and on through a community college while serving in the military. It was only when he discovered entrepreneurship business classes at University of Phoenix that Lewis suddenly found his passion for education. In that moment, Lewis realized that what he had needed to maintain his motivation in the classroom was a sense of purpose and to study subjects that were directly applicable to his personal goals and provided a clear path forward toward his dreams.

Despite his 2.2 undergraduate GPA, University of Phoenix accepted Lewis to the Master of Business Administration (MBA) on a provisional basis where, for the first time in his life, he began to succeed academically. It was not long before he had a 3.0 GPA and was embarking on a path as a motivational speaker to help other struggling students get inspired to succeed. “This all became bigger than me,” Lewis said. “If you focus on yourself, you don’t mind losing. But when you focus on your community, your goals become bigger, and your focus becomes greater. I’m the comeback kid. I completed the journey.”

The alumni stories also include that of Jahmar Robinson, a Jamaican immigrant who was raised in a violent housing project in Florida and survived evictions, homelessness and abuse. Robinson dedicated his life to community service, and after completing a two-year community college degree, he enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Correctional Program Support Services at University of Phoenix. He completed his degree while simultaneously enrolled in the police academy. “I felt confident that [the program] at University of Phoenix would allow me a way to be part of a solution and reform,” Robinson said. “The University helped me become well equipped and ready to engage with other visionaries to continue the reform and building of our correctional and criminal justice system.”

Drive Defines the University of Phoenix Student

Students at University of Phoenix are used to overcoming obstacles. More than half of the student body identified as racial or ethnic minorities in 2020, according to the Academic Annual Report, including 34.1 percent as African American and 17.7 percent as Hispanic. Most University of Phoenix students are pursuing their degrees later in life: the average age of students is 37. Nearly all of the student body works while attending school, and 64.6 percent of students have dependents.

The report found that many University of Phoenix students are also the first in their families to attend college. “Our students are tough, they have grit, they never give up, and they strive every day for excellence,” says Everette J. Freeman, EdD, chairman of the Board of Trustees of University of Phoenix and president emeritus of Community College of Denver in the report.

That toughness helped students to succeed in their academic programs even when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted nearly every aspect of life as they knew it. Instead of veering off track when the pandemic created additional pressures at work and at home, University of Phoenix students remained committed to their coursework. Remarkably, retention rates actually improved month-to-month throughout 2020 when compared with 2019, continuing a 40-month upward trajectory.

“Our students found a way to continue to progress through their degree programs, despite the world being turned upside down by the pandemic,” said University of Phoenix President Peter Cohen. Freeman called the students’ commitment an impressive accomplishment, particularly “knowing that our students are predominantly parents who balanced work, home life and their children’s schooling, in addition to their own homework, during this extraordinary time.”

An Accredited University with a Record of Accomplishment

For the past 42 years, University of Phoenix has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. That accreditation reassures students that their degree programs have been fully vetted and found to meet the same rigorous standards of peer institutions.

Some degree programs at University of Phoenix have also been accredited with specialized programmatic accreditation including programs in business, healthcare, nursing, counseling and education. These degree programs underwent external peer review and were found to meet the necessary quality standards set by the profession. As part of the accreditation process, University of Phoenix also performs a self-review and is thoroughly reviewed by outside experts on a number of metrics including faculty, student support services, finance and facilities, curricula and student learning outcomes, a process that is repeated every three to 10 years.

Accredited Degree Programs for Numerous In-Demand Career Options

Accredited degree programs at University of Phoenix educationally prepare adult learners to pursue new opportunities into new careers or within their existing industries. That’s because University of Phoenix uses skills-aligned learning. Through a partnership with Emsi Burning Glass, the University is identifying the most sought-after job skills. Assessments offered during courses test student abilities in these skills, and once the assessments are passed, students are issued digital badges for those skills that they can share on their resume, LinkedIn (News - Alert) and other social media. These digital badges show employers that candidates have the skills they are looking for. Kevin Wilhelmson, dean of the College of Business and Information Technology at University of Phoenix, explained: “This intentional approach of skills-mapping leading to badging keeps the MBA program and courses focused on bridging the gap between what a student learns in the classroom and what they can speak to in career conversations.”

Options in business degree programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) including an Associate of Arts with a concentration in Accounting or Business Fundamentals, a Bachelor of Science in Business, a Master of Business Administration and a Doctor of Management. These degree programs can prepare students for careers in management in any number of industries.

Those interested in a career as a counselor, a career that is in great demand with the added mental health toll of the pandemic, can choose from a number of degree programs at University of Phoenix that have been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP®) or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Students interested in healthcare careers focused on education, management or administration  can for the Master of Health Administration accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). Other programs available in healthcare include a Bachelor of Science in Health Management, a Bachelor of Science in Health Administration, a Master of Health Administration and a Doctor of Health Administration. These online healthcare degree programs from University of Phoenix give students the preparation to pursue careers as, public health and health administration professionals.

Nurses with an unencumbered RN license can find both a bachelor and master degree program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. There are also options for those looking to transition into teaching careers with Master of Arts degrees that provide specialties in Elementary, Secondary, Special Education or Administration and Supervision that have all been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Faculty with Real-Life Experience and Lifelong Career Support

University of Phoenix designs programs that align with over 300 occupations, including in IT and cybersecurity, business, social science, nursing and education. Key to making courses relevant and to imparting the skills relevant to those careers are the University of Phoenix faculty who bring with them significant industry experience.

In fact, the 2020 Annual Academic Report finds that University of Phoenix faculty had an average 26.9 years of professional experience and an average 13.6 years of University teaching experience. Many of these faculty have served in their industries as directors, presidents, vice presidents and chief executive officers. Students report a high satisfaction rate with University of Phoenix faculty: 85 percent say they would recommend their instructors to others.

Long after they receive their degree, University of Phoenix students can gain support through the University’s Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and graduates. This free resource provides invaluable networking opportunities, education, resume support, interview skills and more.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is committed to advancing the educational goals of adult and nontraditional learners and to helping students navigate career options that best suit their interests. The University’s degree programs are aligned with numerous in-demand career paths including in IT, nursing, and business, and they provide flexible start dates, online classes, and numerous scholarship opportunities to make it possible for anyone to earn the degree they desire. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.



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