University of Phoenix 101: Everything you need to know
By Elizabeth Exline
August 25, 2021 • 9 minute read
Getting your degree is supposed to be the hard part, not deciding where to get it. But for those of us who can’t even come down firmly on what to have for dinner, figuring out which university is the right one can feel as monumental as taking your first statistics class.
Why is it so hard? Because you don’t know what you don’t know.
“Ninety-five percent of the questions we get are about time and money,” observes Chris Gloor, vice president of enrollment at University of Phoenix (UOPX).
If you’re considering enrolling at UOPX, you’ll understandably want a clear idea of what your investment will be. But there are other concerns that are likely at the back of your mind, too. Or worries that you can’t quite figure out how to give voice to.
From the history of the university to enrollment questions you didn’t know you had, here’s the scoop on everything UOPX.
What is University of Phoenix anyway?
University of Phoenix is an institution designed to meet the unique needs of adult students. While this may sound like an obvious idea today, it was virtually unheard of when the University opened in 1976.
At that time, UOPX’s founder saw how adult learners could spend six to 10 years earning a degree, and he recognized an opportunity to do things differently.
The idea was simple: Getting a degree would still require self-discipline and hard work, but the process behind it could and should (and did) become far more accessible.
While this process has evolved over the decades, UOPX today stands out as a pioneer of online learning.
What are online classes like at University of Phoenix?
The COVID-19 pandemic made virtual learning a household term. But online college is not the same thing as your kid’s temporary virtual classroom.
Online college is designed for students who are motivated, self-disciplined and work well independently. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re on your own. UOPX students can look forward to collaborative opportunities with their peers and one-on-one connections with experienced faculty, all on a schedule that accommodates their other responsibilities. They also have access to a support team up to 20 hours a day, five days a week, plus academic counselors who are so committed to student success, they have earned a 5-star rating from 90% of surveyed students.
Lessons are posted at set times, and deadlines for assignments are provided ahead of time. Students can then access lessons whenever it’s convenient for them in order to meet their assignment deadlines.
This method has been so fine-tuned for effectiveness, in fact, that 92% of surveyed alumni who graduated in the past year said UOPX afforded them the flexibility to balance family, work, school and life.
How is University of Phoenix different?
Let us count the ways:
Faculty members average 26 years of professional experience, many of them with C-suite credentials, which means students learn from industry leaders. Plus, these faculty bring a hands-on perspective that can be immediately applied in students’ careers. No wonder 85% of surveyed students recommend their instructors.
Curriculum at UOPX is rooted in real-life results with many degree programs offering a certain level of customization via certificates. Advisory councils comprised of leaders in fields like IT, healthcare and business routinely take stock of industry trends and provide subsequent insights to keep UOPX curriculum up-to-date and relevant. In fact, 83% of surveyed students believe UOPX provided them with skills and knowledge they could immediately apply to their careers.
In response to a shifting workforce, UOPX continues to innovate. The university is currently piloting badges for specific offerings (select MBA and nursing courses) as a way to quickly convey the skills demonstrated by a student. This initiative is expected to officially launch in September 2021.
UOPX also helmed the development of skills-mapped courses using labor market insights and data from Emsi, an organization that leads labor-market analysis. Skills-mapped courses align with specific job-ready skills based on job postings. Best of all, you’ll add these skills to your resumé every five to six weeks — not after graduation.
UOPX students enjoy several advantages that accompany the school’s approach to online learning. One of these is the 24/7/365 access students have to course materials. Another is the sequential structuring of courses: Students take one course at a time with classes starting every five to six weeks. That translates to up to 20 opportunities a year to begin a bachelor’s degree and up to 18 to start a master’s.
When the pandemic threw a spotlight on the vicissitudes of virtual learning, UOPX was well ahead of the learning curve so many schools faced. That meant UOPX was ready to continue what it did well (online education) and expand into areas where the pandemic demanded growth. One of these was professional development courses, which enabled a shifting workforce to quickly and effectively upskill. Such agility speaks to both UOPX’s commitment to its students and industry alliances.
University of Phoenix offers active-duty and veteran military members reduced tuition rates and, in some cases, resource- fee waivers. College credit is also available for eligible military (and life) experience.
But service members don’t make their sacrifices alone, as Brian Ishmael observes. Ishmael is the vice president of Military Veteran Affairs and Strategic Government Partnerships at UOPX and a former service member himself. He speaks from experience when he points out the valuable policy UOPX has implemented offering military rates to family members of active-duty and veteran military. This is not necessarily common among universities, but it is the right thing to do, Ishmael says.
What does that look like exactly? It means you have a team of advisors dedicated to helping you build a personalized career plan you can stick with, from resumé reviews to interview prep to one-on-one career coaching.
This is no small thing. Outside career coaching can cost over $200 an hour. At UOPX, it’s built into your degree at no added cost — for life.
Accreditation is a guidepost on the path to determining whether an educational institution meets the standards of a high-quality education. In addition to having been continually accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), www.hlcommission.org, and its predecessor since 1978, UOPX is accredited for select programs.
Enrolling: What do real students want to know?
The enrollment team fields a lot of questions from prospective students. Here’s what you should know.
Is application the same thing as enrollment?
Nope! The application process is essentially an information-gathering process to get into a given program, Gloor explains. You’re under no obligation to attend UOPX if you apply but doing so enables the enrollment team to start identifying ways it can save you — yep, you guessed it — time and money. Plus, the application process is free.
Your school credits are as individualized as you are. Each student transcript, in other words, is different. So, UOPX offers pre-evaluations for prospective students where academic counselors review your unofficial transcript to see what will likely transfer, saving you (again) time and money.
Does University of Phoenix grant credit for work experience?
In the right instances, yes. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is one way prospective students can earn college credit. After applying to the University, a student can provide either a portfolio of work or essays on approved topics to earn credit.
For every three credits earned through PLA, students save nearly $1,200 in tuition and shave five weeks off their degree program. (Hello, time and money.) The best part? On average, 65% of UOPX undergraduates are eligible for PLA credits.
Another option is a competency-based education (CBE) degree. Ideal for students with professional experience and expertise, this offering ties credits to demonstrable skills. The more you know, the quicker you can progress to new skills and subjects, making your degree not only an expedited experience but one with real-world benefits: You focus on learning what you need to know for your career.
Are SAT or ACT scores required?
No. UOPX understands that adult learners may not have access to old scores and does not require taking these tests for admission.
How about GMAT or GRE scores?
No again. However, there are some baseline requirements for certain programs. You have to be an RN to enter the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, for example. And to enroll in a graduate program, you do need to have a bachelor’s degree under your belt.
How much does a University of Phoenix education cost?
As with determining your transfer credits, assessing the cost of your program is a highly individualized process. And at UOPX, enrollment representatives will help prospective students find a way to save as much as possible. (UOPX alone offers 10 different ways to save time and/or money!)
There are also misconceptions around who’s eligible for financial aid, Gloor says. Some loans are not based on income, for example. Scholarships are available at UOPX and elsewhere. And for those students who do have demonstrable financial need, the Federal Pell Grant is an option.
At UOPX, scholarship opportunities are expanding. Beginning with a student’s first course, every qualifying new student will be awarded a scholarship, regardless of one’s financial situation or GPA. New and transfer students, in fact, can each apply for a scholarship worth up to $3,000.
UOPX is committed to making education affordable for its students in other ways, too. While education costs, for example, rise an average of 2.6% every year, UOPX offers fixed tuition, meaning students pay a flat rate from the moment they enroll to the day they graduate.
Another way to save money? Employer benefits. UOPX has formed alliances with multiple organizations to offer affordable education and tuition assistance is sometimes available from certain companies. Additionally, alternative credit providers such as Study.com offer students the option to earn transferrable credits.
What’s the matriculation process like?
This is the process by which you become a student at UOPX. Your official transcripts are shared with the University, relevant credits are applied toward your program and financial aid gets awarded.
While Gloor says most students enroll via the UOPX website, they can still take advantage of the New Student Q&A Webinar, which is a complimentary orientation designed to answer any and all outstanding questions so students are prepared for the first day of class.
What deadlines do I have to meet?
Classes start on Tuesdays approximately every five to six weeks, so all the paperwork has to be shared and processed by the preceding Friday.
“Students are a bit surprised they can get everything done that quickly,” Gloor observes.
How does University of Phoenix respond to the unique needs of underrepresented communities?
The University of Phoenix is proud to welcome students from all walks of life. Half of the student population identifies as African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Native American/Alaskan. And 66% of students are women.
As a result, UOPX has developed its curriculum and accessibility to meet the needs of a diverse and dynamic student body. Additionally, it offers a robust Recognized Student Organization (RSO) program.
“The Recognized Student Organization program provides a sense of belonging and support for students as they balance academic, professional, familial and personal responsibilities,” explains Jelisa Dallas, Program Manager for RSOs and Educational Equity at UOPX.
In layman’s terms, an RSO is a group of students with something specific in common. This might be a professional association, an academically focused interest group or a philanthropic group. Dallas plans to expand this offering to include ethnic affinity groups in the near future.
In addition to networking, these groups offer opportunities to develop a variety of skills like leadership, professional development, community engagement and financial literacy.
“The social capital — effective collaboration through shared culture to meet a common goal — offered through our organizations make for a well-rounded student equipped for advancement,” Dallas explains.
Real advice from real University of Phoenix students
No matter how much you research, and no matter how many questions you ask, sometimes there’s just no substitute for jumping in and learning along the way. Here, we share advice from those who have gone before (aka UOPX students)