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Accreditation of Online Universities

Updated on November 11, 2015

To Those who Try...

IN Answer to Debates

 Accreditation Standards of the University of Phoenix

The author has seen many posts on various websites and blogs about the bad experiences of students at various colleges and universities.  Both on-line and traditional brick-and-mortar colleges and universities receive a fair share of criticism from current and former students.  As an IT instructor at a small college I am often on the receiving end of criticism.  Some complaints are valid concerns but others are the musings of students who failed a class or are in the act of failing out of a program.

The Internet provides an avenue for disgruntled members of institutions to vent concerns or totally trash a reputation.  The anonymity of the Internet often shields the accuser from repercussions but also limits the ability of an individual or institution to exercise the right to face an accuser.  As stated above, some of these concerns are valid but others are simply attacks, motivated by anger to inflict harm on character.

My advice, where accreditation of a college or university is concerned is to act on due diligence and check the institution using the database of the department of Education.  You may see positive and negative claims on-line regarding the accreditation credentials of institutions but before forming a conclusion the best action is to go to the authoritative source to find the actual information.

From the Department of Education

In response to those who claim that the accrediting agency for the University of Phoenix is not valid, I offer these excerpts from the websites of the UoP and the department of Education:

  1. The University of Phoenix states that the university is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission. (University of Phoenix, 2010).
  2. The Department of Education recognizes the Higher Learning Commission as one of the six regional institutional accrediting agencies:

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Higher Learning Commission…
Scope of recognition: the accreditation and pre-accreditation ("Candidate for Accreditation") of degree-granting institutions of higher education in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, including tribal institutions, and the accreditation of programs offered via distance education within these institutions. (U.S. department of Education, 2010).

To check whether an institution is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, search for the institution on the database portal page provided by the HLC at,93/

I want you to read the link above that tells you not to attend the University of Phoenix. If you read the claims carefully you should discover that these claims are obviously the rantings of a failed or disgruntled student. Notice that there is no proof offered for any of the claims made and in some cases the author contradicts his/her self.

I especially take offense to the unproven claim that "95% of cheating and plagiarism takes place in the online classroom." I take offense because I take extra care in my academic pursuits to ensure that I do not plagiarize. I give credit where credit is due and double check my citations and references. That figure is very high and I for one would like to see some proof.

The author of the hub goes on in that statement to say that the university pushes students on who have plagiarized so the university can get paid but then states further on that the university wants students to fail. These two statements contradict each other, the university either wants to pass or fail, not both at the same time.

The author claims that the University of Phoenix is not accredited because they list the Higher Learning Commission as the accrediting agency. If you check the website I posted in the references section at the end of this hub for the Department of education you will see that the Higher Learning Commission is in fact a recognized accrediting body and the University of Phoenix is listed with the Department of Education as an accredited institution. The claim by the author of the mentioned hub that the UoP is not accredited should be enough to discount the credibility of that hub.

The author further states "HR departments across the globe do not recognize degrees from online universities, such as the University of Phoenix Online, because these departments look at online colleges and universities as diploma mills." I would like to know how many of these HR departments across the globe the author of the article has personally contacted. I personally know of at least three HR departments who do accept these types of degrees, including the National Security Agency, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA also recognizes Capella University (another online institution) as an Academic Center of Excellence. This is one of the reasons that I chose Capella University as the institution at which to pursue my MS degree.

Ethics, Decisions, and Bias

Say what you will, people make decisions and people employ bias. In a totally ethical world, this would not be the case but people are human and humans make mistakes. Decision makers will employ personal bias to some extent. Some decision makers in the business world have a personal bias against online educational programs. Does this negate the value of the education? Only if the single criteria to determine value is that of the particular decision maker. Does this mean that every decision maker employs the same bias? Absolutely not. Some decision makers have a personal bias against an “Ivy League” education. Some feel that the Ivy League institutions promote extreme liberal ideas and they do not want to take the risk of an Ivy League alumnus turning their businesses into a personal experiment. Does this discount the value of an Ivy League education? Hardly.

For many people, the only way possible to obtain a higher education is to attend an online university. The online venue may not hold quite the promise of a traditional brick and mortar institution but many traditional colleges and universities are not universally recognized by employers for the value of the degrees they confer. When considering any education, the best approach is to apply the equity and expectation approaches.

Will obtaining a degree from a particular institution increase your marketability? If the answer is yes, then can you reasonably expect to be able to complete the program? If the answer is yes then can you afford the tuition? If you answered yes to all three questions and have an interest in one of the programs offered by the institution, then go for it.


Personal Experience

I graduated from the University of Phoenix in 2007 with a 3.98 GPA. One of the factors that I considered when I enrolled in the University was the fact that an individual who I greatly respected obtained his MBA from the UoP. He happened to be the Director of Engineering while I was employed as a Network Analyst for a large health-care organization and has since risen to the position of Director of Information Security for that same organization and runs a consulting firm on the side.

When I graduated I was hired by a consulting firm as a Senior Systems Engineer and one factor that set me apart was the fact that I earned my degree from the University of Phoenix. Some of the staff there were familiar with the requirements to earn a degree online. Brick and mortar institutions require that you study for exams. If you really want to learn about a subject, you research the subject. Brick and mortar institutions do not require that sort of dedication. Online institutions, on the other hand, require that you research topics and write about your research.

One particular class that I remember from my UoP program was a Project Management class. One of my fellow learners was dating a girl who was taking the same class that we were at the same time. She mentioned to him that she would probably not be able to complete the online version of the class because we had about 10 times the work that she had.

I also recall that the first five classes that I took at the University of Phoenix had very high mortality rates. Better than half of the classes dropped out of the program. The reason for the high drop out rate was that the students could not handle the workload or were just plain lazy.

Since graduating from the University of Phoenix, I have continued on to earn my Master of Science in Information Technology degree with a specialization in Information Security. I completed that program with a GPA of 4.0. I did not enroll in the University of Phoenix for my Masters degree but my criteria was based on the program, not the university. The UoP did not offer the program that I was Interested in at the time. I am currently enrolled in a PhD.program.


Council for Higher Education Accreitation (2010). Programmatic Accrediting Organizations 2010-2011. Available from

NSA (2010). Centers of Academic Axcellence - Institutions. National Security Agency Central Security Service. Defending Our Nation. Securing Our Furure. Available from

The Higher Learning Commission (2010). Currently or Previously Affiliated Institutions - 10/30/2010. Available from,93/

U.S. Department of Education (n.d.). The database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. Available from


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    • Kris Ajax profile image

      Kris Ajax 

      6 years ago

      Is it possible to get an MBA from the online UoP? My brother has been looking to finish his degree, but he doesn't have that much time to go to a school campus. I told him I would look into online degrees for him.

    • Dumbledore profile imageAUTHOR

      This Old Guy 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in Ohio

      Research is certainly important.

    • mbaker2012 profile image


      7 years ago

      There's certainly a lot of questions to be raised about universities for-profit or not. People just need to do the research.

    • Dumbledore profile imageAUTHOR

      This Old Guy 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in Ohio

      Unfortunately, many people classify all online programs as diploma mills, which is not the case. Thank you for the comment.

    • ecamper23 profile image


      7 years ago

      There are plenty of schools that are simply diploma mills and out for your money. It's good to be vigilant.

    • bdouble28 profile image


      7 years ago

      From what I've learned, accreditation is something that needs to be thoroughly checked out. Always look for multiple sources.

    • agent007 profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      Good article, I don't attend that college but not all of them are bad!

    • Dumbledore profile imageAUTHOR

      This Old Guy 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in Ohio


      You are correct, the online environment is not for everyone. When I was an undergrad, my first five classes at UoP had about a 50% drop rate.

    • marilnelanoon233 profile image


      7 years ago

      I think that online universities have their pros and cons and are certainly not for everyone. For those who do attend them, I'm sure they find the benefits in it.

    • Dumbledore profile imageAUTHOR

      This Old Guy 

      8 years ago from Somewhere in Ohio

      For any interested party, I had read the hub and posted a comment to the hub in defense of the University of Phoenix. Needless to say, the comment was not approved, so if you view this particular hub, understand that it only presents one side of the story.

      I am happy to approve conflicting viewpoints in comments, as long as they abide by the rules of


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