Like the reputation of University of Phoenix, Capella is a major for-profit University that you’re likely to encounter when looking at online masters degree programs or other graduate programs. Capella offers a number of different programs. They started offering degrees in 1993 and have done a pretty good job of presenting themselves as a higher class version of University of Phoenix.
Still, Capella University’s reputation isn’t probably as good as what they’d like. A number of people have complained that they started the class with Capella only to have a teacher go missing in action and then be replaced. Capella’s business model is to use almost exclusively adjunct professors. They try to get people who are actually working in the field they are stitching. Because of this there aren’t any full-time teachers.
Now one hand that’s good. It means that all the teachers actually have industry experience. On the other hand it’s not good because it means none of the teachers are focusing on teaching full-time. This is probably less of an issue for Capella because the classes are very tightly regulated. There is an approved syllabus and the teacher is more of facilitator than actually a teacher. That’s another complaint I’ve heard from a lot of students. They felt more like a teacher was being forced through a series of steps that like erection he doing any teaching. It felt like the teachers are more just there to help answer questions and keep things moving along than actually applying their expertise to the subject.
This makes sense because that’s how Capella’s business model is set up. They want to have a bunch of interchangeable teachers who have enough clout to teach the class but who are the focal point of education. Many people pursuing degrees will choose a school based on what teachers are there–that probably won’t happen with Capella.
The cost of the degree of Capella high. Many of their programs costing more than equivalent programs offered online through Ivy League schools.
Capella has done a good job of doing is marketing to businesses. They allow businesses a discount if they become the preferred source for degree programs. So for example if you were to General Motors and want to continue your education and how is the program to recommend. This gives them a marketing advantage particular when working with large companies. I’m guessing that they give the large companies a significant discount in order to become the preferred source for education.
The reputation of Capella is important if you are thinking about getting a degree there. What many people don’t realize is that when you tell an employer you went to Capella University, the employer is relying on the reputation of the school to determine if you will make a good employee. Right or wrong that is the way it works. If Capella has a good reputation, then your degree will help you. If it has a bad reputation, then it won’t. In some cases it might hurt you. Obviously the actual reputation is likely to be somewhere in the middle and having a masters degree from Capella will (in most cases) be better than having no masters degree at all.
One simple test of a school’s reputation is to call up state schools and ask if you can transfer credits in from the school in question. In this case Capella. If Washington State University won’t let you transfer in credits from Capella, but will let you transfer in credits from Oregon State, then you may want to go to the school with better recognition.
Now sometimes the academic world is a bit different than the business world. Schools may not accept credit transfer, but businesses may not care quite as much where you got a degree. This is particularly true if you are looking for work at businesses that don’t have a lot of educated employees. If the person you are interviewing with doesn’t have a degree at all, a masters degree from Capella will carry a lot more weight than if they have a degree from Harvard. Reputation is relative.
When making a decision on a school, don’t overlook the perception of that school and how that school is likely to be perceived in the future. Capella’s reputation may be different in the future. Consider that many state schools are starting to offer online degree programs. If state schools start offering these programs that compete directly with Capella, it may change how people view Capella University. On one hand, it might help their reputation. If all colleges offer online degrees, Capella University may look better because what they are doing isn’t different. On the other, if colleges with a great academic reputation start offering online degrees, it may make people wonder why you went to Capella–particularly if Capella University is more expensive.
Capella University may be able to increase their reputation by upping their academic credentials of their teachers, but that seems unlikely because it would require a fundamental change to their business plan.