University of Phoenix is a for-profit school that offers a number of different masters degrees and other programs taught both online and in person.
Tuition Costs for University of Phoenix
A typical master’s level course in technology taken online at University of Phoenix will cost $655 per credit hour plus a class fee of $105. Most courses are 3 credit hours so this brings the per credit hour costs to $690. A sample masters degree in Software Engineering would require 60 credit hours for a total tuition cost of $41,000.
State schools usually charge tuition of $219 to $500 per credit hour–significantly below the cost of University of Phoenix. Also a number of schools have Master’s Degree programs where the total number of credit hours required is well below 60–further reducing the cost. For example, the cost of getting a degree in information technology from Harvard Extension School’s is $18,000 for 40 credit hours at $400 per hour.
Quality of Education at University of Phoenix
One of the biggest differences between the University of Phoenix and state schools is the transient nature of the faculty. UoP tries to get faculty who are working in their field. On one hand this means you will be studying under someone with real world experience. On the other, they may not have the experience teaching that you’d expect from a traditional university. For better or worse, most teachers are not going to be saturated in the world of academia.
The educational quality is hard to determine and may vary greatly from class to class. University of Phoenix is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. Generally, you want to attend schools that are regionally accredited by one of the six accrediting associations recognized by the US Department of Education. The North Central Association is one of these. UoP also has some specialized accreditation for specific programs.
However, the best way to really get a feel for a school’s quality is to find out how well their credits transfer. Call up several state universities and find out what credits you could transfer from a program from University of Phoenix to a similar degree at the state school. Compare that to the transfer capabilities from another state school. This will give you a very good idea of how Phoenix is viewed in relation to the particular degree you are interested in pursuing.
Reputation of University of Phoenix
Like many for-profit universities, University of Phoenix has their share of problems. Many people accuse them of being a diploma mill. These accusations are a bit hard to verify. On one hand, they may not give the same level of support to students that would be available at a traditional university. On the other, they may attract students who are of lower caliber than those that would apply at a state school.
Justified or not, University of Phoenix doesn’t have the best reputation in the academic world. This alone may or may not be reason to avoid them, but it should be something you consider. You must think in terms of who you will be competing with. If you are competing for jobs with Ivy League graduates, all other things being equal, you will come up lacking on the educational end of things. If you are competing with people who don’t have a graduate degree, your education may be a plus.
University of Phoenix definitely is not a diploma mill. The are accredited and you will learn from them. However, their reputation and high expense may not make them the best value for your particular needs.
The place where University of Phoenix may be helpful is in obtaining a degree that will push you into a higher pay rate at your current job–particularly if you plan to stay at that job indefinitely.