The University of Phoenix was conceived by Dr. John Sperling, a Cambridge-educated economist who saw a need for higher education designed for working adults. Dr. Sperling was born in the Missouri Ozarks to a poor family, entering the Merchant Marines in 1939. After serving in the Merchant Marine, he enrolled in a local community college, attending class during the day while working at a gas station at night. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Dr. Sperling joined the Navy Air Corps and enrolled in Reed College, a prestigious liberal arts school in Portland where his family now lived. He said that the fact that so many men were enlisting and leaving college was the reason he was accepted so quickly at Reed.
After being called up for flight training in the war, Dr. Sperling returned to Reed, graduating in 1948 with a bachelor's degree, but wasn't sure what to do with his degree. He enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, intending to earn a Ph.D. in history. While there, he won a fellowship to study for three years at King's College in Cambridge, England, where he earned his doctorate. He returned to California, taking a position at San Jose State.
During his time at Reed, Dr. Sperling was often at odds with other students, many of whom he thought were privileged and better educated than he was. He often felt that, as a poor child whose education was not excellent, he was at a severe disadvantage to those who were attended private or higher-level high schools. Because of this, he was unhappy working in academia. In 1968, as the president of the faculty union, Dr. Sperling organized a professor's strike that was a huge failure. This led him to further despise academia and he began looking for a way out.
In 1970, Dr. Sperling received a grant designed to lower the juvenile delinquency rate among working class children in Sunnyvale, California. He enrolled 30 teachers and police officers in a class, believing that working with those professionals would provide him the best answers. He divided them into groups and encouraged them to use their experiences to develop a project that would address juvenile delinquency. When the class ended, all but two participants signed up for a second class and, when that class ended, they informed Dr. Sperling that they wanted to continue their education. The teachers were seeking Master's degrees and the police officers were seeking Bachelor's degrees.
In 1970, when these professionals were seeking higher education, there was little access to higher education. At the time, colleges taught classes for adults in the same way they taught classes for students just out of high school. Dr. Sperling learned that it was taking adult learners six to ten years to earn a degree that a student going full-time could earn in four. Dr. Sperling created a degree plan that was similar to the program he was using with the police officers and the teachers. However, San Jose State declined the program and a colleague suggested he present the plan to a college that was struggling financially as they may be more receptive to a different type of degree program.
Dr. Sperling took his idea to a Jesuit college that was struggling and seeking new students. It was a success there, so he began seeking more struggling colleges who would benefit from his innovative idea. He called the plan The Institute for Professional Development. However, some accrediting agencies found issue with the plan and threatened to pull accreditation from schools who used it. Dr. Sperling decided he would need to start his own university in order to be successful.
In 1976, he rented space in a union hall in Phoenix and opened for business with eight students enrolled. Classes were just one night per week and students were able to get college credit for work experience. Within ten years, the University of Phoenix had 6,000 students, but Dr. Sperling knew they could do more. In 1989, the college began offering online courses, long before other colleges offered that option to students.
Today, the University of Phoenix is the nation's largest private university, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs at more than 100 locations as well as online.
University of Phoenix Accreditation Details
The University of Phoenix is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association. In addition, program accreditations at the university are provided by the following organizations:
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
University of Phoenix Application Requirements
Undergraduate students must have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent and be at least 16 years of age at the time of application if they are seeking an associate level degree. Students must meet work experience requirements depending on their selected degree program. In some states, students may be required to provide health insurance or immunization information.
Graduate students must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 in their undergraduate degree. Students must meet required work experience. Doctorate applicants must hold a master's degree and have a history of supervisory experience.
All programs at the University of Phoenix may have specific enrollment requirements so students are encouraged to speak to an admissions representative before applying.
University of Phoenix Tuition and Financial Aid
Full-time tuition for the University of Phoenix online program is approximately $15,000 annually. Costs per credit hour vary based on the program and degree level the student chooses at the university.
Financial aid is available through scholarships and grants. In addition, students may qualify for federal grants, loans or both. The university also has a tuition deferral plan that allows for a 60-day grace period in order for students to be reimbursed by an employer. The university accepts military benefits and offers a third-party billing plan for students whose employers provide tuition payments. Some students may also qualify for tribal funding.
University of Phoenix Online Degrees Available
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
The University Bachelor of Science in Psychology is designed for students who wish to gain insight into human behavior. The program provides a solid foundation into cognitive and affective processes that guide human development and behavior. Students gain knowledge through the analysis of theoretical approaches to human behavior. There is no clinical emphasis and completion does not lead to professional licensure as a psychologist. The program is designed to provide students with greater critical thinking, communication, collaboration and information utilization through an understanding of what makes humans behave as they do.
The University of Phoenix has offered innovative programs designed for working adults since its inception in 1976. The online format provides the flexibility working people need in order to achieve their higher education goals while still meeting other obligations.