The Truth About For-Profit Universities
The Truth About For-Profit Universities
November 21, 2016
Dear Deb:

I’ve been working full time for 15 years, and have reached what I think is a roadblock in my career. It is clear that in order for me to move to the next level, I need to get my MBA. Honestly, the thought of attending school for years, at night, while I work full-time and attempt to manage my household, turns my stomach. I’ve been looking into online programs, and am leaning toward one via the University of Phoenix. It is 100% online, requires a lot of collaboration, and the tuition is reasonable (well, as reasonable as graduate tuition can be). Before committing to the program, I would like your professional opinion on this program.


Hi Jess:

Please DO NOT GET YOUR DEGREE AT U PHOENIX, or at any other for-profit university. Yes, I am shouting, because this is really important, and I want to be sure that everyone reading gets the message. I will say it again: do not get involved with a for-profit institution.  For-profit universities have such poor reputations that a degree from one can do more harm than good. This reputation is well-deserved: the MBA program at University of Phoenix, for example, not only lacks academic rigor, it also lacks accreditation.  It is accredited by the ACBSP, which sounds eerily similar to the AACSB. AACSB accreditation is what you want to look for in an MBA program. Here is a list of AACSB accredited programs. Do not waste your time with a program that lacks AACSB accreditation.  It is very possible to get your MBA from an online program that is fully accredited, as well as reasonably priced. You will notice that there are many public universities on this list that also offer online MBAs with the same accreditation as the brick and mortar programs.

Aside from the poor reputation of the for-profit universities is the fact that graduates of these institutions earn less after getting the degree than they did before!  The authors of the study note that:

"In absolute terms, we find no evidence of improved earnings post-enrollment for students in any of the top ten for-profit fields and we can rule out that average effects are driven by a few low-performing institutions.”

My final reason for advising you to stay away from for-profit universities is this: their predatory practices have added exponentially to the student loan crisis. They convince students to take out huge, high interest loans, and call it “financial aid.” It is estimated that student borrowers from the now-defunct Corinthian College account for $3B in loan debt.

My advice to you is that you look at your state’s university system to see if they offer an online MBA, and if it’s AACSB accredited. If not, there are a number of other public universities that do, and all of them are preferable to an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

All my best,