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I appreciate the Online University Consortium publishing information on accreditation. I just joined the University of Phoenix On-line program (MBA in Healthcare management). Now I wonder if it was the right thing to have done. Was it a mistake to go with University of Phoenix? Do they have any accreditation at all? Am I wasting my time and money?

Please let me know if you can; any thoughts would be most welcome.

Steve Pote

Hi Steve -

It's not fair for us to say "you made a mistake". The University of Phoenix is very adept at spinning the accreditation story. Like all universities, they do have regional accreditation. However, they haven't been able to secure program/professional accreditation. And all of the best business degree programs now carry both regional and professional accreditation from an accrediting body that's been approved by the Department of Education. A program accreditation to look for is Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. It's considered to be one widely accepted standard in the market for business education. Another to consider is the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).

Aside from accreditation, your biggest concern should be how employers view degree education and where it comes from. Employer organizations are beginning to "just say no" to graduates of for-profit education businesses. Two examples prove this trend. First, there's a recruitment software company, owned by the Washington Post, called BrassRing that has publicly stated that companies are now searching for candidates and specifically eliminating certain schools from their employee search. BrassRing is able to track this trend because several large corporations they work with on recruitment are excluding graduates of for-profit schools in their hiring search criteria.

Secondly, during the last 12 months, our organization has asked company executives at the most reputable HR industry conferences about hiring and promotion activity related to people holding online degrees. Our 12-month study suggests for-profit institution popularity is slipping as company standards increasingly call for quality, well-educated candidates. For more statistics that track this trend see this 12 month corporate preference study.

Ultimately, much of your fate depends upon where these movements continue to head and how people knowingly perceive them. We're a group that neither cares to nor earns a living off from making predictions. However, this much is factual. To date, the following organizations have publicly stated that the University of Phoenix (as do many for-profit education businesses) has problems: U.S. Department of Education (which fined UofP for $9.8 million); EduVentures; Inc. Magazine; BrassRing (owned by The Washington Post); accrediting bodies such as AACSB; and reputable organizations like Education Commission of the States (ECS).

If your goal with education is to apply what you're learning towards landing a better job or career and if word continues to travel about how employer organizations shun graduates from UofP and other for-profit schools, it might be best to reconsider your choice.

Many thanks for your very helpful and informative reply. I really appreciate you getting back to me. I have some serious thinking to do.

Steve Pote