University of Phoenix
vs. Western Governors University
University of Phoenix and Western Governors University are both big names in online learning. Both institutions cater to distance learning students who need to fit school around other obligations. While the schools have major similarities, each also has unique strengths.
School Type & Academic Offerings
One major distinguishing factor is the size of each school and the number of academic programs offered. University of Phoenix is a for-profit, private college and one of the largest higher education institutions in the world, with over 200,000 students enrolled. University of Phoenix offers 120 academic programs, and it has more than 200 on-site locations around the world in addition to its online courses. That means, no matter what you might be interested in, University of Phoenix will most likely cover it. The multiple on-site locations offer a convenience to anyone who might be more comfortable with splitting their time on a campus. Western Governors University is a completely online public college with 60 different programs available. The school enrolls just over 45,000 students but it is also much newer and was founded over twenty years later than University of Phoenix.
University of Phoenix's degree programs follow the traditional course credit model. A course lasts a set period of time and students must complete assignments within the given time frame of the class. In contrast, Western Governors University uses a competency-based approach. To advance in the degree, students must show that they have mastered particular skills. Students can advance more quickly or slowly through the program, depending on how much time they have to put toward the competency.
The type of program that is best for you will depend on your lifestyle and learning style. Some students prefer a more structured program because it helps them stick to a learning plan. Others prefer the freedom to move through the degree at their own pace.
Tuition and Fees
University of Phoenix is a private college, and thus tuition and fees tend to be higher than a similar public institution like Western Governors University. Yearly tuition at University of Phoenix is just over $10,000 a year, while Western Governors University tuition is $6,070.
Western Governors University has a 74% retention rate, versus the 31% rate at University of Phoenix. This means that significantly more first-year students at Western Governors University decided to return to the school for a second year. Western Governors University also has a higher graduation rate than University of Phoenix. About 26% of Western Governors University students make it to graduation, versus 16% at University of Phoenix.
Our student reviews on Guide to Online Schools indicate that Western Governors University students were overall more satisfied with their education than students at University of Phoenix. About 73% of reviewers recommended Western Governors University, with around 80% saying their education improved their career. About 60% of reviewers recommended University of Phoenix.
vs. Capella University
At first glance, it can be difficult to tell the major distinctions between Kaplan University and Capella University. Both are private, for-profit distance learning institutions, offering over 100 training programs in dozens of subjects. However, when you look closely at each school's degree offerings and student experiences you can begin to see the distinctions between these two large online colleges.
Hybrid Versus Distance Only
Capella University has many campuses and learning centers throughout the US, while Kaplan University is primarily online only. If you live near one of Capella University's campus locations and are planning to complete a program that requires hands-on work, such as medical assisting or fire science, then Capella University might be a better option for you. Currently, students who attend on-campus classes through Capella University also complete about 63% percent of their coursework online.
Some Kaplan University programs, such as the counseling psychology degrees, also require on-site work. Students may need to come to campus to participate in colloquia, or they may complete an internship at a learning site in their local community.
In our online student reviews of the two colleges, Capella University comes out as bit ahead. Capella University has an overall recommendation rate of 65%, as well as a career helpfulness rating over 65%. Kaplan University's overall recommendation rate is 56%, while 60% of reviewers said their training helped their career. The one particular area where Capella University came out squarely ahead was financial aid services. Capella University students reported an easier time accessing financial aid and understanding the financial obligations of their program.
Carmen, one of our student reviewers, had this to say about her experience with financial services at Capella University: “I was given all the information upfront about when to expect to pay, when to expect a refund, etc. I had trouble once when I expected my loans to get disbursed to a class, and they hadn't disbursed 3 weeks into the class. I called and it was handled right away.”
Diverse Graduate School Opportunities
If you are interested in earning a graduate degree, then you will notice some big differences between the programs available at each school. Capella University offers doctorate degrees in many areas, including psychology, education, business and technology, public service, and healthcare and nursing. Current professionals seeking to earn the terminal degree in their field may find that Capella University has doctorate opportunities that fit their needs. The master's degree is the highest degree that Kaplan University offers in most fields.
One unique graduate option that Kaplan University does offer is the Juris Doctor degree, which is available through Concord Law School. Graduates of Concord can sit for the Bar exam in California, to become licensed attorneys.
vs. Liberty University
Ashford University has a higher recommendation rate than Liberty University based on our online student reviews, with Ashford University earning a 68% recommendation rate and Liberty University a 60% recommendation rate. While graduates of these schools expressed similar rates of satisfaction with their education, each school has unique opportunities to offer students. Consider the type of education you want and type of student services you need, in order to decide which institution is right for you.
Religious Versus Non-Affiliated Education
Liberty University is a non-profit Christian college that puts a strong emphasis on biblical education. If you are interested in learning how to apply Christian principles in the workplace, then Liberty University could be a great option for you. The university also offers online degrees in ministry, theology, biblical studies, and Christian counseling.
Ashford University is a private, for-profit university with no religious affiliation. If you want a secular education with no special religious coursework, then Ashford University might work better for you. Some of our Liberty University student reviewers were surprised to find out how extensive the Christian emphasis is in the curriculum, even in non-religious courses. All programs offered through Liberty University require some coursework in religious topics, even if the degree is in a non-religious studies major.
Liberty University and Ashford University also have significantly different retention rates. This is the rate of first-time bachelor's students who return to the school for a second year. Liberty University's retention rate is 83%, while Ashford University's is 24%.
Perhaps this is due to the personal attention that Liberty University students get from student services professionals at the school. Several of our online student reviewers commented on how the school worked with them to accommodate their individual needs. One reviewer, Paul, had this to say: “Liberty has far surpassed any expectation I could have. They have been friendly and helpful all along the way. They worked with me when I had a brain bleed. They worked with me to do an independent study in India. They have worked with me and for this reason I highly recommend the education.”
Loan Default Rates
One other major statistic that separates Liberty University from Ashford University is the student loan default rate. Currently, about 92% of Liberty University graduates are repaying their loans, versus 85% of Ashford University graduates. More Liberty University graduates are keeping up their financial obligations, despite the fact that the school's tuition is about twice that of Ashford University's.
This difference in repayment rate may mean that Liberty students find it easier to locate steady employment after graduation, in order to keep up their loan payments. Kayla, a bachelor's graduate in criminal justice from Liberty, had this to say about how her degree is viewed by employers: “I recently went to a job interview and the interviewers commented on how they were impressed that I had graduated with high honors from Liberty University since the school has a very solid reputation.”